Making Money

How To Successfully Sell at Craft Fairs

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How to Sell At Craft FairsIf you’re reading this, you’re probably considering participating in a craft fair.  That means you probably want to know how to successfully sell at craft fairs.  Awesome idea!  It’s a great way to put a few extra bucks in your pocket!  If you have never participated in one, or you just haven’t had much success in the past, I’m here to help out.  I have participated in quite a few sales and here it what I have learned.

1) Pick a sale that you know will have some traffic.  

  • If no one shows up to the sale, you aren’t going to sell much.
  • Look for an established sale that seems well-organized.  Sales that are well-organized usually have a contact person that actually gets back to you via email or phone, they have a website and have application forms that need to be completed.
  • You can contact the sale coordinator and asks questions like:
  • How many people usually attend your sale?
  • How many vendors do you have?
  • How many years has the sale been going on?
  • Who normally shops the sale? (Moms, grandma’s, families, members?)

2) Consider space sizes and prices.

  • Local craft fairs are going to charge around $25-$70 for a space.
  • If spaces are more like $75- $150, the sale is looking for more pro-crafters, businesses or retail type sales, not usually people who have a hobby.  That’s just my opinion though.
  • Remember, you’re looking to make money.  You need to be able to make at least the cost of the space back from your sales.
  • If a table is included, great!  That’s a bonus.  If not, see if someone can let you borrow a 6 foot table before you rent one for extra money.
  • Don’t get electricity unless you plan to bring along a credit card machine.  If you have a credit card machine, I’m not sure why you’re reading this because you are probably a pro- crafter.
  • Follow the application directions exactly.  Read them thoroughly.  Follow up if you haven’t heard from sale coordinator in a week or so.

3) Figure out what you’re going to sell.
Ask yourself the following questions about what you plan to sell:

  • Have I looked on Pinterest for craft ideas?  (It is an amazing generator of new and current ideas.  Use it to your advantage!)
  • Is this usable and/or gift-able?
  • Is it current or out of date?
  • How long does it take me to make this? (Time is money.)
  • How much does it cost to make this?  (Will I be able to sell these at a price that I can get the cost of materials back out + a profit?)
  • Is anyone else going to be selling this? (Beaded jewelry will always have tons of competition at sales…fyi.)
  • Is what I’m doing unique?
  • Is what I’m making going to stand out?
  • Will I have fun making these?
  • Do I have enough time to make enough of these to sell (Example: Quilts take serious time to make.  Can you make enough to have inventory by the sale date?)

4) Setting Up Your Table

  • You will be at a table mixed in with many other tables.
  • Do you have a really unique table-cloth or twin sheet that would make your table stand out without being too busy?
  • Print out signs with prices that are easily read from several feet away.  People don’t often want to get too close to tables for fear of being put on the spot to buy something.  If they can comfortably see the price from several feet away, then they will approach you with more confidence.  They know what they are getting themselves into.
  • If your items are individually priced, attach price tags to them.  You can make your own or pick them up in the office supply section at your local Walmart.  Again, people don’t want to ask how much something costs.
  • As you price the items, think about how much you invested in the supplies and how much you would like to get out of each item.  Be realistic.
  • What would you be willing to pay for what you are making?  If you decide to do research, you could check out Etsy for similar items but I don’t know if that will give you a good price point.  I feel like Etsy has an online advantage of all the time in the world and you have only a few hours.  But hey, you could set up an Etsy shop afterwards if you have items left over.
  • Bring along a few empty shoe boxes to put under your tablecloth to add dimension and professionalism to your table.  This allows you to put product at various levels on the table.
  • Don’t get things too cluttered on the table.  Keep them spread out and easily identifiable.  No one wants to untangle your stuff to get to the item they want.

