mistakes to avoid at a craft show

Last Updated on 6th August 2021 by Allison

Craft shows (or any other type of sales event) come in different sizes-from a small craft fair in a church hall, to a large scale event in an Exhibition Centre.

Whether it’s your first ever event, or you have been trading for a while, you need to be professional in how you act, and how you set up your stall for the event.

Here, I have compiled a list of 17 mistakes to avoid at a craft show.

Some of them are silly mistakes (I am personally guilty of number 2 a few times), some are down to inexperience as a seller, and the rest are bad habits which can affect your business if not addressed.

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example of a craft show

17 Mistakes to Avoid at a Craft Show

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1. Arriving Late.

If there is one way to get your day off to a bad start, it’s to arrive late.

You must always give yourself enough time before an event starts to get set up. If you are still unpacking when the event starts, potential customers will just walk past you. You also risk the wrath of your stall neighbours, especially if it’s an indoor event, as you will no doubt be in their way while you unpack.

2. Being Unprepared/Forgetting Something.

I am totally guilty of this one. I used to always forget something, then I decided to write myself an event checklist so I no longer forget anything. I also have an event bag with a checklist, to make sure everything is in that as well.

Your event checklist will be everything you need for your display, plus your stock.

Everything else I can possibly need is in my event bag, a list of which is below:

My Craft Show Event Bag Checklist:

  • A cash float
  • Lots of spare change, especially £5 notes
  • Insurance document
  • Couple of pens
  • Sales tracker
  • A fully charged card machine
  • Phone and charger
  • Flyers
  • Wipes
  • Marker pen
  • White card
  • Scissors
  • Blue-tac
  • Diary
  • Rubbish bag
  • Power charger
  • Your lunch (if an all day event)
  • Painkillers
  • Something to work on (I bring some dog bow ties that need finishing off to events)

3. Not Looking Presentable.

Whatever size event you are at, you are representing your brand. You want to be clean and tidy at all times. People notice things like this, and it could put them off coming near you.

I have a hoodie and money belt with my logo on that I always wear which helps me fit in with my brand, and makes me look professional.

4. Untidy Display.

messy craft show display

There is nothing worse, as a trader, to be stuck next to someone who has a stall that resembles the middle of a jumble sale, as it can bring your stall down as well if it is quite a cosy set-up.

There is nothing more off-putting for a customer than to be faced with a messy stall. Your stall needs to be easy for people to look at and see what products you are selling. Not everybody puts things back where they were as well, so you need to be keeping on top of what your display looks like throughout the day.

5. No Table Covering.

I will never understand why some people take so much care in making gorgeous items and then put them on an ill-fitting table covering, something full of creases, or, even worse, no table covering at all!

Having a plain, well ironed table covering, that reaches the floor at the front, is half the battle when it comes to having a professional looking display.

I use these fabulous black Spandex table coverings. I love them because they never need ironing. They cover the front of the table, but leave a space at the back so you can put your crates and spare stock under the table and only you can see it.

6. Flat Display.

Craft shows can get very busy so having all of your products laying flat on your table is a bad idea, as they won’t be seen through a crowd of people. You need to have some height in your display so it can be seen from a distance.

craft show display example

This is a photo of my stall at a recent Comic Convention. The Oompa Loompa is an optional extra! It is actually my son, who loves coming with me to the Comic Cons!

7. Placing Products out of Reach.

I mentioned just before that having a flat layout is a craft show mistake you need to avoid. This is sort of the opposite. You don’t want to have your display so high that people can’t reach things. I would also advise against having a display behind you as again, people can’t reach, and you will also find people are reluctant to ask to have a closer look at anything that is behind you.

8. No Variation in Pricing.

This is a mistake I see many times at events. Not everyone can afford to buy a high priced item on a whim. People like to shop for gifts at Craft Shows, and may have different budgets depending on who the gift is for. You also don’t want to fall into the trap of just selling your cheapest items as this can sometimes devalue your whole stall.

9. No Prices.

Having products on show and no prices for them will make people naturally think that they are going to be very expensive. Many people won’t even bother asking. Although, I have clear pricing for my items and it’s amazing how many people still ask how much something is! The majority of those who ask have seen the price as well, as many point at it while asking! Human nature is weird…

If you don’t fancy individually pricing everything, how about typing out a price list and putting it in an A4 menu display?

