One of the biggest dilemmas facing eager crafters is how to set up their booth at a craft fair and how much inventory to bring. I myself have faced this before, about a year ago, and have learned so much since. However, I am an avid learner and people person, and I love doing craft fairs, so it’s been a fairly easy to journey for me. As a result, it is hard for me to pinpoint what advice to give since it’s such a natural process for me. Luckily, there is much advice out there on blogs, on Etsy, and from teammates.
Recently, someone posted to my UWIB group asking about how to prepare for her upcoming first craft fair. Being the wonderful group of women that we are, the ever-wise UWIBers chimed in with great advice. I thought I’d share some of this wisdom with you all.
When you build your display, think up. That is, build your table displays vertically. You can either buy some grid work or hit the thrift/Goodwill Stores for bargains on various things that you can use to make displays. I’ve purchased baskets, small tables and bookshelves, and small racks to build up my display.
Get table covering that will drape to the floor so that you can put boxes and extra inventory underneath the table without it showing.
I price things in quarter increments to keep the money side of it easy. I also include sales tax in my prices so I don’t have to figure that out. I just back it out when I get home for record keeping and for paying it to the state.
Wear comfortable shoes and dress comfortably.
Check to see if the venue provides chairs or if you have to bring them.
I always pack something to drink and eat/snack on. That way if I get stuck at the table because of lots of traffic (a good problem) I can still grab a little something to eat.
Bring something to work on in case the show is slow. But be attentive to your potential customers as they come by.
Get something with good wheels on it to move your tables, displays, inventory to/from the car.
And remember that craft shows are very unpredictable – there is absolutely no rhyme or reason as to what sells or doesn’t sell at any given craft show!!
Also make sure your product is very visible and hopefully you have good lighting.
At a fall show last year a lady came into my booth who had a son displaying his handmade cards at the same show. She was lamenting how he hadn’t sold anything. I went to check out his booth, he had beautiful cards but they were all crammed into two boxes and you had to spend lots of time flipping thru them. Also he didn’t say one word to me or acknowledge that I was even in his booth. He was on the phone the whole time. You have to be a salesman even if you don’t think you are one.
I try to say good morning, etc to everyone that stops by my booth and if I see someone really interested in one of my bags or a piece of jewelry I try to engage them in a conversation, let them know about the piece, etc. I think it is important to be interested in your customers.
I take my own tables, a comfortable chair for me, and I bought one of those
three drawer plastic jobbies at Walmart for $9 or less to store all my
paperwork goodies in. It has my plastic sacks, my organza & silk bags,
tissue paper, cards, my money box, extra tools, folders with my posters,
sign up sheets for the newsletter, tape, scissors, wire ties, lint roller,
pens, Puffs, my aprons, my three legged toad, anything that I may need for
I use bed risers under my tables to raise them up for people, also bought
those at Walmart. They make a great difference. Sheets that I have sewn
the ends for a finished look. Lots of boxes to make sure you have different
levels on the top (cover them with something nice like a plain fabric).
I make all my prices without change built in and I add the tax in, so if it
says $15, then they pay $15. I back out tax later. It is so much easier.
Make sure you have plenty on cash on hand, mostly ones and fives.
I always take a cooler of water on ice, snacks like nuts and dried fruit to
nibble if I get hungry, some hard candy like peppermints for your breath.
I always take my computer for credit card sales, a fan in case it is hot
(I’m a wimp), extra tags for pricing (just in case).
It’s hard to remember because I have it all packed up and I bought a little
trailer that we keep packed so when we go it is ready.
My best advice is be prepared as best you can. Bring a helper if at all possible. Try to figure out all the logistics you can in advance, (parking, what door to enter, are there stairs to deal with, where is the lav. do they serve food, how many people attend the event what is the space configuration, will I need lighting,etc)Then put on a happy face, think “Success, Sucess, Sucess” and most important of all HAVE FUN!! I love doing shows. I is alot of hard work. But I get to meet my customers face to face and I have a whole extended family of “show friends” I have met through the years.
Be forwarned….doing shows can be addictive. “Theres no business like show business!!”
Good luck and have a wonderful show.
Oh…one other thing; never, never, never compare yourself, your sales, or your work with others at the show. Doing that is a fool-proof recipe for unhappiness.