5) What to bring along:

Below you will find some general things to bring along including information on processing payments.  If you want a free printable list to help you get organized go to my post titled, Free Printable Craft Sale Checklist and print a checklist for your upcoming sale.My Craft Sale Checklist

  • Go to the bank and get plenty of small bill change.  If 10 people hand you $20’s that they got from the ATM before coming to the sale, you need to have plenty of change on hand or you could lose some sales.
  • Credit Cards Update: A very smart lady named Tracy shared in the comments section that she accepts credit cards with her mobile phone using a device called “Square” that is basically free.  I didn’t know how many readers would read the comments so I wanted to include it in the text here.  For more info, check out Tracy Evans comments at the bottom of the page.
  • If my items are simple, hand-made things, I bring along my extra materials to make more as I sit there.  One year I sold adorable sock monkeys and dogs that you could adopt.  I didn’t finish 2 of the items but I brought them along anyway.  While I sat at the table all day, I finished them and it was great because I literally sold out and had people asking for more.  As I finished them, people came up and bought them.
  • It might also attract people to your table if they get to see you doing what you do.
  • I also recommend bringing along tools that might help you repair something should it rip, tear or break.
  • Bringing along lunch, drinks and snacks is a good idea too.  If you spend $20 on concessions at the sale you’re sort of taking 2 steps back.
  • I bought a cheap pack of brown paper bags to put my customer’s purchases in.  If you’re selling bigger items, save up your grocery bags.
  • Be friendly to the vendors around you. You might just make a few extra sales to them!

I hope these tips help you prepare a little to sell at craft fairs in your area.  If this is your first attempt, have fun with it!  If anyone else has any tips they have learned, please feel free to share in the comments section!

Kim Anderson

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62 Comments

  1. One of the best shows I had was one that was outside. It was raining the morning of but I had an activity for kids to do. I let my daughter start the activity and that drew kids in like crazy. I had different price levels for the activity but I made a killing off of it.

  2. It has been a long time since I did a Craft show, so I appreciate the refresher. I am going to do two of them this month, and I am selling a variety of handmade made items. One of the items is going to be handmade jewelry, along with crochet and beaded home decor. I have some soap making supplies so I am going to throw that in as well.

    I will have one theme…Christmas! I have been aware of the fact that there is a strong possibility of many other jewelry vendors! Which is why I plan on doing something different! I use semi precious gemstones, so I will print up some cards with information about the stones! In addition, I have taken my leftover beads and with a simple charm, I made some simple pendants they will be attached to a card providing trivia info about the stone. I am going to offer it as a free gift with purchase for the customer…after they make the purchase.

    My last one was successful and I think it is because I made sure the prices were visible. When I noticed a customer bought an item from another vendor and it wasn’t in a bag, I would offer them one of mine so they do not have to be uncomfortable while they looked around some more. I engaged in conversation by commenting on something such as the weather, something they are wearing, etc. Short enough to establish a rapport, and offer to answer any questions they might have! This way, they knew I wasn’t ignoring them and at the same time they could look in peace.

    If striking up a conversation doesn’t come easy for you, it might help if you having something in your hand.

    I am so glad I came across this post, I implement the suggestions I haven’t used before!

    Cheers,
    Cathi

  3. Thanks so much for this article! It is sxactly what I needed as I go into my first year of doing crafts for profit with my friend. I will definitely utilize your hints, and I’m looking forward to reading more of your blog!

  4. Hero Status! My hubby and I were literally sitting here discussing the Pro’s and Con’s of signing up for a Fair in June, which is only a month away! I haven’t been to one in years, but my online business is taking off, and my home business is growing as well- so I thought why not combine and give it a shot!?

    We make everything from hand painted signs, hanging shelves/mini mantles, wood candle holders, Printables (which I will frame for sale)… I’m super nervous and not sure how well we’ll do, but I’m also super excited because it’s a new adventure!

    This post is perfection. Thanks so much!

