10 THINGS I LEARNED AT MY FIRST CRAFT SHOW

Articles of a Domestic Goddess Craft Show Debut!

 My church does a lot of community outreach. It’s what attracted me to the church in the first place. Not the fact that I could get free stuff… even though that’s true; but that they do things for the community. Once you begin to go there they expect you to participate and volunteer and have a calling within the church, which I think is extra special and what a church should be. But that’s my own personal opinion. There is just a really great group of people there, member or not. The Crosby Church Extreme Machine is a yearly festival in which car owners are beckoned to enter their fancy cars, motorcycles (or other similar item) into one of the best car shows in Texas from what I hear! It’s a BIG deal! There is lots of good food, free games for the kiddos, a mud bog, a fighting octagon, a big sermon and mostly, just lots of fun. My son left there all sweaty and sticky from all the fun he had there and in 6 year old terms, that’s a day well had!

 

 I spent most of my time in the craft booth area. (Which is in close proximity to the bouidain balls, sausage on a stick and kettle corn, btw) I learned a lot, met a lot of new friends with similar hobbies and interests … and I spent most of my profits in their shops. 🙂 There is a big difference between being on Facebook, and my friends know that I crochet, so maybe some of their friends have heard of me, etc. But this got my name out into the community and to my friends in real life, who knew that I crocheted, but didn’t really understand the handmade revolution. (LONG LIVE THE HANDMADE REVOLUTION!) All in all, it’s an experience that I was glad that I (and my sweaty 6 year old) had the opportunity to take part in. I learned how to pop up a tent (which is easier than I thought it would be.) Most of the items I bought from the ladies around me were for my display, so I’ll need to participate in more craft shows in the future to make my money back! I can already feel the vicious cycle beginning! 🙂

 


10 THINGS I LEARNED AT MY FIRST CRAFT SHOW:

 1. Bring a comfortable chair!

You’ll be sitting in it or on your feet most of the day so make sure it has arm rests and is plenty big enough for wallowing

…because after kettle corn and the coffee rush, you’ll want a nap!

 booth chair


 

2. Table Setup and Display

Set up your tables in such a way that customers are invited to browse. If they have to walk in, they probably won’t.

Plus, you and your friends, visitors or junk will probably take up a large amount of the covered space and it will require a shuffle to allow someone to walk in to browse.

Make things accessible and visible. If I could redo it, I would have set my booth up to have two sides, with a table running down each side. Each table should be equally as inviting.

Do a practice rehearsal and set them up to see what works.

Keep a full feeling. I made the mistake of moving all my items from my back table, to my front table and in doing so I left my back table bare. There is a whole psychology behind the way that stores sell to the consumer. I had a friend whose husband was a grocery store regional manager and she said the trick is to keep a full look, no matter what. There is something to that. I’ll be using that and trying to pin down what attracts consumers. See this article about grocery store psychology. Or this one. Or this one.

HAVE BUSINESS CARDS OUT ON BOTH TABLES!

I can’t tell you how many I handed out and how many booth owners I had to beg for their card and they had to hunt one down or grab one out of their pocket.

booth3

 

3. Have a VARIETY of items.

Big or small? Which is the answer? BOTH. They all play off each other for the good of the booth as a whole.

It’s basic marketing. The smaller items attract the pocketbook and the larger items attract the eye.

There was a whole booth of ONLY tutus. There was a whole booth of ONLY sashay scarves.

Neither of them caught the attention that I caught, but the tutus and sashay scarves were some of the biggest things that brought my customers in.

It’s not that I sold ANY of the two, but their presence brought people to at least take a look.

All you have to do is get them in.  DIVERSIFY, DIVERSIFY, DIVERSIFY!

booth 6

 

4. Tags. Pricing.

This was the hardest part.

I had tags on everything but planned to price it all once I got there. Don’t do this. Price it beforehand. Take the time.

People walking by grabbed tags and walked off a lot. If there was nothing on it, rather than ask they were turned off by it.

Also, price it where you want it to be. If as soon as they get to your booth, they pick up a beanie priced at $20 and you holler that you’ll go down to $15…they start to wonder if it was REALLY worth the $20 – or even the $15 for that matter. Price it where you want it and be proud of your price. If they want it, they’ll pay for it.


 

5. If they want it they’ll pay for it.

Which brings the next question: But what do they want? They want eye catching. I had a lot of basic beanies and scarves out. The few eye catching items I did have caught a lot of attention.

If I had it to do over, I would do more elaborate items than I did at this show.

Have things out that people PINE over and wish they can afford and they might buy a bookmark and then you might hit the jackpot with the one person who LOVES giant pirate dolls for $50.

