Whether you’re new to the craft fair scene or have been selling your items at events for years, choosing the right venue for your business is an ongoing challenge. Craft fairs come and go; organizers change (or change focus); and community transitions may make a venue you’ve avoided in the past suddenly perfect for your business. Before you sign up for your next (or first!) craft fair, be sure to do your homework to make sure the event is a great fit for you and your business.
How to Research a Craft Fair Venue
Start by researching the craft fair and the organizers to find out if it is well publicized, well attended, and, most importantly, attractive to your target audience. Here are some steps to take:
- Examine the craft fair’s website. An inviting, up-to-date website suggests that the venue is concerned with its online presence. Although some local fairs get great foot traffic anyway, a website that is very out of date or filled with typos suggests that the organizers are not very professional. If the craft fair bills itself as a “destination shopping” experience, then an active online presence is a must.
- Look at the craft fair’s social media accounts. Does the venue have a presence on the major social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram? Are their accounts posted to regularly? Seasonal venues may not have a large number of followers, but you should still review the postings related to past events to see if the space looks crowded and for visual cues about the types of vendors and customers on site.
- Check out local review sites. Some ongoing and larger craft fairs will have a presence on Yelp or another local review site. Don’t just look at the ratings, but read through a sampling of positive and negative reviews and form your own opinions.
- Go as a visitor before deciding if you will participate as a vendor. Research the organizers and their backgrounds, especially if the venue is new.
- Ask the community. Contact vendors who have participated at the craft fair before. Look for vendors who have a similar product (e.g., jewelry, soap) or those who have a similar aesthetic (e.g., vegan, luxury) to yours. If you can’t find information about past participants through the venue’s website or social media accounts, ask around on local Etsy teams, Facebook groups, or face-to-face meetups for artisans in your area.
Once you feel confident that the event is well organized, you should decide if or how the craft fair fits into your business right now…
How to Decide if You “Fit” At a Venue
Even a great craft fair may not be right for your business, and that is completely ok.
- If your price points are significantly higher or lower than those of other successful artisans at the event, the craft fair may not be attractive to your audience. Or, if there is a heavy presence of artisans within your craft, the event may be too saturated for you.
- If you are new to the craft fair scene, you may want to start with smaller venues where you can work out the details of your table setup in a less frantic environment. While large craft shows like the BUST Craftacular events attract big audiences of shoppers who are interested in supporting handmade artisans, they can be a bit overwhelming at first.
- Consider the total cost of participating as a vendor, including the application fee (if any), transportation and food costs, and, most importantly, the value of the time you will spend tabling. You may find that a craft fair that seems great will end up spending you more money than you can possibly earn. So, while a local venue with a very low entrance fee may look attractive, if there isn’t much traffic you will probably waste more of your time than you can earn back in sales.
Once you’ve found what you think is the right craft fair for your business, you should do a site visit to make sure! In my next post, I’ll walk you through what to look for when you do your own craft fair reconnaissance.
What are your tips finding a great craft fair for your business?
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