Posted by ARCHd on January 15, 2018 in art, events, how to, posts by lindsey|43 Comments
Fall of 2012 marked our first experience as an art vendor, at Cooper Young Festival in Memphis, TN. Over the years, we’ve padded our resume with quite a few more shows and experimented with a LOT of trial and error on our vendor booth layout and setup. We’ve learned a lot, both from our own experiences and from looking to other vendors for inspiration.
Today, we’re going to share with you our top 16 ideas for selling at art festivals, craft fairs and indie markets. These tips can be summed up into three key categories: Booth Display, Signage/Décor and—the most important—Branding.
Before we set foot at an art festival, our vendor booth is completely laid out. We measure all our display pieces (shelves, tables, etc.) and configure the space to help speed up the set up time. Plus, not all shows have the same options for booth sizes (because that would just be too easy). This year, our Cooper Young booth featured a 10’ x 15’ space, while some of our holiday shows ranged from a 6’ x 8’ space to a 10’ x 20’ double booth. It helps to lay everything out beforehand to know what will or will not fit in the allotted space. Once everything is measured, we use Adobe Illustrator to plan out the booth space, with everything to scale. We print out copies to take with us during set up, as well as email a copy to ourselves in case we lose the paper copies (it happens).
Here’s a look at my Adobe Illustrator artboard for our most recent Cooper Young Festival vendor booth:
And here is our finished vendor booth, based on that original mock up:
When potential buyers pass your vendor booth, they’re not seeing product that is flat on tables. At least some of your work needs to be in their line of sight.
One way we add height to our booth display is with these adjustable white metal shelf units we found at IKEA (shop them here). The shelves are completely adjustable and IKEA sells individual shelves, so you can add to the original four included. We switch it up depending on what art we need to display at each festival or market.
In the past, we’ve used these custom built white-washed wood displays on rollers, which our brother built for us. We love how they look in our booth, as they mimic a more retail-style setting. However, these are rather heavy and bulky to transport.
Looking for something a little more transport friendly, this year we commissioned a custom white wood peg wall. The unit breaks down into four separate pieces, so it’s easy and convenient for traveling. Everything hooks together via large bolts and wing nuts, with the shelves and pegs packed separately. It’s also completely adjustable, as the pegs can be configured in various ways. This wall unit is great for displaying our larger 5 panel wood pieces, which serve as great eye catchers for potential buyers walking by our vendor booth.
For smaller shows, we take just two of the four wall panels, usually paired with one of the white IKEA shelf units. Bonus: extra pegs are great for hanging ornaments!
Clear acrylic risers are also a great way to subtly add height and levels when displaying artwork on a table. Because they’re clear, they don’t take away from your displayed art. We use combinations of this 5 piece set from Displays2Go.
As you can see, for our larger display pieces (shelves, walls), we incorporate as much white as possible. Because all sides of our wood art is stained in a dark finish, the white background helps it pop. We also prefer how clean the white and neutral hues look.
We have ALL-CAPS-STRUGGLED with how to display and store our art prints, other than stuffing them in baskets for browsing. We recently discovered these gold wire baskets from IKEA that slide on perfectly to our white IKEA shelves. They are great at storing stacks of prints!
To actually display the prints, we chopped up a 4” x 4” piece of lumber and sawed angled grooves down the top. We stained them to match the color of our wood art. The art prints stand up perfectly in the grooves of the wood, which we then prop up above the wire baskets. It’s easy for buyers to see the print displayed and simply pick it up from the basket underneath for purchase.
During our holiday shows, our Christmas ornaments are HUGE sellers. While we use our peg wall for some ornament overflow, ornaments look best hanging on an actual Christmas tree. This also better demonstrates to potential buyers how it will look on their own tree. However, for those smaller booth spaces, a full Christmas tree takes up too much valuable real estate and just isn’t practical. And some of the smaller, table-top trees aren’t known for being sturdy. Because our ornaments are on the heavier side, we’ve had issues with the smaller trees tipping over … especially when buyers are trying to take the ornaments off the trees to purchase. We found a great slim Christmas tree from our local At Home. It measures only 18” in diameter but can still can hold quite a few ornaments. We re-stock throughout the show to keep the tree looking full.
