A day at the fair can be exhilarating, exhausting … or both. Use these strategies collected from craft fair veterans to minimize stress and maximize your profit potential.
DO your homework. Research craft fairs to find one that's a good fit for your products. Who typically attends? Who exhibits? What types of products are sold? What's the price range? If you're considering a weekly or monthly fair or farmer's market in your area, browse it before you decide to exhibit your products there.
DO plan ahead. Find out whether you’ll need a permit to exhibit your crafts at the fair you choose and, if so, how much it costs and how to obtain it. Learn the logistics. When can you set up? When does the fair end? Find out how many people attend, so you'll know roughly how much stock to bring.
DON'T overlook the power of social media as free advertising. Post or tweet that you'll be at the fair and encourage people to stop by. Offer a 10-percent discount for anyone who shows up at your booth and mentions your tweet, Facebook post or other social promo. You can also offer a discount to those who post about your products after the fair and tag you.
DON'T forget to bring supplies like water, snacks, a cell-phone charger and lots of bags for shoppers' purchases. Bring business cards or brochures and put them on your table so people can pick one up in case they want to buy later.
DO arrive early so you'll have enough time to set up and get the lay of the land. Find out where the closest restrooms and refreshments are in case you need them or a customer asks.
DO bring an attractive, floor-length tablecloth so you'll be able to hide extra supplies where they're easy to reach, but out of sight. Choose a solid color or pattern that showcases your products well.
DO bring a calculator, coins and small bills so you'll be able to make change for buyers. Bring a credit card machine, too, so you won't lose potential sales from shoppers who've run out of cash.
DON'T put too many items on display. Cluttered tables can be confusing for shoppers. Rearrange and restock your booth as the day goes on. If anyone comes back for a second look, a few new items in the mix might rekindle their interest.
DO consider having a sign-up sheet at your booth, so anyone who stops by can add their name to your mailing list.
DO bring a friend or family member to help out. It's best to choose someone outgoing and good with people.
DON'T forget to smile. Greet customers and make eye contact, but give them time and space to browse your wares without feeling pressured to buy. If you're shy, having a gregarious friend on hand to help can be a lifesaver. Keep smiling even when you're tired at the end of the show.
DO stand up. It's tempting to sit, but shoppers sometimes think you're taking a break and don't want to be bothered. Wearing comfortable shoes is a no-brainer.
DO think like a customer. What draws your eye at a craft show when it comes to displays? What turns you off in a maker's manner at a booth?
DON'T forget to keep track of your expenses (booth, permit, display materials, travel, etc.). Factor these costs in when you tally up the day's sales so yo'’ll know your actual profit. Some crafters set a goal of making 10 times the booth cost to justify their time and trouble.
DO stay til the end of the show so you won't miss last-minute sales.
DO network with fellow vendors before and after the show, as long as they're not in a hurry to set up or leave. Check out other booths and jot down notes on what works well in terms of display and arrangement, signage, shelving and special offers. You might find clever ideas you can borrow for your next show.