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Beginners Guide to Craft Shows and Fairs

Updated on February 22, 2019
linfcor profile image

Professional scrapbook artist, paper crafter, and author, I have taught people how to make family memories into legacies for 20 years.

Best Craft Show Tips For Beginners

Lots of people. just like you, make money at craft fairs and shows ! Why not you? Craft fairs are a legitimate home business and can be done either full or part time, depending on your resources, motivation and dedication. It's not difficult to do a craft show or fair, but what you need to do is get organized and informed. This is a guide to help you have your first successful craft show.

There is a big difference between a person who has a craft hobby and a professional crafter. You have to decide if you are doing your craft for the joy of it or you want to make a job of it.

A great way to decide if your craft is sell worthy is to enter it in your local county fair. These fairs are judged by crafters, so you will get an idea if your craft measures up before you go into it professionally. Later on, you can display your craft ribbons at your professional shows.

Before You Get Started

Do A Little Research

Before you actually do a craft fair or show, it's important to attend a couple to get the lay of the land Take a notepad and a camera or a cellphone that can take pictures. Look at the displays and take pictures of the ones that you like. Talk to the vendors. Most of them will be happy to give you information. Look at the crafts they are selling and note prices for compatable items to yours. Talk to the organizers and get information about upcoming shows.

Look at the traffic flow and listen to the customers. Look at what displays seem popular and think about why !

This will help you think about how you will get your own display together.

Details Make A Difference !

Before you do any show, understand the details of the show you are considering participating in. This one tip will save you time and make you more profitable. You need to know who is hosting the show and how well they are planning to advertise the show.

You need to know the cost of the spaces available as well as the details on set ups and times of the craft show.

Of course you need to know things like how much space are they offering, inside or outside space, are they providing tables and lighting.

And of course you will want to know the cost for the space

Research Your State Laws And Federal Laws

You must actively check the laws in your state regarding vendors. Some states require that you have a license/ and or collect state taxes. It has been said that state inspectors do make checks, so if your state requires a license, make sure that you have it with you at any sale that you do.

Of course you will have business expenses that may be deductions on your state and federal taxes. So keep simple books on your profits and costs. All of these issues do not have to weigh you down

If you are outdoors, have a piece of carpeting on the ground in a color that matches your brand color,

Branding Yourself For Craft Shows

What You Wear Can Make A Difference

It's important to be comfortable doing craft shows, but it's also important to make a professional appearence. What you wear can actually make a difference in your sales.

First Rule of thumb, is ware what you makeIf you make jewelery, clothing or anything you can wear, wear it yourself. You will show your customers how good your product looks. You will be a walking billboard for your goods

Wear a tshirt with your company name and logo on it Make it in the colors that you use for your business to keep it all balanced. Use your business name and a slogan, plus a picture. You are advertising your business where ever you are

Ware a nice pair of kacki pants or shorts and a good pair of shoes People are drawn to people who look like they know what they are doing

Ladders can be used as display areas. Use the ladder spaces to add baskets and containers that will fit in the space

Craft Show Supplies-What You Will Need

I know this looks like a daunting list, but for the most part, you probably have most of these items in your house. If not, I suggest the dollar store. Lots of items can be found there at extremely good prices.

