Selling at a craft fairs takes a lot of consideration and it is an investment. Some more than others. The last thing you want is to invest in booth, supplies, and your time only to go home empty handed. Here are ten tips for successful selling at craft fairs to help you be profitable.
1. Research Craft Fairs in your Area
There are many fairs to choose from but not all fairs are right for your product. It is important to scope out the fairs before you invest in a booth at one.
Start by locating as many craft fairs in your area so you know when the application period is as well as the dates of the craft fair. Many of the bigger ones sell out very fast and have waiting lists. You can simply type in “Craft Fairs near me” in Google search to easily start your search. Here area few of them I’ve used in the past:
When you go to these sites, they will give you a lot of information and some show pictures of prior years events so you can see for yourself what it looks like if you have not been before. I caution you that going to the fair first is more important though, because face it, these photos are to sell you on the fair so they are going to be at the best times with high traffic.
Things you can take away from these sites that are helpful are:
- Number of booths available to crafters
- Rules about what types of crafts are permitted
- If they offer workshops or demonstrations
- If there is food and/or music
- Number of prior years attendance
- Booth info such as: Fees, size, electric, tables, chairs, location
- Promotion done by organizers
- List of Vendors that have been in the fair before
2. Check out the Competition
All of these factor into whether or not you will be successful with your choice of show, but you also need to know your competition. Attend the show before hand whenever possible, which I highly recommend. Some fairs have the old regulars that come every year and have customers that come back just to purchase again from them. Noting their location in the fair will help you decide your location.
It also helps to now what they are selling. Is it comparable to yours? Can you leverage off their type of customer with your product being complimentary to theirs? The last thing you want to do if find yourself between two sellers with similar products which makes all three of you competing for the same customer.
3. Your Product
What makes people drawn to craft fairs is to find those unique items that they can either use themselves or give as gifts. With the majority of Craft Fairs being around the holidays, I venture to say that most go for the opportunity to purchase unique gifts or unique holiday decor.
Your product needs to be uniquely yours. Whether you have branded your style to your own or you have improved upon another similar craft, it has to be unique. If the items are the same as everyone else’s that came off Pinterest then chances are you are going to be passed over, or you’ll hear “I saw that on Pinterest” or “We can make those ourselves”. That is what you need to try to avoid. If this is what you are doing, I’m not saying to give up on that completely, I’m saying to ask yourself, “how is mine different?”
You also need to be sure that you have enough product ahead of time and available so that you have enough to display without having to look for it. Grabbing that sale and not letting it walk off due to delays is important! They have a lot of other booths and they can easily walk away if there are any delays in getting them what they want.
Having customize-able items is a plus. People love to have names or symbols to make their items uniquely theirs. So if you have a product you can easily customize at the fair is something to think about. Giving them the option to come back to get it may work if you provide them with a card that tells them exactly how to get back to your spot or where they can easily pick up the piece later is key especially at large venues.
4. Booth Setup
Many crafters do not give enough attention to the importance of the booth setup. They don’t consider the ease of entrance, being able to see the product at different levels, accommodating more people, where and how the checkout process works.
I’ve been to many fairs where there was one person in the booth and I could not get in to see anything. They has so much space taking up the area that it made it literally impossible for more than one customer. Obviously, that is not the ideal set up.
Optimally, you want to have tables that are narrow and can be adjusted to different heights. Shelving that takes advantage of the vertical space is important as well. So if a customer is in the spot and you are standing behind them, you can still see product above their head.
These are the tables I used in my booths over the years. They are sturdy and work great to configure in different booth sizes. They are adjustable for height so you can place bigger items below and put the product at a good counter height so people are not having to bend over to see the product.
The tent is also important as you want to have one that is big enough so you have room for all your items as well as allow a few customers access. Get one that has the removable sides for whether and sunshine and is waterproof. Most come with carrying cases on wheels and fold down to compact nicely for travel.
You can use this fold-able shelf unit on wheels to use the vertical space in your booth. You can also use the sides and the back of the unit to hang additional items as well.
Be sure to have clean table cloths and a banner that has your business name on it that can be seen to easily locate your booth.
5. Check out Process
I always suggest that you have two people manning your booth, one for checking out people and one for answering questions, but I know that is not always possible. Either way you need to have a designated area to checkout. The reason being is you have the sale, so move the customer over so that others can look at your products. I recommend using a tall, standing area that has everything you need to wrap up that sale.
