Craft shows are still a great way to make a quick profit from a crafting business, be it sewing or any other kind. If you make the right preparation and participate in the right shows, all your efforts will prove to be well worth your while.
Craft shows have a lot potential customers walking in all day long, with a ready mindset of buying. As the craft shows usually only last a day or two, the customers behave with a sense of urgency to the purchases and make up their mind quicker. That results in higher sales for the crafters.
Craft shows draw a lot of crowds, because interested people understand that there will probably be a good variety of crafts available for sale, many of which will not be easily available otherwise.
How To Choose The Shows To Participate In
Choose the right craft show and you will have plenty of potential customers visit your stall. Choose the wrong one and it is very possible not to have any sales at all. So how do you decide? It’s not very difficult. High people craft shows have a few characteristics in common.
- They take place in major towns and cities.
- They are expensive to take part in (High registration fee).
- They are organized by well-known businesses, social organizations and individuals.
- They are often by invitation only.
- There is a waiting list to get in.
- You have to get your product approved in an interview in order to qualify.
This does not mean that smaller exhibitions are not profitable to participate in however; the larger ones usually mean more success and exposure for your business. Selling at craft shows is not just about selling but also about spreading the word about your work.
At the end of the day, look at the history of the craft show and try to get as much real feedback as you can. Since participating in a craft show is a lot of preparation and work, you want it to be worth your while with the sales you make.
A great way to gauge how good a craft show is to actually visit it before you participate. You can see for yourself how well the crafters are selling.
In my experience, you will get some right and some wrong when you first start taking part in craft shows. But you will learn quickly.
There will always be shows that are well known to perform well for their participants. Then there will be crafters whose products do better than others in almost all the shows.
So, not all can be fore decided and you will just have to take that dive and learn from experience. We can only tell you the best way to prepare for yourself.
Some crafters take part in a lot of craft shows, while others take part in only a few high profile ones. You will be able to figure out which way you want to go easily enough depending on the craft you make and the time you have to spare.
Making Initial Preparations
Preparations for taking part in a craft show typically start a lot in advance. Unless you have plentiful inventory, you need to plan the items you will showcase in the exhibition. Here are the things you need to keep in mind:
- Have adequate assortment of items to cater to different customers.
- Make a collection that will look good when put up all together in a stall.
- The price range of your crafts varies a great deal; try to carry lesser-priced items as well.
- If traveling to another place for the show, try to account for taste and different styles of the people there. For example, if traveling to a colder place, carry more knitted items!
You should organize other things you need to carry apart from the items you display.
Things to carry for your craft show:
- Business cards and other promotional material like brochures and pamphlets. These help spread brand awareness even when people are not buying right away.
- Extra labels and tags incase you need to retag some items.
- A label maker. A very handy tool for professional looking price labels.
- A small sewing kit, for a quick repair incase something gets damages in transit.
- Packaging. Crazy enough bags and boxes to give away your sold items.
- Stall decorations.
- Bill book.
- Pens and other stationary you might need.
Let’s talk a little more about packaging. We have already spoken about the importance of packaging and the volumes it speaks for your brand. For an exhibition try to have the kind of packaging that draws attention or is obvious when your customers walk around the exhibition carrying the things they just bought from you. For example, I have used see-through carry bags to a great effect.
How To Set Up Your Stall
There’s a lot you can do to make your stall look good. You can do more and easily if the craft show is a local one. With outstation ones, you will be limited by the distance for the things you can carry.
A lot of high profile exhibitions do not allow you to put additional decorations. But they do provide a good looking backdrop for all the stalls. The one thing you can do that has the largest impact on how appealing your stall looks is to modify how you arrange and display your items.
You can use shelves, tables and hangers, which are the norm. But then you can use trellis and lattice hooks to put your stuff on the walls where they can be more visible. Look for new and interesting ideas to display your items.
Setting up a backdrop for your stall is a great idea. Use lightweight fabric that you can easily carry and hang up. Get some signage made and even some artwork. Hanging up pictures has a remarkable effect on how great a craft stall looks.
Apart from looks, your stall should be practical, both for you and your customers. They should be easily able to walk in and examine your goods and you should be able to do the billing and process the payment with ease. Look and learn from example of other seasoned crafters when you attend craft shows. This is another great reason to attend a few good craft shows before taking part in one yourself.
Final 5 days before the craft show
You should ideally be done with making all your stuff at least 5 days before the day of the craft show or the day you are to travel. The last 5 days should be for packing, which should also be done at least 2 days in advance. After that, relax some and do some planning. You need to be rested before the day of your show because you are surely hoping that it will be a day brought with activity.
Make sure you have a typed or written inventory of the things you are carrying. You can keep ticking things off as they sell, and you will have an accurate account of things you sold. If your craft show is out of town, always try and stay in a place as close to the venue as possible.
Have a checklist of things you need to carry and do and tick items off. Make sure you are travel ready, i.e. car’s gassed up, and tickets are printed out!
Pricing For A Craft Show
Different crafters use different pricing strategies for different craft shows. I know crafters who:
- price their items a little lower than their regular price
- whereas others who hike the prices up by a certain percentage.
- A lot depends on the craft show itself. If it is a high profile exhibition, the odds are that your items can sell for more than you usually sell them for.
At the end of the day you will have to decide. Do not be in too much of a hurry to cut down your prices, but do not get priced out at the same time, especially if there are other crafters selling similar items at the show.
If people are repeatedly showing interest in a product but seem to be getting discouraged by the price, it may be a good idea to bring it a notch down. And that is why pricing is a part of a craft shows planning.
You need to know beforehand how much you are willing to sell a craft for. It is always better to get the price right before hand rather than have to adjust it later during the show.
But you know what, if you are doing this for the first time, you can experiment and learn from your experience.
If the show is for more than one day, resist the temptation to offer discounts on the 2nd day. You will spoil your chances of coming back to the show. Many people will remember that you did that on the previous show, and wait for you to do the same the 2nd time around.
There are 2 important things to remember:
- You cannot please everyone. A lot of people might not like your selling price. That is bound to happen in most cases. Instead of lowering your prices, it might be well worth it to wait for the right customer to come along who is ready to pay what you are asking for.
- Not all shows are the same. Some high profile shows will get people with more spending power and willingness. Work that factor into your final selling price whenever possible.
What to expect
The results of your craft exhibition may differ greatly depending on the craft you make and, more importantly, the craft show you are taking part in. People have great results the first time around, whereas other take some time to figure out which craft shows are the best suited for them. But regardless of the sales results, participating in a craft show can be a rich experience in many ways.
- You get insight and first-hand experience of hot-selling crafts.
- You get a sneak peak at what your competition is doing.
- The crafting industry is fairly friendly and amicable community. People are ready to share their knowledge and experience. A craft fair can be one great opportunity for you to learn from other fellow crafters.
Resources to get more information on craft shows in a around you
- Sunshine Artists Magazine 1700 sunset drive Longwood, Florida 32750 West Art P.O. Box 6868 Auburn, CA 95604
- The Crafts Fair Guide P.O. Box 5508 Mill Valley, CA 94942 This guide is put out four times a year, in time for you to apply to the shows. The crafters who attended the show previously critique every show in it.
- Show Organizers: Harvest Festivals 1-800/321-1213 Call for vendor information, Steve Powers 619/731-9371 Call for vendor information.