Coffee, Beads, and Blogging #2: So You Think You Are Ready For a Craft Show?

Okay….so you have been crafting some time now and have like a ton of stuff made and you want to sell at an upcoming arts and crafts fair. Here are some tips that will majorly help you out! I am by no means an expert. I have however been doing craft shows since 2006 and have found some things that have been extremely helpful to me and hope they will be to you guys as well,

Scope out the venue first before applying to be a vendor. Why? This will help you determine if your items would sell at this event. If you make frilly baby clothes and the event is like a death metal biker show, you may not want to set up there. You need to have a pretty good understanding of what the event is about, what their rules for selling are, and the location. DO YOUR HOMEWORK! Most events have Facebook pages and websites. Check out reviews of the venue to see what patrons and vendors are saying about the event. Most of the time, the higher the booth fee the better the venue will be. But this isn’t always the case. I once spent $175 on a booth fee and had more stolen than I sold.

Get a good night’s sleep the night before the event. Why? It will not be beneficial to you or your customers if you are dead on your feet from staying up all night. When you are tired, it shows on your face. Even with heavy caffeination, you will still be dragging. Besides, you don’t want those puffy bags under your eyes anyway.

Eat a good breakfast. Why? Taking the time to eat something that is a bit heavier on calories and BIG protein will give you an energy boost to sustain you during set up and at least the first half of the day. Besides, you really don’t want your tummy grumbling in front of customers. I do NOT recommend eating a fast food breakfast unless it is the only thing available. Fast food breakfasts are usually unbalanced , heavy on grease, and other unwanted stuff. Make up your breakfast the night before and just reheat if you know you will be strapped for time. You will thank yourself later. I usually make up homemade pancakes or an omelet roll (recipe here).

Raise your table up to counter height, especially if your items are smaller. Why? There is a whole psychology around this one. Here in the US, it seems people don’t like to bow to look at things. Raising your tables up gives off a store appearance. I have read many articles on this one and have witnessed it make a difference. How do you raise your tables up? Simply get some PVC pipe the diameter of your table legs and cut them into 6 inch sections. When you are setting up, slip them onto the table legs.

Bring a buddy. Why? You will have someone to talk to, help run the booth, give you a break so you can eat and go potty. It will help pass the time. Bringing a buddy will also help prevent theft.

Bring a chair. Why? When it gets slow, you can sit. At some point you will want to sit down to take a break and eat something.

A cheap NEUTRAL colored table cover can make all the difference. Why? If you use a covering, customers will perceive you as professional and clean. You do not want customers to get the impression they are at a yard sale. Your table coverings don’t have to be expensive. You can buy them or make them yourself. I use twin or full size flat sheets from the Walmart or a discount/dollar store such as Rose’s, Fred’s, or Dollar General. They run anywhere from $5 each to $8 each. I use the $5 to $6 ones from Rose’s and they look fine. The neutral colors, like white, cream, and tan, won’t clash with your items and will actually make your products stand out.

Dress comfortably while looking professional. Why? You want to be comfortable while presenting yourself in a pleasing way to your customers. You don’t want to dress in sweatpants and a tee shirt if it’s 90 degrees outside. Good shoes are a definite MUST HAVE! You will be on your feet most of the day, so wear something that will support that. In other words, don’t wear stilettos. Present yourself in a manner that your customers will see as pleasing and inviting. Again, presentation is everything!

Organize your stuff. Why? If you are organized, you know what you need to make, supplies to buy, etc. You will have a good feel for your preparedness for a craft fair. This will include the following:

• Price everything ahead of time and take a proper inventory. Why? If things are priced, customers won’t be asking you constantly “How much is this?” freeing up your time to sell your pretties. If you inventory everything, you have a pretty good idea of what you have. This will also help in case you have a few things vanish from your booth only to find out weeks or months later when you get to looking for that item. It happens more than you think.

• Test run your booth space and take photos. Why? This will give you a sense of what you can fit within the confines of your space as well as give yourself an idea of how you want your tables to look. It will also give you the opportunity to fine tune your product offerings and organize them accordingly. It will also help simplify your display. While you are setting up at your event, you can refer back to your photos to double check your display. Remember, presentation is EVERYTHING! Perception if 9/10th of reality.

• Pack your items to sell neatly and securely. Why? This will prevent any damage in transit. Trust me, you don’t want to have a $400 necklace snap on the way to a show or a $100 blanket look like it has been wadded up and stomped on.

