Top 10 Things for a Successful Craft Fair

Top 10 Things for a Successful Craft Fair!

‘Tis the Season, for a craft fair, fa la la la la…so why are you stressing?  Oh, I know.  There are so many things to think about!  Now, take a breath, and let me walk you through the Top 10 Things to do for a successful craft fair.

I was once in your shoes, stressing about my first, and second, and third, craft fair.  But you know what?  I just finished my 4th craft fair and I wasn’t stressed at all…and I did great!  Personality, smile, and pleasant conversation goes a long way, so relax and enjoy!

Before you buy a booth space, look at the cost of the space and the size of the booth space.  Will you have enough room to display your items?  Do you think you will sell enough items to get that money back?  I usually pay $50 for one booth space and do well enough to get that money back, plus much more!

Also, and this is BIG…I do great at Fall and Winter Craft Fairs…not so much at a spring or summer craft fair.  Who wants to buy hats and cozy stuff in the summer?  So I recommend skipping spring and summer events, unless you make things for those seasons.  Now, let’s get to that checklist!

#1 Layout

Should you make an “L”, or straight?  What about a “U” layout?  I have found that a straight layout works best for me.  Maybe it’s psychological and makes the people feel less “trapped” or “committed”.  I don’t know.  But I’ve tried so many different layouts, and that’s what works best for me.  I also recommend pushing your table in a little bit so people can get out of the aisle and don’t feel rushed to get out of people’s way.  The aisles and walkways can get a little crowded, so make it easy for them to step out of people’s way.  Make sure to leave yourself room behind your table to walk without tripping (I may, or may not be, super clumsy).

#2  Display

Make sure you have a few different levels to your display, instead of just laying everything flat on your table.  This is where wooden crates work great!  I got mine at Michael’s Craft Store.They have a rustic feel to them, which goes great with cozy crochet items.  Stack them at different heights.  That way, people can see some of your items…your items will be visible over the head’s of the crowd.  I stack two crates and on top, position styrofoam heads (also at Michael’s Craft Store)on the top, with some of my eye catching hats and scarves!  It draws them in!  And…you can use the inside of the crate as a type of shelf to organize items that are similar to the display.  This makes things look so organized and less like a yard sale.

Top 10 Things Successful Craft Fair

I like to stick with simple white table cloths (make sure they go down to the floor on all sides of your table).  I had to use 3 table cloths on my table to make sure it was to the floor, and I slid my bins under my table.  You don’t want them to see any clutter.  I also brought some of my TV trays (covered with table cloth also) from home and set up a little “check out” station, with my gift bags and tissue paper.  I had these  behind my main table for my own use, but it still looked great.  I also hid my purse under there.

Displaying your items

I already mentioned using wooden crates, and styrofoam heads, but also think of using quirky ways to display things.  I found a beautiful ball of yarn is perfect for displaying babies hats.  I have also brought some skeins of gorgeous yarn and just stacked it, so people can see that you have made all of these wonderful things using a little strand of yarn.  It’s great for people to see what it started as, and then the finished product.  It gets a little conversation going!

If you have a shop, make sure the name of your shop is on an eye catching sign where everyone can see it!

#3 Money and Payment

Just like with a yard sale, you want to make sure you have change on hand.  Some people like to use a money box to store their cash in, but I prefer a vendor apron or a fanny pack.  Stylish, right?  But here’s why.  I am always by myself.  My husband helps me set up, but then he leaves, so I run my booth by myself.  When you have to leave to go use the restroom, you don’t want to leave your money box, so if your wearing your money, you can step away for a minute (but not too long) and not worry about your money going missing.

Now, this one is BIG!!!  Bring a credit card reader!!!  Don’t expect people to pay with cash.  It’s a new time, people love paying for everything with either debit or credit card.  You will miss out on valuable sales, sometimes hundreds of dollars, if you don’t accept cards.  At my last craft fair alone, I pulled in $345 in credit card sales alone.  Thank goodness I had my card reader.

