A Checklist for Craft Shows

Me selling prints at a craft fair

This is the story of my very first craft show, and the oh-so-painful lessons I learned along the way. If you are thinking of doing craft fair, I hope you learn from my first-time experience!

By the time my business launched in November, most of the deadlines had already passed. But I was able to find a show at a local high school that was still accepting applications, so I went for it. I tried to manage my expectations; since it was my first show, I was hoping to make a decent profit, but more importantly, I hoped to walk away with valuable experience and ideas of what to improve for next time.

A little display I created to show off the Amsterdam block print
A little display I created to show off the Amsterdam block print

Well, I should have set my expectations a little lower, but man, the experience was chock full of lessons! The first three hours of the show were completely dead. Every ten or fifteen minutes or so, a person would meander by. I found out later that these people were not customers, but other vendors, bored from sitting alone at their booths for hours on end.

I have to admit, it’s a little gut-wrenching to put yourself out there like that and make no sales. It’s brutal! Every time someone walks by your booth, looks it up and down, and keeps walking, it’s like taking a little bit of sandpaper to the soul. I started wondering if these events were worth doing at all. After booth fees and materials costs, I had quite a bit of work to do to break even.

 This framed Morocco print was part of my booth display
This framed Morocco print was part of my booth display

After lunch, traffic picked up a little. My fiancé, Philip the Extrovert, came with me, and he did a great job 1) making friends with everyone and 2) convincing people to buy my prints and cards! I wound up selling quite a few prints and cards after all, thanks to his salesmanship. (Full disclosure, we spent a good chunk of our profits on tamales, hot sauce, and queso from other vendors. Selling prints makes Philip hungry. Still, a win’s a win!)

By the end of the day, we did wind up making a nice little profit. I would definitely like to do more craft fairs in the future. I also feel like I have a much better idea of how to prepare for next time. I even put together a craft fair checklist, which I’ve copied below:

Fail-Proof* Craft Fair Checklist
  • Booth
    Needs to be large and eye catching, but light enough to to transport. If you have a tiny car like I do, it needs to be small enough (or fold/collapse) to fit in the car
  • Business cards
  • Returning Customer Coupons
    Bring cards with “returning customer” discount codes to put in shopping bags after purchase
  • Shopping bags
  • Product
    Bring lots of extra product, even items you don’t think will sell well
  • Cash
    Bills large and small, and coins to make change
  • Envelope to store cash from purchases
  • Display/backdrop
  • Containers
    to hold product on table
  • Risers
    To elevate some items to maximize space
  • Price displays
  • Email signup sheet for newsletter
  • Display
    Include website, Instagram, other info
  • Table
  • Chairs
  • Card reader
  • Materials for gift wrapping
  • Other Items
    super glue, scissors, tape, pen, paper, thumbtacks


What do you think of this list? Did I miss anything? Let me know your feedback in the comments!

Published by Alex Hughes

I am a graphic designer from Dallas who loves printmaking, travel, illustration, soccer, and psychology.

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