Craft Fair Notes (feel free to add)

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TBandCW

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Filling out applications for this years farmers markets and various craft fairs, I'm by no means an expert, but thought I'd share a few things I've learned along the way.

Be there early, you can score a good spot if you haven't been assigned one yet, or you can change if needed.

Bring as much product as you can. A full table looks and sells better.

Don't leave or pack up before closing time, it's not fair to other vendors and the folks that run the show don't appreciate it. I actually scored a free booth at a show when the organizers had everyone who stayed till the end put their cards in a hat and my name was picked! Value $120!
 

dixiedragon

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I've only done one tiny craft show, but I noticed:
a) Bring LOTS of change. Folks paying for 2 bars of soap with a $20 will wipe you out fast.
b) For larger sales, throw in a freebie. At my teensy craft show I sold somebody 10 bars for stocking stuffers, and I threw in a lip balm for her...then she came back and bought a bunch of lip balm!
c) Put the craft show on your Facebook page. Even if you don't have a particularly big web presence, the show organizer in my case really appreciated that I was doing what I could to promote the craft show.
 

shunt2011

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Bring: papertowel, tape, alcohol (I clean off my lids on jars), water, markers, signs, business cards, paper/notebook and bags.

I always give something extra with large purchases (scrubbies, lip balm, soap savers, etc).

Relax, smile & have fun. You know your products, be proud of them.
 

galaxyMLP

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-Know your target market before you go or sign up for a craft show. I once did a show that was mostly geared towards kids/ a fun event for the community but was not good for my sales. It had a HUGE amount of people attending. I mistook volume of people at an event as a translation to volume of sales. That is not always the case.

-Try to find a show you can attend regularly. It helps build recurring customers and also gives the customer sense of stability.

-If you're going to a long show, bring a "snackable" lunch (meaning you can eat it bit by bit), lots of water, and go to the restroom before the show starts (its a lot easier before than during!)

-Talk to the booth next to yours and let them know you're willing to watch their stuff if they need to pop out for a moment. Hopefully they'll say the same to you!

-Try to make eye contact with potential customers (briefly) and then move your gaze to your products. They usually follow your eye/head movement. At least, this is something I've noticed. Don't stare at them but just smile and it usually works.

-Don't be too pushy, but look interested in engaging with a customer.

-Customers bring more customers. These things happen in a wave because when people see a cluster surrounding a table, it makes otherwise passerbys interested and stop.

-If a customer is having trouble picking out a product, ask them what/who they're looking for. Usually you can provide some good recommendations this way.

ETA: On TBCW's note: if you've already signed up for a show and realize that you'd need to leave it early, try contacting the coordinator ahead of time and ok'ing it with them. I did that once and she told me it was not a problem. If they say you can't, ask if you can have a refund so that spot is available for someone else.
 
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Stacy

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Always be professional. Clean up your table and treat the other vendors with respect. It's good advice in general, but you don't always know who you're talking to. That offhanded complaint or criticism can easily get back to the target.

If you have a problem, deal with it a quietly and calmly as possible. Give other people the chance to fix it before drawing more attention to it.

These shows often exist in a bubble and you'll likely be dealing with the organizers and other vendors again.

In short, without letting people walk all over you, be the type of person that you would want to deal with in a perfect world.

(Great thread btw!)
 

navigator9

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Here is a list I made up for some friends who wanted advice on doing craft fairs.

I only do indoor craft fairs, so these suggestions are for those only.

First of all, I would suggest that you go to a craft fair and look at other vendor's set ups. What looks good to you? How do they use their space? What kind of table covering do they use? Which booths draw you in, and why? Which booths are not pleasing to the eye? Take notes, then go home and come up with your own design, using what you've learned. You'd be surprised at what a difference your set up can make on how successful you are at the fair. A neat, professional looking set up will do better than a messy, poorly planned one, every time.

The basic items you'll need for your booth are a table or tables, table coverings and display items like shelves. When you sign up for a craft fair, you will be told how big your space is. In all craft fairs I've done, each space is marked out on the floor, usually with masking tape. Make sure your display fits within these boundaries. Vendors can be picky about you going over your boundary into their space, after all.....they've paid for it. On the other hand, my set up isn't very large, and I've often offered vendors to overlap my space if they've needed the room. This kind of offer is much appreciated and creates good relationships with your neighbors.

Back to the equipment. Your table. If you do craft fairs on your own, be sure you can lift and carry the table by yourself. Be sure it's sturdy enough to hold whatever you sell. If it's not tall enough, you can add pieces of PVC pipe to the legs to make it higher.

