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Getting Ready for a Craft Show

Updated on May 10, 2012

Craft Shows Great Places to Sell

Yes, craft shows are a great way to sell your handcrafted items, but there is a great deal to learn before doing your first show.

In my experience, if you are not prepared, you will have a very rough time organizing and selling your pieces.

I have been doing craft shows for four years and still have to look over my checklists to be sure I have done everything I need to do to set up my space.

With much trial and error, I realized what was essential, important and not to worry about for my craft shows. I want to pass this on to anyone contemplating or even doing craft shows, so that they will be prepared and have a great time.

Photo: Setup for my first craft show.

Considerations for a Craft Show

Preparation is Essential

As soon as confirmation is received that you have been accepted to a craft show, you have to look at your inventory to make sure you have enough pieces to sell.

Check the condition or all items, make sure they are properly priced and tagged with a short description.

If you find you do not have enough pieces, start making more. Never do a show with less than you need.

Since I have an Etsy shop, I try to make a lot more items, so that I can later put them in my shop.

I also look over all my jewelry, polish tarnished pieces, look for defects, change or add chains or beads, and eliminate jewelry that is not the right style for the show.

I make sure I have some small items that I can sell along with more expensive ones. I include polished stones that I can include as a gift with purchase.

I check to see what decorations I should use. You can use holiday decorations, seasonal decorations, flowers with a subtle smell or any number of items that can enhance your decor.

It took me a long time to realize that decorations could help my sales and I did not use them until I had done more than five shows.

Then I decide whether risers or shelves or some type of elevation is needed to show off items in the best way possible..

There is a great deal to think about when doing a show, but each show is different, so I keep a list of what I have taken in the past, what worked and what did not.

Photo: Setup for my Second Craft Show

My First Art Fair
My First Art Fair

Craft Show Essentials

Don't Leave Home Without It

Table(s) and chairs are needed if they have not been rented or included in the show fee.

Tablecloths to cover the tables. They should match, reach the floor and preferably be flame retardant.

Business Cards to hand out with purchases.

Packaging - bags, boxes, etc. for the items you sell.

Display items, stands, racks, hooks, etc. depending on what you are selling.

Credit card processor for taking credit cards. This is a must. You will lose sales if you do not take credit cards.

Cash box. It might be easier and safer to wear a large multi-pocket apron to keep your cash.

Receipt book

Any tools you might need to work or repair.

Mirror if you are selling something that people need to see themselves in.

Lighting - This is very important because many craft shows are dark and people tend to gravitate to bright booths or tables.

Depending on what you are selling and whether you are selling indoors or outdoors above are the essentials. Don't leave home without them.

Photo: My third show.

Harriet Reading
Harriet Reading

How do I Act at a Craft Show

Never Look Bored

A bit of advice on how to present yourself at a show. Dress neatly, but don't overdress.

Never read a book even when there are no customers in your area. It makes you look bored, uninterested and unapproachable.

Do not eat while you have customers in your space.

Do not abruptly stand when a customer comes near your display, because it is distracting and a bit intimidating to the person. You can say if you need any help please ask and then wait until the customer speaks before making conversation.

Have fun, look happy, be busy making something, reorganizing displays, etc. This should be a great learning experience for you even if you don't sell as much as you think you should. You learn a great deal every time you do a show.

See a show before you commit to it. Wander though it. Talk to the dealers. Watch how many people are buying.

Viewing a show is an eye opener and has saved me lots of disappointment.

It takes time, effort and commitment to do a show, but it is a great way to meet people and to sell your craft.

Photo: Me Reading a Paranormal Romance - Do Not Do This at a Show

Flea Market Image in the Public Domain
Flea Market Image in the Public Domain

A Word of Advice

Try it Before You Buy It

I know how exciting it can be to be accepted at a craft show, and how disappointing it can be when it is not the right show for what you are selling.

Remember to visit the show before you decide to do it. I guarantee it will save you lots of heartache and wasted time.

Notice the type and quality of items being sold and decide whether they go well with your work?

Are there food vendors, bands, other entertainment that might keep buyers away from sellers?

Many outdoor shows sell food and have entertainment, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. You have to judge whether the food and entertainment is an asset to the venue that will draw people in or a liability for the sellers that will keep people from buying.

Notice if there is electricity available, bathrooms nearby, and easy access to parking. Is the show clean, organized, well lit? I

Forearmed is forewarned. Always be prepared before you do a show.

Help is on the Bookshelf - Preparing for a Craft Show

I have listed just a few of the many books that discuss how to put together a craft show. No matter how many you read, craft shows are like designing your craft, they take a little imagination to produce results. You want to stand out by making a tasteful statement that no one else is making. You want to look as unique as your creations. These books are helpful reading.

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    • profile image

      flowski lm 5 years ago

      I have a bunch of cool hand-,mined crystals that I think would be great at a craft fair. Thanks for the tips.

    • profile image

      greenlungsofpoland 5 years ago

      Great tips shared with my crafting friends :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Excellent Advise! Thanks for posting this!

    • tfsherman lm profile image

      tfsherman lm 5 years ago

      Oooooh, craft shows! I love beading but only as a hobby -- competition seems really tough right now, and I admire you for putting yourself together so professionally.

    • Gloriousconfusion profile image

      Diana Grant 5 years ago from United Kingdom

      Good information here - Angel Blessings from me and I shall bookmark this lens to refer to when I do a craft sale

    • BusinessSarah profile image

      BusinessSarah 5 years ago

      You've got some great advice here on how to present yourself during an art show. I love perusing our local craft events, but I really dislike when a vendor starts pestering me and essentially guilting me into a purchase. I don't want to buy someone's handmade items because they're pestering me, I want to buy it because I love it!

    • norma-holt profile image

      norma-holt 6 years ago

      Much improved except you still have some default titles. Blessed and featured on Blessed by Skiesgreen 2012 and also on Art Supplies. Hugs

    • norma-holt profile image

      norma-holt 6 years ago

      This could be improved considerably by breaking up the text with a few paragraphs, spaces between them and a TOC at the top. Also change default headings. Hugs.

    • profile image

      getmoreinfo 6 years ago

      I love to go to craft shows, they are so much fun. These are some great insider tips on what its like to sell items at these open markets. Very nice.

    • Mickie Gee profile image

      Mickie Goad 6 years ago

      I used to make jewelry and went to many craft shows. Your advice is invaluable.

    • profile image

      jroberge 6 years ago

      Thanks for the advice!

    • designsbyharriet profile image

      Harriet 6 years ago from Indiana

      @SusanDeppner: Thanks Susan will fill out questionnaire when I return from my trip.

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 6 years ago from Arkansas USA

      Great advice!