Craft Marketing Tip: Picking the Right Craft Show

Often the biggest factor for a crafter in picking the right craft show is the cost of a booth or table. Other concerns include whether the show is indoors or out, whether the organization putting the show together wants to first see your work (juried), the attendance history of the show and whether or not those attending are likely to want what you are selling. Let’s explore some of these issues.

Cost of the Craft Booth

Even though your motivation in crafting is to express your creativity, it is nice to be able to make some money on it. Some feel a need to justify the cost of the craft supplies and sell enough to pay for these hobbies (or addictions, as the case may be). Others look at their art or craft as a business.

Whether this is your first show or you are an experienced vendor, the most important craft marketing tip is to know your break-even point. Knowing this will help you determine how much you can afford to spend on a booth. For example, you make $5 headbands. Let’s assume only 2% of the people attending a craft show will buy what you have to sell. If you sell to all those 2%, then the attendance to cover a $600 booth fee better be over 6000 people. Do you have the 120 headbands (6000 people x 2% buyers = 120) in stock to pay for the cost of a $600 booth ($5 x 120 headbands = $600)?

Keep in mind that the booth cost is only part of the money you have spent in preparation for the craft show. There is also the cost of the material (fabric) to make the headbands, food during the show, etc. All these expenses, divided by the $5 items you sell, will give you the number of items you need to sell to break-even.

Indoor or Outdoor Craft Venues

Bad or extreme weather can influence the number of attendees, which will affect your sales. Wind is often the worst culprit when it comes to outdoor displays. Your booth needs anchoring with heavy sandbags or water jugs. This is because many outdoor parks or locations won’t allow digging stakes in the ground. You may want to bring an anti-fatigue mat for indoor shows (concrete floors are harder on the back than dirt and grass).

Juried vs. Non-Juried Craft Shows

Allowing the show organizer to determine which artisans can attend a show is usually a benefit to all. (Juried shows mean you submit a sample of your work, often as a photo, to see if it meets an organization’s standard). Juried shows can prevent too many competitors, who do similar work, from overwhelming a show. If every other booth had headbands to sell, as in the example, it would not please anyone.

People, who sell multiple level marketing products (Tupperware, Avon, etc.) may be business owners, but they are not selling handcrafted items. Juried shows often don’t allow or segregate these vendors away from crafters. Where does that leave scrapbooking folks, who sell paper, but also sell the creative aspects of paper usage (greeting cards, origami, etc.)? Most crafters are proud of their handmade items and don’t mind sending a photo or two to an organizer of a juried show for their own protection. After all, organizers want to keep their vendors happy.

Craft Show Attendance History

Use caution when participating in a first time (first year) festival or show. This is especially true if the organizer is new at the job. They often don’t know how to market the show. One sure sign of trouble is that they accept vendors a week before the show date.

What is attractive about first time shows is the chance to meet newcomers to the crafting community. It is also an opportunity for novice crafters to check out the new show as a buyer and get a feel for its future potential. It is never a waste of time for a crafter to attend a show. Learn what works and what doesn’t by analyzing displays.

Just because an event has a large attendance doesn’t mean it will be a success for you. Is the focus of the event on the craft show or something else? Having several things going on at the same time during a show may bring in more people, but it may also distract potential buyers.

Do Craft Show Attendees Fit with What You Sell?

If there is a lull during the show, ask vendors how the show is going for them. Pay attention to those who sell items similar to yours. Are they doing well? Have they done the show before and why?

Most shows prefer and many shows insist on just one vendor per booth. However, having two people helps with sales, inventory shortage and bathroom breaks. It also helps to pass the time if attendance is low. You can visit other booths during slow periods to see displays and speak with vendors.

Have a range of items, colors and prices to sell. This will attract a wider market. As a crafter it is your job to present unique items not found in stores. If you see a booth with 100 hats, all with the same color and design, does it speak to you?

Picking the right craft show means more than just forking over the money for a booth. It is determining whether or not the cost will be worth your investment in time. Is your booth welcoming? Are prices clearly marked? The best way to know whether you want to participate in a show is to go see it first as a buyer and then talk to the vendors. If they are happily selling, find out who is in charge and sign up for next year’s show.