Craft Shows: The DO'S and DON'TS!
Spring is in the air and any handmade shop knows that means only one thing: craft show season is upon us! It’s so exciting (and nerve wracking!) to get your products made, tagged and ready for a craft show!
But, you and I both know there’s so much more to it than just showing up and selling!
How do we know? Before the adventure of Cara & Co. Silicone Craft Supply, we had a handmade shop too (read our blog post about how we started here)! We represented our little shop at craft shows, and we get it!
Pricing, displays, pay options - it can all get a bit overwhelming. But girl, you got this. We’ve come up with a few things that can set your small handmade shop apart at your local craft show, and leave you feeling more prepared and organized for the season!
1. Plan Ahead, Be Prepared.
You’ve arrived at your craft show. You open your trunk to start unloading and you realize ‘SHOOT-- I forgot…’ Uh-oh. You didn’t bring enough stock. You forgot your business cards. Where is part of my display… WHERE ARE THE PRICE TAGS??
We get it! Life happens and sometimes you DO forget things. We all do. But there’s ways you can avoid these things happening!
- Make a list of e v e r y t h i n g you need to have with you, from display pieces right down to the number of paper tags necessary for your set-up.
- Pack up the day before! No one thinks clearly first thing in the morning and most craft shows start briiiight and early.
- If you do craft shows regularly, make your own traveling craft show BINS. Everything from your display goes into the bins - extension cords, tags, markers, pay station, packaging. All of it. It makes getting ready for your show so much quicker, because instead of running through a long list and gathering up the same things for each show, all you need to do is grab your 2-3 craft show bins and know that you 100% have everything you need.
- Make sure you plan to bring things for YOU. You’ll need a phone charger. You’ll need a snack or lunch. Don’t forget about the person sitting in the booth ;)
2. Bring a booth buddy.
Your partner. Your spouse. Your friend. Whoever your ‘booth buddy’ is, try to bring them to your craft shows when possible, especially the larger shows. It makes leaving your booth for coffee & bathroom breaks easier (hello, no missed sales!). It gives you someone to help you when it’s busy, and setup and take down is always much easier with a second set of hands.
3. You’ve got too many or too little products.
We’ve all seen the booth that’s OVERFLOWING with products. It's so full and busy that it’s overwhelming, and people generally avoid overwhelming. We’ve also all seen the booth that has such a small display and s p a r s e scattering of products that you either assume they’re a) expensive or b) just starting out at what they do. Unfair to be sure, but unfortunately that’s the way people think.
It's such a balancing act! You want your booth to have variety and lots of options for people! But at the same time too much of a good thing can just be that - too much. Here’s a couple pointers that might be helpful
- Don’t put out all of your stock. Replace and add as things are bought.
- Make sure you aren’t hidden by your displays. People like to have face to face conversations, not looking at you through your upright displays.
- Mix it up between table displays and upright displays.
- MAKE A PAY STATION. More on this below ;)
4. Have a pay station that has pay options!
Closely linked to how you set up your display table is how you plan on finalizing sales. Do you have a space clear for paying? A spot for your customer to set down her purse as she gets out her wallet? You should! Create a spot that makes your transaction easier (for you and your customer) and wrapping your sold items possible. Your display doesn’t have to be ALL product.
One of the biggest pet peeves for a customer is wanting to buy an item, but not having enough cash for it. Most craft show vendors operate on cash systems, which is harder and harder to accommodate in a credit/debit card/tap-to-pay world. There are some amazing options out there for pay terminals, and while they may be an investment for you, the ease of paying means that a customer might purchase a bit more. There’s so many options for payment terminals: Square, PayPal Card Swipers, Etsy Sell App, etc. While you may never get away from cash, card payment is an attractive option for your handmade business craft booth.
That being said, you’ll probably always need some cash at craft shows. Be sure to bring change with you in a proper change box - no disorganized envelopes! Not sure how much to bring? Generally between $50-100 in change should cover you for most busy craft shows, but you know best what your craft shows require!
