Surviving Your First Craft Fair

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tips for first time craft fair vendors
Surviving Your First Craft Fair – a How to Guide

Tips for New Craft Vendors

You’ve been perfecting your crafts for months. You’re proud of your work, so naturally you want to share it with the rest of the world, but the idea of selling at a craft fair makes you a little weak in the knees. How do you put a price tag on your work? How much product do you need in stock? What do you do while people are browsing? Do you talk to them? Should you sit down? here are some need to know tips for surviving your first craft fair.

First off, Relax!

I’ve been there. I know there are millions of questions raging through your brain and your nerves feel like an unraveling ball of yarn! That’s why I’m here to help you chill out a bit and give you some tips on surviving your first craft fair without completely losing your mind.

  1. Price your items fairly.

You don’t want to overprice your items, but you don’t want to give them away either. Factor in how much your supplies cost and also an hourly wage for yourself. So, say you’re happy making $15 an hour and it takes you a half hour to make a certain craft. That’s $7.50 for your wage and the supplies to make the item cost $2.00. You can sell your craft for $9.50 and make a profit. Researching what other similar items are selling for on can help you decide on a final price. There are numerous craft pricing formulas out there – do some research and go with what works best for you.  For more information check out my pricing guide post that will walk you through the whole process.

  1. Figure out how much inventory you need.

I always advise not getting in over your head. Take time and plan wisely for your first craft fair, while building a decent inventory.

How much inventory?

That depends. What do you think your best sellers will be? You’ll want to bring more of what you feel will sell best.

How large of an attendance does the fair usually get?

Ask the person organizing the craft fair. Typically, I figure I need between 5-10% in product per 1,000 customers. So if the show will attract around 1,000 customers, I’ll need between 50-100 items. Of course, you can only take what you can fit in your vehicle.

You also don’t have to display everything at once. I keep a lot of my extra inventory in boxes under my booth tables.  You can also keep a book with your work in it that people can flip through if you are able to take custom orders.

  1. Decide what payments you’ll accept.

Many crafters start out accepting only cash, but with advances in technology, today anyone can accept credit and debit card payments. Square Card readers are tiny devices that attach to your iPhone, iPad, Android phone or tablet for card processing. Accepting debit and credit at crafts fairs can increase your sales, so it’s something to consider.

  1. Create an attractive display to show off your items.

Your display doesn’t have to be expensive to be pleasing to the eye. You can build a great display with a combination of items you find around the house, and bargains from flea markets and thrifts. Even things that would normally get thrown away can be re-purposed into stunning display pieces.

You can find a lot of inspiration on Pinterest – in fact, I have custom boards specifically for table displays and booth displays.

Follow Christin Sander's board Craft Fair Display Ideas on Pinterest.

I also recommend setting up a mock display before your show so you’ll know exactly what goes where. Take a picture of the display so you can easily duplicate it.

  1. Acknowledge your customers but give them space.

Be friendly! For me, it’s annoying to enter a booth and not have the crafter even acknowledge me. I’m not difficult to please; I appreciate a simple hi, even making eye contact, a nod, a smile, anything! Another turn-off is high pressure sales. Most customers like to take time and browse and don’t want someone breathing down their neck.
Most of the time I’m standing near my booth ready for questions, but there’s nothing wrong with sitting down as long as you acknowledge the customer’s existence!

  1. Take some help.

Craft fairs are a lot of work and there’s a lot of packing and unpacking going on. Having a helper also comes in handy when you need to take a bathroom break (and you will).

  1. Make a list and check it twice.  I’ve also created a great graphic on a previous post that covers all the items you may need.  You can print that off here.

Craft show schedule, if available
Cash box with plenty of change
Card Reader
Business Cards
Extra Price Tags
Bags for purchases
Display Items
Tables and Chairs (If necessary)
Banners and Signs
Tape Measure
Small Trash Can
Lint Roller
Paper Towels
Any Medications (Allergy meds, Tylenol, etc.)
Crafts, of course!
Pack as much as possible the night before and get plenty of rest (you’ll need it).

  1. Read every last resource you can get your hands on that has to do with selling at craft fairs. Knowledge is power! Search the internet, read books and trade magazines, talk with fellow crafters and the fair coordinator. Back when I started in craft fairs, we didn’t have the internet (can you imagine?!) but now my motto is when in doubt, Google it! The more you learn, the more relaxed you’ll be.

Most importantly, realize you’re not alone. Everyone is nervous for their first craft fair. Heck, some people (myself included) are nervous at their second, third, and fourth craft fair. The key is to prepare yourself as much as possible in advance and keep those nerves at bay.  Relax and enjoy yourself – showing off your wares can be just as much fun as creating them in the first place.

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