Some Secrets About Selling at Craft Fairs
One of the best parts of working from home and developing your own craft business is the freedom to choose your niche and how to distribute your completed pieces. Today, I’m going to talk to you about selling at craft fairs. Why? Because I get questions about it all the time and I thought it might help as you find the direction you want to take in your business.
I don’t know about you, but I love going to craft fairs. I’m not always a buyer, but I’m always an admirer of the amazing work that people do. The more I consider how much effort they put into, not just their art, but their brand, the more respect I gain for these amazing artists. If you want to be among the best selling at craft fairs I have a few secrets to share with you.
Open vs. Juried
First thing is, that not all craft fairs are created equal. Some fairs are open to anyone who would like to put up a tent, and others jury their exhibitors, meaning you must submit an application and be chosen to participate. The difference between these two types of fairs could also mean the difference in the clientele. But not always. Just as with anything, research needs to be done to make sure a show works for your brand / business.
Attend the show
Before you decide if you want to be a vendor, attend a show as a guest. Walk around and get a feel for the atmosphere, vendors and the attending crowd. Talk to the vendors letting them know you’re considering it for your business and let them tell you their experience. However, don’t take one person’s word, make sure to talk to several vendors who are complimentary to what you do. One person may have a bad experience whereas another loves the show. Getting more than one opinion will help you formulate a well-rounded idea about the show and whether or not it’s right for your business.
Research Your Costs
With every craft show there are costs beyond just the booth fee. Make sure you know what those costs are and if you’ll be able to not only cover your expenses but leave with a profit. Some costs you may need to consider include: travel, license fees (if applicable), banner, table, booth and materials to create your pieces. All those costs factor into whether or not you’ll have a successful or mediocre show.
Share Space and Resources
A great way to keep your expenses down while you decide on the show you’d like to make regulars on your craft circuit is by sharing space and resources. If you can borrow a tent and table from someone or share a booth so you can split the costs, those are great ways to try something out before fully committing to making craft fairs a regular part of your marketing and selling.
It is easy to note that less expensive items tend to sell better at a craft fair, however, that doesn’t mean that everything you bring to a fair needs to be inexpensive. Bring items in various price points. Giving your customers options may open up potential for later sales away from the craft venue. You can also offer custom work by having a catalog of items that can be ordered but are not readily available in the booth. You want to cover your costs so everything cannot be in the lower price range, but giving your customers options also gives you options for making the sales. In my book Pricing Crochet Fairly for Maximum Profit I talk about various pricing options that will be of help when considering how to price for an art show.
Easy Payment Options
Giving your customers easy payment options will definitely increase the possibility of a sale. If you only take cash, then those who opted to only bring credit cards for convenience and safety are locked out of purchasing from you. If you take checks, you may find that a check bounces and then have a hard time finding the customer. Making a sale means making it easy, stress free and fun for both you and the customer! Taking credit cards protects everyone involved.
Bring Your Best Self and Work
I don’t mean to sell, I mean to work on as you’re selling. Sometimes just seeing an artist working on their craft is enough to get people to stop and take notice. So don’t hesitate about working on your craft while you sell. Also, make sure to be friendly and helpful but not pushy. People who visit a craft fair are looking for leisure entertainment and gratification. If you’re upbeat, memorable and fun they’ll enjoy that and likely come back vs. if you were pushy or dismissive.
Build Your Mailing List
A craft show is a great opportunity to collect names and email addresses for your mailing list. If you put out a book stating that you’ll send everyone on the list a special coupon after the show or inviting them to join your newsletter, they may not purchase, but they are raising their hands to say they’d like to know more if they put their names on your list. It’s a great way to connect with your customers buy asking for their information and a great way to build your following.
You’re going to be hauling a lot of items to set yourself up at the show. Don’t bring so much that you end up taking a ton back home with you. Bring enough items to sell that you feel will double your costs (meaning cover your costs and give you 100% return). That way you’ll expect to sell everything you bring. Remember that besides your pieces you’ll need to bring chairs, bags for your customers, props for set up and more depending on how you’ll be set up.
If you think working the craft circuit is something you’d really enjoy, here are a few resources to help you find shows near you and also information on equipment and licenses.
- Festival Network – Find craft fairs in your area or in areas you’re willing to travel. They have a vary basic free membership that you can try, but their actual memberships begin at $49 a year
Now that you know the not-so-secret secrets I hope you feel more confident as you decide whether or not craft fairs can and should be part of your business efforts. I’ve done a few and had a great time, but that was before children and the need to have some sort of schedule. The nice thing is you don’t have to commit to this being your means of selling until you’ve had a chance to try it out.
Do you work craft fairs regularly? What are some other tips you can add to this list? We’d love to hear your expertise in the comments below.