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I recently did my first few craft shows. The first couple were ok, but I wish I knew these tips when I started! It would have saved me a TON of trouble. If you're thinking about getting started with craft shows, you can make a decent amount of money – so check out these few tips about how to get started with craft shows. Selling items at a craft fair can be both fun and lucrative, especially if you need funds to support the hobby you are selling. Here are my top ten things to think about as a newbie craft show vendor:
The first thing I had to do was figure out where to find events. I look for signs around the community, I asked people who I knew had done them in the past, and I checked the newspaper. Where I had the most success was searching on Facebook. Sometimes I am able to find events randomly through Facebook, but I also found a group called “Craft Shows-Upstate NY.” Now I follow that group and try to book events as quickly as I can. Look for groups like that, local to you, and make some good connections!
It's really important to pay attention when booking an event. Some provide tables and some don't. When they do, you need to find out what size: I have had 6′, 8′, and 10′. Some events only provide a table if you pay extra. You also usually have to request electricity if you need it, and it's often first come, first served. Think carefully about what you'll need for your booth! I started by only doing event where tables were provided, but I have been having so much fun and success that I just invested in a table!
You need to think carefully about what to charge for your items and if you are prepared to haggle with people over prices. Obviously, you need to strike a balance between making your money back, earning something extra, and having a price people are willing to pay. It's your decision if you care to haggle, but I would be prepared to answer that question either way. You also need to think about how to label the prices on your wares. People are turned off if they can't tell how much something costs, so be sure you have a label of some kind. You might write it on the lids, add cute tags, or provide a highly visible price list!
Think ahead about how you would like for people to pay you. If you will be taking cash only, you should be prepared with lots of change. Think carefully about it you want to make change with coins, or keep your prices in full dollar amounts only. You should also consider how you will house your cash at the event.
You might want a cash box, but my preference is a fanny pack. You do look a little goofy, but your money is both on hand and safe. You should know ahead of time if you are willing to take checks. I honestly don't, because you just never really know if it will cash if you accept it from a stranger.
Finally, think about if you are willing to accept credit cards. These days, many people don't carry cash and only want to shop with a credit card. A really simple way to take credit cards is by using a Square credit card reader. It's free to get one and you pay a small fee to use it. However, you can get your first $1000 free of processing fees by using this link, and another $1000 free for each friend you share it with!
It's really important to think about how to set up your table, because the better it looks, the more people who will be attracted to your table! I personally think that less is more. I find it hard to visit and shop at tables that try to do everything. Try to think about how to organize it so that shoppers can most easily navigate. Think about if they need somewhere to write (like to fill out a raffle ticket, etc), a place to stop and chat with you, etc. You can display all of the types of items you have for sale, but you don't need every duplicate on the table. You will also notice that many people have a nice tablecloth, and many of them are printed with a logo. you might think about investing in a nice tablecloth, as it has a huge impact.
Sometimes people are in a hurry, too many people are at your table, or people want to think over a purchase before making it. Do you have a way to give out your info to anyone who wants it? I keep business cards easily accessible on my table, as well as flyers that show all of what is available to buy. I put a sticker with my info on everything! That way, even if people do buy something, they know how to find me if they want more or a friend also wants something. Be sure to take advantage of the opportunity to get your name out there as much as possible!
I don't mean food to give out, but rather, think about how/what you will eat during the day! Depending on the hours of the event, it may be long and you will get hungry! Some events sell food, but others may not. I always pack a lunch and snacks, but you also have to think about how you can eat whatever you bring without interfering with your sales. You need to be able to take quick bites and be ready to talk to people stopping by at any time. This is easier to deal with if you run your table with a friend, so you can take turns.
Think carefully about how you want to dress for your event! If you are at a Christmas event, maybe you want to look festive. Depending on what you are making or selling, you may want to look professional, laid-back, athletic, etc. Think about the image you are trying to convey. I will also say that you never know if you will be hot or cold at an event and it's best to have layers and options. I have started keeping extra jackets and shoes in my car, since I have been places that were freezing and places that were way too hot!
This was one of the most surprising things to me as a new vendor. If an event begins at 10, they might let you set up beginning at 8. I always get there at 8 and get ready, but others roll in as the event begins. Maybe they are so well practiced that they can do this, but I find it very rude. Sometimes, they leave a door open to bring things in and my setup blows over from the wind, etc. Also, you are usually asked not to tear down until the event ends, but again, people can be very rude and pack up and leave at any time. Find out what the expectations are for the event. Also, think about your image, what do customers think when you are late or leave early?
I did a practice set-up before I did my first event, and I photographed the final setup, so that I would be able to re-create it once I got to the event. I was SO thankful that I did that, because once you're there, it feels frantic and rushed if you've never done it before (and sometimes even if you have)! If you have the chance to do a dry run, you should. Measure out the space you will have and try out a few arrangements. I did the same thing with how I packed everything up and into my car. I know that is my type A personality showing, but it really made my life so much easier later!
I think that the most important thing to remember is that everyone's first show will have a few bumps, but just learn from them and get ready for the next event! I have done all of my table events with a partner and it makes the world of difference, so if you have the chance to do that, you won't be sorry.
Good luck at your event and let us know how it goes!