Hi. My name’s Holly, and I’m a craft show addict. I love going to, talking about, and participating in craft shows.
I have a few shows under my belt, but if I’m being completely honest- they weren’t all good. That’s right, crafty friends. I’ve had amazing craft show experiences that made me feel a satisfaction I’d never encountered before. But I’ve also bombed, big time. You will be investing money, time, effort, and little pieces of your soul into each craft show you sign up for. So I’ve gathered up five important factors in making sure your crafty adventures will be fun, organized, and profitable.
Think of craft shows like relationships. Short, passionate relationships. You don’t want to just throw yourself at every one that comes along, now do you? Of course there will be times when you’ll have to take a risk, such as new shows that look promising. But you will definitely need to think about who buys your work and what events they are most likely to attend. The above photos represent shows that have been successful for me in the past. I tend to do best at festival-type shows with music, refreshments, and a lively atmosphere. Your audience might be completely different, but the best way to start having successful craft shows is by being choosy about which ones you sign up for in the first place.
Craft shows require a large amount of time and planning, so keep yourself on task by making a list of things you need to do in preparation and try to get started on it well before the big day. Rather than cramming everything into the day before the show, start as early as possible making inventory, pricing and packaging your items, gathering supplies, dreaming up display ideas, and promoting the show online. If you’re new to the craft show circuit or if you’ve added new products, I recommend doing a mock setup before the show. You don’t want to run into any problems when you’re actually setting up at the show, so it’s good to iron out any kinks beforehand.
I really want to emphasize this point because not only is it tremendously important, it’s also fun! Start viewing the world through the eyes of a craft show vendor. Perhaps the shoe box under your bed could be wrapped in pretty paper and used to add height to your table, or maybe your jewelry would stand out to customers if you dangled it from vintage dishes or tree branches. You are a crafty genius, and your booth should reflect your innovative spirit! Take pride in your work by putting thought and effort into your setup. I find it helpful to browse craft spaces set up by others to get an idea of what would look good with my work. If you need some inspiration, check out this pinboard I created on Pinterest or this awesome Flickr group.
Sometimes people get caught up in the actual day of the craft show, failing to realize that much of your business will occur after the fact. Even if you don’t make a ton of sales, you should be doing everything you can to make your business visible to the patrons of the show. There are the obvious strategies, such as signage and business cards, but you can make your mark in other ways too. Your packaging and tags should lead customers to your website in case they love your work so much they decide they want more in the future. Promos such as stickers, buttons, coupons, magnets, and small samples are a great way to draw people into your booth and keep them thinking about you after the fact. Make friends with the community and the fellow artists and make a name for yourself.
Although the climate is changing, there are people out there who are skeptical of handmade items and craft businesses. Do NOT reinforce this misconception! Your business should meet all the expectations you would have for a large store. Be friendly, helpful, and attentive, acknowledging every customer who takes the time to look at your work. Offering a friendly bit of dialogue or information on your work is fine, but don’t hover or act pushy toward customers who are trying to browse. Don’t offer items for sale unless they’re well-made. And please, for the love of all that is sacred in the world of handmade goodies, price your items. You would be amazed at the number of sales you’re missing if your items are not clearly marked with tags or signs.
The best way to gain insight into what works for you is to get out there and give it your best. One last bit of advice I have is to be positive. Go into each show with a smile and a bright outlook. People gravitate toward things that make them feel pleasant, so try not to frown or grumble no matter what the circumstances may be. Tell yourself you will have an amazing time, that you’ll meet new friends, and that you’ll come home with a wad of cash in your pockets. And if even one of those things turns out to be true, you were successful.