We have our friends over at Ella Jude to thank for this easy DIY pop-out booth sign idea. For this sign, we painted a thin piece of wood white, then transferred our logo (with our image transfer process) to both sides, though we’ve seen others hand paint their logo. We bought two pieces of copper pipe and an elbow joint and glued them all together to form an L-shaped corner. To hang the wood sign from the copper pipe, we spray-painted loose-leaf rings to match the copper pipe. We then use clear zip ties to attach the sign to our booth or tent. We’re hoping to make an even larger version this year.
For additional branded signage, we bought a large white vinyl banner with grommets and designed it to include our logo, website and social media handles. We use this when we have space available. For our outdoor art shows, such as Cooper Young, we hang the banner on the back of our tent so buyers walking down the sidewalks behind the booths can see our name.
We sell handmade image transfers on wood and marble tile. The most common question we receive from customers during festivals and shows is, “Is this mod podge?” No. Image transfer is a different process that actually takes more energy and a significantly longer amount of time than mod podge. Though, our process can sometimes be hard to explain to customers. This year, we created visual aids to help explain our handmade process.
We made these “process walls” from large panels of wood bought from Lowe’s. We sanded them smooth and white-washed them to match our other display walls. We added a wood leg to the back, attached with a simple hinge to allow them to stand up on their own (thanks to Sarah fromSignet Sealedfor this hinge idea). Kristen took photos of each key step of our handmade process and we had them printed and mounted to matboard for sturdiness. We spray-painted metal bulldog clips the same copper finish as our sign and hung them on tacks, straight down each wall. For the titles at the top, we transferred the words “ARCHd” and “PROCESS” to small wood planks and attached via velcro strips. Now, when customers ask how we make our art, we can walk them through the entire process with these images. It’s much easier to follow. Plus, these large signs help with the “vertical” strategy of our booth display and serve as another eye-catcher for potential buyers walking by.
All of our items are individually priced on the back. However, that doesn’t stop customers from asking how much things are. Constantly. We designed a single poster listing all of our items with pricing, framed it and displayed it on a decorative easel at the entrance of our booth. Now customers can easily see the range of prices and products we offer, all in one place.
One of my favorite pastimes? Attending fairs. Whether they are women’s fairs, book fairs or a craft fair – I love them all. I love going to craft fairs for several reasons, namely to get out of the house without my husband and children. Bahaha! I also enjoy meandering and browsing, taking my time to both appreciate and purchase other crafters works and to get new ideas for my own home.
Vendor fairs and I go way back. As a child I attended and assisted my mother at her booth in countless fairs. I would help set up, I would man the booth while she had bathroom breaks and I learned how important it is to mingle with other vendors during slow times. If you are thinking of attending your first craft fair as a vendor, there are some definite do’s and don’t’s when it comes to setting up your booth and how you engage with your customers – and other vendors too!
The obvious goal, when paying the entry fee to a craft fair, is to sell your wares and recoup your cost (and then some). But, you also want people to remember you and your name so that they can find you later on your Facebook page, your website or find you on Etsy etc. Take the following tips and see if you can’t walk out of your next craft fair feeling like a boss.
Presentation is everything! Your buyer’s first impression will many times make or break a sale. When setting up, think of the ways your booth will appear to passersby. You want to offer a wide array of items, in a wide range of price points, without over crowding your table. This is not an episode of Hoarders, but you definitely want to utilize ALL space available to you – including vertical space.
Take table cloths (inexpensive flat sheets from Walmart work well also) to drape over the table, use wooden crates to add depth and “shelves”, use old opened suitcases for charm, invest in a mannequin, convert an old photo frame to have chicken wire stapled to the back for hanging items (with mini clothespins) etc… The more eye catching your booth (without being overcrowded) the better.
Provide a mirror! I can not tell you how many times I have left an item I might have purchased if I could have just seen it ON myself. Try to have a good sized mirror (full length if possible) with a frame instead of hand-held. Of course if a large mirror is not possible a hand-held mirror is better than nothing, but again – presentation is everything. If you don’t already have a cute, decorative mirror, watch for sales (or use your coupons!) at Hobby Lobby, Michael’s or Joann’s etc and pick one up!