Table coverings. Many venues require a table covering that comes to the floor on all sides. It just looks neater. Personally, I prefer a solid table covering rather than a patterned one. I think it's less distracting. Make sure your covering is clean, and not too wrinkled. I've used various table coverings over the years and finally settled on one made of a polyester knit. I can just ball it up and throw it in the box I use to carry it, and there's never a wrinkle in sight. I made it like a slip cover for the table and it has a slit down the back side so that I can easily hide and access my boxes and hand truck etc. under the table, and everything is neatly out of sight.

Shelves, or display pieces. Again, make sure they are convenient to carry and set up and that they compliment the overall look of your design. Do a practice set up to make sure that if someone bumps your table, they don't fall over, or collapse under the weight of your product.

Some venues provide a chair, if not, bring your own.

Then there's signage. A banner really is a must. It's good to have one large enough to be seen from a distance, to draw customers to your booth. If you have a wall behind your booth, and are allowed to attach your banner there, it's great to use the height to add visibility. If not, the front of your table will do. You can make your own banner, or purchase one ready made. They are worth every penny you pay for them. You'll also need signage for your products. Many customers hate to ask the price of an item, so be sure prices are prominently displayed.

If it's your first craft fair, do yourself a huge favor and do a trial set up at home first. I can't emphasize how important this is.Tape out the size of your booth on the floor and set up everything......every little thing, just as you would do it on the day of the fair. Time yourself to get a general idea of how long it will take you. Remember, you also need to add time for unloading your vehicle, getting all of your stuff into the venue and finding your space. When you do your trial set up, step back, tweak it until you're happy. Ask a friend for an opinion, sometimes when you've looked at your work too long and hard, it's hard to really see it with a fresh eye. Once you're happy with it, TAKE A PICTURE. This is important, because the day of the fair, you will not remember where everything goes and you'll have the picture to refer to.

Load your vehicle the night before. DO NOT wait til the morning of, thinking it won't take you that long. Especially if it's your first time, you're going to be nervous, and if your car is already loaded, that's one less thing to worry about. When you load your car, try to think about what you'll need first, and load that last so it will be on top. Chances are it will be some kind of hand truck, or dolly that you can use to move everything. Make as many trips as necessary, til you have all of your stuff unloaded in your space, then move your car to the vendor parking area.

If you get to the venue as early as possible, you won't have to worry if there are glitches in your set up. You can take your time instead of rushing. You'll have time to make sure every little thing is just the way you want it. And you'll have time to get to know your neighbors. I've always found craft fair vendors to be a very friendly bunch. As vendors, we have a lot in common, no matter what we sell, so there's always something to talk about. Many times vendors may offer to trade with you, or give you a deal on their products. I've traded soap for many items from other vendors over the years. Most venues offer free coffee to vendors during the set up period, some may also offer donuts or bagels, etc. They will give you this info when you get your acceptance letter, so you will know whether or not you should stop for coffee on the way, or if you will be able to get it once you're there.

Other items you'll need to bring. Cash box to hold your money and checks. Always bring more than you think you'll need. Sometimes craft fair staff may come around to see if you're short on dollar bills and need some, but don't count on it. And don't count on fellow vendors to help you out, they need their smaller bills, too. I've had the first customer of the day want to pay for a small purchase with a hundred dollar bill! In that case, you can decide whether you want to lose a sale, because it's going to make you short on change for the rest of the day, or just bring plenty with you in the first place so you don't have to worry. Other things I always bring are scissors, permanent marker, safety pins, kleenex, tape (Scotch and duct), paper and pen, band aids, aspirin, water, some kind of neat snack I can put down quickly if a customer comes along, power bars are good for this.

Bags, don't forget bags to put your customers purchase in. Business cards if you have them.

Most of all....smile, be engaged. Don't pounce on customers, but let them know that you're available to answer any questions. And have fun!
 

dixiedragon

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Bumping this b/c lots of good info, and I'm hoping people have stuff to add!

I did a craft show about 2 weeks ago - I learned that while my tent note cards looked cute, they blew away!

Also, why is there ALWAYS that one person who comes to the craft show with a $100 bill and buys less than $20? Why?

Figure out a place to keep your bags that is easily accessible yet won't blow away in the wind. What I have so far is an empty 5-gal bucket. A convenient place to store scissors, tape, bags, paper towels.

You will need papertowels, b/c there are lots of people who, despite telling them "just a little dab will do ya" regarding a lotion sample, who will slather it on and then want to wipe it off.

