Every independent craft show started with a great idea by a creative person (or persons). If you’re lacking for options in your city or are wanting an event on a particular date, why not start your own? If you’re good at organization and event planning that’s great, or you can team up with a crafter friend! Let’s look at at the process of starting your own craft show…
Choose a Focus and Theme
The first step is to determine the angle and focus of your new craft show. This will help you decide on a name for the event, the look of the logo and advertising, the type of vendor that will most likely apply, and much more. For example, if you’re starting a wedding-focused show for brides that want to buy handmade, you should pick a name, tag line, and color scheme that reflects this theme. Since you’re creating a new event try to think of a niche that isn’t too overdone- while still appealing to the kind of artists you want to attract.
Find a Venue
The venue can make or break your craft show. It’s important to choose a location that is easily accessible by public transportation, has parking available, is large enough to accommodate vendors and shoppers, and has good amenities and facilities for attendees. Event spaces that have businesses and stores nearby tend to attract more curious visitors on foot, so look for a spot in a high-traffic area. You should always visit the venue a few times before the show so you can iron out any issues. Also be sure to get a signed contract between you (the organizer) and the facility or space.
Pick a Date and Time
The perfect date and time are also crucial for a successful craft fair. If you have the show too late or too early in the day the attendance may be low, so pick a time frame that is ideal for the most shoppers to attend. Also check for date conflicts with other shows in your city. You don’t want to lose a bunch of potential attendees because they are across town at another craft fair. The weather and time of year can also play a part in your show’s success. For example, don’t plan an outdoor craft show when it could still snow, etc.
Call for Vendors
Once you’ve decided on a theme, location, and time for your craft show you can then put out a call for vendors. Make a form on your website for potential sellers to use as an application. Then they can either email it back to you or fill in the form online and submit it for you to review. Always ask for detailed information including photos of the work they’ll be bringing. You can put the word out for vendors on social media, in an email blast to your mailing list, by making signs, etc. The booth fee payment setup is up to you. It can all be paid at the time of applying (and you return the fee if they aren’t accepted), or you can charge an application fee and then ask for the booth payment after acceptance emails go out. Some shows don’t charge an application fee, so each event is different.
Communicate with the Artists
In the period between the application process and the show date, communicate frequently with the participating artists. You can do this through email updates, a Facebook group, or even an online meeting program. The main information you want to convey to the vendors includes any updates, changes in plan, and details for arrival times and loading-in on the day of the show. Be sure to check your email frequently to answer any questions the sellers might have pertaining to the event. You should also take vendor requests into consideration when making your floor plan for the show, so you can ask them any additional questions about this over email.
Promote and Advertise
Advertising your craft show is also extremely important for a good turnout. Since the event is new and doesn’t have name recognition yet, promote it in lots of places where your target audience would see it. Post on social media, make a Facebook event, put paper flyers in local shops and restaurants (always ask permission first), send an email blast to your list, take out an ad in the paper, etc. Also encourage your vendors to invite their friends online and to post a flyer you send them with all the details.
Run the Show
Now it’s the big day! If you’ve been super-organized up to the show it should go pretty smoothly. There is always a chance for the unexpected to occur, but just stay calm and try to come up with solutions to any issues. The show will probably go be very quickly, so try to enjoy all of your hard work while also providing a great experience for your vendors! You should be present and readily available during the show.
Send Out a Survey
After the show you should send out a survey to the vendors to get their opinions. This will allow you to improve your show if you hold it again in the future. Ask questions about the amount of shoppers, the venue, what they enjoyed and didn’t enjoy, promotional efforts, etc. You can send this survey in an email to the vendor list you used before the show, or even give out a paper copy for the artists to complete at the end of the event.