Craft fairs can be your best friend or your worst enemy. Before you spend all the time and money applying for fairs, buying booths, and making product, read through these guidelines from our contributor Vicki O’Dell. She’s pulled together the top things you need to know before heading out to sell at your next craft fair.
1) Read through all information sent to you regarding the show making note of set-up times and procedures. Make sure you understand all requirements and obligations regarding the show. File all related paperwork so that you can refer to it again just before the craft show. Getting in touch with the show coordinators right before the show is hard to do as they are working very hard to set up the show and extremely inconvenient for them. If you do have legitimate questions make sure to make a list of them so that you only call once.
2) Always stay open until the very end of the show. Packing your booth early sends the message to customers that the show is over and shopping is done. It also irritates your fellow craft show vendors. Just because you think you may not make a last minute sale doesn’t mean they won’t. I can’t count the number of sales I’ve had at the 11th hour because someone saw something in my booth earlier in the day and had to have my doodad before they left the show. As tired as you are and as anxious as you may be to be on your way… wait.
3) Keep a positive attitude at all times. Settle any disagreements, whether with the show organizers, a customer or your spouse, away from the booth. Be positive with your fellow vendors (even if you aren’t a big fan of them or what they are selling) and customers. A positive attitude sets the tone in your booth and surrounding areas making shopping much more pleasant.You may not be the only one selling purple doodads but you can be the NICEST person selling purple doodads.
4) Create a booth that is inviting and pleasing to the eye. Keep boxes and packaging out of view and keep your space clean and tidy – including during set up. Make sure all table coverings are laundered before the show if needed. Make sure your tent is clean and in good repair. Visit retail stores while designing your booth set-up or a visit with a friend who is an interior designer for inspiration.
5) Do some of your own marketing for the show in advance. If every vendor reached out to their friends, family, social media circles etc. it would benefit every vendor at the show. If you received flyers be sure to hand them out.
6) Stay focused on what you are doing – selling and tending to customers. Visit with family and friends in the food court, leave your children with a babysitter, eat your meals away from the booth and give your shoppers 100% of your attention. Shoppers don’t want to interrupt your conversation or your breakfast to purchase an item.
7) Be professional. Dress nicely and keep advertising, political or off color humor to a minimum on your clothing, buttons, etc. Unless it’s that kind of show. Dressing nicely lends and air of quality to the items you sell.
8) Talk to people in a general, friendly manner – no “hard sells” please. Comment on their clothing, jewelry, or the weather. Don’t sit in the back corner of your space and expect customers to hunt for you. Be present.Pay attention to the people around you.
9) Be respectful of your neighboring vendors. Keep smells to a minimum, even if you are selling candles you don’t have to light them all. One will do. If you must play music keep it quiet so that only the people in your booth with hear it. Stay within your defined space, be aware of what neighbors are selling and be willing to “spell” them if they need a bathroom break. This helps everyones sales and crates goodwill among fellow creatives.
10) Network. Use set up time, the time before the show opens or just after the show closes to network with fellow crafters. You might learn of another show you didn’t know about before, find a better hotel rate, or find out where the best bathrooms are. Hand out business cards or flyers to anyone interested. After the show, send out emails, visit blogs and leave comments and promote artists or crafters that you connected with in your social media circles.
Not all craft shows are rainbows and unicorns. Eventually you will have a show that, for one reason or 10 reasons, just doesn’t go well. It will pay to keep these 10 Commandments in mind no matter what happens.
You just never know… If you are doing several local shows people will remember you and recognize you from show to show. Play your cards well, create products your customers love and treat them well and it won’t be long before they will be searching for your business name on the vendor list.
You just never know… If you travel to shows you are likely part of a group of vendors who see one another from event to event. Being kind, going out of your way to be helpful and having a positive attitude makes life easier for everyone.
You just never know… where a new client, customer or friend might come from.
By: Vicki O’Dell , The Creative Goddess