  5. i have participated in several craft fairs and I’ve thought I was successful. The last one I had a problem with kids handling the merchandise when they were obviously had dirty hands. Two little girls had been eating chocolate. How do I handle this without offending the parents?
    Thanks
    Diane

    1. Diane, honestly I work in the kids ministry at my church so I typically don’t have problems telling other people’s kids, in a very kind way, not do something. If you don’t know what to do it might be a good idea to create diversion at your table for kids. For example, have a stash of dollar store stickers or dollar store mini individually wrapped candies (like tootsie rolls or sour straws) or something for kids when they come up that you can hand them that requires them to unwrap or peel off that might buy you a few minutes while their parents arrive. Second, keep some wet ones with you and offer them that as they arrive if you think they need it. If it’s another vendor’s kids coming around and you don’t see the parents, I wouldn’t think twice about nicely telling them that they can look but don’t touch. If they are getting in the way of paying customers ask them “could you move over a little for me so this lady can look?” thanks! If they don’t move or follow directions tell them that if they can’t follow directions that you will have to find their parents. That’s how I would handle that. On the flip side, I sometimes take advantage of the fact there will be kids around with nothing to do and create my table or product as a place for them to come and spend a few bucks to make a craft or buy a toy of some kind. Hope those ideas help.

  6. Hi Kim…..I am thinking of trying my hand at setting up …..I have quite a lot of wooden ironing boards which I have painted over the years and I know I could also use them as tables to sell other smalls at the same time…..It will be a way for others to see how even a cute painted wood ironing board can be used as a table anywhere in there home….behind a couch with a lamp…..even an island in a farm kitchen. 🙂 I know it will be a work out setting them up…..but we can all use a little exercise ….. & its the free kind. 🙂 just sayin

    1. Teresa, this sounds like a really cute idea. I also like the idea of showing people how they can be used as your display because then people can picture it used in their own homes. I really hope you find a great show and that you make some good money with your idea! Let me know how it goes!

    1. Sharron, once the initial newness wears off and your are sitting at your table, you can start really enjoying it! Good luck! Have Fun! What are you selling if you don’t mind me asking?

  7. I used to do 1-3 shows per month selling beaded gemstone & sterling jewelry, before the economy crashed. Back in those days I could easily sell 3000 in a weekend; but that is before all this cheap, plastic, made in China jewelry got popular. My best shows were ones where the booth price was always about 150.00. Some of them were ones with a central checkout (they collected the money and paid the taxes) and some were ones where I collected it. Arts shows in rich areas sell more than craft shows in cheap neighborhoods. Also, create a nice looking backdrop (not lattice), and pay extra for electricity to light your booth. Wal-Mart sells nice clip-on lights for about 6.00 that you can clip on the top of your booth. Put down a nice rug in the booth to make it more cozy and inviting. Boxes on the tables are great, I had my hubby make me some out of barnwood so I didn’t have to cover them and they were much more stable than a shoe box. Last but not least, ask the show what other kinds of booths there will be. Don’t try to sell jewelry when there will be 10 other booths selling it too. I had a pretty great booth.

  8. Thank you for all the wonderful information. I live in the UK and am doing my first craft fair for 30 years in 11 days time. I particularly agree about not sitting staring at the customers and taking something to make or finish, as I run for the hills if I’m the customer in that situation!

  9. Great tips and ideas. Thank you so much. I’m fairly new at this and am always looking for new ideas for display/sales. Something I just ran across recently is an app called “Flint” for making debit/credit card sales. It doesn’t require a gadget be placed on the phone, or something else to try to remember. Instead, you simply scan the card. Also, you can generate customized receipts, invoices, and even coupons. I haven’t played with all the features yet, but will soon.

  10. I’ve done quite a few booths in my life, but I’m always looking for ideas for improvement. I never thought of using boxes under my sheets – is such a wonderful and inexpensive idea! Plus, I always have boxes/tubs that I bring my product in that I could use in that way.

    Also, I never realized that not having visible prices could be driving the customers away. I always thought of it as drawing them in since they would have to talk to me to get the price. Guess I’ll try it the other way next time.

    Thanks writing this post!

