Selling at a craft fair is like a rite of passage for anyone starting up a craft business. Attending your first few craft shows can be a bit daunting. I hope to help with my ultimate guide to a successful craft show for beginners. Don’t forget, we have all been in this position ourselves before!
Related blog post: How to start a craft business in the UK
Choosing The Right Event.
Sounds easy doesn’t it?
I went to some absolute stinkers when I first started out. The main reason why was because in my naivety, I believed the event organiser instead of doing my own research about the event. Some of the very first craft shows I attended as a trader literally had nobody attend!
You have to do your research when picking an event to attend as a trader.
Always look on the organiser’s social media accounts for past events. Instagram is helpful here, as hopefully you will see photos of very busy past craft shows. Do they promote the event? Is this a regular event? Speak to other traders that have attended. Try and find a trader in a different niche to you so they don’t feel threatened by a newcomer.
I would always be a bit suspicious of random social media messages offering you a stall. A busy event will always have a list of people wanting to trade so don’t need to fish for traders.
Once you have found a craft show that looks of interest to you, don’t be afraid to ask the organiser if there will be anyone else selling the same type of things as you. If they won’t tell you, or they say there are more than 3, I would count this as a bit of a red flag. The best events are the ones that have a variety of different stalls. Nobody wants to attend a general craft fair where everyone is selling the same thing; as a trader or as a customer.
Spread The Word!
Don’t be shy! Tell everyone about your upcoming event. Post some photos of what you will be selling on social media. If you use the correct hashtags on Instagram you can reach a lot of interested people.
A good event organiser will have very active social media accounts. Check with them that you can put a post up on their page, or ask if they can share your details on there.
There is nothing worse than getting to your event and you have forgotten something. I know this as I am probably the biggest culprit (although I blame this on my brain fog)!
It really is a good idea to have a checklist of what to put into your event bag. My biggest tip with regards to the craft show bag, is to pick a light coloured bag to put everything in. This may seem a bit odd, but, there has been many a time in the beginning when I needed something quickly, but couldn’t see it as the inside of the bag was so dark!
Essential Items for a Craft Show Event Bag:
- A cash float
- Lots of spare change, especially £5 notes
- Insurance document
- Couple of pens
- Sales tracker
- A fully charged card machine
- Marker pen
- White card
- Rubbish bag
- Power charger
- Your lunch (if an all day event)
- Something to work on (I bring some dog bow ties that need finishing off to events)
The above list is based on an event being held indoors. There are other things to add for an outdoor event which I will cover in another post.
Make Your Life Easier…
- I have been selling at events across the country for the past 8 years and have put together a list of the things that either make my life easier or make my stall look professional. Every item I mention is something that I have bought and still use to this day.
PLEASE NOTE: This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase using this link. Please see my disclosure for more details.
How To Make Your Stall Look Professional.
- We need to start with my biggest bugbear…. table coverings!
- I have seen many weird and wonderful ways of covering sales tables over the years. Amazingly, I have seen people throw a bin bag over the table then plonk their stuff down. I’ve also seen many different variations of creased curtains, rugs, paper and lino flung over tables. Many of these only cover part of the table and they are almost always wonky. Don’t even get me started on the people who don’t put anything on and leave it bare!
- When I first started out, I used a plain black tablecloth which would be ironed before each event (thanks Mum!). My mum comes to most events with me and the amount of time we used to take to ensure the tablecloth was straight was ridiculous!
- A couple of years ago, I was introduced to the wonderful world of spandex table coverings and I haven’t looked back since!
I love these for a number of reasons. Firstly, they make your stall look very professional as it reaches right to the bottom. They wash easily, dry quickly, and don’t need ironing. You can get them in loads of different colours but I always think black or white looks the best. They cover tables up to 6 feet. I have used them on small 3 foot tables as well and just draped them over.
- Not all event organisers will provide you with a table. If you are selling at an outside event where you need your own gazebo, you will also need your own tables. I love the tables shown below. In fact, have 6 of them! They come in packs of 3 which is great value. I find them really helpful when I’m at an outdoor event as they are easy to move around. I also find sometimes that 3 big tables is too much but 2 is not enough, so being able to use 5 of these smaller ones is perfect. When you put 2 of them together, the stretchy table coverings fit perfectly on them. I also tend to being one of the tables with me when I have an indoor event as it comes in handy for money, bags, order book etc.
