A Checklist for Craft Shows

Making prints for my first craft fair

Making lots of prints for my first show! 

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. 

Japanese Waves Linocut Print

A little display I created to show off the Japanese Waves 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.

Morocco Linocut Print

 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 it 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! 

 

 


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