Lip balm samples - always one person who doesn't get why the sticks are there and applies the sample tube directly to their lips. Have a butter knife so you can discreetly scrape the top off when that happens.

When the show is over, don't fold up your table and lay it in the street while you smoke a cigarette and make a phone call. If you do choose to do this, don't be upset when somebody runs over your table with their big red truck. (ETA: this was not me. Although my mom was the one in the big red truck.)
 

shunt2011

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If doing outside shows: Weights for the tent. Strong winds and no weight will possibly cost you a tent.

Also, tarps to cover your tables at the end of the day if it's a multi day show. It saved my behind when I found out the hard way my tent was like a sieve. No product loss.

Can't stress enough having enough change. I too have had customers want to pay for a 5 or 10 dollar purchase with a 100.00.

To hold bags I have a couple s hooks from the hardware store. I hang them frommy tent with bags on them for outside shows and for indoor shows I hang it from either the strap on the table or hook it to the back of my shelves. Has worked great for many years now.

Tablecloths. If they are not fitted to the table, anchor them to the table somehow. Corners flapping around can cause a problem. Customers tripping or possibly messing up your display.

Have testers out. You don't want customers opening product for sale and sticking their noses in or worse their fingers.

Be approachable, don't look bored and always smile, even if you don't feel like it. Take cranky customers with a grain of salt. I had one old guy throw a fit because he apparently didn't see my 4 signs with prices and stated he wouldn't by anything with no prices posted. Then stormed out of my tent. Also some folks will try to barter you to a lower price. Some can be really rude about it. I have given product to someone I didn't think could afford it or I've dropped the price.

I also give out small gifts to customers who make larger purchases. Lip balm, perfume, soap saver etc...
 

TeresaT

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Bumping this b/c lots of good info, and I'm hoping people have stuff to add!

I did a craft show about 2 weeks ago - I learned that while my tent note cards looked cute, they blew away!

Also, why is there ALWAYS that one person who comes to the craft show with a $100 bill and buys less than $20? Why?

Figure out a place to keep your bags that is easily accessible yet won't blow away in the wind. What I have so far is an empty 5-gal bucket. A convenient place to store scissors, tape, bags, paper towels.

You will need papertowels, b/c there are lots of people who, despite telling them "just a little dab will do ya" regarding a lotion sample, who will slather it on and then want to wipe it off.

Lip balm samples - always one person who doesn't get why the sticks are there and applies the sample tube directly to their lips. Have a butter knife so you can discreetly scrape the top off when that happens.

When the show is over, don't fold up your table and lay it in the street while you smoke a cigarette and make a phone call. If you do choose to do this, don't be upset when somebody runs over your table with their big red truck. (ETA: this was not me. Although my mom was the one in the big red truck.)
Counterfeiters do that. A LOT. They'll go to craft fairs, out door markets and flea markets with large cft notes and make small purchases. They make a killing doing that. They get "free" stuff and cash back. All at your expense. Those "counterfeit pens" don't work (very well). All they're doing is looking for a chemical reaction between the iodine (in the pen) and the starch (sizing) on paper. Genuine currency does not have any starch in it; however, if you've got it in your shirt pocket, and you wear starched shirts...

Those pens give false positives and false negatives all the time. The best thing you can possibly do to save yourself from falling victim to counterfeiters is to KNOW YOUR MONEY. That's the name of the brochure the US Secret Service produces to help people recognize genuine US currency. You can go to www.secretservice.gov and click on that link for helpful information.

This public service announcement has been brought to you by your friendly forum government drone. Trust me...I work for the government.
 

dixiedragon

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One tip I saw on the forum that's not yet on the list - ask people their opinions on the scent. You learn stuff about your customers and you also engage them. Plus it helps with the idea of your booth looking "busy" so people will come over.

And to me, every positive interaction feels good, even if they don't buy. I had some lotion scented with osmanthus (tea olive) and I asked people if they had smelled the flower, and if so if they thought the scent was a good match. Most liked the scent but did not think it was a good match. I have to agree. (Seriously thinking about asking if I can do a co-op for BB's Osmanthus.)
 

TBandCW

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Lip balm samples - always one person who doesn't get why the sticks are there and applies the sample tube directly to their lips. Have a butter knife so you can discreetly scrape the top off when that happens.

Got a giggle out of that one......grosses me out when people do that! :mrgreen: I have my lip balm samples in a pot and every once in a while someone will stick their finger in it.....I throw the whole pot away! Yuck. But why does it not bother me as much when people put their noses right up to my soap to smell it?
 