Make them want it.

 booth 4


 

6. Don’t depend on custom orders.

I created this really nice portfolio, with photos of items I’ve made in it. I was happy I had it because it, in itself, was an eye catcher and people came mostly to take a look at the book.

But in lieu of creating some of the more eye catching (and time and material consuming) things in the book, I created beanies and scarves and small toys.

Which I’m happy I did as well, because like I said, the smaller items matter too. And I did get some custom order interest. But leave the custom orders for the internet.

Tell people who aren’t interested now that you take custom orders and if they reconsider it close to Christmas that you’ll be happy to give them some personalized time and give them your card.

But at a craft show, people want to buy what they see now. So give them that. Give them what they will want to go home with. They don’t want to call you Monday to set up a custom order.

It takes money to make money. Take the time and make the larger items to have on display. Sell them on Etsy later if you’re worried about the cost.

 

booth2

 


 

7. Bring something to do.

There are points when the people FLOOD in! …And then there were times that I didn’t see a smiling face for a good hour.

Bring something to do. (And bring more than one tapestry needle, in case you’re like me and lose it early on… way to deem myself worthless… <sigh> Alas, a Domestic Goddess is only as good as her tapestry needle (or the presence of one) will allow.)

The sashay scarf lady did not make any sales all day I think, BUT she got a lot of attention because she was knitting her scarves the whole time.

What’s that meme say that I’ve seen floating around the internet? Saying: “Being a crocheter is sort of like being a magician. You mumble to yourself while waving a stick around and other people have no idea how you did it.”?

Same thing here. It’s a good conversation starter. People are in awe of talent. And that’s what it is ladies! It’s talent! Embrace it.

(Go a step farther and WEAR something that you made. Preferably something you’re selling in your shop. It shows that you are proud of your work and it’s a conversation piece as well!)

a173d0dce91e534d221221db9fb5c560.jpg


 

8. Kids.

Kids are bait. I have some, so I hate to say it, but it’s true.

Get the kids to look and the parents will come.

We’re having a ring toss next year at my booth. 🙂

I had candy and crochet toys out etc, but the real kicker: the candy!

 booth 5

 

9. Talk to the customer!

Acknowledge the customer! Even the ones who don’t buy from you!

Say “Good Morning” when they walk up and be inviting. So many booth runners sat around and let people browse but never said a word to them. Be inviting! Be approachable!

I’m a talker at heart (can’t you tell by my essay here!?) and in the act of talking about our kids or horses, I got some truly interested people to take my card who weren’t interested in the beginning but were after my conversation with them.

Don’t be too pushy, though. In the beginning, in my endless chatter and excitement to be among real humans that don’t excrement in their diapers still, I was a little pushy in my mannerisms.

And it was worse the more nervous I was. Don’t start selling as soon as they come to the booth. Get out of their face! A little humor goes a long way.

If you MUST talk (Like me) then talk, but make sure it’s someone who wants to talk, otherwise you stand the chance of damaging the sale.

I made the mistake of turning off my first few by jumping right to “Oh you like that? Let me wrap it up and get you out of here!” -instead of realizing that people browse much more than they buy.

You can just tell when someone takes your card and is going to throw it in the first trash can they see and the ones who will tuck it away for a rainy day.

Be that shop owner who makes a lasting impression. I remember each customer’s name or at least something specific about them.

I go to the dry cleaner who knows my name and I never have to show a ticket to in order to pick up my dry cleaning rather than the one who is smug and has the mentality of “buy it or don’t, I’m just here for the sausage on a stick”…

When a browser looks and leaves without buying anything, say “Thank you!” and MEAN it! They took the time out of their day to acknowledge your talent. Thank them.

They’ll come back around anyway, and when they do, and you say “Good Afternoon”, you’ll be one step farther than the rest of them 🙂


 10. Taking Money

I turned off more than one customer because I could not accept credit/debit cards. Then I realized that I use PayPal and Etsy and could have easily done so had I thought ahead.

<PALM FOREHEAD>

There are many phone apps that I could have downloaded beforehand had I thought ahead. wCharge  or Square are some good options I’ve seen around.

If I could do it again I would use one or more of these options.

Bring plenty of change. $40 in 1’s, $40 in 10’s, $30 in 5’s.

You may want to bring $100 in 20’s if you have larger items.

If you have a lot of smaller items then a roll or 2 of quarters might be in order.

 


 

I hope these tips help you in your future craft show endeavors.
If there are any tips you would like to add, let me know in the comments below.
After all, this WAS my first craft show as well and I’m learning as well!