I can not stress enough how important it is to have business cards in multiple places. Have a stack at the front of the table and throw one in the bag when you package a purchased item. If they do not make a purchase, you can also give them a business card from your handy dandy stack.
There are numerous places to find inexpensive business cards online. Make sure you include where to find you online and how to contact you.
As a customer, I do not want to have to ask for a price. In fact most times I will not ask, instead I’ll just pass right on by. Don’t do that to your customers – or to yourself!
Want an even better way to price your items? Use your business cards AS your price tags (but also have some available in that stack). Create a small hole to string through and attach to your items. Think of it this way: if someone likes your work enough to pay you for it, they automatically get a business card that they will later have to remove (and hopefully stash in their purse, wallet etc). To me this is better than just throwing the card in the bag that will then get thrown away.
Be available but not pushy. My main craft will always be crochet, so I am sure to bring my yarn and my hooks and I crochet as I stand at my booth. (I try not to sit as it may come off as me being bored) This allows me to be present and available for questions, but in a way that doesn’t feel overly in-your-face to the shopper. Plus, I’m creating more product!
Alternatively, engaging with your customers is key. When I shop I want to be left alone, but I also want to know that should I have any questions (can you make this in a different color? etc) that the vendor is accessible. When I am on the other side of the table however, my approach is different. Definitely make eye contact, smile and say hello, read the person’s reaction. Their body language will tell you if they wish to engage in further conversation or simply shop.
Think small (ish) and think ahead! What kinds of things will people be needing in the next few months? In October, the best items would be Thanksgiving or Christmas related, whereas in March you might want to stock your table full of items pertaining to Easter, spring cleaning/useful things and perhaps even some items geared towards the 4th of July.
You also want to have a wide array of items, including unique items you can’t just find at Walmart. Keep much of it simple and trendy. Many times the smaller items, like the Aldi Quarter Keepers, dishcloth sets, chapstick keychains, mini-blind cleaners, sell better than scarves and blankets simply because it’s an impulse buy at just a few bucks – and those sales add up! Don’t forget that if they buy something small now with your business card attached, when they need something large like a blanket or a poncho etc, they’ll remember you (and be able to contact you)!
Do you have a selection of super cute hats for sale? Wear one! If not possible, or if you just have too many different items to wear without looking like a walking pegboard, try to display the items in the manner they would best be worn/used. A shawl just laying on the table won’t get nearly as much action as it would if it were aesthetically displayed on Catherine (a.k.a. my mannequin).
Spending a little bit of money to offer quality packaging goes a long way in the professionalism of your brand. The packaging does not have to be expensive to be effective. These merchandise bags would suffice, and just between you and me, Hobby Lobby has the best value on tissue paper (yes, even better than the Dollar store). Also provide care instructions, printed out on regular paper and cut to size (and be sure to include your business name for marketing purposes).
Photo thanks to Christine! (love that floor pouf)
I bought my mannequin Catherine, (named after the second beheaded wife of Henry VIII) to use as a photo prop for my crochet patterns listed here on Heart Hook Home. She’s pretty (albeit a little shy) and she’s got a great sense of humor. She was also one of the least expensive and best looking mannequins I found online. I am a deal hunter at heart, and Catherine and me are BFF’s now.
You might also have several heads for display if you’ve got the space. Here’s a decently priced head. Ha!
If at all possible, accept credit cards (Square is a great tool) and advertise that you accept them. Take up just a bit of your space to advertise a sign like mine below. I whipped this up using Canva, a free online photo editing tool. I added some of my most popular designs to draw people in. Create one yourself to convey that not only do you accept cash and credit cards, but you have other colors available as well.
Tip: Store a tote under your table containing various colors of yarn. If someone loves that hat but wants it in purple instead of blue, you can offer to have it ready for them in an hour (depending on how quickly you crochet, of course).
When presenting at a craft fair, you only have a limited space available to you. Why not create a hard cover photo book from Shutterfly, Snapfish, Walgreens or CVS showcasing items you have made in the past, but may not have on hand today? Pack that book full of the blankets you’ve made, any amigurumi (stuffed animals) you’ve crocheted, use it to showcase the different stitches you know and/or colors you have available. Keep it open to the page with your most popular design(s).
