How to Prepare for a Craft Show

How the Pros Prepare For a Craft Show

Crafty guys and girls worldwide can benefit from setting up shop at a local or national craft show.  Featuring creative types from all parts of the globe, these organized events produce profits as well as plenty of opportunities to network and market.  Handmade goods range from practical to bizarre which makes attending a craft show an exciting and unique experience for even the most skilled artisan.

As a small business owner, there is no better way to get to know other crafters than to attend a show or fair.  It is the one place where you can receive honest feedback from your customers and at the same time, monitor trends, meet other people like you, and even purchase some phenomenal products while you’re there.  With that being said, preparing for a craft show takes time but can increase your success as a crafter in a number of ways.  Being ill prepared for what the day has in store for you can result in a loss of sales and worst of all, self-esteem.  Here’s how you can go from a crafty nobody to a crafty superstar in a few easy steps.

Locate Shows That You Would Like to Attend

A number of online publications list craft show opportunities in your city and state.  Sign up for mailing lists on websites in order to receive the most current event listings.  This will ensure that you receive up-to-date information about the shows that you want to attend.

Here are a few of the better known websites to find this information:

Contact the Individual or Group Sponsoring It

In order to hold a spot for you, you must contact the individual or group sponsoring the craft show.  You can typically find this information at the bottom of a listing or on the website itself.  It is important to confirm your attendance as soon as possible because many events have limited spots for vendors.

Pay Your Registration Fee

Most venues will require that you pay your registration fee in advance.  Different payment methods are accepted and depend largely on who organized the event and how many vendors will be in attendance.  You can request more information from the organizer by contacting him or her by phone or via email.

Purchase or Rent a Table to Display Your Goods On

Several six foot tables will give you plenty of space to set up your crafty wares.  Make sure that these sit high enough off the ground where people can see and reach them easily.  You will also do yourself an enormous favor by purchasing a few good tablecloths that can be used over and over again.  This will keep your tables looking new for years.  You can also protect your products from the elements by purchasing a tent for outdoor shows.  It is the type of investment that pays for itself.

Create a Variety of Products to Sell

No matter what type of items that you offer, you should have a variety to choose from.  People will be purchasing gifts for friends and family members so you should give them a lot to look at.  For example, if you make jewelry, make sure to have individual earrings, necklaces, and bracelets as well as sets that contain all three.  You want to give your customers a reason to purchase from you and not another mass merchant store.  That is why it is important to have several different price points represented in your inventory.  People on a budget also like buying handmade items.

Price Your Products

When it comes to pricing your products, let your competition be the guide.  Consider how much they charge for comparable items.  Also, factor in the cost of materials and your labor and set your fee accordingly.  Don’t forget to include sales tax in your calculation because most states require that you collect it.  Having a small calculator on hand will save you enormous amounts of time trying to figure out how much to ask for in terms of price.

Arrive to the Show in Advance

Make sure to arrive at the craft show plenty of time in advance.  You want to get situated before the customers start rolling in.  The following items are helpful to have on hand:

  • Business cards and a stand to put them on.
  • Product samples.
  • Display racks, mannequins, and hooks to hang items from.
  • Calculator.
  • Receipt book.
  • Pens.
  • Paper.
  • Bags to put purchases in.
  • Gift wrap and bows.
  • Plenty of single bills and coins to make change.
  • Cooler with water and sandwiches.

Set Up Your Merchandise

There is a right way and a wrong way to set up.  Here are some pointers that will help you with the visual appeal of your booth:

Signage: Simply placing your merchandise on a table or on hangers is not enough.  You must have signs available that state the price of the items, what they are made of, and any specials you might have.  For example, if the earrings that you are selling are Buy Two Get One Free, you need to announce that on your sign.  This will save you a tremendous amount of time and effort and give your booth a professional appearance.

Show How Your Items Can Be Used: Don’t just assume that everyone knows how to wear a knitted shawl or play with a hand carved toy.  Display your items in a way that is beneficial to the buyer.   Show, do not tell.  Part of the appeal of a craft show is the fact that you get to interact with the items that you purchase.  Buyers like to taste, smell, touch, hear, and see handmade merchandise.  That is why it is important to remember to use racks, clotheslines, shelves, and pedestals to showcase your best goods.

Keep Everything Organized: A neat and organized booth will draw customers to it like bees to honey.  Make sure that everything is packaged nicely and priced.  If an item becomes damaged throughout the course of the day, remove it from the table and place it out of sight.

Attending craft shows can add to your success as a small business owner.  Keep in mind that although these events are fun, they do require a lot of work to prepare for.  Plan as far ahead in advance and keep your booth tidy, colorful, and in plain view of the crowd.  These few simple measures will help you get your handmade wares off the table and into the homes of eager customers.

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