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16 thoughts on “10 THINGS I LEARNED AT MY FIRST CRAFT SHOW”

  1. Despite years of people telling me to sell stuff at craft fairs I’ve just never worked up to it. The one we had this fall I went around the knit/crochet item bothes and looked at what people seemed to be buying and what others were pricing – and oh my goodness! I don’t see how I’d be able to compete. People were selling things for way under what I normally charge people (when I do charge them). I couldn’t even begin to cover just the cost of my yarn for their prices. How do you handle that? My husband suggested that I just create a bunch of stuff with the cheapest yarn that I could find to sell, but I like my fancy yarns. I just don’t see how I could sale a hat or something for $20+ when someone a few tents down has a similar one for $5, I know people say that they’ll go for the better quality one, but I saw people buying a lot more of the $5 hats than the ones that cost more.

     
    1. If you are creating things with fancy yarns, you go girl! You put a good price on it and don’t waiver. I had other crochet enthusiasts come and visit me and tell me my pricing was right on, and that they had just seen a low-baller crocheter at their last show they visited and that they sold a lot, but they just shook their heads. People aren’t attracted to the $5 hat… they’re attracted to the $5. offer things that are WORTH $5. It’s a marketing thing. The entire shop works together to make some things worth it and others things not so much. It’s hard to explain. I had those little bees on my front table. No one bought them, but they oggled them like crazy b/c they were cheap! If it takes you the time to make it, then charge what it’s worth. My prices were HIGH compared to what I hear others charge at craft shows. I didn’t change my pricing from what I would price on Etsy and I had a LOT of interest. I am confident that if I had more $25 items that were cute, in that range I would have sold them. It’s not about one item or another, it’s the whole shop and how ALL the items work together to DIRECT the consumer’s eye. Think Coke, Think Pepsi, Think McDonald’s. lol

       
    1. I did well. I made about $150 profit. I made about $80 outright. I had a $30 spot charge, so that was about $50 profit. It was enough to justify me doing it again. I made about $100 in custom orders, but that was one small custom order and one very large custom order by a lady carrying a large preggo belly! I hit it lucky really, because people were looking to go home with items. I am 100% positive that if I had more animal hats and cute things for people to choose from I would have done better. They were ready to buy from me, but my inventory was seriously lacking. Plus I kept undercutting myself by hollering out I would move on the price. My husband stopped me and said that was why people weren’t interested, was because I kept making them question what the item was worth. I did a lot of experimenting. lol

       
  2. This was great! I had my first market day at my church earlier this year and although I didn’t make any sales that day, I learnt a lot! I realized much too late that I should have made items to sell instead of focusing on only custom work. I did have my tablet running a slideshow of items that could be ordered but I wish I had made up some 1hour and 1skein items. It would have made a great difference.

    Always have water handy. You’ll be doing so much talking that your mouth will get dry. Have a mirror handy too as your face is the first thing persons will see. I wore a branded T-shirt with my business name at the front and all of my contact information at the back. When my stall was dead, I walked around so persons who weren’t walking in my direction before got a chance to see my work and contact info.

    I also had a notepad handy and invited interested persons to write down their interests and email address to join my mailing list.

     
    1. Oh, I’m LOVING The branded t shirt idea! I am totally ordering one right now! What a brilliant idea! Water is a good point, especially since they charge to buy it at the fair and it’s usually overpriced. I love the mailing list idea also! Thank you!!

       
  3. We have a Saturday Market venue here in Portland, which runs from May through the end of December. There are food, crafts and all different kinds of artistry venders. The street musicians, jugglers and food venders make it a fun way to spend a Sat or Sun. I have thought of selling there, but it
    s cold and miserable this time of year and the outside weather is not what I want to deal with. I have sold many things on eBay and only one thing on Etsy. However, that’s just because I haven’t had enough merchandise being offered. I have decided that knitting a sweater is a lot more work than offering a pattern for sale. I’d much rather sell 1,000 patterns at $2.00 than one sweater for $40, say. Selling Patterns to other crafters makes more sense.

     
    1. Well you gotta do what’s right for you. But I can see value in both of them. I love meeting new people and this is a good way to do that. I can agree though… if it were sweltering or snowy, you could count me out! I’ve got to be one of the only people I know who hates snow lol

       
  4. You really just have to go for it for the first show. I take notes from every single show I go to (each one can be so different!) for the next year. So far I’ve never made under $250 but I take ALOT of stuff! I also don’t under price myself but keep my prices what I would charge for a custom order. Others might sell for less but when people want quality they will come back to your table. 🙂
    Speaking of craft shows I have 2 this weekend! Yikes…wish me luck haha

     
  5. I had my first craft show last month. I did bring “busy” work, and I did price all my items. What I didn’t do is ask about exactly where the craft show was placed in the church facility. It turned out to be in the basement, and I have bad knees. I lerned a lot from the other vendors and look forward to a couple more craft shows this year.

     

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