If you’ve got lots of little dishcloths or rings for kids, consider placing several in a special basket labeled “free gift with $50+ purchase”. You set the amount required, but if someone is spending $40 or $45, they might just pick up another $10 item if only to get the freebie.
You could also spin this a little differently and offer a spin wheel for small prizes as well. See what I did there?
By mingling I don’t necessarily mean with your customers. Sure, you want to mingle with them too, but if you take the time to get to know your neighbors (I hope they’re cool 😉 ) you might get information about other upcoming craft shows, item placement tips and tips on pricing etc. Also, you take note of each other’s inventory. They can send people your way and you can send people theirs!
As I said above, this is not an episode of Hoarders. Don’t put all of your items out (unless you don’t have a ton) instead replenish them as they are sold.
I feel like this should not have to be said, but here goes. One of the reasons I like to stand and crochet during a craft fair is because it keeps me from browsing on my phone. Nothing is worse than ignoring your prospective customers or looking bored. If you are up and moving, working, crocheting etc it shows that you are attentive and open for business.
You could save any unsold items for a future craft fair, or you could donate them to a worthwhile charity as well. If you do donate, make sure you get a receipt for tax purposes!
If you have someone with you at the table (your older children, a friend etc) make sure they have, in the very least, basic answers to any questions that may arise. Color choices, care instructions, different sizes etc. This way if you step away for a restroom break (which you should try to do at off-times) they will have those answers.
Not craft related, but my latest fair, a financial health fair at a credit union in Wichita, Kansas.
Sure, we are all here to make money, but try not to focus on the sales. Focus instead on having fun, meeting new people and learning from the experience.
One thing mentioned by Dianna in the Heart Hook Home Crochet Community really struck me: having a booth at a craft fair is a lot like going hunting or fishing. You spend money on supplies (entry fees) and you spend all day trying to catch a buck (or make a buck). Even if you come home empty handed, you have gained knowledge, experience and you’ll be more prepared going in next time. What a great reminder!
What do you do differently at a craft fair, if anything? Do you have any tips I missed? Let us know in the comments so we too can leave our next craft fair feeling like a boss!
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Home, Other Craftscraft fair, craft show, how to have a successful craft fair, how to sell items at a craft fair
Selling your goods at a craft show can payoff big but you have to be prepared. that come out of the tent and use both sides of the tent to hang items. So if your in the home decor biz like me, offer centerpieces, lantern.
It’s not your imagination: Farmer’s markets and craft shows have come a long way. Today’s markets and fairs are enjoying a new wave of popularity as must-visit shopping destinations that feature organic foods of all varieties, on-trend artisanal products, and a unique community vibe.
For starters, participating in markets is the ultimate opportunity for indie makers and smaller brands to cultivate real connections with customers. It’s also a manageable and (relatively) affordable way to showcase your wares IRL in more of a “pop-up” context, rather than investing in a full-scale brick-and-mortar location.
The first component of nailing the in-person selling experience at craft fairs and markets means exhibiting at shows that make sense for your brand. These events offer the opportunity to make connections with fellow entrepreneurs and makers in your area, gain access to the festival’s audience, test how your products fare in a real-life venue, meet potential wholesale clients, and build a local following.
And you never know, this in-person selling experience can serve as the stepping stone to opening a physical location.
Find a Market Near You
For an evolving list of markets, check out Shopify’s Flea & Farmer's Market Directory.
An integral part of exhibiting at the show or market is creating a killer booth. We spoke with the organizers of some of the popular North American craft shows, as well as retail experts, to get the inside scoop on building the ultimate booth to bolster your sales and engage customers.
A booth is your way of having a presence at a venue, introducing yourself to your potential customers, and nurturing a connection with those customers along the way. In other words, it’s a pop-up shop.
Melissa Gonzalez, founder of pop-up architecture firm The Lion’esque Group and author of the book The Pop-Up Paradigm, offered her top tip for developing your booth:
These days, brands can feel like a needle in a haystack at trade shows, and as a brand, you need to ensure your story grabs people from the aisles.
