Tips for Selling at a Craft Fair

The first craft show I ever did was what I now refer to as a “learning experience”.  My husband and I had little idea what to expect and I spent a lot of time pouring over websites looking for helpful hints.   A few were lifesavers but as with most things experience was key.

Having a few shows under my belt now I’ve learned a few things that weren’t on the websites that I’d found. 

Legal Requirements
First things first – check your local laws and find out what licenses you need to do business in the first place.  For example, I have a blanket license for the State of Arizona but I need a city license for EVERY city or town that I want to do business in.  Make sure you’re doing things on the level because you don’t want to get busted.  And don’t say it never happens because it really does.

Obviously you need to make sure you have products to sell.  Always, always over estimate how much you will really need.  A well-stocked booth will attract WAY more customers than one that is nearly bare.  You want to be able to replace items on your displays as they sell.

Make sure that the cost of every item is clearly marked for your potential customers to see.  People don’t like to ask how much something costs and often will just walk away rather than do so – resulting in a missed sale. 

Quick side note – stand by your prices (unless you’re just trying to unload inventory at the end of the event).  When someone asks you how much something costs (and they will, even though they are clearly marked) state the price with a smile and with pride.  Don’t look down and sort of mumble it as though it were an apology.  That attitude immediately lowers the value of your item in the customer’s eyes.  Be proud of your work!!

Trial Run
This is something I do before every show.  If I know my booth is a 10X10 square I take some painter’s tape and measure out that space on my living room floor.  I set up my tables, signage, and products as though I was at the show.  I do this because I want to make sure that I have enough space for everything (including myself and my assistants!) and that it doesn’t feel too cramped or too empty for the customer.

After my trial run I pack everything up by table, including the cloth covers and displays.  That way I end up with three or four boxes labeled “Table 1”  “Table 2” etc.  This makes setup at the event so much easier.

Obviously if you do shows every month or so you won’t have to do this every time but any time you make a significant change to your setup I recommend doing a trial run.

Signage and branding
You want to make absolutely certain that your brand is visible to anyone who is nearby.  Especially at events that require everyone to have the same white tent you need to set yourself apart.  Banners, matching price cards, and coordinating business cards are a great way to make a lasting impression. 

Make a list, check it twice (or thirty or so times if you’re neurotic like I am)
You want to write down every single thing that you need to remember to bring with you on the day of the event.  I keep a notebook on the counter with a pen so that I can jot things down as I remember them. 

Accept credit/debit cards
Not many people carry cash anymore.  I’m definitely one of those people.  Nowadays it is SO easy to accept credit cards that I’m actually surprised when I find a vendor booth that doesn’t.  If you have an Etsy shop you can use Etsy’s own credit card reader that (and I love this feature) removes the item from your etsy store if you sell it in person!

Other alternatives are PayPal and Square, both of which offer a free reader if you just request to have one sent.

Don’t underestimate setup/takedown time
This is another reason that it’s good to do a trial run.  You don’t want to be only half set up when the doors open and customers start coming in.  In fact, most events have it written into the contract that you need to be fully set up when the event opens.  Always budget more time than you think you need and get there early.

Also every event I’ve sold at has a time listed in the contract that you have to be packed up and off site.  If you don’t comply you can be charged extra as well as banned from future events.  Be courteous of the people running the show.  They are just as tired as you are and don’t want to wait around for you to finish up.

Engage the customers
This is one of the biggest things to remember.  Don’t sit on your duff with a book and wait for someone to ask you for help or to hand you a credit card.  Stand up and talk to the people milling around!  Network, make conversation, and be approachable.  Smile even though you haven’t had a bathroom break in three hours and those four cups of coffee are dancing on your bladder. 

Especially in the handmade market people want the story and the product.  “Did you make this yourself?” and “How did you do that?” will be asked a zillion times.  Always answer it as though you’d never been asked before.  Paint the picture and show the passion that you have for your creations. 

Good luck with your next event!!!!

No comments

Post a Comment