Get Thee to A Craft Fair

I’m the kind of girl who likes to be prepared (yes, my brief stint in girl scouts twenty years back did leave a lasting impression). Before my first craft fair, I almost packed my iron *just in case* my homemade banner needed any last minute de-wrinkling. Thankfully, I resisted and my banner came through just fine.
I’ve collected my list of craft fair must-haves into a list that I hope you find helpful for this season’s fairs. Good luck to you, and I hope you carry home buckets of money from your craft show travels!
1. Cash to Make Change!: This is so important, obviously., and requires planning around bank hours. For a big show I take about $250 in small bills which has been more than enough. When in doubt, go heavy on the ones! I prefer to make my price plus tax equal a whole dollar amount so I don’t have to deal with change. I bring a separate sheet listing what the breakdown on each item is so that I can list sales tax separately on receipts. Here’s an example. Don’t forget an extra little cash box, too!
2. Credit Card Equipment: If you live in the U.S., Propay is a cheap and easy way to accept credit cards at shows. You can use a knucklebuster, computer, or even your cellphone to complete the transaction. Definitely check them out.
3. A Banner: Made by you or someone else, something bright and bold to attract people to your table and help them connect you and your work with your business name. (Here’s how I made mine).
 
My Homemade Banner (and tutorial).

My Homemade Banner (and tutorial).

4. A Table Cloth: Covers the table and hides your backstock and empty coffee mugs. Since my work tends to be super bright with lots of red, I chose a dark brown cloth to make everything pop. A cloth in a complementary or split-complementary color can really make your work stand out.

5. Your Inventory: Yes, I know, of course! But the question always is, how much? Bring more than you can possible expect to sell, to maximize customer choice and the amount of sales you’ll make. I’ve yet to achieve it, but a number tossed around the Etsy forums is 10–meaning, expect to sell ten times the amount of your booth fee. I like to bring product worth about 13x the booth fee.

6. Clear signage and price tags: You can make reusable signs by getting some fancy paper, cutting to size, and having the pieces laminated at your local copy shop. Then, with an acrylic paint marker, write your sign! If your prices or products change, a few sprays of windex will give you a blank slate. (If you make this type of sign, bring a few blanks, some markers and cleaner!)

Laminated and Reusable signage

Laminated and Reusable signage

7. An apron: I made my own with a zipper front. I love having my cash attached to me. I feel so much safer that way. But don’t make my mistake–if you’re tabling with a friend, remember to leave some money with them when you go for bathroom and coffee breaks!

8. A receipt booklet: Available at your local office supply shop.

9. Merchandise bags: In my experience, most customers prefer to go without a bag. That said, a merch bag can be a great way to advertise. You can spend a lot or a little, go plastic or paper or recycled. There are arguments for and against all options. I chose to buy some red paper lunch sacks at Target (very cheap!) and print my own designs on them at the end of my stationery print runs. They were a big hit, cheap, easy, and a little bit of advertising all at the same time.

10. The Randoms: Windex, pens, pencils, scissors, string, paper, tape, notebook. Snacks, water, toiletries, mints, ibuprofen.

11. Your Fixtures: How will you display your work and what do you need? This includes a mirror if your wares are wearable. Set up a mock table to test your display. You can always remerch it as you go, after you see how customers are shopping your table.

12. A Calculator.

13. Your Tax ID/Resale Certificate: Don’t have one? Some shows require them, and they are required by law. Check out what you need to do in your state or the state you’re selling in to collect sales tax. Check here to find your state’s site.

14. Mailing List Sign Up Sheet.

15. A Camera: So you can bask in your own glory even after the show is done, plus add your photos to your blog or Flickr page.

16. Something to Do: Working a little bit on your craft can attract interest from shoppers. It can also help you stay sane during a really slow show.

17. Electric Stuff: If you need power at your show, don’t forget all your cords, wires, and duct tape to secure them!

18. Promotional Materials and Order Forms: Be ready to take wholesale and custom orders if that’s your thing. Catalogs, postcards, and the very important business cards, too!

19. Free Candy.

20. A Good Friend: to keep you company, and tell shoppers how absolutely fabulous you are!

If I forgot something that you can’t leave the house without, let everyone know in the comments!

Click here for an abridged and more printable version of this list.

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5 Comments »

  1. Colleen said

    Thanks for sharing what you’ve learned by doing craft shows! It’s really nice of you to share your experiences in this way:)

  2. Covetables said

    Great list! Thanks for the helpful post.

  3. Brandon Crotts said

    Thanks for the shout out! We’re really glad you’re happy with our service. Good luck at the craft shows. It sounds like you’re doing great. 🙂

    Brandon Crotts
    ProPay

  4. Thanks so much for this list — I’ve been making one of my own, and I’m glad to see I had most of the stuff you did. Great tip on the laminated signs — awesome idea!

    I’m looking forward to visiting you at the Bazaar Bizarre — hope it’s a great weekend for you at both shows!

  5. Sayo said

    what great tips! thank you for sharing them!

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