Craft Fair Notes (feel free to add)

Soapmaking Forum - Soap & Candle Forums

Help Support Soapmaking Forum - Soap & Candle Forums:

cerelife

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 14, 2010
Messages
888
Reaction score
1,141
Great thread! I only do outdoor markets/festivals so maybe I can provide some tips.
As others have said, weights for your tent are a must, and most outdoor venues require them. Not only can you lose your tent, but you could hurt people if it blows away. Most commercial tents come with plates that fit on the bottom of the the tent legs (upon which you place something heavy - most vendors I know use cinder blocks), but IMHO these are an eyesore and far too easy for customers to trip over. I use 50 lb weights on each corner which are anchored to the TOP corners of my tent by parachute cord. These weights are 2 ft long sections of wide PVC pipe filled with concrete with heavy-duty 8" eyelet screws embedded in the concrete at the top to attach the cords. My husband made all four of them for less than $20 - and short of a hurricane/tornado, my tent isn't going anywhere!
My tent came with sides that you can attach and zip-up/close which are very handy for multi-day events. So I COULD use them for shade, and/or rain but they aren't very pretty. When it rains, I cover my tables with clear painter's dropcloth from the dollar store. When the sun is blazing and my products and I need some shade I use pretty fabric that I've acquired from Walmart and fabric stores for less than a dollar a yard - I buy this stuff by the bolt. Just measure it out beforehand and apply velcro to fit with the velcro in the sides of your tent.
Money - If someone is trying to buy something less than $20 with a $100 bill, I politely direct them to the person in charge of the venue (as they usually have change for big bills) and also let them know that I take credit/debit cards via Square. Sometimes wifi is sketchy at outdoor venues, so I usually keep my iphone set as a 'hotspot'. I've discovered that this alone can make you some serious friends among other vendors :)
As someone else said, I rarely sit down when doing markets and festivals but I try to unintrusive and let them shop in peace. I just want to be accessible and interested in my customers - IMHO sitting on a chair playing on my phone doesn't convey that!!
I do however keep an extra chair at the corner of my tent for the people who just need to sit down for a minute. Established markets usually have benches thoughtfully placed for the customers, but not so much at festivals.
I also keep a couple of gallon jugs of distilled water in my cooler and paper cups under my table at festivals. Not that I advocate breaking the rules, but I'm not comfortable with letting someone get dehydrated in 100 degree temps because they didn't want to pay $$$ for a bottle of water!
 

Lin19687

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 20, 2018
Messages
4,172
Reaction score
2,581
Location
not for FB to know
Bring 4 gallons of water in jugs (buy them like that, it's easier) Tie them to your tent legs for holding down your tent. Works well enough here, maybe not in TX ;)
AND heaven forbid you forgot something to drink, or like @cerelife said, you can use it to drink .
It isn't a waste as you can use it at home too.
Agree with the Fanny pack

It's been a very long time since I did a FM/Fair so I am grateful for the info on here !
 

maya

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 27, 2008
Messages
783
Reaction score
293
Location
northland
I work now doing shows, indoor and outdoor, plus two Farmers Markets. I worked the Renaissance Festival (Minnesota) for years and years as a kid/teenager for an Aunt who had a store there. Many MANY MANY of the things I do now are based on A) not having enough money to go out and buy anything more then the absolute bottom line and B ) it's the way my brain works (ADD, Dyslexia)

GET A DOLLY. I know you are strong and you want to use your muscles, not loose them but trust me, get a dolly. Use it.

Get there earlier. You'll have plenty of time to set up, you might probably will get a better spot, you can look at everyone elses stuff and met and greet, also, you can if warranted draw with sidewalk chalk on the sidewalk leading people to your event, take pictures to share via social media, make a coffee run, help someone who needs it, scope out the bathroom, etc.

Have a look book (I'm doing this one for this year, knock wood.) With a reader you can electronically put in and show pictures of your process and products. or you can do a paper one doing the same thing. This is far more complicated then I'm working on but it gives you are idea. https://www.madeurban.com/blog/how_to_create_a_lookbook_for_your_handmade_product/ (not my link)

Have event cards for your next event. IE postcards or papers saying you'll be at X next week.

