How to Be a Craft Show Superstar

How to be a craft show superstar


Getting Started


Sewing machine with zipper graphic divider


Which Show Is Right For You?


One of the key factors that can determine the success or failure of your handmade business is choosing the right craft show. So, before you dive headlong into the craft show scene, it is important you conduct some market research, first, and come up with a realistic business plan.

You should establish what your goals are for selling at a craft show. Are you simply testing out whether your product is marketable? Are you aiming to make your stall at the show a professional occupation?

Next, figure out your niche market. While all craft shows present handmade, artisanal items, not all crafts shows are aimed at the same demographic. It is essential you do some research and evaluate multiple craft fairs to find out which show will be the most appropriate for your merchandise.

For example, if you are selling handmade jewelry, you need to consider whether the show promotes your design aesthetic. If you sell handmade soaps, find out whether there are other vendors selling skincare items so you have access to the right clientele.

Also, consider the size of the craft show. You don’t want your stall to be the small fish in a big pond, nor do you want your stall to be one of a few stalls at a poorly promoted event. The key is to figure out how you can reach the biggest market possible without getting lost in the crowd.

Sewing machine with zipper graphic divider


Initial Investment


They say in business “you have to spend money to make money,” and the craft show scene isn’t any different. There is always going to be an initial investment of time and money to ensure the success of your stall.

Aisle inside a boutique craft store

 

Once you have found the right craft show to sell your product, you must complete an application. Some craft shows simply require you to fill out a form and submit a small fee. These shows allocate booth space on a first come, first served basis. This type of show is usually a community event or a smaller affair, and it is also known as a non-juried event.

Alternatively, there are shows that are juried, meaning your application for a booth is essentially like a job interview. Stalls are selected based on what your business can offer the show, as well as the quality of your work, and you may need to fill out several application forms and pay multiple fees.

The fees for juried shows are generally higher than non-juried shows; however, this is by no means indicative of how much you stand to make at the show. If you do decide to apply for a juried show, there are many tips available on how to submit a winning craft show application.

Another cost to consider is what equipment you will need to bring to the craft show. Some shows include tables, chairs, and other essentials as part of the application fee. However, you may be asked to supply canopies or rain covers, and you will need to bring your own stall décor.

So, when you are considering at which show to sell your products, make sure you weigh the initial cost of investment, in terms of fees and set-up costs, against your expected return.



Outfit Your Booth


Sewing machine with zipper graphic divider


The Essentials


Once you have successfully submitted your craft show application, you need to think about everything you need to make your booth operate efficiently. This includes all the essentials for setting up your booth: display cases, packaging, and payment methods, as well as your inventory.

The most efficient way to do this is to create a checklist for what you will need to bring on the day so nothing is overlooked. Include comfort items for yourself for during the show, such as snacks, beverages, and sunscreen, as well as items for bad weather, such as canopies and tents.

Sewing machine with zipper graphic divider


Layout


The layout of your booth can play an important role in how successful your stall will perform. The layout needs to entice your customers into the booth, facilitate customer interaction, and effectively display your products.

Your display tables should ideally be around two-feet wide. One of the most effective table configurations for craft shows is the U-shape. This configuration allows customers to enter the booth and peruse all the items on display.

Craftshow jewelry booth

 

Another factor you should consider when designing the layout of your booth is displaying items at varying heights. This creates a flow around your booth and draws the eyes of the customer around all your items. You can create flow by including risers, grid walls, or slat wall fixtures in your layout.

You should also include appropriate display fixtures that effectively showcase your products. For example, if you are selling beaded jewelry or supplies, you will need a selection of hangers and boxes to display your gemstone beads for jewelry making.

Above all, create a booth that is going to be free of clutter. Displaying your inventory in an organized way appeals more to the customers and allows you to display more of your product. Use floor-length tablecloths so you can hide unsightly items and store extra inventory.



Merchandise Your Booth


Merchandising means making your booth as appealing as possible to potential customers. This includes how you display your items and your branding strategies. Many crafters have suggested that booths should be merchandised in the same way as retail stores. So, here are a few tips to help you merchandise your booth.

Sewing machine with zipper graphic divider


Create A Brand


Creating a brand does not necessarily mean designing a logo. It can be something subtle, like finding a design aesthetic to create continuity throughout your products.

Choose a color palette or theme that reflects your business’s ideology. For example, if you sell organic skin care products, choose décor and packaging that reflects your natural approach to skincare. If you sell children’s clothes, use pastels or animal shapes in your packaging, signage, and displays to create a fun, playful feel to the booth.