    1. Amy I’m so happy you found this post helpful! The boxes on the table can really set you apart from others because you can make your table really visually appealing! Try putting the price on stuff and see what happens. If it doesn’t work out for you, go back to other way. In general I feel, people don’t want to be put on the spot about buying something and if they have to ask you, they are sort of put in a decision making position. Even though it’s not quit the same, I think of it like garage sales where people don’t price their items. If I can’t figure out how much you want for something without asking you, I just leave the sale because I assume it’s highly priced. That’s just me though.

      1. I completely agree with the signage, price tags, and bringing something to work on!

        At a craft fair, a lady had a great booth, but no signage whatsoever. Instead, she opted to engage each potential customer who drifted near with a fast, cheery monologue of all the things on her table and their prices. She seemed nice and not pushy, but it put me off. I like to browse with all the information on hand without feeling rushed to look at the particular things someone else wants to point out, and also not have to stop and ask someone about each thing, especially if it means interrupting them with another customer.

        Many people were interested in her wares. Soon, 4 different people were at her small table, and she became flustered as more began to walk up and she hadn’t finished her spiel with the first person, and the others had only heard part of it …

        And then, when someone wanted to make a purchase, she couldn’t give them her undivided attention because she was trying to talk to another potential customer! It was an unsatisfying shopping experience for both the crafter and the shoppers. If she’d thoroughly priced and made signs explaining the basics, she could have enjoyed connecting with customers and giving them a more in-depth experience personalized to their interests.

        I passed by her booth later. There were briefly no customers, but instead of using her down time to make signs or tags in preparation for the next wave, she was sitting there, intensely doing nothing, and keeping a sharp eye on the crowd. I wished she had something to do besides stare, so bringing a thing to do as Kim suggested is definitely more relaxing for passersby! You could even borrow scrap paper and a pen to make imperfect but very helpful signs, or write down FAQ’s to make into a sign for next time. Not to the point of ignoring anyone; you can still pause and make friendly eye contact.

        There will always be someone who doesn’t care to read, so it’s not like you won’t get to ever talk about the minutiae with anyone. 🙂

        1. Heidi, thank you so very much for taking the time to share this. I think it’s a perfect point and real life example of how a person can set themselves up for success and make the craft fair enjoyable or find themselves overwhelmed and missing out on customers. Make it easy for your customers to buy from you and they most likely will. Make them feel pressured and they will find a reason to get away and not come back. Thanks for such an insightful comment. I really appreciate the time you took to share your experience.

  11. Another hint: if you have an Etsy shop or other location where people can buy when you’re not at a fair, make up some business cards (Vistaprint does them cheap or you can print your own!) so people know how to reach you if they want to order more. They just may end up being “repeat” shoppers!

  12. Hi Kim, thanks for the great info I make gift baskets and candy bouquets how do you think they will sell at craft fairs?

    1. Veronica, I’m not a craft fair expert by any means but gift baskets and candy bouquets are very giftable so they might do well. Try out a low overhead cost sale and see how it goes in your area. My advice is to make them look trendy and fill them with usable things. Maybe stay away from lots of bath products that have particular scents. Stick with stuff like stationary/trendy mugs and things that people could easily give to anyone they know. Maybe try themed baskets like local hot sauces or local honeys and teas. Things that make them unique and something someone would want to give to someone else. I might stay away from huge baskets at sales as they might be hard to carry around or give to someone else. Just ideas. I’ve never sold gift baskets before so I don’t have lots of tested info to give you. If you have something you do, you probably do it well so just try it out and see if you make any money. If your investment isn’t too steep, it’s a good experiment and learning experiment.

  13. I’m a stay-at-home mom who enjoys making various crafts as a hobby. I had hoped to participate in some local craft fairs this fall, however, the applications are requesting a sales tax permit number( I live in Texas). Is this required if I’m not a “business”? I’m just planning to participate in 2-3 shows/year and my participation is just for enjoyment and the opportunity to make a little extra money. It seems much more involved than I had initially anticipated. Does every show require the tax permit number?

    1. I would contact the sale coordinator and see if they require that section to be completed. Either way, it wouldn’t hurt to contact a CPA near you and simply ask their advice.