Have a framed sign that says take a photo instead of taking a business card, photos are likely to be shared socially.
Do this instead of business cards, although I think saying you've run out when you didn't is a lie, so I wouldn't do that. http://www.renegadecraft.com/fair/brooklyn-summer
 
Joined
Aug 26, 2015
Messages
4,462
Reaction score
7,625
Location
Kelowna, BC, Canada
*Bump* There's so much good information in this thread, it deserves a bump. Any other tips and/or treasures? I have signed up for a fair and have read each post with great interest. Thank you all for your sage advice.
 

shunt2011

Moderator Emeritus
Moderator Emeritus
Joined
Apr 2, 2012
Messages
15,449
Reaction score
9,781
Location
Michigan
I’ve seen the spandex ones and I personally think they are ugly. But I see them on tables at shows sometimes. I purchased fitted cloths from Amazon. They go to the floor and I store my stuff under the tables and their hidden.
 
Joined
Aug 5, 2014
Messages
252
Reaction score
292
Location
Eastern Canada
Got a notification on this so I thought I'd add to it with a few years of experience from doing shows regularly. I do multiple shows per week, but often I get to stay set up. I know this is an anomaly when it comes to markets so not all of this will be helpful.

  • I have a "Go Box" which is a large Tupperware tote. In it I have all my supplies (Windex, tape, alcohol, bags, paper towels, business cards etc) that always travel with me. I keep it topped up and it saves me from having to track and pack these items. I also have a small first aid kit (just for those 'I need a band aid' and/or Tylenol moments) and a mini tool box with some strong string, utility knife, a multi screw driver/pliers, some elastics, a few binder clips etc. It's amazing how often these little things come in handy when you have to quick fix something (which is often the cause for the previously mentioned band aid/Tylenol!).
  • I also have a "Go List" that I usually keep in the car or in my purse/bag so I can check off the most important things on my way out the door. Even the most obvious things like my cash box and my square reader etc are on there. It's amazing the things you can overlook when you're in a rush!
  • Notepads and pens - whether it's to jot something down for a customer or a note to yourself (sometimes it's just easier than getting your phone out to make a quick note).
  • GET A DOLLY. I know you are strong and you want to use your muscles, not loose them but trust me, get a dolly. Use it.
    Heartily agree with this. Especially if you plan on doing multiple shows in a short time.
  • Rest up - It goes against the panic of trying to get ready for a show, but if you're exhausted, you're not at your best. It shows!

  • Not all of us are comfortable with on the spot thinking. I have a packet of printouts of information that I can refer to or show customers. Although I didn't end up needing to rely on it much, it was a comfort when I started and it still comes in handy. Some of the things I have there are a list of oils and their saponified names (which helps me to explain my ingredients as they're 'out of the pot'), a large print version of my ingredients so people don't have to squint at labels or dig out glasses. Some facts and figures on ingredients and their sources etc.

  • Further to the last point, I also have a cheat sheet of all my prices (I price both in CDN and USD for the majority of my shows so it's a lot to keep track of). I tack it in my cash box or somewhere else that it's visible. Again it's not something I have to refer to often but when I'm having a blank moment it's easier than trying to run out and find it on my signs. If you're uncomfortable with numbers you might want to bring a calculator instead of relying on your phone (and it's battery). It's all about making things easier for you. Go with what works.

  • Stuff to make you comfortable - In the aforementioned go box I have a small portable fan (with a rechargeable battery, and I love it), a few charger cords, and an extra shirt (in case of mishaps). Although most people wont judge you harshly for wilting in the heat or having a small stain on your shirt, if you're uncomfortable, it shows. Anything you can do to make yourself happier and more sane goes a long way.
As many have said before, try to relax, engage and have fun. One of the best things about these shows is getting to share your passion. I think most of us are familiar with the glazed look our friends and family get when we start waxing poetic about soap. At these events, not only do people want to hear you talk, they also have great questions, and they're seeking you out!

