Thursday, November 12, 2009

So it's your first craft show...

The holiday craft show season is upon us! While some crafters are seasoned veterans on the craft show circuit, others are gearing up for their first shows. The picture on the right is from my own craft show debut. I've learned a lot since then so I figured it might be nice to share some tips. You can also find a great post full of craft show tips from the folks at

1. Bring a tool kit
Okay, so you may not need a screwdriver or hammer, but it does help to pack a few tools of the trade. My tool kit is a vintage train case that includes receipt books, pens, Sharpies, scissors, safety pins, a glue stick, extra price tags, clothespins (great for attaching informational signs to products), business cards, and a bank to make change from.

Some people like to wear an apron that has pockets and stash their cash there. The OCD part of me can't stand all of those loose bills getting jumbled up. Instead, I use a coupon organizer to keep all of my ones, fives, tens, and twenties organized so that I can make change quickly. Speaking of which, be sure to come prepared with plenty of $1 and $5 bills, since people typically arrive with a stack of $20 bills fresh from the ATM.

You'll also need to bring some sort of bags for your happy customers to put their purchases in. I use plain brown bags with handles and then tie on a few pieces of vintage ricrac or hem tape in advance to give them a personal touch. And of course, always include a business card with every purchase. That way if people like your products, they'll know how to contact you for more. If you have an Etsy shop, consider adding a coupon that offers a percentage off of any sale within the next month. This can be a great way to drive new people to your Etsy site.

2. Sell the sizzle
You'll no doubt be surrounded by other talented crafters, so it's important to make your table/booth stand out. The goal is to make people want to cross a crowded aisle just so that they can scope out the amazing things that might be tucked into your booth.

Christie Adams, jewelry designer extraordinaire!
I can still remember the first craft show booth that blew me away. It belonged to Christie Dickens, aka "Evon's Muse." You may recall that I blogged about her back in April. Christie incorporates vintage linens, books, and other items to give her booth a comfortable feel, making it seem like you just stepped into some funky granny's living room. You don't have to use vintage items, but try to use fabric and other elements to give your booth its own cohesive feel.

Christie also elevates some of her items using old wooden crates. This is great because people appreciate not having to stoop over to look at items that are laid flat on a table. And again, giving your booth some height can help it stand out from the others.

Make sure you bring something to cover your table(s) with. I typically spread a cute vintage table cloth over a larger, basic white tablecloth. The vintage cloth adds personality while the white cloth allows me to hide extra junk under the table. Bed sheets work great, too.

And before you leave the house, do a test run. I cannot stress this enough. Try setting up your stuff on your dining room table. Play with the placement of things. In some cases you may not have much time to set up your booth before shoppers arrive, and if you've practiced at home then you'll be able to set up your booth lickety-split and still have it look fabulous.

For more inspiration, visit the SHOW ME YOUR BOOTHS group on the photo sharing site

3. Think big (and small)
It's a good strategy to have items available at different price points. If you're a mixed media artist whose specialty is large-scale collages, chances are they may be beyond the budget for some shoppers. An easy way to create lower-ticket items would be to scan or photograph the collages and print them onto greeting cards, magnets, or journal covers. Less expensive items also provide shoppers with a comfortable entry point to your work. They may buy something small this year, decide they like it, and then buy a more substantial piece down the road.

4. Tell your story
As a general rule, people who come to craft shows do so because they prefer to buy things that are made with love by real-life people. They often enjoy hearing about your creative process and inspirations. For example, I make most of my items out of recycled materials and typically use small signs to tell the story behind the final product. I love seeing the look on a shopper's face when he or she learns that the jewelry box they're looking at was made from an old waffle iron. I have found that these little signs can help shift people from window shoppers to true customers.

5. Make friends
This is important for several reasons. (1) Your booth neighbor might be willing to keep an eye on your booth when you head to the loo, which is bound to happen at some point in the day. (2) Crafters like selling their wares, but they also love checking out what other crafters make. This means that your fellow crafters are also your potential customers. (3) The connections you build with other crafters can lead to future business opportunities. As a result of conversations I've had with fellow crafters, I've booked workshops and found new stores that are interested in carrying my items.

So now that you've learned the inside secrets, what are you waiting for? Get on out there! And above all remember to have fun.


Heidi said...

What an excellent resource! I just signed up for my first booth at this year's Wiener Dog Races.

kim taylor - - - the sassy crafter said...

Wiener Dog Races?!? I want to hear more!


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