How to Sell a LOT of Crafts at a Craft Show! Find the BEST Craft Shows in Your Community!
My sister and I started selling our wares at craft shows about ten years ago. We thought it would be a fun way to spend some time together, get into the Christmas spirit and make a little extra spending money. Now we are, by no means, professional crafters (whatever that means...I'm not exactly sure what a professional crafter is). Anyway, it has taken us a long time to figure out "what to do" and "what not to do" when it comes to the often strange and wonderful world of craft shows and Christmas bazaars.
Over the years we have learned that when it comes to having a successful show (and actually making some money), there are many factors involved. Some of these factors you can control and others you simply can't.
What Show Should You Participate In?
The first craft show we ever participated in was at a small recreation center located by my parent's house. Now we grew up in this house...so we knew the community and we were very comfortable with this particular location. This was by no means a large show...nor was it judged. Not to mention it only cost $25 to rent a space. In my opinion, it was the perfect show for beginners such as ourselves.
By the way, in case you were wondering, a judged show is when the craft items you intend to sell are viewed, discussed and, well, for lack of another word, judged by a panel of people (usually the individuals running or sponsoring the show). These people determine whether or not you are chosen to participate. Most judged shows are looking for high quality, original, all hand-made craft items. Most shows do not want twenty jewelry booths so they only pick the "best of the best" and limit the number of each type of craft.
When entering a judged show you must fill out an application and submit several pictures of the items you intend to sell and photos of past booth displays. Most judged shows do not allow booths that sell factory produced items such as "Pampered Chef" or "Mary Kay." These items are usually found at bazaars.
Now I must say that we did fairly well at our first craft show at the recreation center. We made about $200 after all was said and done and we were beyond thrilled. For not really knowing what we were doing...we were satisfied.
Now there are three ways in which I usually find shows to participate in:
1. Actually attend shows in my community during the winter craft show season and "check them out." If they are decent (and when I say decent I mean...well attended, lots of crafters, and a wide variety of crafts) then I make a note to investigate further. If possible, I will talk to a vendor and find out additional information while actually at the show.
2. The internet, of course! Festival Net is one of the best websites that has a comprehensive list of craft shows...and they are arranged by date and state!
3. Word of mouth. I have found many shows through family and friends.
A Helpful Resource!
As previously mentioned, some shows turn out to be simply wonderful, while others are, well, a huge waste of time. One year I participated in a show that was located in a high school. Little did I know...there was a football game being played on the same day as the show. Needless to say, having two events on the same day made parking next to impossible. Therefore, attendance was extremely poor. People just didn't want to deal with the hassle of parking far away (and some people couldn't find parking at all). Due to poor attendance, sales were down and I didn't make much money. This, my crafty friends, would be an example of a "factor" that was beyond my control. Weather and the economy are also factors that have affected my sales in the past as well.
Before submitting an application to a show that you are interested in participating in it would be wise to ask the director what kind of marketing they do. Good shows will put up signs, send out massive email blasts and even advertise in local news papers.
The Craft Show Display!
It has taken me a long time to perfect my craft show display. In the past I had the tendency to clutter my display with too many items which is a big "NO NO!" A clean display in which your crafts are easy to see is the best way to go. I have also been told in the past (when I was an amateur, HA!) that my display was often over-whelming...too much to look at all at once! This can leave customers feeling frustrated. To solve this problem I now ask for a corner space when registering for a show. A corner space may cost extra, however, it allows me more room to spread out and display my crafts.
In my opinion, it is also important to have clean, matching table covers. Having a display area that is clean, festive and inviting is very important! Marketing truly is everything! I also can't stress enough the importance of signage. Easy to read signs that let your customers know valuable information such as the cost of an item are key! Signs that read "Great teacher gift!" or "Excellent stocking stuffers!" can make all the difference!
Customers are EVERYTHING!
Your customers are EVERYTHING! Smile and if possible, greet each and every customer that visits your booth. A comfortable customer that feels at ease will linger longer which, by the way, may result in a sale! Unfortunately, some people confuse craft shows with flea markets (yes, it's true). I have actually had people try to haggle prices with me. Which, by the way, is incredibly frustrating! Many people don't understand the time and effort that goes in to making quality, hand-crafted items. If you come across a "negotiator"...simply smile and politely say that all items are priced as marked.
Business cards are also an important to bring to the craft show. Keep them handy and pass them out to every person that visits your booth (whether they buy something or not!). I've actually had people call me months after a show and place custom orders...which by the way, is awesome!
Now that I'm just about done with this article...it just dawned on me that I have not told you what crafts my sister and I make and sell. Well my crafty and creative friends, I hand paint Christmas ornaments and my sister does seasonal floral arrangements and cross stitch items. I've included a few pictures of some of the things we have made and some photos of past displays. They are located at the bottom of this HUB. I hope you enjoy them!
Whether or not you want to start a professional craft business or simply want to participate in a couple of craft shows each year...there are many things to consider. In all honesty, what to do and what not to do was a learning process for us. I guess you could say...trial and error all the way! Each and every year we learn something new. The important thing, in my opinion, is to learn from and enjoy each and every craft show experience and if you make lots of money....well, that's just icing on the cake! Happy crafting!
One final note: If you are looking for inexpensive or discounted crafting and painting supplies, check out the Hub Page I wrote titled:
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