10. No Change.

Attending an event with no change is a big mistake! Most cash transactions at the start of an event are made using notes so any change you do have will disappear quickly.

Trying to get change off a fellow stallholder is like trying to separate a new mum from her baby. It’s just not going to happen. Make sure you have at least £100 in coins and also a stash of £5 notes.

Always try and make sure your prices don’t require a handful of change every sale. Pricing something at £5 rather than £4.75 will require less change.

11. Not Accepting Card Payments.

There is so much choice on the market now for ways to take card payments that there is no excuse for having a cash only stall.

It is the question I am asked the most at an event (and, yes, I do have a clear sign saying that I accept card payments).

I find that people can buy more when paying by card as they tend to have a limited amount of cash on them. Some people don’t even bother taking cash out anymore as paying by card is pretty much the norm now.

12. Not Respecting your Stall Neighbour’s Space.

via GIPHY

You always have to be mindful of your neighbours at a craft show-or any type of sales event for that matter.

Encroaching onto their space is a big mistake, as is using the side space in such a fashion that you can’t get in and out from behind your stall. People have paid for a set space and everyone has to respect that.

It is also frowned upon to move your table a lot further forward as this causes problems when customers are in front of your table as it can then block your neighbour from being seen.

I attended an event a few years ago where my neighbour decided to build a 6 foot display at the side of their table which completely blocked me from being seen. I asked them to take it down and they refused, so I complained to the organiser who made them take it down. They tried to build it onto their table, which would still have blocked me but it fell down. Karma at it’s best, I think!

13. Unprofessional Attitude.

Where do I start here?! Sitting behind your table engrossed in your phone or reading a book. Sat there half asleep because you aren’t very busy. Glaring at other stalls who have customers when you don’t. Having a conversation on the phone and continuing it when someone approaches your stall. And, my personal favourite, sitting there, arms folded, fuming, because you have had a quiet event.

People aren’t going to come near you if you look like you’re going to bite their head off!

The best way to act is to be attentive at all times, smile and say hello if someone catches your eye, and stay off your phone! I always take something with me to work on, usually dog bow ties, which can then be put out for sale. People take an interest when you are actually making an item in front of them.

14. Pouncing on People.

mistakes to avoid at a craft show

This is the opposite of my last point.

You are not on a Spanish beach trying to sell timeshare to unsuspecting holiday makers. Trying to force people to have a look at your stall will not work. It just embarrasses people. It will also seriously annoy your neighbours as it could affect their sales too.

Don’t stand in front of your stall trying to talk to people as they walk past, or trying to hand flyers out to everyone. If you have a nicely displayed stall, don’t smell, and don’t look like you’re ready to murder someone, people will eventually come over and take a look.

There will be some events where the people there just aren’t your type of customer. Begging people to have a look is never the answer.

15. No Flyers for People to Take.

Not everyone will want buy on the day of the event. This is why it is important you have flyers on your stall so people can take one to find out how to contact you after the event.

You should also make sure a flyer is given to every person that buys something, as they may want to buy from you again in the future.

I have all my social media details on my flyers, and I ask customers to post a photo of their dog modelling their new collar or bandana. I then put them on my website every so often, which the owners love!

16. Talking to your Neighbour’s Customers.

I have given some EPIC death stares out in the past to stallholders who start chatting to people who are looking at my stall. It is the height of rudeness. The same goes with people handing flyers out in front of my stall. They don’t stand there for long as I always chase them.

Don’t try and poach people. It really does make you look a bit desperate!

17. Packing Away Early.

via GIPHY

Even if you have had the worst day ever, you need to stay until the end. It is amazing how many people spend all day browsing, then go racing round all of the stalls in the last 15 minutes buying what they want.

Packing away early not only looks unprofessional, it is also disruptive to the other traders.

17 mistakes to avoid at a craft show

So, there you have my list of 17 mistakes to avoid at a craft show.

We have probably all been guilty of a few of them.

If anyone is guilty of all of them, you are probably in the wrong profession!

Can you think of any I have missed out? Pop them in the comments below.

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