Brands are defined by customer perception quote

Branding should also extend to your marketing strategies. One craft show essential is a pack of business cards. Including business cards in your product displays, as well as in your packaging, ensures that customers have your business information readily available, and it encourages repeat purchases.

Sewing machine with zipper graphic divider


Signage


Signs let your customers know about your brand. They also provide information about pricing and, in some cases, materials and ingredients, without the customer having to ask questions.

Include a banner or large sign that displays the name of your business to further promote your brand, but try to keep the wording of your signs to a minimum and don’t clutter the sign with too many design features. Streamlined signage is the best way to effectively communicate to your customers.

You could also use signage to attract customers to your booth by advertising holidays and special offers. A simple “Last Minute Gifts for Christmas” sign hung over some of your items can encourage customers to impulsively buy those last few gifts for family and friends.



Stand Out from the Crowd


Sewing machine with zipper graphic divider


Promoting Your Booth


There can be hundreds of booths at craft fairs, and it is likely there will be a few selling similar products to yours. To ensure your booth stands out from the crowd, promote your booth with some savvy marketing strategies.




Craft show booth display tips infographic




Many of the bigger craft shows hand out programs to customers that allow vendors to run advertisements. Advertising that displays your product in a clear and professional way, and which provides details of where to find your booth, may increase customer traffic, but it is up to you to make a good first impression.

Use online marketing strategies. Social media allows you to advertise both your business and the craft show to a wide audience. To advertise to your specific niche market, take advantage of a craft show website. A lot of craft shows have a website where vendors can set up a profile that links to their own personal website or blog, allowing shoppers to see products before they attend the show. Just be sure to establish a website or blog before you start selling at the craft show.

Sewing machine with zipper graphic divider


Become A Salesperson


Becoming a good salesperson doesn’t mean you need to get pushy about selling your items. Understanding the psychology of your customers is a far more effective way of boosting your sales and encouraging repeat visits to your booth.

Woman using laptop to visit social media site

 

Be friendly, but not pushy. Greet your customers with a simple “good morning” to acknowledge their presence in your booth, and then offer your assistance when required.

Do not follow customers around the booth. There is nothing more off-putting than a salesperson following you around pointing out the benefits of each product. Position yourself in a place that is non-intimidating and which allows you to interact with the customers when necessary.

If you sell edible products or skin care products, you can offer samples to entice the customers. If your product is a gadget, you could set up a demonstration area. You could also offer some freebies, like candy or stickers with your business logo, to encourage people into your booth.

Judge your audience. Know when to be chatty, when to use humor, or when to sit back and let the customer come to you.



Get Paid


Sewing machine with zipper graphic divider


Pricing Your Products


Many crafters fail to see profitable returns on their craft show stall, and this can be discouraging and deter them from participating in future craft fairs. Avoid falling into this trap by pricing your products in a way that covers the cost of production and stall costs, without seeming off-putting to the customer.

Hand made dolls

 

To make sure you are making a reasonable profit out of your booth, make a few simple calculations and establish a budget. There are price calculators for crafts available online; however, these may not account for factors like customer expectation or current price ranges in your market.

The biggest benefit of calculating your product prices is that it forces you to look at where you can save money in production. For example, if you notice your labor costs you more than your materials, consider using materials with a higher perceived cost. Semi-precious gemstone jewelry takes just as much time to craft as plastic jewelry, but it holds greater appeal to the customer. This makes it more likely they will pay a higher price for the item.

Sewing machine with zipper graphic divider


Payment Methods


In the past, craft show stalls operated as mostly cash-based entities. This worked well for some vendors, but, for others who sell products made from high-quality materials such as wholesale freshwater pearls, or larger items such as upcycled furniture, naturally, these vendors need to charge a little more for their wares. Since most customers don’t feel comfortable wandering around with large amounts of cash, the best option for these crafters is an EFTPOS machine.

Wireless technology has made it possible for vendors at craft stores to conveniently process electronic payments onsite, so you can get paid straight away for your products. Wireless EFTPOS machines also mean customers are more likely to buy more expensive items, regardless of how much cash they have on them.

However, cash is still the number-one way to pay for items at a craft show, so it is important you bring plenty of change, as well as a secure and organized place to store it, and an invoice book to provide customers with proof of purchase.



Final Thoughts


Crowd people at craftshow among tents

 

Craft shows are a great way to turn your hobby into a profitable business, but there are some things you will need to do to ensure the success of your booth. Preparation is key, so find the right show for you and complete all the required paperwork. You will also need to have a list of essentials, in addition to your inventory, to make sure you aren’t caught without something on the day.

Finally, to really benefit from a craft show, you need to know how to promote your business both at the show and online. Follow these easy tips, and you can be a craft show superstar.