For starters, pick a core focal point to tell your story. Go back to basics here and consider your brand and your narrative: for example, if you sell sun hats, then consider using white ropes, starfish, and seashells as fixtures. Make waves and have fun with your booth elements! (More on this below.)
Remember: You only have a few seconds to capture the attention of passersby, so make sure your “story” and your products are crystal clear to your potential audience.
Nicole Leinbach Reyhle, founder of Retail Minded and co-founder of the Independent Retailer Conference, weighed in with her own perspective on the subject:
"When you are positioned among other vendors, whether direct competitors or not, it's vital to stand out in your presentation, engagement, and overall customer experience. Of course, how you do this makes all the difference,” she notes. “To help, consider what first impressions your booth space gives off. Does it stop customers in their tracks and make them want to learn more about your business? Or does it simply blend in, or worse, is it easily dismissed among your booth neighbors?”
Photo Credit: Melissa Gonzalez
When researching ideas for your booth’s design, head over to Pinterest and type in “Craft Show Booths,” “Craft Show Display Ideas,” and “Market Booth Inspiration.” Each search will spawn hundreds of results.
Tip: Follow these Pinterest boards before you’re even confirmed to exhibit at a show, so that the images gradually populate your Pinterest feed ahead of time. You can even follow some of the top shows in your industry on Instagram, as they usually post plenty of photos of impressive booths in their feeds. Get inspired and save the images you like.
The design website and app Houzz also offers a multitude of visual presentation and design inspiration, so check it out. Browse under “Storage” and “Decor” to refine your search.
Then gather all the saved images that inspire you and create a moodboard to keep you inspired as you hatch your plans.
We spoke to Andrea Tucker, one of the organizers of Vancouver’s Got Craft?, about planning a booth. Step one for her: Sit down and organize your thoughts — it can be incredibly overwhelming, after all.
Ask yourself what items you need displayed and what is the best way to present your products. Sketch out a few possible layouts and don’t forget to leave room for an area to process payments and for storage.
Once you’re approved to attend the market or craft show you’re aiming for, contact the show’s organizers to get the floor plan and any rules or regulations regarding setup. (In the case of Got Craft?, for example, they open applications between four to six months in advance.)
Booth regulations can be a creative challenge – how will you conceptualize the space within the constraints? You may only have a 10x10 space within which to tell your brand's story, after all.
Equipped with your vision and the show’s plan, consider how you’re going to build your booth. If you have a good handle of your moodboards and enough inspiration, you might be able to sketch out the blueprints yourself with the help of interior design apps for iOS or Android.
If it’s overwhelming and you plan to attend more than one show, consider researching companies that specialize in booth design and development, or hiring an interior designer to help you with the booth’s blueprints.
There are two more things to keep in mind:
Finally, while planning your design, consider the lighting of the show you’re attending: where are the power outlets, are there restrictions around lighting, and is power included in the vendor fee?
And now for the fun part: deciding what colors and materials to use in your booth. The world is your playground! The goal is to create a cohesive and on-brand look with the elements and colors you choose.
Andrea from Got Craft? recommends sticking to muted colors (white works especially well) to help make your products stand out. There’s a reason photographers and top brands use white backdrops to shoot items on Instagram — it really makes the products pop.
And if you’re going with another color palette, try matching it to your brand and use the same color for your packaging, signage, and maybe even how you dress at the show. Uniformity and consistency make for stronger branding.
Get inspired by your product and brand, and see how it can help inform the materials you use for decor. For example, Paperbacknote hand-makes unique upcycled stationery and paper goods from recycled books. They have created a tabletop display using kraft paper and cardboard tubes.
Photo: Jerk with a Camera and Twig Prints at Got Craft?, [stu-di-o] by jeanie
Jerk with a Camera, a photographer, uses photography backdrop holders to hang his work on — a truly fitting display tool!
Printer/illustrator/sewer Twig Prints uses a simple old room divider to both hang her products and to create a discreet back room and staff break area.
According to Melissa Gonzalez, you can even incorporate flooring into your booth for a high-quality experience (if you can afford it). Since every touchpoint of your booth adds to the overall story of the space, flooring can help immerse your visitors further into your brand’s world — it’s also the finishing touch that completes your story.
