Craft shows, vendor events, and art sales are excellent ways to market your handmade items. They give you a chance to meet people face-to-face, let them experience your products in a way that can’t always be done via online sales, and allow you to network with the public and with other artists.
I’ve been setting up at shows since I was little and would go with my mom, and on my own for the past 25 years, both as a crafter and to promote my direct sales business.
While each show is different, there are some fundamental basics to remember to take with you.
19 Things to Bring to Every Craft Show
Display & Props
Naturally (hopefully!) you’ll always remember to actually take the goods you’re selling, but you’ll also want to remember to take the things that make them look good! Practice your display at home, adding elements that will help create multiple heights. Think of your 8 foot table as your own personal store. You wouldn’t walk into a shop at the mall and see everything just laying flat across a table. Use crates, shelves, racks, and other display enhancers to help create visual interest. Also, take a few props along to perk up your display so customers can envision different ways to use your goods, or to make them stand out.
Maiya shows off some of her pottery pieces that could be used in many different ways, so she takes kitchen utensils to put in some, make-up brushes for others, shows some off as pen and pencil holders, and places candles in others.
These wine bottle dishes are pretty on their own, but when we fill them with candy and nuts, or show them off as spoon rests, then it really gets people thinking how they could use them at home.
Change & Card Reader
You’re setting up at these events to make sales, so be ready to conduct transactions. Make sure you take small bills and change with you, and get a credit card reader from a company like Square. It’s free to sign up, and when you sign up for a free account through our referral link you will not be charged processing fees on your first $1,000 processed!
Reaching out to find new clients can be hard work. Once you’ve made the initial contact, be sure they will easily be able to stay in touch with you by asking craft show shoppers to fill out a contact slip. It can be something as simple as a collecting a name and email address if you send out electronic newsletters. Or, if you do regular mailings, texts, or phone calls, then be sure to also ask for a mailing address and phone number.
I am sooooooo guilty of getting caught without a card, and when that happens it’s pretty embarrassing. People want to remember you, so make it easy on them and you by investing in business cards. You could print your own at home, or order from a local graphic designer, print shop, or online. Some of our favorites came from Moo.com. We were able to add as many pictures as we wanted to the backs of these cards, so it really gives us a chance to show off our art in a clever way. I love the square cards they offer because they stand out from everyone else’s!
Receipts & Bags
Making a sale is exciting, and you want to be sure you can follow through all the way to customer delivery looking professional. A plain paper craft bag is what we use most times, but if you can have bags printed with your business name on it, stamp a logo on the bag, or even hand-write your name on it, then the bag can do a little extra advertising for you as customers walk through the rest of the show or festival. For the receipt, add your contact info, website, and social media so your new clients can find you even after they leave the show.
Drinks and Snacks
Pack a small cooler with snacks, drinks, and water. Many shows offer food for sale, and when they do I try to buy from them, especially if it is for a fundraiser. I have been to a few that aren’t selling anything, others that don’t have what I want, and sometimes you’re just too busy to step away from your table (a GREAT problem to have!)
While some shows supply table coverings, many do not. Even if they do supply it, if you’ve created a particular aesthetic for your display, you’ll want to have your coordinating table coverings.
Bring signs that advertise any specials you are offering. Keep the wording to a minimum, as people tend to not read a whole lot of text. Create a sign/picture that shows you in action. Print a “Meet the Maker” sign with a picture of you creating or holding your handmade items with a little blurb about you. Frame a paper that highlights a few interesting details about why your work or items are unique. Display your social media info in large font so people can start following you on the spot.
Pens, Tape, & Scissors
It’s always good to have basic office supplies with you. You will either need them yourself, or you’ll save the day for another seller that needs them. Instant friendships form when you lend a girl a Sharpie 🙂
Create a special offer for the other vendors at the show. We might do something like “Free crocheted coaster with any pottery purchase!” Type it up on a small slip of paper and staple your business card to it. Once you are set up, but before the show starts, walk around, introduce yourself to the other vendors, and let them know about your special.
Cell phone charger
Take a wall charger and also get a portable charger in case you are not near an outlet. At nearly EVERY SHOW I did last year, I either needed to use my charger myself or lend it to a fellow crafter.
Patience and a Smile!
These may be the most important ones to remember. Here’s the thing: every show is different. There can be great traffic, there can be no traffic. There can be tons of selling happening, there can be no selling happening. My theory has always been that if you make just ONE good contact then it is well worth it. You just never know what future business may spark from that contact. If there is no traffic coming through, then chat with the other vendors. But don’t be the complainer in the room. No one likes that person. No one. Talk to them about upcoming shows, find out about them, ask questions about their techniques. There’s always a new door to open and something to learn 🙂
19 Things to Bring to Every Craft Show
Use this list as a started checklist for what you need to take, and keep adding to it to suit your personal needs. Wishing you all the luck at your next show!
Thanks for getting Intertwined with us!~ Kim & Maiya
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