Things to consider that you will need are:
- wrapping paper
- power strip
- extra battery for phone
- business cards (to put in with the product)
6. Types of Payments
Nowadays it is pretty easy to get set up with a credit card processor right over your smart phone or tablet. They make if very convenient for you and your customer. Square and Paypal are probably the two most used processors. They provide you with a plugin device for your phone that the credit card is swiped on and captures the information to send your payment to your desired preference. A receipt is also emailed to the customer if they chose to get one.
The rates on these are pretty standard but do your homework to make sure you understand all the fees involved before you commit. It’s always good to have two just in case one is down or cannot transmit from your site. Also check your cell phone coverage for such events. You don’t want to incur a huge cell phone bill for unanticipated charges during the event.
Always have cash on hand to make changes. Not everyone pays be card. It is not as important to have as much on had as it used to be and you want to safeguard yourself when carrying cash. I recommend having sufficient change to break $20 bills so $1, $5, and $10 dollar increments are really all you need.
Also find out if you are responsible for collecting sales tax. Some venues require that you acknowledge that you are complying with State law and require your State Id Sales tax number. Consider including sales tax in your final price and round up so you don’t have to deal with loose change. It’s worth your time and effort to do this.
7. Pricing Your Products
The ultimate goal to selling your crafts is to make a profit. In order to do this, you should already have a good profit margin on your product to cover all your expenses. Easy for me to say right? Most crafters don’t consider all the expenses when doing craft fairs. There are a lot to consider so it is important that you know these costs and have a product with good margin to cover them all.
Let’s consider all the costs of the show:
- Cost of the booth
- Travel to and from
- Wages for help
- Supplies like bags, wrapping paper, price tags
You will have the initial cost of your booth setup, but that should be divided over time and the number of shows you will be doing. It would be great to earn enough the first go around to cover those costs but it might not so don’t be surprised.
One thing I recommend is having various prices points so you are appealing to the masses. Be clear on your prices. Have your times marked with clear, readable prices. You don’t want to encourage haggling so the clearer you are on your prices right off the bat the better.
Probably the most overlooked part of the success of YOUR craft fair is YOUR promotion for it. Yes, most of the organizers do promotion of the event itself, but they are not promoting you or your products. You need to get the word out there.
Use your social media accounts to drive traffic to your booth. Let people know where you will be specifically located at the fair. Give them a map and put a big star on your spot! Consider doing a giveaway if they bring your flyer or advertisement.
Use Facebook to tag prior customers on your posts and do a series of posts leading up to the event. Remind them of their previous purchases and what you will have on hand that they may like. Use Instagram to showcase the products you will have at the fair. Tic Toc has become a quick way of getting word out there in a short video especially if your product is geared towards a younger audience.
Don’t highlight the fair, highlight your product. It’s very easy to just say come to the fair and give all the information for the fair but that won’t sell your product. You need to make your product the highlight of the promotion and then use “can be found at…” as the sub heading.
9. Customer service
Let’s face it, not all of us are good at customer service. Some are shy some are overbearing and I mean that in the most sincerest way. I myself am on the border of both over compensating for that awkwardness I have when interacting with others.
Rule of thumb is to allow customers to browse and don’t approach them until they have shown interest with eye contact or by touching an item. Then start with a casual conversation. Don’t go directly for the sale. Try a bit of small talk to ease into the conversation. Find out what you can about them and why they like the product. Tell them about yourself and the product. The more they know about you and the product the more they will buy.
Remember to be kind, be gentle and be helpful. Keep a smile on your face and know that everyone has their own struggles. They are there to enjoy themselves so take a minute to add to their day in a positive manner. You want to always leave a good impression on them. Wear a name tag so they can easily identify you.
Have a fish bowl or guest book that customers can fill out with their information and a few check boxes as to what they liked in your booth as well as their email address. On the form, ask if they would like to receive your future newsletters so you can let them know of future sales and events.
On your business cards be sure to include all your social media accounts and a picture of your product so they know how to get a hold of you for future purchases. Better yet, have a tablet available for them to join your Facebook group right there on the spot!
10. Things You Won’t Remember
There’s always a time you will undoubtedly forget something. So be sure to get all your stuff together a few days before and do one last check the day before. Not having what you need will cause you stress and may even cost you lost sales.
I have a check list that I have devised over the years that I use for every craft fair I attend. It has everything on it I have inevitable forgotten to bring with me at one time or another.
For more information about selling handmade crafts check out my free E-Book here.
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