  1. Inventory You have to have something to sell of course. You can sell one specific item or many items, that's your choice. But you must have enough inventory to get through the day and make a profit. How much is enough? That's something you will learn as you do the shows.Do not attend shows with hefty booth fees if you have a small inventory or low priced items. You will not make it through the day at profit.A good rule of thumb is to bring three times the amount of inventory you are hoping to sell
  2. Two to three six foot folding tables And Chairs This is the basis of your display. You need strong tables if you are planning to have it hold heavier crafts or more vertical displays. Check with the promoters and organizers, sometimes these items are provided
  3. Full or Queen Sized Sheets To Cover Your Tables You can use sheets to cover your tables. If you chose neutral colors in the beginning, you can add seasonal touches. Later on, you can add to your inventory. You can also select colors to match your brand or logo. Unifying your colors in their case, makes for a more finished look
  4. Display Items You will need items to show off your crafts. Baskets, bins, boxes make perfect show pieces.
  5. Business Cards You can print business cards right off your computer or go to Vista Print where you can get custom cards at a good price
  6. An Apron For Your Money Or A Money Box You need to have enough money to be able to make change. You will be hardpressed to make a sale if you don't have the right amount. Keep your money close to you for security
  7. Personalized Bags Use plain paper bags and personalize them. You can stamp them, add ribbon to them. You can often buy these in craft stores. (make sure to use a store coupon) Also remember to include a business card or flier in every bag
  8. Notepad Or Order Book This will assist you if someone wants an item in a different color or pattern
  9. A Receipt Book Some customers will prefer to have one. You can purchase these a your local office supply store. Get a stamp with your information and imprint them.
  10. Pens People may need them to write on......
  11. Calculator Used to add items and calculate taxes
  12. Tax table for sales tax (you can print them out from every state's website)
  13. Pins, Tacks and Safety Pins Useful to do display work
  14. A form for mailing lists or individual information Give something away to get more information. Have a basket to put your forms in.Get thier email address so that you can contact them for future shows
  15. Power Strip and Extensions Only if you need it
  16. Paper Towels-just in case of a spill. Patrons often walk around with drinks and food.
  17. One or two pairs of scissors
  18. Water proof bins to carry your inventory and supplies
  19. Masking and regular tape
  20. Tents and tent weights if you are doing outside shows

Use a colorful banner to call eye attention to your booth

Use upright space to your best advantage
Use upright space to your best advantage

Make Your Price Tags and Signs

it's important to be as organized as possible. Be sure to make and price tags or price signs before you head out

Rolling Cart To Move Your Inventory And Supplies - Make It Easy On Yourself

Unless the organizers of the craft shows you are attending allow to to park right by your display, you will be carrying your goods. These carts make it fast and easy to get to your tables

dbest products Quik Two-Wheeled Collapsible Handcart with Yellow Lid Rolling Utility Cart with seat Heavy Duty Lightweight
dbest products Quik Two-Wheeled Collapsible Handcart with Yellow Lid Rolling Utility Cart with seat Heavy Duty Lightweight

You need at least one tote to keep your supplies organized and dry. The handy lid on this one makes it perfect to get your stuff to the fair

 

Offer a giveaway for a free item of reasonable value in exchange for an email. That way you will create a following that you can email every time you do a show, But follow up and actually give away the time. Have a pile of entry forms, with some pens and a box for the entries. Have a sign and the item for view.

Plan Your Display In Advance Of The Event

You need to do a mock display arrangement ahead of you event. That way, you will know where your items will go. It also helps you think about the things that you need to bring to set up your display.

Make sure that your items are not too crowded together so that they don't get lost in the shuffle.

Take a picture with your cell phone so that you remember your final set up once you are happy with it.

Take a card reader (Etsy, Square, Paypal). Debit/Credit card readers are free however, they charge a fee when you use them per sale. However, it is so worth it because people rarely carry cash anymore and if aren’t able to take their card, then you won’t get their money.

Non Juried Craft Fairs

Best Way To Start Your Craft Fair Experience

These craft fairs and shows allow any crafter to exhibit and sell on a first come, first serve basis. There is usually a fee to sell at the event ranging from $20 -$65. Sometimes there is a per table fee or a percentage of sales fee. Make sure you understand what the fee is before you commit to the event. Often these types of events are run by a school, church or organization as a find raiser. Often these shows are indoors and you will be renting tables. Check with the event organizer to find out what is provided.

These are good options for you, especially if you are just starting out. Select an event that has been ongoing for a couple of years. These events generally have a good following.

Ask questions before you commit:

1. How long has the event been running ?

2.How many crafters are doing the show?

3.How many people attended last year?

4.Hopw is the sale organized

Remember at a non-juried show crafters are taken on a first come-first serve basis. So there is no guarantee how many others are showing the same kind of crafts as you are. Weigh your choices carefully

Have business cards available. You can get reasonably priced business cards on the internet or make them up yourself

Juried Craft Shows

The larger craft fairs and shows are generally juried. In the case of a juried craft event, you will need to submit a portfolio of your work with pictures, a resume and a jury fee. A selection committee will review your portfolio. They are looking for originality, creativity, marketability and quality. They are also looking at your booth set up. When you have been selected for a juried show, you know that there is going to be more traffic and more potential for profitability.

The booth fee for this type of show ranges from $100-$3500, depending on the size of the booth and the duration of the event.

