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The Best Craft Shows for Vendors
Craft fair information can be confusing at times, especially for those who are newer to doing shows. One of the most common questions asked is “How do I pick the right craft show?”
The answer is, that depends – and I know that’s not an easy answer, but here are some simple ideas to help you find the best market(s) for your niche.
10 Tips to Find the Right Craft Fair for Your Products
Attend the Event: When possible, attend the event you want to sell at before applying or, if applicable, attend another event organized by the same promoters. This will help you know if your items are compatible, if there is too much competition, if the event draws a large crowd etc.
Application and Fees: The first thing to consider is the cost of the application and associated fees for the event. When I consider fees, I consider not only booth rent, but any parking fees (rare), fuel costs/distance etc.
Larger events will have higher space rental fees and small events are often priced very well. You have to consider what you can afford and how much risk you’re willing to accept. Newbies should start with small events first to get a feel for how everything works and how people respond to your brand/products.
Event Promotion: How is the event being promoted and advertised? Follow the events promoters on social media. What are they doing to advertise? What do they expect from vendors to help promote the event? Poor organization and lack of advertising are the largest reason smaller and newer events often fail.
Check Past Attendance: Ask the promoter about past attendance numbers. You can also find this information on sites like eventlister.com if the show was listed there from a previous year. Other vendors are also a great source of information which leads us to our next tip.
Network with Other Local Vendors: Make friends with vendors around you at other events. Ask them about shows you are interested in. They can tell you about any experiences they’ve had with those shows or promoters so you have an idea of how well the show is organized.
Also, use Facebook groups. Search for vendor event or craft show groups in your local area by county or region. Those groups are a great resource for finding potential shows for free and for networking with other vendors.
Compatibility: Are your items a good match? Visit the event or look for pictures from a previous show to get a feel for the items there and how yours are in comparison. For example, if you have higher end items, they may not sell well at events that are in lower-income areas. While some competition is good (means there is demand), too much of the same thing is not a good idea.
Current Customers: Would those who already buy from you be interested in this event? If it looks like something your regulars would also attend, put the word out and go ahead and set up.
Growth Goals: If you are looking to expand your business and offer products in local stores or to really branch out beyond just craft fairs you may want to consider larger events. (not if you’re brand new). If your branding and booth are top notch, trade shows and top-scale juried craft shows are a great way to get your products seen by those who may be interested in wholesaling or consigning your items.
Community: Many of the most successful show are very tied to community goals. Band booster craft fairs are a great example of this. We attend a monthly market we love that is part of a revitalization effort for a local town nearby. These events draw a lot of support from the community and are usually well advertised and have a lot of traffic.
Other Events: This one is tricky. Sometimes other events in the area can draw more traffic to a craft show, but other times it pulls people away. Look for festivals and events that have craft fair vendors that are featured prominently.
We have a local balloon festival in our area that does a great job of drawing large crowds. Most of the people are there for food and balloon launches, but the vendors do get a lot of traffic and make decent sales.
If a craft show is an advertised part of a festival – great. If it’s going on down the street from the festival just hoping for some overflow traffic – not so great.
So, hopefully these ten tips will help guide you when considering markets that may be a good fit. It will often be a game of “hit and miss”, but no matter what show you attend you can make it worth your while. Learn how to make all of your shows more lucrative in my post “10 Ways to Turn a Profit at Every Craft Show”.