I am the classic over thinker/ over researcher. I google, pinterest, facebook, encyclopedia pretty much everything before I dive on in. So when I decided that I wanted to do a craft fair I read about every article out there and felt like I was pretty prepared. There was a lot of great and invaluable advice! But doing a craft fair is kind of like having kids. You just don't know what it is REALLY like until you have one. So here are my tips and tricks that no one told me- So I am telling you! What to expect, what to prepare for... and what advice to take with a grain of salt.
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1. A good display is important- but no need to go overboard!
I really stressed about my display for the first few fairs- that is in every craft fair tip article on the internet!! I wanted it to look amazing, like an actual storefront! And maybe you will get to a point where that is feasible. But I wasted a lot of time worrying about that when I could have been making actual things to sell. My best advice?? Make stuff that is awesome and make sure people can see it! Sound over simplified? Well it kind of is! But I have seen A TON of booths with things in baskets, boxes, piled, small things lying flat.... You can't see them unless you are right in front of them! And if people have to rifle through items to see them all that is a serious problem. Most people are walker stalkers. They will walk through booths to check them out but any more serious effort? NOPE.
Have at least a few displays that are VERTICAL. Your best sellers should be VISIBLE from the aisle! For my crochet hats I had them on hat stands and a big hanging display. This is the draw. Then when they are closer have your other items easily visible on a table or such. If you have smaller things that are variations of one thing and want to put them in a basket I think that is fine. I recommend that you have a display item easily visible so they know what they are looking for in the basket.
Along with your display, you want people to see prices! A lot of people don't want to ask... But want to know! I have used these tags and they were perfect.
2. Put on your happy face, folks!
I am an introvert. I like people, but small doses really does it for me. Usually my Sunday church attendance sets me up for a week. So when I get ready for a craft fair I mentally put my cheerful game face on. You need to be helpful, engaging, smart, funny, personable... Things I like to think I am (ha!) but you got to be that ALL DAY LONG. Be prepared for crazy comments, rude comments, incredibly sweet rewarding comments, and some cheek hurt. Because you got to have that smile on! As much as you are selling your product, you are selling YOU! If this comes naturally to you then great! If you are like me just fake it til you make it. And it's not as hard as I am making it sound. You are selling something that you are passionate about, that you love to make! Remember that and it makes it much easier. For today you are a Salesman (woman) first and a maker second.
3. People be Crazy
There are some great people that make it all worth it, but there are a few that will say some nasty things. My biggest advice is to KILL THEM WITH KINDNESS. Your first reaction may be to snap something back, but if you are overly kind and encouraging then it will make a huge difference. Want an example? I had one lady tell me that my hats were way overpriced, snapped a picture of one and told me she knew someone who could make it cheaper. I was burning (literally, I have a horrible blushing habit when I am flustered.) I said I was so sorry she felt that way but was so glad that she liked my work to take a picture of it! She stomped off. Another woman who was also looking at the hats was super indignant on my behalf, bought two hats and brought back another friend who also bought another hat. A couple of hours later the earlier woman came back and bought the hat she took a picture of and apologized. Apparently her friend quoted her the same price! Not every story will have such a happy ending (I have had many, many more that did not!) but I will always be grateful that I came off professional in that encounter of the weird kind.
4. Bring Snacks
What??? Seriously. Snacks and drinks will be a saving force. Like I said I am not a huge people person so it really wears me out and I get tired. You will be standing most of the day. It will be hard to leave the booth (what if you miss a sale!) and you will get HUNGRY. I always pack a few granola or protein bars and some water bottles.
5. Bring a Person
Like I said, it will be hard to leave the booth but you will need to sometimes (hmm hmm. bathroom.) If you can't have a person there all day, somebody who can come spell you for a little bit is seriously a life saver!
6. Have a Paying Station
This is a big one that I didn't do for the first few fairs and then figured out... I was so intent on using every inch of space for my product that I didn't think to set up a place for the actual exchanging of funds for goods! It is hard to do this standing up. If you have to juggle change, your phone or ipad, and whatever you are selling it becomes awkward fast. Have one little section with your cash box and a little chair and things will go sooooo much easier. It is more comfortable for both you and the buyer. You can have your cash box, some bags for your product (I use these and think they were a great deal!) and maybe your receipt book.