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dixiedragon

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Why do they do that?! why why why. My spiel went something like - here are the sample lip balms. These sticks are clean - and I hand them a stick. This guy scraped some off of the tube, applied it, said, "Mm!" and then used the tube directly!

At least he bought 3 tubes. But dang. Really dude?
 

Sagebrush

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I always have a short mental list I go through in my head to make sure I haven't forgotten major things: canopy, tables, tablecloths, displays, card reader, soap!

I do weekly markets so there are items I make sure I'm stocked up on (keeping a running list and writing things down is a lifesaver!): bags, business cards, display labels, change.

Also, I second approachability; I can't stress it enough. I'm almost always standing, whether it's busy or not, so I can greet everyone who walks by and/or makes eye contact. If I need to check my phone, I make sure no one's at my table or walking close by. If you're talking to another customer and someone else walks up, a quick "Hello! Let me know if you have any questions!" goes a long way.

I'm not a "salesy" person, I hate pressuring people and I hate feeling pressured myself. So, in my experience, having a little something to say about a product that a person is looking at really helps. Examples: "I use fresh cucumbers in that one", "I've been using that salt scrub on my face lately...it's wonderful," "I use such-and-such brewery's such-and-such beer in that soap."

My mother taught me to always be prepared so I always have a box with sharpies, tape, scissors, string, pens, etc.
 

dibbles

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I have my lip balm samples in a pot and every once in a while someone will stick their finger in it.....I throw the whole pot away! Yuck. But why does it not bother me as much when people put their noses right up to my soap to smell it?
Maybe because soap is self cleaning?
 

dibbles

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I don't really think they are comparable. Even if the tip of their nose touches the bar, they aren't getting nose germs on the bar. But lips are covered in germs.
I probably should have said 'just kidding'. :)
 

TwystedPryncess

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I did a jewelry booth (inside) for a little while last year. Running that and having outside work was too much on my fibro so I let it go....for now. But the experience was invaluable.

For inside booths....if at all possible, lighting, lighting, lighting! We were able to purchase our own lights and hang them from the ceiling and wherever else we could creatively put things. Some places may not provide the ability for this but if so, it is a great advantage.

I second the opinion of getting to know your fellow vendors. I was lucky to work in a place full of extremely friendly, honest people. We made it a point to learn each other's policies, prices and merchandise so that we could cover each other on needed breaks and if one of us got a busy spell, the other could trot over and handle the overflow of curious customers. I was also lucky enough to work in an environment where we advertised each other's ware. For example, the fellow across from me sold purses and shoes. Each time a lady was looking at or bought a handbag or purse, he would tell them to come check out my jewelry. He often knew enough to recommend a particular piece to go with something bought from his booth, and I did the same. I miss it so much and hope I can get into again this summer. My twin girls are willing to help me run the booth now, but I just got a promotion to manager at work though (and the boss works with my fibro, I am lucky) so we will see.
 

TBandCW

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I did a jewelry booth (inside) for a little while last year. Running that and having outside work was too much on my fibro so I let it go....for now. But the experience was invaluable.

For inside booths....if at all possible, lighting, lighting, lighting! We were able to purchase our own lights and hang them from the ceiling and wherever else we could creatively put things. Some places may not provide the ability for this but if so, it is a great advantage.

I second the opinion of getting to know your fellow vendors. I was lucky to work in a place full of extremely friendly, honest people. We made it a point to learn each other's policies, prices and merchandise so that we could cover each other on needed breaks and if one of us got a busy spell, the other could trot over and handle the overflow of curious customers. I was also lucky enough to work in an environment where we advertised each other's ware. For example, the fellow across from me sold purses and shoes. Each time a lady was looking at or bought a handbag or purse, he would tell them to come check out my jewelry. He often knew enough to recommend a particular piece to go with something bought from his booth, and I did the same. I miss it so much and hope I can get into again this summer. My twin girls are willing to help me run the booth now, but I just got a promotion to manager at work though (and the boss works with my fibro, I am lucky) so we will see.
Hope it works out so you can do markets this summer! :)
 

Viore

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One tip I learned while doing shows with my mom's side business: keep your change in a fanny pack around your waist instead of a cash box. It's a lot harder for people to steal a fanny pack from your waist than a cash box sitting on the table. We have a pack with three pockets: one for quarters, one for $1s, $5, and $10s, and then a back pocket for $20s.
 
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TBandCW

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Ahh, that time of year again, signing up for shows and markets! Thought I'd bump this thread and see if more ideas/suggestions pop up!

Talking about having lots of change, I do a lot of shows in downtown Reno where the casinos are. I know I can always get change there!!:)
 

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