What To Consider When Getting Ready For A Craft Show?

Here is a collection of the who, what, when and where you will need to know and have in line before selling your items at a show.  Shows are a great way to market your items.

Where

The Venue or place you are looking at attending to sell your items.  These can vary from a small show to the largest in the United States which is held once a year in AZ.

Location

Is this show being held indoors or outdoors?  Along with this, where are you allowed to park and set up?  If you have to bring your whole setup for a distance, then you will need to plan on how you will be doing this and with what.
If the show is a multi-day show, then do you have to break down your booth and put everything back up the next day?  Or do they have security overnight?  One thing I have done even if they do have security guards at night is to take my higher value things with me when the selling day is over.  By doing this, it assures me that nothing terrible will accidentally happen to my good stuff.

When

Time of year

Shows around the holidays are great shows to participate in each year.  Holidays are the time of year that everyone is starting to buy presents for others.  Having little gift items at a reasonable selling price point will help you have great success at your show.  Along with this time of year thing, what is the weather like during this time of year?  Is your booth is either indoors or outdoors?

Applying to sell

A lot of the time there is a process you have to go through to be able to have a booth at a show.  I have had to send in pictures of items I will be selling as well as how my set up looks.   Some shows there is a deadline for applying.  Always pay close attention to these things.

What

What to do for getting ready for a craft show.   The what includes what all is involved with having a booth at a craft fair or show.

Costs

What are the prices you will have to pay with having a booth?  In the past, I have had to pay an application fee and booth fee once I was accepted to be part of the show.  There are even more costs that can occur.  Be sure to read the fine print of the show.  One show I was at there was a fine if you pack up your booth down early before the end of the show.  Sometimes electricity is available at shows for an extra price.  If the rate isn’t too high, then I will go ahead and pay for the power.  I like to have my embroidery machine running the whole time of the show to draw people over to see what is going on at my booth.  Some venues will rent tables and chairs.  I have found if I have to carry my stuff a ways from the parking area I will go ahead and rent the tables.

Display

How does your presentation of items look?   What will you use to display your goods?  How easy is your setup and take down of your booth?  Some venues will let you rent things like tables and chairs.  Yes, there is an expense to this, but the nice thing is you don’t have to worry about bringing those with you.  Especially if you don’t have a vehicle that will haul this type of equipment.
If your show is being held outdoors, then you will most defiantly want to have some sort of tent over your items, for shade and in case of rain.

Come prepared

It’s better to be over-ready than underprepared.  Do a mock set up of your setup.  Tape off on the floor the exact size space of your booth.  This way it will be a good exercise for learning how to set up your show items and how to make sure everything you want to sell will fit in that spot.  Also, you will find out what works and what doesn’t work in setting up and displaying your items.  Take note of how long it takes you to set up and even tare down.  All these things will help prepare you to be more efficient.

I keep a notebook that I write down all my sells in.  This way I can keep track of the money and what all have sold.

Who

This part may sound a little odd, but you will need some help with your booth.  This help will most likely need to help you set up, give you breaks, a lunch break and even help you tare down and load up in your vehicle.  Plus having someone there with you makes the day go by much faster than if you are there alone the whole time.  Yes, I have done a show all alone before.  I got to know the people on both sides of my booth.  I was comfortable enough to ask them to watch my stuff for a couple of minutes while I ran out and went to the bathroom or grabbed a bite to eat.
Another plus of getting to know the people who have booths around you, you can start to network more.  Find out where all they have sold and the different shows that do well for them.  How often they sell their stuff.  Which shows are more lucrative and which ones aren’t for their type of items they are selling.  You can learn some great things just by getting to know the people around you.

The Money

Who will handle the money?  I recommend not to have a cash box.  Wear something that has functional pockets and put your change in your pockets.  I put the more significant bills in the middle of my cash stack.  I put the ones on the outside, so that way it’s easier to make the change from your cash stack.
Another good rule of thumb is to try and make your items be even prices; this will avoid you having to have a lot of coins on hand.  For tax purposes, I go ahead and figure that amount before the show.  So if I have something I’m selling for $5.00 and my tax rate is 10% for the state and county I’m in then the actual price of my item is around $4.55.
In the past, I have used both square and PayPal to take credit card payments.  Nowadays it’s easier to accept credit cards, most people instead of paying by card than have cash on hand.  Look into their fees to see which one might be the best one for you.
Another thing I have done in the past is only to charge sales tax on credit card purchases.  I go ahead and pay the cost of the cash sales tax myself.  In the long run for me, it is just easier to not have to figure tax and keep a more substantial amount of coin change on hand.

Tips

Selling at a craft show can be a lot of fun and lucrative if you do it right.  Make sure you know your audience who is coming to the show.  Always sell things that cater to that crowd.  Have an attention getter to bring people over to your booth.  I would recommend to start small and work your way up to the more significant events and shows.  Figure out what all works for you and which of your items are your top sellers.