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Craft Fairs and Shows: What to Bring and Display Considerations

Updated on September 28, 2016
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Rose is a full-time freelance writer who frequently writes about education, special education, DIY projects, food, Milwaukee, and more.

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I decided to put my two cents about craft fairs here on HubPages. I'm providing a variety of considerations for your display, a general check list, and a check list for outdoor shows. There is no single article out there that will provide you with everything you could possibly want or need to know about having a craft fair booth. This hub is not intended to be some all-encompassing guide for you. Instead, I simply hope that this will provide some new insight for you. If you have questions about anything (whether I do or don't cover it here), please drop me a line or leave a comment.

Display considerations

Table coverings

Check your show guidelines about table coverings. Some shows have very specific guidelines about this. Others don't. I use plain black bed sheets ($4 each at Wal-Mart), with music fabric (about $4 a yard at Jo-Ann's) over them. There are many possibilities for table coverings. Make sure that what you use coordinates with and does not distract from your items.

Display components

How do your display components (i.e. shelves, necklace displays, etc.) fit with your work? Do they fit with your table coverings? I decided to use the music fabric because sheet music backgrounds were my original photo trademark on Etsy.

Where you sit / stand

I have had the most people approach my booth when I'm sitting or standing behind my tables. Fewer people come over when I'm standing out in front. Experiment with different positioning and see what works the best for you.

Booth size

The set up that works for you for one show may not work for another simply because booth sizes will vary at different shows. If necessary, do "test run" set ups at home. This will ensure that your set up process goes much more smoothly at the fair.

Price tags / price displays

Even though I tag all of my items individually, I also include price displays. No matter how clear you are about your pricing, you will still get questions. Be as thorough as possible.

Props

Do you want anything else out on your tables? I constructed table weights for my outdoor shows, which I use for indoor shows as well as pen holders. You can see them in my link above for price displays. I also have some simple photo displays with pictures of favorite pieces, custom orders, and sold items.

Other signs

You should definitely have some sort of shop display sign. If you are clueless about designing one, enlist a crafty friend to help you. Consider other information that you should have at your booth, too. I addition to my price displays, I also have a sign about my payment options and a sign about trying on earrings (which I do encourage).

Lighting

Many indoor shows have the option for electricity (almost always for an extra cost). Some artists choose to use this to provide additional lighting for their show. Personally, I have never done this and haven't felt like I missed out, but it's something to consider. If you are considering lighting, check out this resource.

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Outdoor considerations

Tent

If you will not be against a wall or other barrier outdoors, I highly recommend a back wall for your tent so people will not be tempted to wander into the back of your tent. I've included links for some additional tents at the end of this hub. A lot of big box and bulk stores (Sam's, Costco, etc.) also carry these tents in the summer and fall.

Weights

At outdoor craft shows, I have solely relied on cement blocks, which I got for $4 each at Lowe's to weigh down my tent. The cement blocks work well, but I would advise adding additional weight, such as weight bags or cement weight plates. Some people also use sand filled buckets or gallon jugs filled with water. Do not skimp on this area! You never know when it will get very windy. For more on this subject, visit Craft Professional.

Table weights

As I mentioned above, I use votives filled with decorative stones for my table weights/pen holders. This is a simple, colorful, and inexpensive option that you can put together for $15 or less at Wal-Mart or Michael's. If you have a lot of raised displays for your items, you can sometimes hide weightier items (books, etc.) underneath them for additional weight.

Yarn / string and safety pins

I highly recommend securing your table coverings and signs with string and safety pins. Even a slight breeze can lift items more than you would like.

Tablecloth clips

You can cut down the number of safety pins that you use for your table coverings with tablecloth clips. Last year, I was able to track some down at Target in the camping section. They came with a picnic table cloth. The ones I found were silver so they don't distract from the table. You can usually hide them under your item displays if they do distract.

Dressing in layers

My final piece of advice for outdoor shows is to dress in layers. This is especially important if your show starts early in the day and runs until mid/late afternoon, you never know how the weather might change over the course of the day. It isn't fun to be really cold or hot for a large part of a show. Be prepared!

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General list

This list includes everything else that is helpful to have at a craft fair.
All signs. (See display considerations)

Business cards/holder. I use a napkin holder that I got at Target for my business cards. It's the perfect size.

Repair/alternation tools. You never know when something will need a last minute fix or when someone will request a quick alternation.

Extra price tags.

All display materials.

Mirrors. I have a handheld and one that props up on the table. If you sell wearable items, it's extremely helpful for buyers to view how they look when they're wearing them.

Photo of sold/custom work. If you do custom work (i.e. scrapbooks), I highly recommend this. If you have electricity for your booth, you can run a slideshow on your laptop.

Mailing list sign up.

Vendor apron. I got one through Etsy. Unfortunately, the shop I used is no longer active, but there are lots of other Etsy shops that do offer vendor aprons. Some people opt to use a money box, but I greatly prefer the apron. Interested in making your own? Check this out.

Change. I usually bring around $200 in assorted bills. This has always been more than enough.

Custom order form. If someone does request a custom item, you'll be ready.

Credit card equipment. (See links below.) I highly encourage you to take credit cards. In this day and age, there's really no reason not to and you may miss out on sales by not doing it.

Pens/pencils.

Receipt pad/slips.

Clorax or other sanitizing wipes. This is a must if you're at a festival with food. It's also a must if you make earrings and people can try them on.

Hand sanitizer.

Camera. It's great to post pictures of your show on your blog, Facebook fan page, etc.

Calculator.

