In my last post, I shared some tips for researching whether a particular craft fair may be right for you. Once you create a short list of potential shows you’d like to participate in, you should do site visits!
Many creative business owners skip this step because it’s time consuming or because they want to get their business “out there” as quickly as possible. This is a mistake you want to avoid. Vending at a craft fair requires a lot of time and, often, a fair amount of money, so finding out if a show is the right fit for your business is a worthwhile investment.
Consider partnering with another vendor you trust and splitting up visits to several local craft fairs. Then you can share your insights with each other while only visiting half as many venues!
Start by examining the location
Walk or drive around the neighboring streets considering the following:
- How heavy is the foot traffic is in the area?
- Is signage visible to cars passing by?
- Do the organizers have a “street team” stationed at nearby parking lots or public transportation hubs distributing fliers or pointing potential customers to the craft fair? (This is particularly important if the craft fair is described as a “destination shopping” experience.)
- Does the neighborhood seems to fit the demographics of your target customer? (For example, if you sell printed baby onesies and the community is primarily made up of young singles, this venue may not be a good fit.)
Once you’ve surveyed the outside, it’s time to enter the craft fair space.
Next, judge the crowd
On the inside of the craft fair, ask yourself…
- Do people seem to be buying or just browsing?
- How long are people staying?
- Does the audience seem to be attending the craft fair as a whole by visiting multiple tables, or has a particular vendor done a great job of bringing her/his customers to just one booth?
Mingle among the crowd. Are people excited about what they’ve seen or complaining about the quality of the vendors, prices, or other issues?
Then, consider the other vendors
Once you’ve surveyed the location and the audience, check out the artisans at the craft fair. Would you be proud to set up a table next to these vendors, or does the quality of their work seem inferior or of a radically conflicting aesthetic?
If the craft fair is slow, chat with some of the vendors and ask for their impressions of this event and others in the area. (Be sure to step aside if a potential customer is approaching!) If the fair is busy, stop by tables of makers with a similar product or aesthetic to yours, or those selling items at similar price points, and pick up business cards. You can contact these artisans afterwards and ask the same questions.
Finally, decide if this craft fair is right for your business
While visiting a craft fair for a few hours of reconnaissance may be time consuming, you can save yourself hours of wasted time and money at a fair that is a poor fit for your business while connecting with fellow artisans who may form the backbone of your professional network! And, if you do find that craft fair to be the right fit, you’ll be even more prepared for what to bring with you and how to arrange your display.
Have you done a craft fair site visit before? What other tips can you share?
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