Photo Credit: Lago
Examples of flooring include whitewashed wood floors and even cork flooring (this can be found at Home Depot). Consider what style of flooring will help immerse visitors into the full story of the collection you’re showcasing.
Bonus: Visitors might want to take “flat-lay” pictures of your products and shoefies (shoe selfies) to post on Instagram, so having a white floor is a great way to feature a white backdrop for crisp flat-lays and shoefies.
Andrea from Got Craft? has some easy suggestions for vendors who are on a shoestring budget.
Spray paint + thrift stores = my two best friends. Think outside the box!
It’s all about being creative and repurposing items for different uses, especially when it comes to visual presentation. For example, consider using books as risers or china saucers as holders for small items like jewelry or pins.
Other fun display items include ladders, tool boxes, drawers, kid chairs, boxes or crates, racks, and three-tier stands.
Tip: Find inspiration in the vibe and general aesthetic at retail stores that have mastered the whimsical, lifestyle feel. Two examples include Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie. Browse their locations or simply their social media feeds (especially Instagram and Pinterest). You might just find the ultimate decorative pieces for your booth in the process.
Sometimes, the items you need are right in front of you — they might be gathering dust in your home or the home of a family member. Check your rooms and/or studio for things you can use such as tables, containers, and props. Sometimes the more “rustic” and distressed, the better, depending on your brand.
Photo Credit: Artists & Fleas
Or, consider bartering for materials: Visit some other vendors before the show starts and see if they have any items you can trade, or even borrow, for the show. Also check with show organizers to see what materials they may have on hand to lend out or rent.
According to Georgia Varidakis, the LA & Chelsea Market Manager of Artists & Fleas, while it depends on the look you are aiming for, check out YouTube for DIY tutorials on how to create a great booth on a budget.
Get thrifty! Hit up your local thrift store. You are sure to find some cheap decor that can be brought back to life with a fresh coat of paint.
Georgia continues: “Although not indie or small businesses, stores such as IKEA and The Container Store may also offer some great options that you can reuse throughout the year. Leave no big box store unturned.”
According to Georgia of Artists & Fleas, your space should be shoppable.
“Your space should look like an extension of the product, but if the customer can't tell what is for sale in a clutter of props or can't get to it, you are setting yourself up for failure.”
Photo Credit: Artists & Fleas
You also want to ensure you revamp your section often, so that it looks visually appealing at all times.
“For shows longer than one day, tweak the layout so it looks new to returning customers,” Georgia says.
“Height is a great way to be noticed from a distance. Flat displays tend to get overlooked as they are easy to pass by,” Georgia notes.
Melissa Gonzalez offers an important reminder: Don't overstock the shelves. When it comes to choosing which items to display, you want to ensure you pick your strongest elements that best position your brand.
Nicole Leinbach Reyhle offers this advice:
“Visually creating a space that complements your brand and products while welcoming customer engagement is key. Think about the comfort of your guests as they shop your booth and how getting them to interact within your environment can keep them more engaged, as well. With the right displays, ambiance and customer support, consumers will be less likely to leave empty handed."
With this in mind, here are some ideas to increase your chances of attracting and engaging customers.
You can slay the look of your booth, but if you’re not welcoming your visitors, then your aesthetic efforts have gone to waste.
Both Andrea of Got Craft? and Georgia of Artists & Fleas emphasize the importance of saying “hello” to everyone. As tempting as it is to scroll through your phone or browse on your laptop, step away from these distractions, make contact, and welcome everyone who steps up to your booth. This ensures browsers and potential shoppers know that you're available in case they have any questions. Some items might be great “icebreakers” that automatically encourage interaction, but it’s still key to ask your visitors questions, talk about your process, and generally be open.
If customers think they’re interrupting you, they’re less likely to ask about an item or purchase something. And that’s another missed opportunity.
Tip:When possible, stand behind your display or near it. Standing in front of it not only blocks it, but can be intimidating for people trying to approach your booth.
Photo Credit: Artists & Fleas
Make sure you have proper signage at your booth, and clearly indicate your tagline (if you have one), the URL for your online shop, and your social media handles and hashtags.
Speaking of social media...
Andrea from Got Craft? offers important reminders to attract potential customers’ attention: Create an eye-catching piece to make it social media friendly.
