Tips for Your First Craft Show
If you're about to embark on your first craft show then there's a lot to think about, but so long as you cover the essentials, then there's no need to stress about the "nice to have" things.
Firstly, you will need to make your own check list. You can start by using the tips below, but your products and situation will be a little different to everybody else's, so you will need to create a check list that works for YOUR craft show table.
Gathering craft show design ideas is something you can never stop doing as it's important to keep things fresh and as exciting and inviting looking as possible!
How Much Stock Should You Take?
This is always a tricky one - and something you need to do a bit more reading about and thinking about, applying what you learn to your product and your region. You will need to consider the size and price of your goods, how many hours the craft show is open and the size of your table. Take too much and you've wasted a lot of time and effort; take too little and you've lost sales!
How much stock you take should really start from looking at the profit angle: How much profit do you want to make? How many sales do you think you'll make? This is one way to guesstimate the amount of stock to take - one quick rule of thumb is to take 2-3x the amount of stock you'd need to sell to achieve that profit.
Take enough stock to fill your display/table,without cluttering it - and have as much again "under your table" ready to fill slots when you make a sale. Your table shouldn't ever get empty as an empty table isn't inviting to customers. Remember - whatever you don't sell can be sold online in the following week, or at your next craft show.
Your Table and Table Cover
Think about whether you will have a table at all - while it works for many people, others prefer to display their goods in other ways (which might not be suitable for your products). If you don't have a table, then you'll still need a small table and chair at the sales point, room for you to wrap the purchase, take the customer's money and give them change.
There are some fabulous (lightweight but sturdy) folding tables available these days - because as well as thinking about the table, you have to think how you're going to get it there. A folding table is perfect as it'll fit in your car and you can carry it yourself, making setting up quite speedy.
I have an Ikea table with screw on legs that doubles up as a craft table and as a craft show table. It's very sturdy, takes up no room and is lightweight/portable.
Add A Splash of Flash!
No matter how new your table is, it'll still need a cover. Think about your product and what colours show it off well. Many people find black velvet is the perfect "one type fits all" solution to covering their craft show table, while others want to show off their personality a little more with something a little quirkier.
You can cover your table in material, or kraft paper - if you use stamps in your branding then you can use plain paper and stamp the plain paper with your logo/branding at each venue. If you're arty, you can quickly personalise your table cover quite quickly.
However, although that sounds all nice and exciting, remember that there's work to be done. So, for most, using a simple length of material works well.
Make sure you've enough material to reach right to the floor at the front - perhaps using two pieces of material. Also - think about using the front area of your stall to display your trading name. One continuous piece of material, or two, is something for you to give thought too.
The reason for covering the front of the table all the way to the ground isn't just because it looks nicer and gives you a space for your branding - it will also hide all your bags and spare supplies and personal items under your table.
Take a walk round some local wholesale fabric warehouses, or market stalls and see what's available and how much it costs. If your table is 6' wide, 2' deep and 3' high, you'll need a piece 12' square to cover your table in one piece and hang down the front and both sides to the floor, giving you a 1' overhang on the side where you sit.
Also Think About:
How/where will you store your table cover and will it get creased/damaged between shows. It is possible to find fabrics that need no ironing, but think about how well it'll store between shows and/or give it a good iron the night before the show. If you're using paper and tearing off a new length for each show, think about whether it's likely to suffer from damp or anything else where you're storing it between shows.
What Products For Your Table?
You'll need to be displaying a good spread of your products on your table - but, for some sellers, there are reasons that they've left their best items at home. For some, their best items might be too huge for the craft show, for others the price might be too high. There is one way you can display every product you've got on your table - and easily!
Already, as a seller of goods, you're 99% likely to have photos of everything you've made. Maybe some of them are discontinued lines, or special commissions, or even a work in progress. One neat way to display everything you've got, which will help to draw people in and catch their eye, is to get all your images onto a digital photoframe and put that out on your table where it can be seen.
A rechargeable digital photoframe is iworth its weight in gold!
People might see something in the sequence of photos that makes them ask about a pricier item than you've brought with you, or about your special commissions - and it showcases your range without a potential customer feeling pressurised!