      1. In NC…it is a state law for event coordinators to have a printout of all vendors and their tax ID #….plus all vendors need to have a copy handy at their booth. It’s free to get registered. Online at the Dept. of Revenue site. Your customers pay the tax…just use a two part receipt pad. That way all you have to do is add up the sales, taxes etc. …The best part…now you are official and can deduct all your expenses…including supplies, event fees, mileage…even meals while you are at the event. Even if you only do a couple event per yr….now your return is better.
        I require all handcrafted vendors to supply their tax ID #….Direct Sale reps turn everything in and taxes are handled by the companies they represent. If we have a surprise visit by Dept. of Rev….as coordinator, I could be fined and event closed.
        That would be very embarrassing…so, I keep everything on the upside
        I would think all states require this.
        Happy to answer any questions…

        1. Hey Trish! Thanks a lot for helping out with that tax question. I know it varies by state and like you said, it’s nice to write all those supplies off!

    2. I don’t do enough shows to get a tax number. So I get a form from the IRS it is a temp vendor form. If you call them they can tell you about it. Sometimes the shows will have them and sometime I have to call the IRS to get a form. I am in Kentucky so laws may be different. Hope this helps you.

  14. Hi, I completely stumbled onto your page through Pinterest…and I am sooo glad I did. I’m seriously considering setting up a booth at my local craft fair in October and I am completely lost….I don’t have jus one ‘medium’ (I hate that word) so I tend to dabble in a little bit of everything. Any advice on what to def make and what to try and stay away from, especially as a first time seller? Would it be a good idea to set up one of those cell phone CC thingys, even if it’s for a most likely two day use?? I’m honestly starting to feel COMPLETLY in over my head!!! Help, anything will….thank you
    -Samara
    Rhode Island

    1. Samara, every first timer feels this way so just know that it’s not unusual. Not knowing what to expect can cause great anxiety. I always say go with something “giftable”, decorative or usable. A lot of people make jewelry so the competition is usually steep. I will say that if you want to make money, you might want to stay away from “Eccentric” gifts. For example, I once knew a lady who used to glue doll heads to the top of mason jars, fill them with candy and try to sell those. To be frank and hopefully not offend anyone…they were down right creepy. That wasn’t just my opinion. Someone got me one as a joke and I took it down to my local consignment shop and they took it just to put it in the “Creepest” art contest they were hosting. I didn’t find out til I saw it in my newspaper.

      Once thing I try to stay away from is making something that “anybody” could make. I want what I do to require some kind of skill that they buyers may not have. I also try to gear my stuff toward an uncommon niche. For example, I usually make stuff for kids because mom’s and grandma’s are always walking around the sales + there are kids who’s parents gave them a few bucks to blow. Generally I have stuff at my table that appeal to kids, like my sock monkey table sold out before the sale was over because I was the only person selling stuff geared toward kids. I also found people trying to buy the sock animals for thier dogs. So the next year I did a table that was dedicated to dog rope toys made from fleece and large, medium and small double sided dog bandanas many of them in Christmas prints as people like to take pictures with their pets at Christmas.

      The “square” credit card phone swipe is free and you pay 2.75% per transaction. So it’s not cutting into your overhead but I would say it would great for anyone who shows up without cash or decides to drop some money at your booth.

      You question has given me the idea to include a printable checklist for craft sale prepping. I’ll try and add that to this post this week sometime. I think that would help a lot of people. Thanks for stopping by. You will have a blast an much success I’m sure. Just use your creativity and be sure to run your ideas by a few friends to see if they think people would or wouldn’t buy your idea.

  15. THANK YOU! The best advice and tips i’ve read so far! Thank YOU again.

    1. Catalina, so happy you found the information helpful. The post is kind of long but I feel like it covers most of the stuff I’ve learned over the years that help me have really successful sales. Good luck!