7. Get an Actual Cash Box
You CAN get by without one... but when you are taking money people like to be reassured they are dealing with a professional person. My first fair I just used an envelope and accidentally pulled everything out. Umm excuse me potential buyer while I pick some twenties off the floor. NO. Not professional. I like THIS ONE if you are in the market. In the same line, make sure you have some change! At one fair my first purchase was with a hundred and I was so grateful that at the last minute I got some change made!
8. Make sure you are not one in a million
One fair I
went to had a TON of similar crochet items. Like 6-7 booths out of 40.
People still liked my stuff but they had "just got a hat from over
there." Gag, blegh, sigh! From then on I checked and double
checked that there were not going to be a lot of the same items that I
was selling. MOST fairs don't want this and won't allow duplicates but
be sure to check!
9. Bigger is not Always Better
you are heart broken that you weren't accepted to sell in a large fair,
or can't afford the booth fee do no despair! I used to always do the
craft fair in my very small hometown and consistently did better than
the larger fairs! Why? I am not sure. My small town is remote so the
fair is a bigger deal than larger places that have them more often.
People liked buying my stuff because they knew me. And there wasn't as
much of what I was selling (see number 8!). What I am trying to say is
you can make it work in a smaller area! Look at all the factors that
goes into a fair, not just size! Another thing that helps is going to
the same fair year after year. People start to remember you and say "I
was looking forward to seeing what you made this year!" BEST FEELING
10. Plan Ahead
Don't decide a week
before that you want to do a craft fair UNLESS you already have a ton of
inventory. It will be bad on your health and stress levels and maybe
your marriage. Haha! Seriously, though, a fair is hard enough work that
you don't want to be so worried about making inventory that you don't
have the time to do all the other stuff that comes with it. You may walk
away disappointed. The ideal is to work at it all year long and be
ready to go! I say ideal... but I know I have let it sneak up on me! But
I was always happier and more successful when I gave myself plenty of
11. Have Pictures or display only pieces
my crochet hats, lots of people want to try them on. Uhhhh... that is a
little iffy. What if they have lice? Or are just dirty? Or something
crazy happens and they damage it? and then don't buy it!! Ahh! MOST of
the time it will be fine.. But what if it isn't? I think most people try
it on for 2 reasons. They want to see what it looks like on and to make
sure it fits. So I recommend having a few pictures displayed of the
hats being modeled and make the time to have a few display only hats
that are in the different sizes you offer. (or whatever you are selling-
I just think in hats!) Offer them that hat and point them to the
pictures. Most people will be understanding!
12. Make things in different price ranges
is one that I saw often through my perusal of craft tips but I really
found it valuable! A lot of the time the big ticket items are what draw
people in and they leave with a cheaper item. Or they will add on a
cheaper item! Keep making your big ticket items because sometimes that
is where it is at. But have options because for some reason those
smaller things will be what makes you more money overall. It may differ
on where you are at, too!
This is a good example of a smaller thing to make! Free Octopus Baby Toy
And some bigger ticket items! You can find these The Friendly Dolls patterns HERE
13. Don't go overboard with inventory!
year I just wanted to make all the hats! I had like 35 different hats,
all kinds of styles! And there were a lot of people that loved them...
but wanted it in a different size. Or color. And I didn't have it. I
have learned its best to stick to what you love and what sells well and
then offer options. Oh you like this Tiger hat? Great I have it in 4
sizes! You like these headbands? I have 6 different colors! It helps you
because you will get good at a certain thing (less making time) and
more people will buy (more money!) CHA-CHING!
14. Do you offer custom orders? Let them know!
lot of the time people like what they see but want something a little
different. Maybe a scarf in the one color you didn't make, or a hat in
the one size you just ran out of! If you take custom orders let them
know and then (this is the biggie!!) have a way to let them
contact you! Business cards are great, but a printed off paper invoice
where they pay you THERE with all of THEIR contact info is gold!
15. Have fun with it!
If this seems like the cliche go to for every other article conclusion, I want to tell you this is my number one tip!
I got to the point where it was so stressful on me and my family that I
had to take a big step back. I had to ask myself some hard questions
like how much time am I putting in this? what is the return? and the BIG
one... is it worth it? To me it wasn't. So I am way more picky and way
more choosy and let it become FUN again. I make more and I like it
better (and my kids and husband like ME better!) It shows when you are
burned out. So don't let it ever get NOT FUN.
That is it for my best tips and tricks for craft fairs! Do you have any you would add?
If you have any questions, pop over to The Friendly Crochet Club! This is the best place if you have any questions!!