Best of luck to anyone setting out for new adventure :thumbs:
 

dixiedragon

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 1, 2013
Messages
6,472
Reaction score
4,932
Location
Birmingham, Alabama, USA
For your first show, try to get extra help for set up and break down. My mom is doing craft shows and at her show, it took 4 people 3 hrs to break her down. That's 12 person hours. She could not have done it by herself. Since then she's made HUGE improvements. You really have to work to find a balance between a set up that looks good, is sturdy, isn't too heavy, and not too hard to put up and break down. My mom does wood turning so she has a lot of small, fragile items. It takes a long time to remove 100 wood turned ornaments, place each one in a small bubble wrap bag, and put it in the box.
 
Joined
Sep 19, 2011
Messages
12,377
Reaction score
12,721
Location
Southern California
Theses are the tablecloth covers I usually purchase. They are finished with hems on the bottoms and last so long even with regular washing until they fade out so bad I replace them. Which is several years. The only issue, depending on your tables, is they are a little to wide for the average Lifetimes tables sold at Costco, Smart and Final and Sams club or directly from Lifetime. Lifetime carries fitted for their tables but they are very expensive compared to these, I just had the excess in the back, but I do not have walk around tables, the way I set up and they are a little short if used on the highest telescoping height. They are not noticeable to customers because the tall tables are behind my short tables. https://tableclothsfactory.com/coll...-table-cover-wedding-banquet-event-tablecloth

I fully agree that the spandex fitted are not nice looking. In my linen crate we have extra light bulbs, pliers, screw driver, rags, duct tape, small extra power bar, heavy duty outdoor extension cord, 50' for night shows. Just never know how far you will have to run a cord for the lighting connections. We also have a few sizes of bungee cords and clamps. LOL, we are usually the go to booth if a vendor needs help with something. In my bag tote I have, of course my bags, scotch tape, band-aids a roll of gauze, non stick gauze pads, extra pens, tablet, small journal book, small alligator clamps and who knows what else... I also have a spray bottle of alcohol and an extra pint of alcohol. I like to spray the tops of my balm samples and lotion bottle pumps when I pack up. I also pack a couple of extra flat tablecloths in case someone forgets theirs and a couple of extra tables. Of course the last two are miscellaneous and I have collected a lot of tables over the years. Last month at one of my monthly events a new vendor forgot her tables, so we loaned her a couple of tables.

These are the lights we use and give one light for each corner and one in the middle, plus are eas to put up https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00SVJVTXY/?tag=skimlinks_replacement-20

If you do night shows do not forget to ask how much wattage is allocated to each booth. Managers become very testing if you blow out some or all the booths because your wattage is to high. Yep, I have seen it happen, at one show with our long time management company a booth set up to many large banquet type coffee maker and not only put all of in the dark they blew out is huge electric plant panel which was over 10k for him to have fixed. These were some vendors representing the city, but the city refused to help him with the repairs. I cannot stress enough to know the wattage you are allowed. The list can go on but I will quit with...

Have fun you will continue to evolve with each show. BTW I am not sure where Maya is from but I have never done one show where I would be allowed to write on the sidewalk, street etc. What a mess they would have if 100 vendors decided to write with chalk... My weekly show I used to do had 100+ vendors in its hay-day. We could use stand up signs within our booth space or sometimes a titch outside the booth, but not in the isles.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Lin19687

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 20, 2018
Messages
4,172
Reaction score
2,581
Location
not for FB to know
A cooler with Ice ! Gatorade to replenish, even if you use 1/2 gatorade and 1/2 water. Way better.

Ice is also goo to help cool you off. Leave a kitchen towel or 2 in there so they are cool, put around your neck and wrists if you get really hot.
 
  • Like
Reactions: amd
A

amd

Put twice as much water as you think you'll need in that cooler! My last show I packed 8 bottles, thinking that would be enough for two of us. We had to buy more water from the food truck. Of course, we used one bottle for handwashing because there was no hand sanitizer in the porta-potty. Good thing I sell soap!
 

Lin19687

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 20, 2018
Messages
4,172
Reaction score
2,581
Location
not for FB to know
LOL, that is why I like baby wipes. I usually put a little extra water in the packet to keep it more moist.
 
Top