At these larger events, if held indoors, often has floor space and back drapes. Remember you are renting booth space. So you may have to bring in tables, chairs, carpeting, lighting, ect. Always check with the organizer to find out exactly what is provided.

At more rural events, where you are buying booth space, that literally is what it is. In that case, you would need to have a tent or covered space plus your table chairs, ect. Ask if there will be electricity available so you know how to organize your display.

While you may pay more to be in a juried show, there is also more opportunity to make more profit. Once you make a juried show, it is an important part of your resume and experience level

Use vintage suitcases as display pieces

Use any wall space to your advantage
Use any wall space to your advantage

Free Resources To Find Events In Your Area - Your First Step Is To Find A Venue

The first step in your business is to find shows in your area. There are lots of ways to do this. First, check your local newspapers. Often they will publish lists of people looking for vendors. Look at community bulletin boards.Check for local events like festivals. Contact groups that you know have held events in the past.

Churches often have craft fairs and shows. Call the church office and ask for information about their schedules.

If you do greeting cards, they will be handled, so make sure to have them in some kind of plastic

Wrap your items in cellophane or plastic bags and add a business card. This way other people will see your items. It is literally a walking ad for your business

Ready To Do Your First Show?

Keeping It Local

The right way to get started is to have a plan and start with small steps. So thinking ahead, the logical first step is to do a local show with a reasonal rental fee. As your experience and talent increases, you can go farther oit into the field

Remember to pack some water and some food for yourself

If you are working thge craft show alone, you won't have time for a break

Questions And Information To Ask Organizers

  • Is it an indoor or outdoor show? If it is an outdoor show, you will need some kind of protection, usually a special tent
  • Is there electricity available? Of course that is only if you need it for your display or products
  • How long will I have to set up my display? You might also ask what is the earliest time that you can set up.
  • Are tables and /or chairs provided? You may need to bring your own, but if they provide them, why bother to carry them?
  • What is the price of the table or display area? You will need to know if the price is per table and what would an additional table cost you You will need to know how much you can bring
  • Make sure that no other vendors with like products will be placed next to your spot You don't want to be next to someone with the same products. Otherwise people will compare you.
  • How many people usually attend the fair? You will need to have enough inventory to cover the event.

Enlist some help

Sometime during the day, you are going to at least need a potty break-just a fact of life

Remember too, that customers will drift from your area if you are waiting on one customer and another needs your attention

Presentation Does Count !

How do your potential customers see your products ? What makes someone stop at one booth and pass the other one by?

In one word, display. You can have the best items at the best price and still not sell a thing. That may easily be because you did not take time to display them properly. Here is a list of ideas that you can use to get the best displays that will turn heads and get you more sales.

  • Use colorful table cloths or sheets to cover your tables.
  • Use wooden crates stacked on one another to make shelving. This adds a bit of rustic charm
  • Use a clothesline with items "pinned" on them
  • Create a photo or scrapbook of your items, past and present

Pricing Your Items

Pricing and selling are the cornerstone of your business. Simply put, if you are not making money at your business you are not making the most out of your time and effort.

So what do you need to take into consideration when pricing your items:

  1. Raw materials-is is the cost of the supply you need for each item you create (eg.: beads and leather for a bracelet) + the costs of packaging it (labels, tags, boxes, sleeves, etc.).
  2. Labor and time-this is the time spent creating this product x your hourly wage. You have to pay yourself for your work! This also guarantees that you can scale your business and hire someone to help you with the product creation when you are ready as that salary will be accounted for in your prices.
  3. Overhead-Your overhead is made of the expenses that you have to pay each month to be able to create those products: studio rent, insurance, design software, utilities, etc. Even if they’re not direct costs, they are costs related to your product creation and need to be accounted for. When calculating your overhead, account only for the expenses related to the product creation.


Kinds Of Crafts That Sell Well

The first thing you need to consider is that quality will sell over quantity. People are willing to spend money for an item that will last.

Themes sell. Specialty items for pets are especially good money makers. Things for kitchen and baths sell well too.

Personalized crafts sell well too. Anything with someone's name always creates attention.

Holiday themes are very popular. Theme your crafts to any season coming up. Things like socking stuffers, teacher's gifts and gift card holders are always popular.

© 2019 Linda F Correa

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