5. Your pricing is difficult to find.
There are so many opinions on how visible your pricing should be. Do you display all your prices on big signs and never have the opportunity to tell someone a price? Do you leave prices out altogether so that people are forced to ask if they’re interested? Pricing is imperative to a handmade shop.
If you’re a naturally shy person, you know how difficult it can be to ask someone for a price. Our suggestion? Have small signage with general pricing. Maybe small price tags on individual products. If you have products that you want someone to ask a price on, maybe leave a cute little sign prompting ‘Ask for pricing!’. You don’t need a billboard to announce your pricing, but it should be an easy experience for your customer!
Another tip? Have a range of products that scale from lower to higher range pricing. Sometimes having some ‘more affordable’ options will draw in reluctant customers. If a booth looks busy, more people will come...and more people usually translates into more sales!
6. Looking to boost your business? Try a sale!
If you’re looking to drive more traffic to your booth, you might consider having a sale! The word "sale" can be a scary thing for a small business, but they can be a powerful selling tool. Don’t be scared - keep your sale within your comfort zone. Maybe have one basket of smaller ticket items that are 25% off. Maybe have a basket at your pay station with folded papers of 5-20% off vouchers, including one 50% off voucher for extra appeal. Maybe it's a BOGO sale. Whatever it is, everyone loves a deal - you’ll draw more attention for it, and turn interest into sales much quicker.
7. Be Busy! Bring something to work on!
There’s nothing more unwelcoming than a grumpy & bored looking vendor! Craft shows have lulls, and sometimes it's just not busy. Work on something! If you make handmade jewelry, bring a piece to work on. If you knit, bring a more complex piece you’re working on to to model your specific niche. People love to watch what you’re doing, and it opens up the opportunity for conversation on how you make your items, what you do, how you learned, etc.
8. Smile and be patient!
On the day that you show up at a craft sale, remember, every other day you are a crafter. But today, you represent your business! You have to sell. Smile! Be cheerful! Say good morning! Be sunshine in a person. Caffeine helps ;)
And when you run into the customer that is the opposite of sunshine in a person, be patient and graceful. When they say things like, ‘I could make this for cheaper on my own!’ or ‘Oh, my friend could make this for me easily’, be loving and don’t take it personally. You know you work hard. You know your products are quality. Take pride in that, and be gentle with sharp people. To quote a phrase: Kill them with kindness.
9. Practical suggestions from all of you!
Here are few super awesome suggestions that were shared by seasoned craft show boss babes! We thought they were too good to be at the bottom of an Instagram feed, and so we wanted to showcase them here!
- Try a "practice" setup at home first! Bring a stapler and tape in case something needs to be fixed on the day of the show. And ALWAYS have a notebook and pen/marker in case you need to take down a customer's info or custom order! (Bethany, owner of Feather & Fox Co)
- Check your stand periodically from a customer's point of view! (RICH Boutique Co.)
- Bring wet-wipes! (Melinda, owner of Rubber Baby Biting Beads)
- A wheeled cart or two is essential! (Kirstyn)
- Record what people buy for future reference! (Charlie's Chewelry)
- I've had huge success giving a discount for multiple item purchases- example $17 each or two for $30! (Louise, owner of Prairie Baby Co.)
- A wagon for hauling all your stuff! (RICH Boutique Co.)
- Neutral color linen to make your product pop out and also layer your display with different heights. (RICH Boutique Co.)
- Simple bowl of Hershey Kisses or a Guessing Jar contest for a small prize (RICH Boutique Co.)
Wishing all the amazing handmade shops the BEST craft show season! We love seeing your amazing handmade products and are honored to be your silicone bead and craft supplier!
Do you have any tips or things you’ve learned at craft shows? Let us know in the comments below!
***Photo credit for the blog opening picture goes to the super talented, Louise Klaassen from Prairie Baby Co.