Information about upcoming shows.

Jewelry boxes/packaging supplies.

Garbage bags.

Paper towels.

Easy to eat snacks/food.

Water.

Chapstick.

Tape. I usually bring Scotch, packing, and duct tape.

Tissues.

Inventory list. Prepare a list of your current inventory before any craft show. Check off items that sell as you go. If the show is too busy to allow for this (which is a great thing!), you can check them off later, using your receipts.

Craft fair advice (tips, displays, my experience) | dandilynn

DIY Packaging Tips for Handmade Jewelry

© 2011 Rose Clearfield

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    • firstcookbooklady profile image

      Char Milbrett 

      23 months ago from Minnesota

      Good advice!

    • randomcreative profile imageAUTHOR

      Rose Clearfield 

      6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      That's great! Best of luck with your show. :)

    • Natashalh profile image

      Natasha 

      6 years ago from Hawaii

      I am very excited to find your hub on this! I'm doing my first craft show in about two months and I'm trying to do everything I can to plan and be prepared. Bookmarking - I will definitely be back.

    • randomcreative profile imageAUTHOR

      Rose Clearfield 

      6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      That's awesome Tammy! Best of luck.

      Ervin, it's a lot of work to do shows, even for people who do like to craft. I'm glad that you still found this interesting. That sounds great. :)

    • ErvinVictor profile image

      ErvinVictor 

      6 years ago from San Francisco

      Makes me wish I knew how to craft! Ah, maybe I'll leave it to the experts; still, very interesting. Reminds me of when I was kid going to the flea market in NJ. Those were the days...

    • tammyswallow profile image

      Tammy 

      6 years ago from North Carolina

      Great tips! I hope to do this in the spring and need these tips. The photos are great. Thanks for this hub.

    • randomcreative profile imageAUTHOR

      Rose Clearfield 

      7 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Thanks so much Jacqui! The napkin holder has worked really well for me.

    • jacqui2011 profile image

      jacqui2011 

      7 years ago from Norfolk, UK

      Very informative hub full of great ideas. I agree with your suggestion of layering your stall. Your booth set up is very eye-catching and appealing and I love your idea of the napkin ring to hold your business cards. Upped and awesome.

    • randomcreative profile imageAUTHOR

      Rose Clearfield 

      7 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      You're welcome! I'm glad that this is helpful. Let me know if you have any questions.

    • lcbenefield profile image

      lcbenefield 

      7 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks for the information. It's very helpful. I am wanting to start doing craft shows.

    • randomcreative profile imageAUTHOR

      Rose Clearfield 

      7 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      I hope that you get up the nerve! There are lots of smaller shows that are perfect for newbies. Even if you don't make a lot of sales, it can be an excellent way to network and get feedback.

      Let me know if you have any questions about packaging. Buying in bulk is definitely worth it because you're right, it can add up fast.

    • Ddraigcoch profile image

      Emma 

      7 years ago from UK

      Fabulous. I have never done a craft fair. I am not brave enough yet. I have been tucking away the odd display for jewellery. I am now going to look at your packaging link. That can really add up.

    • randomcreative profile imageAUTHOR

      Rose Clearfield 

      7 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      You're welcome and thank you in return!

    • tortia profile image

      tortia 

      7 years ago from Hongkong

      .your store is nice,and it is good advice with helpful tips for me.Thanks

    • randomcreative profile imageAUTHOR

      Rose Clearfield 

      7 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Gabby, it really varies. I've seen everything from $30 to over $1000. I would say that $50-$200 is pretty standard.

    • Gabby G profile image

      Gabby G 

      7 years ago from USA

      How much does it cost to rent a booth at a craft fair?

    • randomcreative profile imageAUTHOR

      Rose Clearfield 

      7 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      I usually bring a small album with custom work and sold items, too. A larger, framed grouping would be awesome!

    • profile image

      Memories for Life Scrapbooks 

      7 years ago

      Great post! You covered lots of areas.

      I love the idea of the slide show!!! I always bring a small photo album with me of custom albums I've made and always have a sample album there. Your post gave me the idea to make a larger, framed grouping of photos! I could easily hang it on the end of my shelving!

    • randomcreative profile imageAUTHOR

      Rose Clearfield 

      7 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Thanks Deb! I hear ya! The only show I've signed up for in Milwaukee so far is an indoor November event. Until I know that I have some help for outdoor shows, I'm not signing up for any.

    • profile image

      storybeader 

      7 years ago

      lots of great info, as usual! I've gotten out of craft fairs but will eventually have to start again. Hate to travel and set up a tent by myself!

    • randomcreative profile imageAUTHOR

      Rose Clearfield 

      7 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Thanks habee and Stephanie! I'm so glad that this was helpful.

      Stephanie, I have heard the advice about having an in progress piece at your booth. I did that at my last show this fall and sold one of the pieces I made right there. I'll continue to do that in the future!

    • Stephanie Henkel profile image

      Stephanie Henkel 

      7 years ago from USA

      This is great advice with helpful tips for anyone who sells at art and craft shows. I used to sell at shows and convention years ago and would have loved to have this advice article before I started. I always used a money box, but the apron idea is so much better! Wish I had thought of it.

      One thing that always attracted a crowd to my booth was doing a live demonstration of my work. (I used to do hand painted china and would often work on a demonstration piece while sitting behind my table.)

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 

      7 years ago from Georgia

      Great tips! I used to make crafts and make the rounds at craft fairs. I really enjoyed it, and I made some good money! The appearance of your booth is sooooo important in attracting customers. Rated up!

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