With a little more time, you could even create a slide show for your digital photoframe that shows other relevant images, or tells them a little about your work, your location, your techniques, without them feeling 'trapped' by you :)
I'd say a digital photoframe is practically an essential these days. It's a passive sales person that keeps people entertained and gets them warming to you.
Save time and money: Being able to display everything you've ever done (or your best/favorite pieces) is perfect if this is your first craft show as it means you can talk about products and take orders, rather than having to invest in materials to make items up hoping they will sell. This actuall SAVES you money and hassle in one go!
Have a Range of Goods at Various Price Points
Even if most of your products are priced in the mid-range, make sure you've still got a few smaller items that people can buy without even thinking about it. It's surprsing how those small ticket items add up - and they might just draw people in so they spot something pricier, making you more money!
Think how you can create some smaller items for the casual buyer, there's lots of inspiration to be found in books, or even online.
Make Your Display as HIGH as You Can
If your products are laid out flat on your table, people won't be able to see them when they are walking by - you're missing out on a lot of sales!
Think about how you can build height easily into your display. There's a lot of inspiration around your own home, items you can re-use, or pop out to local car boot sales/yard sales and see what can be reused.
Some ideas are:
- Create some "steps", made out of foam - much cheaper and easier to transport than getting a wooden display unit.
- Re-use old CD storage units
- Re-use empty boxes, plastic boxes, storage boxes or shoe boxes - cover them or paint them.
- If you sell art prints or photos, what about some folding screens?
- Are there any rigid uprights in your display that you can string twine between and hang things from them?
There is lots of inspiration if you start looking at the things around you and seeing how you can re-use them. How would they work standing on their side, or on their end? A display that uses height will sell much more than just laying your goods out on the table.
Cashflow and Change
Make sure you have enough change and small notes. £200/$200 of change will make sure you don't run out. Think about how your goods are priced: at X.99, or at X.50? Or do you want to keep things a bit simpler and just have everything at whole numbers?
If you're selling earrings at £4.99/$4.99 you'll need a lot more change than somebody selling art prints at £20/$20 each.
Don't forget about cash security - make sure your sales money isn't pilfered. Don't openly slide it under your table as you could get distracted and called to one corner of your booth while somebody else quickly grabs the cash. I always think a traditional market-trader's cash apron's a good idea, although it might not be "the look" you're after, so think about what you are going to do with your cash on the day.
Don't Get Caught Out By Fake Notes
One way for counterfeiters to quickly turn their fake cash into real cash is to make lots of small purchases at craft fairs. They can spot the new people and can observe who checks notes to see if they are counterfeit and who doesn't.
You can protect yourself by using a fake note checker - these are now so affordable it'd be daft not to have one since it'll save you its cost the very first time you're handed a fake note.
Using UV light, you simply hold it against the note and can instantly tell if a note is fake or not.
If you take a fake note you run the risk of ruining your reputation if you pass it back out in change or swap it for coins with another stallholder - and - when you try to bank it the bank will keep it and not replace it!
Price Up ALL Your Products
Nobody likes to ask you how much something costs - make it easy for people to buy from you. Make sure everything's priced up individually and clearly.
If you've a lot of products the same price, you can bunch them together with one big price tag; if you've a lot of products that share 3-4 prices think about a simple pricing system based on a coloured dot or the colour of the price tag attached to your goods. For bigger pieces, price them individually. If you're selling just 3-4 products then you can print out a price list and put it out on display.
The old saying "if you have to ask, you can't afford it" doesn't apply to craft shows - "if they have to ask they'll probably just keep walking" is probably closer to the mark.
If you attend a lot of different craft shows and want to change your pricing based on your location, the coloured price tag approach can work well - although too many colors can confuse customers. Again, what works best depends on your products, your prices and your location.
Take Your Camera
Once you've set up your craft show - take a photo. Of course, these days, with smartphones, taking a photo is not only easy, but you can then send it to your blog or facebook page, and/or tweet throughout the day, inviting your followers to come along to visit your show, maybe offering them a special discount.
Beyond the immediacy of taking a photo - it's good to have a photo reminder of how your table looked that day. it not only helps remind you of the show when you're wondering whether to book it the year after, but, over time, you can see how your different layouts and displays looked and compare them, or ask others for their feedback of which was best - helping you to continually improve your presentation.