Since I sell on Etsy, I use their credit card reader.  It links directly to my shop, so as I sell items from my shop, Etsy removes those items, so I don’t have to later go in to adjust my inventory.  Other great options are Square and PayPal.  Yes, PayPal has a card reader.  Just check what % each service charges before requesting one.  Make a sign to let everyone know you take credit cards and cash!  Then, all you need is your cell phone or tablet, plug it in and away you go!

#4 Labels and Tags

Let’s talk labels first.  This is great for branding your shop or business!  If you don’t have an actual business, and you are selling items that you have made, tags are great too!  I love to do both!  I sew on my shop labels, and then tie tags with the item name and price.  That way, people don’t have to ask you how much each item is, because many won’t ask, they will just walk away if there is no price on it.

I love to use these wooden tags, to sew onto my items.  They just have my shop name on them, but when the item is worn, it’s like a walking billboard for my shop!  You can find these wooden tags here.  Her shop is fantastic and her response time to any questions is great too!

You should also put a tag onto each item.  I know that is pretty tedious, especially if you’re like me and have over 100 items!  But it’s worth it, and I’ll tell you why.  If you just put a sign next to a group of hats with a price, people pick things up and move things.  Now that hat is sitting in a different pile.  Be prepared for this…you will get a little frustrated.  I get my tags here…she will print your shop name or personal name on them, email them to you, and you download them onto your computer.  Then you can print out as many as you want.  I used bright white card stock.  It really catches the eye and doesn’t compete with the color of your items.

Be prepared for this…

People will pick things up, move them, mess up your display, try things on, and even try to squeeze their fat heads into a baby’s Batman hat (yes, that happened to me at the last craft fair, and I wanted to cry).  If everything has it’s own tag with price, even when the item is moved, people will still know the price.  When you have a little break in traffic, reorganize your display and fill in any gaps with more inventory or other items on your table.

#5 Pricing

This is a very personal decision, but I want you to answer some questions before you start writing down $$$.

~How much did I pay for the yarn used to make this item?

~Am I willing to charge for all of the time to make this?  Or would I be happy to charge for just some of the time?

~Will this group of people (keep in mind the venue you are selling at) be willing to pay that?  Are you selling at an upscale event, a holiday bazaar, or a flea market?

~Do I have similar items that I could group together to make a set, then price the set?  Sometimes, people will pay more for a set, than if they were priced individually.  Example:  One washcloth for $3 or a set of 3 washcloths priced at $10 for the set.   I offer the set for $10 (don’t even show them the singles).  That way, I’m getting a little more than $3 per washcloth, but the set seems like such a deal!

~Finally, the most important question…are you willing to pack all your stuff back up and bring it home?  Don’t let your pride get in the way of making sales.

I always have a wide range of priced items.  Some small stuff, $1 each, like cat toys.  Some in the middle, like hats and scarves for $15-$25.  Some higher priced items, like baby blankets at $45-$55. And then my highest priced items are my throws and lapghans at $70-$100.  I’m willing to come home with the baby blankets and throws because I know the cost and time that went into those.  But the hats, scarves, boot cuffs…price them reasonably because they don’t take much yarn and work up quickly.

#6 Starting Conversation

This comes very easily to some, but not to me!  Craft fairs terrify me because I have to be bold and interact with people, some of whom don’t really appreciate what goes into handmade items.  It’s ok…really it is.

I use a chalkboard sign with an “Ask Me About My…” written on it.  (I use a chalkboard so I can change the message if I need to).  This year, I wrote “Ask Me About My Messy Bun Hats!”.  I noticed that the messy bun hats looked like my regular hats, and I needed to open conversation about them, but without being too pushy.  Nearly everyone asked me…and I sold out with 4 hours left before the end of the craft fair.  So I changed the message to “Ask Me About My Fingerless Gloves”.  Nearly everyone asked…and I sold out with 2 hours left before the end of the craft fair!  So I changed it again to “Ask Me About My Fur PomPoms!”  BAM!  Sold out of all of my Faux Fur Beanies with minutes left to the end of the craft fair!

