Selling at Craft Fairs: What to Bring & How to Make a Great 1st Impression

Your items are all made. You’ve done your research on how to price these treasures you’ve been working on for so long. Now it’s time to get packed up and go! There are some essential and not-so-essential items that you should remember to take with you on the big day. We’ve compiled a checklist here to help you get ready!

A Friend: First and foremost, bring help with you! Don’t think for a minute that this is something you can do entirely on your own. Running a booth is a constant juggling act, so having a “right-hand man” is not only your key to success, but everything is more enjoyable when you can share it with others! Having a second person to take payments helps you be fully available to answer questions and show your products. Having a backup is also valuable for transporting items, being able to take a restroom break, or even grab a lunchtime meal.  This person also becomes your “cheerleader” to help support your efforts throughout the day! I promise, you will be so grateful if you can find that special friend or family member to help you on the big day.
Your Products: How many you ask? That is a good question. Bring what you can, but make sure you have a sign-up list available for those who would like to special order for later delivery, in case you run out.

 

Bags for Customers: Shoppers need bags! There are a number of resources online with ideas on obtaining bags, but one of the best resources may be in your very own area! Before doing a show several years back, I went to our local drugstore, as I knew their bags did not carry the individual store’s name. Instead there was a rose and I figured if I could get them at a good price. It really didn’t matter what was on the bag! So I went in and asked the manager if I could purchase some bags from them and indeed they did let me! The cost was unbelievably cheap and I was ready to take my bags with me to the booth!
A Possible Credit Card Machine: If this is doable, you may want to seriously consider opening up this method of paying to customers. By doing so, you are offering a convenient service to them. If you don’t, you may lose some potential buyers. I say this not to scare you, but perhaps intrigue you into looking into this option more seriously. It not only makes your booth look even more professional, but it is also a much safer route to go than accepting personal checks. You must obtain a merchant account in order to offer this, so be sure to check with your bank on how to do this. Taking credit and debit cards can really boost your sales!

 

Your Money Center : Some craft fair organizers provide these for you and some do not, so be sure to check into your options. The small table is a great place to set up your money center. Some ideas of what to include are your calculator, a receipt book, a sales tax chart, cash box or machine, and the credit card machine if you go that route. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to bring change! A copy of your sales tax certificate and your business license to hang up in your booth is also a nice touch.

A Small Cooler
: Bring some snacks and bottles of water to keep you at your peak performance all day. You may easily get worn down if you wait too long before taking a break. Sometimes a small snack provides the right energy boost you need!
Office Supplies & Other Misc.: These include: pens, stapler, tape, a garbage bag, sales tax chart for your area, extra price tags, markers, business cards and brochures, tape, your cell phone, a camera so you can document this fun day, and possibly some candy in a bowl. Don’t believe for a second that the candy is just for the children! The grown-ups love it just as well!

Any Hang Tags or Care Instructions: If you’re offering any item for sale that requires special instructions, be sure to attach those to your products. Your customers will truly appreciate your efforts.

Tissue or Newspaper: If you have any items that are fragile, you’ll want to be sure to have these on hand to help package the items in the customers’ bags.

Shelves: If possible, see if you can find some shelves that you can put onto your tables. Keeping items at different levels is more pleasing to the eye. So lift! Keep the booth interesting by doing this. Crates and stacks of blocks also work well with linen cloths draped over.

Company Name Sign: Make sure it is big and make it something special. If you have a website, be sure to include that on your banner as well.

A Sign Up Sheet: This will help make future contacts for your business. More on this will be covered in next week’s article!Now, let’s talk about that first impression! We all know the saying, “You never get a second chance to make a good first impression”, right? Well, it rings true in selling, as well! First of all, if you follow the checklist items mentioned above, you’re already half-way there because you are ORGANIZED. Have your booth set up well in advance before the show begins. That way you are not scrambling at the last minute while customers are beginning to just walk on by.

Keep your prices clearly marked. Remember my “car sales” approach? Trust me, customers want to see the price immediately and not have to guess.  If they do, some will simply just not inquire.

If possible, you may want to consider making some of your items right in front of the customers. If you are selling jewelry for example, demonstrate the process you go through to make a particular piece. This method can work in many different areas of crafting and others may truly enjoy watching! And just think, you’ll be able to get something done at the same time! But be carefully not to ignore the customer while working on your project. Be flexible enough to pause the project to answer questions, visit with the customer and showcase some of your best-sellers. This is also where your helper can come in handy.