  16. These are all GREAT tips! I grew up with a stay at home mom who did all of the local craft fairs every year to make extra money so I practically lived at those things every fall! I also enjoy attending them looking for fun homemade items and have even rented a booth myself twice now at the local craft fair where I live! I do have to say as someone who has been around these things for years, on both sides of the table, the tip about bringing along some supplies to work on more products is a great idea! Not only will you be able to make more to sell while you sit there but I feel like it makes the shoppers more comfortable coming up to your booth. I know that when I am the shopper and I come across a booth where the owner is just sitting there with a bored (sometimes angry looking) look on their face and just stares at you, it makes me not want to stop at their booth! And if you do, you get out as quick as possible because it is awkward! However, when I walk up to a booth where the owner is busy working on something and they look up and smile and say hello but keep working on their item rather than staring at me, I am MUCH more likely to stick around at their booth and actually check out all of their items! Now don’t get me wrong though there is a fine line between the two and you can’t simply ignore your customers either because that will also be negative for your sales. There needs to be a happy medium, where you greet them and act friendly but don’t pester them and seem pushy. Either way, these were all wonderful tips that I would agree with!

    1. Totally agree. Since I’m from the South, I find I need to greet/establish a connection with people in all social interactions so I tend to greet, smile and ask them how they are doing before I go back to my work. Just so they know I know they are there and then they feel comfy asking any questions.

      1. That’s how I feel about it too! This way they know that you are friendly and approachable but not pushy! 🙂

  17. Thank you Kim for the useful tips. I took part in a local craft fair last August and I plan to go again this year with more stuff and beter prepared.

    1. Glad you found some useful hints. I love craft fairs because they seem like an inexpensive way to experiment with your craft projects and you learn something new year after year! The more you do the fairs the more you learn about what people will buy, how to prepare, what you forgot and all sorts of things. Good luck with your projects this year! Hope you find them a success.

  18. If you are serious about selling at craft shows, invest in a credit card scanner that works with your phone. I have the square. It cost $10 when I bought it and once you activate the device, square puts the $10 back in your account. This has allowed me many more sales because people tend to buy more if they don’t have to use their cash. Also bartering with other vendors is great fun if they are interested in your work and you in theirs.

    1. Tracy! That is really great advice! I totally forgot about those things! I’ve seen some local small businesses using those recently and didn’t look into it. I saw them at Target the other day and meant to investigate. If you don’t mind, I’m going to add your quote to the information above because I think it will helpful for the readers. Time to do some reading for me since I’m planning on doing one in March!

      1. I’ve been using my Square for about 1-1/2 years now and my sales have at least doubled. Customers are buying more items and larger items. Also, if I make a sale on a week day the funds are usually in my account the next morning and for weekend sales it’s there Monday. Well worth the minimal percentage they charge!

        1. Laura, thank you so much for sharing some real life data with us on the square. Your info makes me far more comfortable giving it a try. Thanks for taking time to share this information with us!

      2. I got a SQUARE before my first craft show this past September and am I glad I did. I would have lost 2 sales if I had not had it!

        1. Ellen, thanks for sharing your experience. I know I don’t have time for a sale this year but if I do next year I’m totally getting one!

    2. I have a scanner through PayPal. The scanner was free and the charges are minimal. Might be another option for credit card use. Before the scanner, I would lose sales because the shopper only had a debit card.

      1. Michele, thanks for passing that along. I’ve haven’t heard of that program either. Will have to investigate. So many smart, talented people out there with information to pass along. Thanks for taking the time to post your comment and share your knowledge.

  19. Thank you for this checklist. I have my first fair next weekend!

  20. Amanda, I would say start with looking in local area magazines that come out under “Events” because that’s where you will find many advertisements. You can also “Google” craft fairs, holiday shops or craft bizarre’s + your area of town. I used to participate in one at an Elementary School but each year that I have checked back the info is old and out of date and I haven’t received an email about it in 2 years so I don’t think it’s still going. Or else I would highly recommend that sale.

  21. It amazes me how you always write something I’m interested in or thinking about! Been trying to find a good craft fair to sell at that isn’t too expensive or just for sellers who make a sole living from their art/craft. I’d love to sell my earrings that I sell in my Etsy shop! Do you know of any fairs?

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