When all else fails…go to the weather!

You can also start a conversation by asking what the weather is doing outside (if you can’t tell from where you are), or complement them on the color they are wearing.  Complements work well because people like to smile…and you just made them do that!  That makes you likable and they may take a look at your table.

#7 Business Cards and Information

This is a BIG one!  If you sell your items online at all or locally, even on Facebook, you should have some business cards printed out and front and center for easy grabbing.  I put mine up at eye level on one of my wooden crates, next to my “Ask Me” sign.  But don’t just put a stack there.  I bought a tiny Mason Jar, and tied a little jute string to it and put them in there for easy grabbing.  Nothing fancy, or expensive.  Just simple, cute, and inexpensive.

Will you accept custom orders?  This is really something to think about.  Sometimes I do, and sometimes I don’t.  It depends on how close to the holidays it is.  I don’t want to swamp myself trying to get a bunch of stuff done for people before the holidays…I have a family I want to spend some time with!  But, if the craft fair is in September or October, I may be open to taking orders.

When taking orders, make sure to get full payment (my preference) or partial payment up front and give them a receipt, with all of your information on it, how to get in touch with you, their information, what they ordered (colors and size), and the price.  Also make sure to get good contact information for them and if they are going to want it shipped or delivered/pick up.  Sometimes, I have met locals at my local gas station to exchange, so my home isn’t open for business.

#8 Giveaways, Raffles and Door Prizes

This can get tricky.  Please check with the laws in your state before doing these.  Here, in Alabama, we aren’t allowed to have raffles because it’s considered “gambling” or a “lottery”, because money is exchanged for a small chance at winning something.  But I’ll go over these anyway.

Giveaway…you could run a Giveaway or Raffle, where the person is entered to win _________________ if:

~They spend over $_____ at your table…OR

~For every $10 they spend, they get their name entered (helps people spend a little extra when sitting at $7 or so…OR

~Get their name entered for visiting your table (no purchase necessary)…OR

~First 50 people get their name entered automatically, and tell them to spread the word as they walk around

Make sure you get their phone number and name with their entry.  Draw a winner about an hour or two before the craft fair ends, so they have time to come back to get their winnings!

#9  Help Promote the Event on your Social Media Pages

You can’t expect the event to do all the promoting…help them out!  It’s to your benefit.  Post it on your social media pages!  I use Facebook, Instagram and the site to help promote what I’m doing!  You could even post it on Craigslist…a bunch of people get ideas from there.

I have even offered to enter their name into a drawing (free) if they come to my booth and tell me they saw me on Facebook, Instagram…

#10 Odds and Ends to Bring

I bring a small bin with all of my odds and ends!  Here is a list of what I bring, just to make sure I have everything I need throughout the day!

~Water, snacks and a sandwich.  I’ll be honest, at my last craft fair, I forgot my sandwich.  Around lunchtime, I was watching a lady at the booth next to me eat her sandwich, and I was so hungry, I actually thought to myself, “I would totally finish her sandwich if she dropped it on the floor.”  So, don’t forget your food.  But try not to eat in front of customers, sneak it here and there, and make sure your teeth don’t have weird stuff in them and your breath isn’t kicking!

~Small trash can & bag

~Pens, markers and chalk for your chalk board

~Tape, clothespins, pins (for your sign, display items, or fix your tablecloth)

~Extra tags and string (in case they fall off or need changed)

~Your phone or tablet and credit card reader

~Your hook and an easy project to work on during slow times

~A chair

~Raffle tickets if you are running a raffle

~Your money box or fanny pack

~Change (dollar bills, fives, tens, and some twenties)

I hope this article helped you in your upcoming craft fair!  Have confidence in yourself, smile, be engaging, but not pushy, and be prepared for rude comments.  I swear, some people just can’t help themselves.  But also be prepared for the compliments…you will get a bunch!

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