Spool of Thought

Craft Ideas, How To’s and New Product Introductions from The Ribbon Shoppe!

How To Successfully Sell Your Product At Craft Shows

Posted by Kimberly on October 24, 2007

Anyone who has any crafting skills can have a successful craft show.  All it takes is a little know how.

Before I became a full time on-line retailer, I participated in a number of craft shows.  Even then I operated my business from my home and the majority of “real time” interaction was with my children and husband.  As a result, I found that I enjoyed the camaraderie that exists among craft peddlers and the interesting conversations with customers.  It’s a great way to get out and make money doing something you enjoy!

Of course, the first rule of thumb is that you have a craft.  A craft doesn’t have to be just candles, woodworking signs, or floral arrangements; a craft can be something you do regularly as just a hobby and never thought about turning into a cash-producing business.

For example, there are many of you out there that are talented in creating beautiful scrapbooking pages.   People like myself, who aren’t so gifted in that art and/or simply don’t have the time to create those gorgeous keepsakes, are willing to pay a pretty penny for a pre-made page that requires only the insertion of photos and a couple of handwritten notations. 

Everyone has the ability to create a craft project.  And most of them are going to be pieces of work that many are willing to pay for.  Looking for a craft idea or maybe something new to compliment an existing project?  Try YouCanMakeThis.com for some really neat, simple ideas!

Now that you have your craft, it’s time to market it!

One must first realize that there are two types of shows:  juried and non-juried.  If you are a new crafter, I would recommend that you begin with non-juried as the juried shows require submissions of the product (via photo or other methods) to be judged whether your item should be accepted for a space.  However, if you have been crafting your product for some time and feel confident that you could easily pass inspection, feel free to choose either type show to enter.

Once you’ve made the decision for juried or non-juried, you must next locate craft fairs in your area.  Arts & Crafts Business at About.com offers great suggestions and links to finding upcoming shows in your area.

Since most craft shows offer 8′ x 10′ or 10′ x 10′ spaces, it’s a good idea to practice setting up in roped or tape area the size of your space in your garage, basement, or any area large enough to accommodate.  If your show is being hosted outdoors, make sure that your canopy will also fit into this space.  (The most popular craft show canopy is E-Z UP from Van Raalte & Co., Inc.

In arranging your display, one very helpful hint to remember is the use of levels is very eye-catching to potential customers.  Simply laying your items out on a flat table surface is just plain boring.  Use milk crates, small ladders, hanging hooks, etc.  Four really great examples can be found at ArtFestivals.com.

Choose a theme for your space.  Many craft fairs designate a theme such as Fall or Christmas.  Whatever the theme, use an assortment of fabrics to drape across your tables.  For example, for a Christmas theme you may choose to use a solid green fabric as your table cover then use white lace dollies to drape atop the green.  Continuing with this theme, strategically place red tulle to create a swag to the front of your table.  And don’t hesitate to use decorations amid your products for sale.  (Decorations should be clearly defined so as not to create confusion among buyers.)  Just bear in mind that your coverings should be attractive, not overbearing; nor should they overpower your product.  Simple, solid colors are best.

Next, you should organize.  An easy example of this idea is candles.  Arrange your candles by size.  Pillar candles should not be mixed in with container candles.  Floral scents should not be surrounded by bakery scents.  In addition, if possible, use your product to decorate.  Again, candles is an excellent example, in that you can take three varying height pillars (same scent is suggested), arrange them in a triangle atop a clear platter, and light (if permitted by show hosts) for a beautiful, eye-catching display.

Bottom line:  think of your items as being placed in a grocery aisle.  If there is no organization, your shoppers will wonder aimlessly and could possibly just walk away.  In addition, include a nice assortment of products from the lowest price range to the highest for the best selling potential.  With this methods, you catch most every budget! Complimentary products are also a great addition too (ie, candle lighters).

Now you need to create a sign displaying your business name.  If there is information about your product (ie, soy wax vs. paraffin wax), this should be made onto a separate sign.  If using more than one sign, be sure that the one with your business name is the largest.   Pick up inexpensive, plastic sign holders at office supply stores such as Staples or OfficeMax.   If you have a website or eBay store where you also sell your products, be sure to place business cards in holders in a couple of visible places for easy retrieval by customers.

Count on sticky kiddie fingers!  Every show that I ever participated in was overrun with children.  Since most craft show shoppers are mothers, this is to be expected.  A great way to get mom’s attention and keep grubby little paws off your delicate merchandise is to offer a cheap goodies basket.   A great idea for a Christmas themed show is to purchase approximately 50 of the miniature stockings found at dollar stores.  Along with the stockings, purchase several bags of candy.  Fill each stocking with four to five pieces of candy and sell them for a dollar each.  It’s absolutely amazing how many sales can be created from such a simple idea.   Even at the smallest shows, you’ll be sold out of these “idle hand detractors.”

Another good idea is to invest in a shirt bearing your logo and business name.  Vista Print offers low cost screening printing for such an occasion.   Many embroiderers can stitch your name onto a nice polo for a relatively low price.   If you will be enlisting help for your show, be sure to fit them with a “company” shirt too for a professional,  uniformed appearance.

The last idea is one that is purely optional.  In an effort to gain contact with customers after the show, offer a raffle for one of your products.  Provide slips of paper with preprinted information such as:  name, address, telephone number, email address, and the question of whether they would like to be contacted (via standard mail or email) about promotions, upcoming shows, and new products.   Everyone loves a chance to win something and you will be surprised at how many people will feel obligated to mark “yes” in regards to contact; several will even become great customers!  Just be sure to follow through with the raffle.  If you have a website, be sure to post the winner’s name to instill trust in your customers.

Now that you have all the technicalities out of the way….you’re ready for show day! 

Arrive at least one hour before scheduled opening time.  This gives you the time needed to add finishing touches.  You’ll also catch those early birds who will undoubtedly arrive and anxiously began browsing booths.

If business comes in sprints, use the time in between to rearrange and/or restock.   You can also take this opportunity to discreetly eat a quick lunch or snack.

Most importantly, have fun.  Smile.  Be friendly.  Your craft show is sure to be a success!

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One Response to “How To Successfully Sell Your Product At Craft Shows”

  1. nikki said

    wow thanks for all that info. I am thinking of trying a craft show this year and your guide came at the perfect time!
    nikki

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