"A few years ago at the One of a Kind show in Vancouver, my husband and I created a DIY sign out of yarn, which was a perfect tie-in as a portion of my products were crocheted," she explains. "We also made a marquee one year using lightbulbs, cardboard, and spray paint. Unique pieces create conversations and people loved to stop and take images, which is great for spreading the news!"
If you want to encourage people to hang around and stay engaged on social media, try setting up a makeshift selfie station. You can keep it simple; no need to get too fancy or go overboard. Simply create a backdrop with Bristol board or cardboard, or reserve a “blank space” on one of your booth’s walls. You can also create a frame out of cardboard, to serve as a selfie prop.
Whether you use a wall or a frame, make sure your URL, hashtags, and social handles are clearly incorporated. This is a fun way to encourage user-generated content that you can then post on your company’s Instagram feed and in a Facebook photo album.
Drive people to your social media channels and encourage them to snap and share a picture of their new purchase by giving branded bag stuffers to all customers. This can help boost your social media following, keep your customers engaged, and lead to more user-generated content. The handouts can even feature a promo code to incentivize customers to head to your online store to do more shopping.
Georgia of Artists & Fleas emphasizes the importance of gathering customer emails while at the show (this can even be done by displaying a guestbook on a visible surface, for visitors to sign and add their email address).
This way you can continue engaging your audience by sending emails that feature your story, exclusive deals and styling tips, and announcing your next destinations so that your fans are always in the loop.
Tip: Use emails as a way to engage your followers by recounting and explaining what goes into making your handmade items, or the adventures of scouting for the perfect vintage collection. Keep ‘em engaged! Content is king, both during and after the show.
Melissa Gonzalez recommends a fun way to ensure you gather customer emails and keep it interactive on-site.
“Google Forms is an easy way to create a survey that can be hosted on a vendor’s phone: Make the survey short and sweet, and offer an incentive for participation — perhaps offer participants an option of incentives so you can also take note of what they value most (a sale, free shipping, or a complimentary gift).
Promote an on-site contest or giveaway, where shoppers simply need to fill in their email address or sign up for your newsletter, for the chance to win a gift card for your store or a gift basket filled with your products. Winner(s) can be announced at the end of the day, every hour, or even via email (another way to keep the conversation going with your customer going).
Remember that your booth is a gateway to your brand and your online shop, so make every detail count. Whether you’re participating at a music festival, farmer’s market, or craft show, think outside the booth and have fun building it.
Karin Eldor’s experience in online publishing has led to a fascination with the digital world and retail. When she’s not scrolling through her Instagram and Snapchat feeds, she can be found poring over fashion magazines (she still loves print — shhh, it’s our secret).
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I’ve been doing my fair share of craft fairs for 10 years now, so I’ve learned a lot of tricks along the way. (I even wrote a book about it.) My craft show tool kit has evolved a lot over the years, and now there are a few handy items I can’t live without bringing to a craft fair.
Whether you’re preparing for your first craft show and wondering what to bring, or you’re an experienced craft show vet looking to improve your arsenal, I hope you’ll find my top 5 craft show must haves useful. Listen to Episode 005 of the Badass Creatives podcast to hear me talk about my craft show tool-kit, or read on:
Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links, which means if you click through and purchase a product, I receive a small commission. It does NOT cost you anything extra! That said – I only post things here that I genuinely use or would recommend to a close friend. More info at my disclosure page.
If you’re planning to do outdoor art markets or festivals, a good craft show tent is an absolute MUST! Many event organizers require everyone to have white 10×10 craft show tents, to keep things looking classy & uniform.
My EZ up tent has lasted me through many years of craft shows, and it’s still going strong! I have the pop-up canopy kind of EZ up tent with four zippered side walls, which are great for closing up shop overnight or keeping out the elements on a rainy day.
After years of fussing with big pieces of fabric and homemade tablecloths, pinning and tucking just so to keep it looking nice, I made the move a few years back to these fitted polyester tablecloths. They’re so much easier, and they look super professional. They come in a variety of sizes to fit different lengths of folding tables.
You could always screen-print or add appliqués to the front to customize it with your business name or logo!
