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Craft Show Best-Sellers for Nonprofits
Craft Show Best-Sellers for Nonprofits

The keys to selecting products that will generate revenue

Your nonprofit organization has big plans for 2017. Facility renovations, new gifts for donors, more scholarships and a larger membership are all on your director's wish list.

But turning these wishes into reality takes revenue — and resourcefulness.

Whether you're a craft-show veteran or are considering manning a booth for the first time, it is your job to choose or create items that will generate money for your nonprofit. Here are some tips to help you make money at every show, whether you are charged with identifying products to sell or creating your own.

1. Get inspired. Start by exploring sites such as Etsy, a global marketplace for all things creative, and Pinterest to see what people are making — and selling. A virtual smorgasbord of inspiration, Pinterest provides access to a bevy of creative blogs full of insights from artists around the world.

American Craft Council (ACC) is another hub for all things creative, according to its website. Membership includes access to artist interviews, educational resources and a national calendar of exhibitions, including free admission to the American Craft Show.

2. Stand out, then sell out. Visiting crafting websites provides inspiration, but offering copycat crafts usually won't yield big sales at shows. The best way to be a craft-show star is to offer products that shoppers won't find at other vendor booths, according to eHow contributor Katherine Mitt, author of "Top Selling Items for Craft Fairs."

Offering unique items not only gives people a reason to seek out your booth – and buy your products – it makes them more likely to remember your organization.

3. Remember that quality counts. White it may seem like a given, quality products sell themselves. Even if you have to sacrifice quantity, offering a well-made product is the best way to get the sale.

4. Make it personal. Customized items are a big draw at craft shows, according to artisan and former gallery owner James Dillehay, author of "Handmade Crafts That Sell Best." So etch, engrave, sear or stitch your way into your customers' hearts.

5. Think local. "Handcrafted items with a local or regional connection," think landmarks, city names and sports teams, "tend to sell very well at craft shows," says fiber artist Karen Edenfield. She suggests presenting products with fun, innovative and/or creative product packaging to turn browsers into buyers.

6. Less can be more (appealing).Limited edition items generate lots of interest, so look for ways to make your wares appear exclusive, whether it's sharing a bio from the artist, including a seasonal element or simply featuring fewer products on your table, making it appear to customers that inventory is small. Also highlight your product's limited availability on product packaging and craft show signage.

Popular craft show products

The formula for sales success varies with each craft show. However, here are some product categories popular with consumers.

  • Jewelry - There's a lot of it out there, so offer pieces with a distinguishing feature or theme.
  • Bath/body products - Organic soaps, bath bombs and body butter are just a few on-trend examples.
  • Paper goods - Handmade cards and other stationary items, especially ones featuring distinctive themes, are popular.
  • Candles - Check out Pinterest for creative ways to pair them with mason jars.
  • Clothing - Hand-knitted or crocheted accessories such as scarves and hats, if priced right, can be hits.
  • Glass - Wine bottle crafts, including hanging lanterns and other upcycled items are always worth a closer look.
  • Metal - Ideas include everything from holiday decor to spoon jewelry.
  • Mixed media - Imagine a vintage photo incorporated into a distressed wood or metal jewelry box.
  • Wood - Ideas range from pallet wood planter boxes to personalized wood chargers.
  • Clay - Create cute animal figurines, emoji charms and more.

Remember, a well-put-together booth — one that's pretty and tidy — is also essential to attracting and engaging potential customers, says Columbus, Ohio, artist and graphic designer Rebecca Burdock. So don't forget to polish your presentation.

According to Burdock, the creative force behind Rebecca Ink, craft-show browsers tend to focus on items displayed to their right as they enter a booth. Make this an area to showcase a variety of bestselling items that draw shoppers into your space.

With the proper attention to product quality, uniqueness, presentation and creativity, you can master the art of craft show fundraising.

Key Tips and Takeaways

  • Offer unique products that consumers can't find elsewhere – focusing on quality over quantity.
  • Find ways to personalize products for customers, such as using monograms and offering items with local or regional ties.
  • Highlight any seasonal or limited-edition products in your marketing materials to boost demand.
  • Choose product categories that are popular with craft fair shoppers: jewelry, bath and body products, paper goods, candles, clothing, glass, metal, mixed media, wood and clay.

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