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Many craft fair organizers and promoters wonder how to host a successful craft show that will appeal to the public, but also draw talented, top-quality crafters. Over the years, I’ve seen many craft shows that were amazing and others that had potential, but missed the mark.
My goal in creating this post was to poll and talk to as many fellow vendors as possible so that I could create a helpful list of suggestions for things vendors really want you to keep in mind when organizing events.
Use these craft fair success tips to build an amazing show that shoppers and sellers alike will eagerly anticipate year after year.
Organized, well-run craft fairs are a fantastic way to raise funds and awareness for any organization. They’re attended by a variety of people and offer local artists and crafters an opportunity to earn a living while benefiting your cause.
Churches, high school band boosters, and animal shelters are just a few organizations that can find success with craft shows. Yes, a lot of hard work is involved, but the profit potential is immense.
How to Host a Successful Craft Show
Venue Planning. Is your venue the right size and easily accessible? You’ll need to consider the amount of vendors you can hold, the space needed for booths and aisles, and the number of doors you have for loading and unloading.
Careful Scheduling. Be aware of other events that might interfere with your chosen weekend. If a neighboring town is having a large event that is well-established, you don’t want to have a first time event on the same weekend. Research well before setting a date.
Attendance Rules: If you’re hosting a 2 day event, ensure there will be enough traffic for both days. I’ve attended a few craft fairs with mandatory attendance rules where no one showed up the second day. Nothing angers vendors more. This is a waste of your vendors time and there is a good chance they won’t come back. If you only need one day, only schedule one day. Those are often the most profitable events.
Pricing. Yes, you’re there to make a profit, but so are your vendors. If you have a well-established show with consistent high traffic you can charge more for spaces, but don’t get greedy. Most small town shows can’t and shouldn’t be trying to get 3 figure space rentals for small shows. If you are a new event don’t exceed $25 for a space. A few of my local area shows failed after years of success because they increased booth fees so high that their top vendors sought more affordable shows.
Booth Sizes: Make sure you clarify the sizing of booths and that on the day of the fair the size you stated is accurate. I went to a Spring show one year with 10 x 10 spaces all touching each other. Whoever marked the lines needed a new tape measure. Imagine the frustration that drizzly morning when we couldn’t all get our canopies to fit.
Be specific AND accurate. If you provide tables clarify the sizing and any extra charges.
Setup: Please allow plenty of time for set-up, preferably the night before the event and early in the morning the first day. Clarify the rules. If you need people to unload and then move their cars, state that on the contract and place a reminder at the venue.
It can be a frustrating experience for vendors to have short setup times while also combating parking and loading/unloading issues.
Volunteers: Whenever possible, have volunteer help available. Volunteers can help vendors set up, show them where everything is, provide relief for bathroom breaks and even bring food from concessions. Vendors really appreciate these gestures and are more likely to pay a bit more for space rent at events that offer these services.
Appreciate your vendors: At the very least, visit each booth and ask how things are going. Your vendors will make or break your show. Ensure your sellers are comfortable and have what they need.
Consider doing a small gift bag or some kind of thank you gesture – it really means a lot and spreads goodwill. Vendors will respond in kind by promoting your event and you’ll show them that you appreciate their participation.
Avoid unreasonable rules like “no outside food or drink”. We paid for our booth. Many vendors have restricted diets or preferences so please keep that in mind. Most vendors are happy to purchase some things from your concession stand, but it shouldn’t be “mandatory”.
Child Friendly? Kid friendly events should have a special area with activities dedicated to the kids so they aren’t running around the sales floor.
No Stroller Rules. Conversely, if you don’t allow strollers please make sure that information is included in your event advertising. This angers shoppers when they don’t know in advance and I’ve see it happen often.
Advertise! You need to advertise your event adequately, even if it’s been on the same weekend every year for 20 years. Advertise on social media, in your local paper and via fliers, signs, and whatever means possible. To keep top-quality vendors and happy shoppers this is the most important thing you need to do!
Want to save money? See this post on how to advertise cheap or free. This is not your vendors responsibility – it’s yours. You’ll find if you advertise, your vendors usually will also. It needs to be a joint effort.
Surveys. Towards the end of your event when things are slowing down take a few minutes to pass out a vendor survey. You can get a free one here… This allows vendors to provide valuable feedback about your event.
With these tips in mind, craft fair promoters are far more likely to have a successful event.