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Common Mistakes in Running a Craft Fair

Updated on July 17, 2011

Avoid These Pitfalls and Your Show Will Be a Success!

I have been a crafter for the last twenty years of my life. I have participated in more craft shows than I can count. From painting t-shirts, to embellishing items with vintage jewelry, I have experienced, and observed, many mistakes occurring from poorly run craft shows. Here are a few of them, and why they happened.

Mistake Number One: Letting Anyone Sell Anything

Sometimes the person who runs the craft show, especially if they have never done it before, gets a little nervous about making sure they get the vendors to participate. Well, here’s a secret for you. Let everyone know it is a “juried” show. What this means is vendors have to submit pictures of their work to you in advance, and you and a panel (experienced crafters) review the pictures to see if that vendor will fit in with your show. This way, you get the experienced vendors with quality items. Now, whether or not you have a juried show depends on what type of craft fair it is. If it is a school carnival, you may not want to exclude anyone since the money is raised for the school. But if you are a private entity, hoping to benefit monetarily from the show, then you want to make sure you attract people who will spend money at your show. The best way to assure that is to have quality vendors.

Mistake Number Two: Inadequate Advertising

In order to get people to attend, you must advertise. The more in advance you do the better. Some newspapers publish an annual guide to bazaars and carnivals once a year. You also might consider writing a little article about yourself and your show and submitting it to a local paper. You could even showcase one of your vendors chosen to participate in your show. If you are having the show in a supermarket parking lot, find out if you can post flyers in the surrounding stores. Also see if you can find a way to advertise in the schools. Definitely take advantage of the free websites like Craig’s List.

Mistake Number Three: Poor Location

This is a no-brainer. If they can’t find you, they won’t come. Check with the local highway department to make sure there are not going to be any road closings during the time and place where your craft fair will be located. Also make sure it is a highly visual area. Pick a place close to stores and restaurants that are typically busy on the weekend.

Mistake Number Four: Not Taking Application Fees

By requesting application fees from your vendors, you are ensuring they are committed to your show. The last thing you need is to pay a rental fee, a ton on advertising, and have half of your vendors show up. Customers can always tell when a vendor didn’t show up, by the empty table or tent between two vendors. You do not want someone to think this is a reflection on your ability to run a successful fair.

Mistake Number Five: Not Having a Waiting List

Chances are, a vendor or two will cancel at the last minute. Having a waiting list will solve the problem of not having enough vendors. Most vendors are prepared in advance for shows, so you shouldn’t have much of a problem filling a last minute spot.

Mistake Number Six: Not Enough Volunteers/Assistants to Communicate With Vendors

Having enough people to assist you is crucial to your success. I recommend you have walkie-talkies to communicate with your assistants. Divide your help up into different areas of the show (i.e. north, south, etc). Sometimes crafters work alone, and someone might need to step away from their booth for a minute. Having a show that provides assistance when it’s needed will make it much more desirable for the vendor to come back next year.

Mistake Number Seven: Not Getting Feedback from the Vendors

Before the show, give each vendor a survey to fill out when the fair is over. Ask them specific questions on the form about location, dates, what they liked and didn’t like about your show. The vendors want to make money, so they will be happy to share their thoughts with you.

Running a craft show is a big commitment, and a lot of responsibility. But careful planning and attention to detail will make sure your show is a big hit, and will be popular for years to come.




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    • kenneth avery profile image

      Kenneth Avery 6 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Hi, Vintage chic, GREAT READ! Great advice too. I voted up and away. Loved your lay-out. I am a fan and follower if that is okay with you. Sincerely and respectfully, Kenneth Avery, from a rural town, Hamilton, in northwest Alabama that makes you think of Mayberry where Andy and Barney lived.

    • NikkiD profile image

      NikkiD 6 years ago

      There is a position of Craft Market Floor Manager currently open which I am interested in. No job specifications have been given. I want to prepare my CV specifically for this position. Can you help with what this position may entail?

    • twopeasinapod123 profile image

      J.J. 7 years ago from New York

      This was a great help. Thank you for this information

    • profile image

      Kama 8 years ago

      This is great! Very helpful!! I am thinking of starting a craft fair at my church and this definitely gave me some ideas of things we need to consider that I hadn't done before.