I don't think any top tips list could be complete these days without Smartphones getting a mention.
This one super gadget is so versatile - and tax deductiable - and can be used in lots of ways at a craft show.
You can use your Smartphone to:
- Take photos of your table and upload it immediately to your facebook page, or to tweet, or even to your blog.
- If you've an Etsy store you don't have to mark your stall products as inactive for the day, just keep on top of stock control as you sell - and if you've sales on your Etsy stall you can even wrap them up during a quiet moment at the craft show ready to be sent! No surprises when you get home and have some wrapping to do.
- You can keep on top of questions asked in your ebay shop, or on any blogs, or websites you're active in.
- Take credit cards: You can use your smartphone to make you even more sales, by being able to take credit cards easily using the Square iPhone credit card reading app. Taking credit cards will enable your customers to buy when they've run out of cash - and even to buy more from you. The Square app doesn't work in the UK at the moment, for the UK, check out Sumup or iZettle. All these services are simple to sign up, you just pay a small price per transaction, typically 2-3%.
Again - this is a gadget that'll pay for itself in no time! A must have.
If you just turn up at the craft show, you're missing the bigger picture. People who see you there might like to take a business card for a friend, or so they can look at your website (you do have one don't you?) when they get home.
Make sure you have business cards: you can buy these very easily and cheaply these days online. One of the most popular sites at the moment is Moo Cars, their Mini Range are going down a storm with sellers as they have an option to upload a bunch of photos of your products and have a mixed box of business cards showing lots of different caqrds - and they come in a great, cute box you can simply put out on your table.
Make sure people know where your website is. Maybe you've got an Etsy store, or perhaps you sell on ebay - let people know. If you want your own website, then you can get a quick (and good) free website.
People want to know how to get in touch with you in the future - maybe one quiet person, who came into your craft stall, saw your products displayed on your digital photoframe then slipped a business card in their pocket .... and they are a local gallery scouting for local talent to supply their shop!
Future Show Dates
If you've got more shows booked - let people know where else they can see you. Print out some small sheets listing the dates and locations where you're next going to be selling. Build up your following!
Invite everybody to join your mailing list - one good idea is to send out an email to everybody who bought something at one show offering them a 10% discount if they buy from you at the next show, or in your online store within the next week. Get them coming back!
Packaging and Wrapping
Make sure you've got enough packaging and wrapping for your customers. You might like to take a supply of tissue paper, boxes, wrapping paper, ribbons - whatever you need to wrap your products up nicely.
If you're selling goods a little more functional (say small garden sculptures) where presentation isn't quite so key, a good supply of carrier bags.
People need to feel they can buy what you are selling and get it home safely.
If you're selling breakdables, you might like to have a clear sign saying "everything I sell is wrapped in bubble wrap to keep it safe". It's one of those things going through buyers' minds. If you're selling items such as cute felt animals, candles or jewellery, you should make sure your packaging is as cute as the products people are buying - so they're getting a full 'experience'.
Receipts, Guarantees and Paperwork
Give everybody a receipt. If you're offering a guarantee, make sure you've enough details of that to slip into their bag. Also, make sure that nobody walks away without your business card in their bag!
If you are selling a product such as an art print, or candles in glasses, make sure each one has an easily removable sticker on it giving your web address. Once they start showing their friends and are asked "where did you get that from?" then "somebody at a local show" doesn't help them track you down for their friend to buy one at a later date!
What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
Think about the natural and human basics of what could go wrong on the day. Make sure you've got things for your personal comfort:
- Glue/sticky tape/double sided dots
- Spare pens
- Headache tablets
- Easy to eat food, plenty of liquids to drink.
And venue specifics:
- If the venue is outdoors, are you prepared for wind? for rain?
So that's given you plenty to think about for your craft show - I hope some of it helped you to feel more organised and ready.
Have You Done Your First Craft Show Yet?
What stage are you at - there are always lessons to be learned and tips to pick up:
Pass on Your Tips.
Please feel free to add your own Craft Shop Tips in the comments area below! There's something you've learned that everybody can benefit from.
Thank you for reading.
Images: Bunting banner