You can see my own tablecloths pictured below, from my craft show booth at Gretna Heritage Festival:
For my 6 foot tables, I use a pretty standard size plastic folding table I found at a hardware store. But these tablecloths are too wide for most of the 4 foot tables out there. Luckily, I discovered an alternative which fits these tablecloths perfectly! Click here to read all about my favorite 4-foot lightweight folding table that I use for craft fairs.
I spent years sitting on low chairs, uncomfortable stools or just standing during craft shows, to stay eye-level with my customers so I could talk to them.
My tall fold-up director’s chair has been a lifesaver since then, and many of my craft show buddies have asked about it and picked up one for themselves! (Click here to read my full review of this chair.)
You’ll definitely want to have some sort of shopping bags or gift wrap available! What size you need depends on what you sell, of course. I usually keep a few sizes on hand – small organza bags for jewelry and some bigger paper shopping bags for larger items.
Finally, if you’ll be hauling all your stuff to and from your car or truck to your craft show booth, you’re going to want wheels! I cannot begin to tell you how much our Magliner convertible hand truck has changed my life!
I don’t know how I could have done Frenchmen Art Market so many nights without it – I can get everything I need on it in one trip and haul it a couple of blocks back to my car with ease:
It’s pretty high end, so if you’re a craft show newbie just getting started, I also use a smaller Magna Cart for shows where it’s easier to do multiple trips back and forth to my car.
Okay, so maybe I fibbed. I mayyyy have more than just 5 craft show must haves. Here are a few more of my favorite art show display ideas:
Doing outdoor art markets can take a lot out of you, especially if the sun is hitting your neck all day long. That’s one reason I came up with the curtain backdrop for my art show tent seen below:
I made it by sewing together three semi-sheer curtain panels. On each outside edge, I added a few pieces of ribbon to make it easy to tie off the edges to the sides of my tent poles. At the top of the curtain, I use spring clamps to attach it to the top of my tent. Easy-peasy!
Not only does it block the sun, but it also provides a colorful and eye-catching background for my booth! (Hint: sew in something at the bottom of the panels to give them a little extra weight so they stay more secure when it gets windy!)
Many artists use gridwall panels to display their artwork. This type of portable craft show display setup works well for fine artists who have paintings or photographs to show off, but most gridwall systems have other accessories available like clip-on baskets or shelves or hanging racks, which can also show off clothing or accessories too.
Above you can see a photo from one of my own craft show booths. I’m not the artist using the gridwall seen here (that’s the back of the booth next to me), but you can see here how the back of the artwork is attached to the gridwall with clips or zip-ties.
I took the above photo at one indoor art show I did. Even though we were inside, the artist used his tent frame to hang these screens from so that he could then attach his artwork.
There are definitely plenty of expensive, professional art display panels out there, but I found this DIY video tutorial that explains how you can make similar art display panels for around $50 per panel using materials found at the hardware store.
While this is by no means a totally comprehensive list of what to take to a craft fair, this should cover most of the important things that you should plan to have on hand, but might otherwise forget to bring with you. (Download and print a copy of this checklist!)
Are you just getting started with craft fairs? Lucky for you, I wrote a whole book full of my craft show tips, tricks and advice, full of everything I learned from more than 10 years of doing art markets and craft shows regularly:
If you found this post useful, you should also check out my book, How to Make Money at Craft Shows – Art Market and Craft Fair Tips & Tricks. This e-book covers the basics of getting started selling at craft fairs, as well as how to design a great looking booth, how to give outstanding customer service & sell more, and even how to find and create additional events at which to sell your handmade work.
It also includes how to define your target market, where to find good shows to sell at, how much you should expect to spend on a booth fee at a show, promoting your show & getting your customers there, dealing with crazy weather & unexpected events, theft prevention, how to give great customer service, how to use craft shows to create after-the-show sales and lots more!
If you’ve been doing craft shows for awhile and think that I missed something here, please contact me and let me know! You can also reach out on Twitter or Instagram, where we can continue the discussion!
Posted by Mallory Whitfield
January 25, 2016
Create a craft show display that reflects your brand without breaking the bank When researching your tent options, consider the booth sizes you'll Your booth decor should enhance your products, not take away from them.
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