I think we have all read blog posts that share 10 tips to a Successful Craft Fair, What You Need for Next Craft Booth, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera
And trust me, those posts were extremely helpful in getting me geared for an event.
But there are a lot of assumed notions with many of these posts. It is assumed you have all the supplies . . . it is assumed you have a truck to haul your supplies - so many assumptions! Sometimes we tend to forget: some people are just starting out. They simply don't have a clue. And this is where practical information and common sense seem to get lost.
I happen to be a realist, so I am delighted to help you out in that area.
These are things that anyone, no matter the background, can find useful. I will quickly speed through the information that I feel often gets missed; but in the future, I plan to provide a deeper post on craft events. Hope this helps you in your journey starting out!
1. Dress Rehearsal
Like weddings + plays, it is essential that you do a dress rehearsal, erm . . . craft rehearsal. The benefit of doing a run through a week before (or a night before, if you are like me) is that you can work out all the kinks for your event.
And there will be kinks. Even with this little exercise.
So laying out everything prior to the event will set you up for success. Measurements, tables, displays - these all need to be a part of the equation. I know - it sounds like a lot of work but trust me; you will save yourself time in the long run and a lot of heartache.
2. Hauling Your Stuff
Transporting your items tends to be an afterthought. With tables, chair, canopies and other pieces of furniture, it is virtually impossible to fit it all in your 4 door sedan. Especially in one tow. So let's be realistic - ask a friend who has a truck /van to help you transport the items. Yes, it can be an inconvenience; but what is worse - you struggling to fit everything in that small car or letting your pride down and asking for a favor - preferably in advance?
If you feel uncomfortable letting a friend help you, then give them gas money or treat them to dinner. Problem solved! Oh and P.S. - bring a dolly because dollies make life easier. If you don't have one, GET ONE! (Or rent one from Home Depot Stop being cheap)!
3. Let Down Your Pride - ASK FOR HELP!
Speaking of pride, asking for help can be one of the greatest challenges - especially when you are basically asking a friend to volunteer their time and energy to an event they probably have little interest in and more than likely won't be paid for. At a lot of events, I often see mothers, husbands/wives, and friends assisting or even manning the booth while their loved ones are away. Using their help is not taking advantage of them. If they are truly a loved one, they WANT to help. They know that you are running a business all by your lonesome and they want your event to be a success. That said - a few rules to follow:
1. Don't be a control freak. But if you are, refer to dress rehearsal.
2. Let them know what to do in the event that a customer wants to pay with a credit card. Usually it is linked to your phone or tablet/computer, so leave your phone unlocked or share your passcode.
3. Price tag your items so they won't feel intimidated by not knowing the price.
4. Don't Feel You Must Have EVERYTHING to be successful
If you are like me, you have scoured every Pinterest, Instagram #hashtag and Google image regarding craft booth setup. And I am most certain that inadequacy has seeped in. You feel you need every supply to be successful. So you run to random stores purchasing this and that to make the perfect setup.
Well, I am here to tell you - it's all trial and error, baby.
You won't get it the way you want it even after ten craft fairs. These things take time. Now, that is not an excuse to give up on your display. You want it to attract attention but you don't need much to have a good setup. Your items for sale, business cards and a few eye catching displays is all you really need. Less truly is more.
5. Bring Everything - Old, New, and Everything in Between
If you think I am a walking contradiction, I probably am. I just finished telling you less is more, but now I am telling you to bring everything!?
Well, it really depends what your craft is but generally speaking, if you aren't very experienced, it is best to bring everything you have. Why? It's what I like to call "market research". When you are starting out, you don't have enough information to tell you what people are interested in buying. But bringing everything consistently for the first couple fairs will. Obviously, this could change based on the craft fair, the season and demographic. So don't ignore those facts.
"But I sell online! Shouldn't that give me a better a idea". Sometimes. But I have found that my best sellers online weren't always my best sellers in person. I have also found that some of my "older" make sold better than my newer makes. The secret is: Your general audience doesn't know what is new or old. They just see it and they decide whether they like it.
So don't 'discount' those products that haven't been moving on your online store. Bring them along because who want them gone. Trust me . . .
6. Network, Network, Network
Concerned about not making any sales? Who isn't!? But if your fair is a flop, NETWORK. Vendors buy from vendors - and the best part is, you don't have to convince them because they are already members of your community. They understand the struggle it takes to prepare for a fair and they want to show solidarity when the craft fair is "ghosttown". The know the importance of supporting small business, and vice versa.
More importantly than just gaining a sympathetic neighbor, you just might gain a customer.
Now, in order to order to network, you must browse the craft fair, pick up business cards, and OPEN YOUR MOUTH. Yes, talk with them. Communicate. They don't bite. I do find myself gravitating to booths that I actually have interest in, which makes the conversation easier - but by simply introducing yourself, that can open the floodgates to upcoming events, insider tips and etc.
When you work alone, that "co-working" environment is amiss - so look to these events as opportunities to receive training, advice and build that maker community. You never know where it might lead you.
Well I hope that information was useful because it was sure useful to me - when I learned the hard way.
- Are you a maker starting out? What are some of your concerns when setting up a craft fair?
- Any experienced crafters? Do you have any tips that can help our novice neighbors?
- And consumers? What attracts you most to a crafter's booth?
Please leave your comments below so they can be of use to one another! I hope this blog post was helpful and I plan to make more in depth ones in the future. Until then, keep calm and craft on.