• Make sure to pack pencils, note pad/receipt book, calculator and a check blank. Why? You will need to keep a record of your sales so you can turn in sales tax info at the end of the show and most shows require a payment in the form of a check for taxes. With a receipt book, you can write down all your sales and see how profitable the show was for you. Also you can take people’s email addresses and let them know about any upcoming events or new items you have.

• Pack any tools and supplies relevant to your craft for quick fixes. Why? You never know what can happen during a show. If something broke on the way to the show, you will be able to fix it. If something looks a bit tarnished or dirty, you can clean it up. If you carry supplies, you can make something new when a slow period comes.

• Pack a cooler with drinks and snacks. Why? If you get hungry or thirsty….enough said. Fair food can get expensive and you will be eating into your profits…literally.

• Pack a charging pod for your phone/tablet. Why? I don’t know how many times I have had my phone die during a show with no way to charge it. If your phone or tablet dies, no credit card processing. Bummer. The charging pods are relatively inexpensive ranging from $10 and up. You don’t need a $50 unless you really want to spend that. I got mine for like $12 and it works just fine at charging my phone. It will actually hold enough of a charge to recharge two phones.

• Turn off unnecesary running apps on your phone/tablet. Why? So they won’t kill your battery. Doing this will also free up running memory so you can process credit cards faster. You don’t want a laggy device during a purchase.

• If you are going to accept credit cards, make sure you carry your reader. Also, make sure the app for that reader is working properly. Why? If you forget, you can’t make the sale. And if the app fails during the show, sorry Charlie. At least with Square, you can process offline sales in case the reader fails. You can’t do that with Paypal or the Etsy readers (yet).

• Pack bags for customer purchases. Why? It will make the customer feel special. They don’t have to be expensive and you can actually recycle shopping bags if you store them in a way that they won’t look all balled up and messy. I usually get mine in the craft section of Walmart, you know those plain brown paper ones they have. I have also seen a great deals on them at Hobby Lobby and Michaels.

Hope this helps you guys out

Tags: craft fair booth set up tips selling tips venue presentation tips

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Marta ...

Raziela- Excellent suggestions and a great reference for all of us to fall back on!

Chris Donofrio ...

I have a show coming up in exactly 1 month. I’ve been doing many of the things you suggest here, but you had more items that are great ideas! Really appreciate the advise! I totally like the idea of raising the table up. I have a set of “bed risers” that I may use for that purpose.

Shelly Owen ...

Edited….I forgot some things.

Fran Gold ...

Love this article! Thank you for the wonderful tips!

jj jewelry ...

I will be doing my first craft show in the fall and these hints have really helped me out. Thank you so much for posting.

Brandswife Creations ...

Great post and some great ideas, thank you.

Terrie ...

Timing is everything, right? I am going to embark on my very first craft fair, this Friday evening, and was poking around the site for some suggestions about set up, table dressing, etc. I’ve found several articles already, and yours is great! All the articles I’ve read included at least one or two tidbits of very important information. Thank you so much for posting this! I will keep checking in for further ideas & nuggets of wisdom. I’m taking copious notes, or at least trying to glean information from all the different articles. I sure wish it was all in one place! Lol!

Shelly Owen ...

I’m glad this has helped you guys out.

Chris Donofrio ...

I’d like to pose a question … What do you think of doing a “gift certificate give-away” drawing at a craft show? I was thinking of asking people to fill out an entry form… just their name, email address and phone nbr… and then do the drawing close to the end of the craft show. The winner would not have to be present to win, and I could notify the winner by phone or by email.

Shelly Owen ...

Chris….I may do a post on your question. I have done them before and sometimes it goes right and sometimes it doesn’t.

Chris Donofrio ...

Thank you, Raziela… I’d appreciate it very much.

Shelly Owen ...

Chris, I made the post for you. I hope it helps.

Chris Donofrio ...

I just started reading it! Thanks so much…. BTW, in the picture shown in that post, what size tent is that?

Shelly Owen ...

???? I didn’t have a picture in my post.

Chris Donofrio ...

I saw a picture of a tent with tables on 3 sides, the back was partially open, a red chair just outside the back… on top of the tables were some folding bookshelves with black necklace displays… Sound familiar? Am I psychic? LOL Maybe I dreamt it was how my tent will look!