These tables are great value as they are sold as a set of 3. They are lightweight to carry yet will take a lot of weight. I like that they have 3 height settings which are easy to do. They have a handle on for carrying, and I find they fit into the boot of my car easily.
- Flyers are an important part of your marketing and branding as a creative business. You will fine that many people will take a flyer from you at events, even if they don’t buy on the day. Having the flyers on your table, visible and looking nice is very important. Just sticking them in little piles on your table is not the way to do it, I promise.
A4 Display Stand.
- I use these for a number of reasons. If I am short of space, I will use one for a price list. It is also handy to make a branded ‘we take card payments’ sign (If you don’t take card payments, you are missing out on a lot of sales). These stands don’t take up much space on your table but can display a lot of information for you.
This stand is sturdy and can be packed easily, especially if you have more than one. Any signs will be clearly and professionally displayed using these holders.
They also come in handy if you sell prints as can be a great way to display them.
How To Make Your Life Easier At An Event.
- If you attend a lot of different events, making your life easier is very important. Being organised and prepared are huge factors when attending an event. I wish I had thought to look for craft show tips for beginners when I was first starting out, rather than learning through trial and error! I have 2 checklists in my workroom, one for indoor events and one for outdoor events. The following 3 items are on both lists!
- If you only make one purchase from now to help with your business, it has to be this! I would be lost without it! Those of us who have attended different events have all been to many where you go back and forth to the car to unload, and then pack up again at the end of the day. It is tiring and time consuming, especially if you have large items.
- A friend of mine had one of these trolleys at an event we were both at, and i was consumed with jealousy at how easy it was for her to move everything around! I ordered one as soon as I got home and have been in love with it ever since!
This trolley folds really compactly. I put it on the floor behind my seat in the car. It has a cover which is easy to take on and off. When folding it back you just pull a cord and put the bag on it. I can fit my display stands, stock and a few tables into it. It will move over grass as well as paved flooring. To top it off, it has 2 cup holders attached to it! You have to pull it rather than push it but it’s really easy to navigate.
- If you take cards at events, you will need one of these. I use a Paypal card reader which uses their handheld device as well as my phone, and both batteries can drain quickly if you are taking a lot of card payments. I bought this portable charger a few years ago and it’s still going strong, even though it only cost me £8!
This charger is brilliant. I can take it to weekend events, use it 3 or 4 times on both days and it still has power left. It charges my phone and card reader quicker than when I plug them into the wall, which is ideal when it’s a very busy event. It fits into my cash tin as well.
- It looks like I’m stating the obvious here with a cash tin, but I am speaking from experience of having the wrong box to keep my money in for many years. I started off with a small cash tin. You know, the one where you lift the coin tray up to get to the notes? It may be nice and compact but as soon as it gets busy, or there are 2 of you manning the stall when it’s busy, the coin tray soon gets lashed and everything put in together!
- This is what I use now and find it a lot easier!
Some final pieces of advice for you.
*Make sure you give yourself enough time to set up properly. If this is your first event, whatever amount of time you think it will take you to get ready-add at least half an hour onto that!
*Always make friends with your neighbours. You never know when you might have to nip out for a minute and need someone to keep an eye on your stall. Fellow traders are the best sources of good events as well. They are also very handy for telling you which events to avoid as well.
*Don’t get too down if the event is rubbish, or you just don’t do very well. We have ALL been there. You may find that craft events are not the best events to showcase your products. This is not an issue as there are hundreds of other types of events out there. I will go through them in another post.
*Try not to pack up early if the event is poor. I make some of my best sales right at the end of an event. I am a very impulsive person and if I see something I want, I will buy it there and then. Not everyone is like me though. It amazes me how many people will come to my stall for a look, disappear, then reappear much later on and buy things!
*When you do pack away, do it properly. Don’t just throw everything into bags because you want to be out of there quickly. You will thank me for it when you go to your next event to set up!
*Clear up properly after yourself. Don’t be that person who leaves a load of rubbish behind. You don’t want to be remembered by an organiser for the wrong reasons.
I hope you have found this post helpful. Good luck with your event. If it is your first one, I hope it’s the first of many more to come!