It’s been about a year since I broke into the craft fair scene, and man, has it been fun. I’ve learned A LOT in the twenty or so fairs I’ve done in the past year; I’ve had successful shows, UNsuccessful shows (there was one I literally sold nothing at), windy outdoor shows, rainy outdoor shows, pleasantly surprisingly shows, and did-not-meet-my-expectations-at-all shows, and though some of these experiences were tough, I’m really glad I went through them. I feel like I’ve built up a wealth of knowledge when it comes to craft fairs, and though I know I have a lot more to learn, I want to share some of my tips with you today.
I’m not only a person who loves selling stuff at craft fairs, but also someone who LOVES shopping at craft fairs. If there is ever a craft fair happening when I am traveling I must stop and browse, if not to buy, to gain inspiration from other people’s booths. There are a few things I’ve noticed that really bump up a booth into the “professional crafter” arena. Note that a professional display does not mean professional in the traditional sense of the word – we are artists after all, so boring and black and plain is out of the question. Professional means something that could be in a magazine. Get it? Here are a few tips I’ve gained from being a seller and a shopper at craft fairs to make the most professional and beautiful and I’m-gonna-sell-a-ton sort of booth.
1. SIGNS SIGNS SIGNS. Making sure your items are well-labeled (with what they are and with the price) is very important to the buyer. It alleviates the often unwanted need to ask questions while browsing. Most often, people who are looking at your goods want to look at them in peace, and leaving off the price is a nuisance and a turn off. Furthermore, sloppy signs look incredibly UNprofessional. At a recent craft fair I attended, there was a person there selling really cute prints and cards, but her price sign was handwritten in sharpie on computer paper. It didn’t look good, especially considering what she was selling.
2. Fill your table up, but make sure it isn’t too cluttered. Having a table with lots of empty space runs the risk of customers assuming you don’t have much to offer. Sometimes (and maybe I shouldn’t but I can’t help it) I won’t even stop in a booth if it looks like there isn’t anything for me to discover. Likewise, however, if your booth is really cluttered, and people feel like they can’t pick things up without disturbing everything else, you probably won’t make many sales. Make sure everything is organized in a way that makes sense, as well.
3. Lay some items out and stack others in bins or boxes to be flipped through. Variety is key. I’ve found that it’s good to have multiple avenues of browsing in a booth. I set out some of my bookmarks flat on the table to catch the attention of passersby, while the rest are stacked in a vintage tray. If someone is interested in the bookmarks setting out, nine times out of ten they will thumb through the others and pick out a few. Likewise, hang items that can be hung up, put items on shelves that can be shelved, put magnets on a magnet board, etc etc.
4. Use interesting display items. Make sure the shelves you use are interesting, not just wire or plastic (unless the look you’re going for is minimalistic). Likewise, find interesting ways to display your goods. Instead of using a plain box, I use a vintage bread box to display my journals. You could use old windows or screens to display jewelry or picnic baskets and vintage suitcases to display pillow cases or prints. These sort of items spark the interest of passersby, and make your booth more approachable from far away if your items are small and unnoticeable from a distance. I also like to use a lot of color to make my booth pop.
5. Make your business name clearly visible, and have business cards readily available. This is one of the biggest ways to make sure you are coming across as professional. Make sure your sign is front and center – the first thing someone sees when they walk into your booth. It eliminates doubt that you are a real business, and makes people trust you initially. Furthermore, it is important for customers or future customers to know how to contact you in case they want to buy again or simply want to wait to buy until later. Make sure your business card is somewhere visible so that people who pass through your booth will always have a little memento of your business. I also put tags on many of my items that are stamped with Peels and Posies and have my etsy URL.
I hope these tips were helpful! All of these photos were from my booth at Behind the Picket Fence a couple weeks ago, which is always a fun show to do. My booth was in the pavilion building, which is at times used for auctioning livestock, so my booth was actually in a livestock pen! It was a very interesting way to sell my items, and I had a great time making it look pretty.