Advice to folk on doing a craft fair

I’ve now done ~ 10 local art/craft fairs, some juried, some not. I’ve learned a lot from other folk in the blog-o-sphere (this list of craft fair advice from The Small Object is awesome, also comments on this Pink Chalk Studio post), but I wanted to share some things I’ve learned:

  1. Have a sign or something that tells people who you are. On my list of things to do is to make a 2-3 foot square quilt that has my business name 7 tag line on it. until then, I’ve got some 8.5 x 11 signs printed on glossy photopaper.
  2. Tote bags look better hanging than sitting. You may even want to stuff them with something so they have lots of shape.
  3. I am LIVING the “I’m not going to have enough to sell!” So you only do the best that you can. Every time I have a show, I keep meaning to make some smaller items like simple wallets, etc…and I never get to them, because the profit I would make is so small. I’d rather make one more bag than 10 mini wallets, and the profit would be about the same.
  4. Assembly line – make 4 or 5 of something at once. It truly does cut down on the time/item – but freaks you out because none are done until they’re all done.
  5. If you make stuff that can be worn, get a dummy/dress form to drape your items on.
  6. I’m sure you’ve read lots of general advice about this sort of thing, things like wearing comfortable shoes, bringing plenty to eat/drink & duct tape etc… All of that is helpful, but the most helpful advice of all is that you have to engage the customer. You have to figure out when to just say hi and when to schmooze, but interacting with the customer makes all the difference.
  7. Take the time to write or stamp your business name across a bunch of your sales slips. I ALWAYS flake out on writing all that I want to write on the sales slips – you want to be as quick as possible at the time of sale so that you don’t make the customer wait, plus you want to sell to someone else.
  8. Keep your money in an apron or a bag that you keep around your neck – you never want to worry about where that has gone to.
  9. Have a pad setup to add people to your mailing list.
  10. Have a space for people to write checks that is separate from where you’re merchandise is. The last picture in this post shows the stand my husband built for this purpose (it’s like a tall, skinny bookcase. I keep plastic baskets with bags and other stuff I need to sell on the shelves accessible on the back. Plus my diet coke.) This is a new addition and I love it – before that people would scoot some notetakers out of the way to write, and I ended up with a notetaker with a pen mark across it – ouch!
  11. Have some special order slips made up so you can quickly write those up – if you’d like to do that.
  12. Bring some red sticky dots in case someone buys something but doesn’t want to take it just yet – then you can make it sold but keep displaying it…I’ve gotten a few special orders this way.
  13. Don’t hold something for someone unless they give you the money.
  14. Be prepared with an answer when someone asks for a quantity discount. Um, have two, the nice one and the forceful one when they don’t like your 1st answer.
  15. Lighting! The cheap clip on lights in my booth are a godsend – you can get them for like 5$/each at your local big box store.
  16. Have fun and rake in the dough!

show 002 show 001

show 003

I hope this advice helps someone!

4 Responses to Advice to folk on doing a craft fair

  1. Thanks for the great advice. I just started doing craft shows and I still have yet to figure out the best way to display my wares.

  2. Excellent post! I just applied for my first show and will hear on Monday. They’re making me wait, just like everyone else, the meanies! I’ve done giant trade shows in convention centers for 15 years, but have not done the small, bring everything with type before. I have lots of display ideas and will be ready to jump as soon as I hear. On Monday. Like two whole days from today. Really, they can’t tell me now? Oy.

  3. Came across your website from Jena’s Monthly Meetup post- love your quilts and color palette! This was a great article & good advice. I’ve thought about trying to do some fairs next fall or winter, so this is good info to file away in the back of my head. Good luck with this month’s goals!

  4. Came across your website from Jena’s Monthly Meetup post- love your quilts and color palette! This was a great article & good advice. I’ve thought about trying to do some fairs next fall or winter, so this is good info to file away in the back of my head. Good luck with this month’s goals!
    BTW I love your blog!