Craft shows are fun to attend, but they are a lot of work when you are a vendor at an event. Having attended & organized a number of events, these tips are things I have observed. All are my personal opinion & do not guarantee you will have increased sales.
Click here to download our Craft Show Checklist in PDF format.
1. Be visible, friendly & approachable.
Don’t hide behind your merchandise & do make contact with shoppers. One thing shoppers consistently say is that their favorite aspect of a craft show is meeting the artist. Shoppers like talking to artists face-to-face, so smile & encourage them to browse. Beading-Design-Jewelry.com has a helpful article that elaborates on the topic of boothmanship.
2. Create an inviting set-up.
We all respond to visual stimulation, so you need to create an inviting booth set-up. You don’t want to distract from your work, so try to craft a theme that will enhance your products. Also, shoppers like to know the name of your business at a glance, so a banner or sign is recommended. Think of your booth as your storefront. You may have to spend a bit of money on booth props & signage initially, but it’s a wise investment that is sure to enhance your business. And show functional items in use by utilizing props. For example, if you make bookends, bring books to place between them to showcase that they are in fact bookends.
3. Invite shoppers to sign up for your mailing list.
This is a great way to target shoppers that are obviously interested in handmade items. You can even send your subscribers a special offer for each event. Example: Visit my booth at the 3rd Annual Funky Finds Spring Fling and mention “newsletter” to receive a free gift.
4. Wrap up sales as quickly as possible.
It’s great to spend time with customers; however, once you have made a sale, you need to quickly get back to paying attention to other potential customers.
5. Have take-away promo items available.
While some shoppers may not purchase an item from you at an event, they may want to make a purchase online at a later date. Having eye-catching business cards, postcards, etc. are a great way for shoppers to remember you once they leave an event. Advertising in event booklets is another great way for shoppers to find you once they return home.
6. Have plenty of change.
Many shoppers bring cash, so you want to have plenty of change available.
7. Accept credit & debit cards.
This used to be a tricky one, but now, thanks to products like Square, artists can easily accept credit & debit cards at events. Learn more about this product via NPR. Martha Latta of Sunday Afternoon Housewife also posted some information about Square on her blog.
8. Be prepared. It’s always best to have some emergency supplies on-hand, such as tools (ie: scissors, hammer, tape). Long extension cords, power strips & extra light bulbs are also good additions. My mantra is “better to be over-prepared than under-prepared!”
9. Bring snacks & (non-alcoholic) beverages.
We always encourage vendors to bring snacks & a small cooler with plenty of water or sports drinks. You need to stay hydrated so you will be at your best all day. Even though a concession stand may be available, it’s more convenient (and affordable) to bring items you can easily access within your booth space.
10. Price your items.
Shoppers don’t always feel comfortable asking the artist how much a particular item costs. Have your prices visible so you won’t lose out on sales. There’s lots of debate about this, but in my opinion I like to see the prices when shopping.
11. Promote events you are participating in.
This is where mailing lists come in handy, but also be sure to promote events you’re participating in via social networking sites, your blog, online shop and/or website. Also, don’t hesitate to send a press release to local media outlets 3-4 weeks prior to the event. Be sure you have all the details listed, including location, dates & times, and anything else that will set the event apart from other events (ie: charitable aspect).
12. Loading & Unloading.
Allow plenty of time to unload & set up your booth space. When allowed to drive into a venue, be courteous & unload as quickly as possible & move your vehicle before arranging your setup. This will free up space so other vendors can do the same.
13. Scope out the venue beforehand.
It’s always wise to locate the bathrooms, concessions, ATM, etc. before the event begins. This will benefit you, as well as any shoppers that may ask you for directions.
14. Use your time wisely.
Take advantage of slow times to replenish your items, move things around to fill in holes left from items sold, sweep up, and keep busy. If your potential customers see you just sitting on a stool looking around, they may get the impression that you aren't very interested in being there. (Tip quote verbatim from Etsy seller vintagecalif)
15. Bring a camera.
Many craft show applications require that you submit a photo of your booth set-up, so be sure to bring a camera to events so you can photograph your space.
16. Have fun!
While craft shows are LOTS of work & you are there to make a profit, you still want to have fun & enjoy the experience. Stay positive, make friends & look happy!
17. Stay off the phone.
This includes talking AND texting / surfing the 'net.
Our design & print business, Right On! Graphics, offers custom design services and a variety of affordable, high-quality promotional items, including vinyl banners & business cards.
I also recommend reading this article on meylah about eliminiating theft at art & craft shows. Sadly, it is an issue!