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So every handmade crafter has pondered the idea of working craft fairs. Some crafters swear by them, and others condemn them. So what is the secret? Can they be lucrative to your business? You have to think that since there are hundreds of these things each year, there must be something to it. Well this blog is dedicated to figuring out the mystery of the craft fair. At the end, hopefully the muddy waters will be a little clearer.
How to choose your craft fair
There are several things to consider when choosing your show. A lot of this can be determined simply by the name and who is holding it. You have to look at what you are trying to accomplish when you are selecting your craft fair. Sometimes these events may not be the biggest sellers, but they may offer you some much needed exposure to the public. When choosing where you are going to sell, always keep the audience in mind.
Craft fairs are often held by churches, school organizations or teams, or a company. The host of the craft fair is more than important. The enthusiasm of the event holder will determine how well they promote and organize the event. Below are some quick tips I find are useful when choosing a fair, regardless of who is hosting. Consider this a check list for choosing.
- Always ask the three W’s when choosing your craft fair: What, When and Where? What are vendor expectations as far as what can be sold, will there be duplicate sellers (other vendors selling what your selling) , donation expectations, and most importantly, what do my fees include,etc. When are setup\teardown times and when are payments due? Where is the event going to be held (inside\outside)?
- Next, make sure to check for the size of the event spaces and utilities before you pay and commit to an event. If you only have a 10×10 display setup, a church fair with 6×8 spaces will not work for you if you don’t know beforehand the needs for your event. This is also the time to check for electricity needs and tables and chairs. I have had my own personal mishaps here and unfortunately had to stand up for two hours until we could get chairs to the event.
- Most importantly, be sure and check the HISTORY of your event. Its important to know who your customer is. Most events will bring in a variety of customers with a variety of spending ranges, but more than 60 percent will spend a certain amount. So, if possible, try to do a walk through or check the host website for info or pictures of the previous years events. If you cannot determine price points for the event, just make sure to have a wide range of priced items so you have something for everyone.
When I follow these simple rules and ask the vendor a few questions after a little research, I usually find success at my shows.
So now you have chosen the venue, what the heck do you do now?
Once you have selected the event, now you must prepare. The presentation you make always (and I mean always) determines how much time, if any, a buyer will spend at your table. Buyers at craft fairs have tons of eye candy. What will draw the customer to your table?
Can the customer see from afar CLEARLY what you sell? I cannot stress enough the need for clear product identity. People are walking around looking at everything, how do they see you stand out in the crowd? I have seen customers walk into craft fairs and make a B-Line for the biggest display in the fair. Why? Because they can clearly see the item they are selling. Check out these examples of clearly defined craft displays.
The next step to a successful show is business identification. Who are you? Having business cards, postcards, pens, price tags, or anything that has your business name and a way to contact you in the future is ideal. A small banner with your business name and/or an 8×10 frame with your website and contact number is a great idea. A lot of us in the craft industry live on custom orders. Providing a portable and/or memorable way for customers to remember your information is key. This doesn’t have to be expensive. Tons of Etsy friendly designers and printers are located right on Etsy. Just search business cards or banners. Most of them are much cheaper than large printing companies.
Photos provided by Bears Graphic Design http://www.etsy.com/shop/BearsGraphicDesign
These are the basics to finding your way through the muddy waters of surviving and being successful at craft fairs. A lot of handmade business owners make their bread and butter from craft fairs. However, it all depends on your market and your customer. Sometimes craft fairs are really just marketing events which is not a bad thing. I have had several fairs that I have attended produce very lucrative business later on after the fair. Customers always say, “Oh I got your card at that fair you were at in November”, etc. So try to gage your success on more than just sales at the event.
Thanks for listening and we look forward to hearing your comments and other tips you can provide about your successes at craft shows. As always, email and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Till the next time,
The Glitter Gazette
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A few other websites and blogs with great craft show tips.