Be positive! There is no doubt that you will get some who may come into your booth and you’ll hear whisperings such as, “Ooh…I bet I could make that myself…” or “That’s nice, but she’s asking WAY too much for it. I could get that cheaper here….” Staying positive and upbeat will create a great feeling in your booth. Both you and the customer win when you can maintain a pleasant and courteous demeanor….no matter what. Be a professional.  You will always get the “naysayers” but more often than not, you will find customers who are just excited to be a part of this whole experience. They will appreciate the extra effort you go to being genuine in your approach to each of them. And smile!

Cover tables with floor-length tablecloths. This makes great storage space for your extra items and keeps the booth area look nice and neat. A solid color works best so it does not distract from your hand-made items. 

Dress professionally. As mentioned before, you are a professional. Wear comfortable shoes. If you have a company name on a shirt or jacket, wear it! If not, just keeping a modest and higher end casual style in your clothing choices will make you feel even more confident and approachable.

Try to have fun! Selling at craft fairs can create long days, but by keeping all these points in mind, you’re going to be ready to shine at your next show!

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We want to hear from YOU…

Blog Question: What items do you take with you when selling at a craft fair? Did we leave anything off the list that you would suggest? What other tips do you have for making a great first impression? What has been your experience implementing the suggestions mentioned in the article?

Next Week’s Article: It’s our final installment on selling at craft fairs and we will discuss some practical ways for taking your business from the craft fair market and expanding upon it!

 

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11 Comments

Filed under Selling at Craft Fairs

11 responses to “Selling at Craft Fairs: What to Bring & How to Make a Great 1st Impression

  1. valarie

    One thing I would add is a “uniform” have an outfit that uniquely says “you” that you wear to your shows. If you make anything that can be worn, wear one (jewelry, vests, aprons) and make yourself a nice name tag, with the name of your business on it.

    Remember that not all people are visual, some are kinesthetic (they have to touch things) some are auditory (if the fair doesn’t provide music, you should have some) and visual. Try to appeal to all of their senses. On the last article, someone mentioned handing people an item they are looking at. This is particularly useful for those “shop by feel” people.

    Also, if you are doing more shows during the year, it’s a good idea to have flyers for the next show on the table.

    Great articles!

  2. Kim

    In regard to taking credit cards, if you are not set up to accept credit cards you may offer an alternative. I have an etsy shop and offer to set a reserved listing for them. It’s nice to try to work with the customers, you never know what business you will receive after the event. Ensure everyone gets a business card even if they are “just looking”. I have my business cards in several places in my booth.

    Excellent information!

  3. Kathy

    Those that make items that can be made while at the show can take along something to work on. I took some socks, beads, and crochet thread and made up a couple special request for customers that I didn’t have on hand in the correct size. It gives you something to keep busy in slow periods also.

  4. Miss Mae

    Thank you so much for posting these helpful articles! I’m going to be doing my first craft show near the end of November, and I need all the tips and tricks I can get! 🙂

    Can’t wait for the next installment!

  5. Molly Capel

    Great tips! When my sil set up a booth at my kids spring fling flea market, she gave out tons of business cards, even to those that weren’t buying. Word of mouth is the backbone to business!

  6. Mindy

    What great articles! So informative! I have always been to afraid to do craft shows, because I just didn’t know what to do! This is so helpful! Thanks!

    Mindy:)

  7. Charlotte

    Really great information,

    It could not have come at a better time. When many ladies are hitting the Craft show Market. I too will be doing my first Show in November. Good Luck to all of you tring it for the first time.

    Thank you YMCT for giving such good info. to build our cofindence before heading out there!!!!!!!!

  8. Juanita

    I’m with Mindy – have always wanted to but have been afraid! The information here from the YCMT articles and the bloggers is invaluable! I cannot think of a single subject, question, or concern that has not been addressed fully.
    Valerie, I appreciate your hints and tips. As I have already said, invaluable!
    I am thinking of setting up an etsy shop. Anyone have any hints, tips, suggestions for an old crafter that hasn’t sold before?
    YCMT, you are as wonderful as always!

  9. Juanita

    Sorry, I intended to put my email address in the last post for the etsy shop suggestions. It is juacarmul@yahoo.com.
    Thanks so much to anyone who has the time to respond.

  10. holly

    wow. i can’t believe i didn’t comment on how awesome all these articles are when i previously read them. they are just what we needed as soon to be first time craft fair vendors in december. thank you again.

  11. AlishaSays

    Well, how funny that I am responding after my sister! And how wrong of her to not tell me days ago that this was on here! She’s right, we are about to have our first craft fair and this is SUCH a HUGE help!

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