Thursday, June 23, 2011

Craft Fair Tips

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Hi everyone...
Today I want to share with you a few tips for selling your handmade items in a face-to-face venue.
If you sell on Etsy or any other online marketplace, you don't get a chance to actually meet your customers, and they don't get a chance to meet you or your products up close and personal. 
Selling at a craft show, street fair, or festival allows you to meet people and to introduce your products to the community. 
I have had booths at two local events, and both of them were learning experiences. Here are a few tips for what I have learned so far.
(these photos are from both events)
1. Plan Ahead. Trust me, you do not want to be up all night the night before the event still making inventory for the show. I did it the first time because I was paranoid about not having enough things to sell. The second time around, I made a list of all the items I wanted to have, and how many of each I planned to make. Then I made a schedule for the next few weeks to keep me on track. It never hurts to have too much inventory, so make as much as you possibly can. Stock up. If you have inventory leftover, you can save it for the next show or list it in your online shop.

2. Be Memorable. Have an eye-catching display so that potential buyers know you're there. If you make small products that aren't large enough to stand out (like my coffee cozies and key chains), use display items that pop, like a fun table covering or catchy sign. Smile a lot and make sure customers know that you handmade everything and can answer any questions they have. In addition, make sure everyone who comes to your booth leaves with a business card. Even if they don't buy at the show, they may visit your website or blog, or contact you for a custom order.

3. Have Helpers. I could not have done either show without my mom and my two sisters. Aside from the fact that they were there to help organize things and tell my customers how awesome my products were, some of my display items were just too heavy for me to handle on my own. You need to have at least one person to help you out. Some shows may only allow one helper to come in free of charge, but it may be worth it to buy admission for a few more friends if you think you might need more help. 
4. Label everything. If your items are each unique, then each item should have its own price tag. I use general labels and make sure they are front and center so that people aren't constantly asking "How much is this?" It also helps to tell what the item is if people aren't familiar with your products or if they have a special name.

5. Accept Credit Cards. You may be thinking that accepting credit cards is a complicated and expensive process with lots of paperwork and fees. But it's so simple. I use a service called Square. I signed up {for free} online, and they sent me a {free} card reader. Then I downloaded the app {for free} on my iPhone... it may be available for Droid by now, but I'm not positive. Basically how it works is that you plug the card reader into the headphone jack on your phone, and it allows you to accept credit cards. The money goes into your account after about 3 days, and Square takes only 2.75% of every purchase. That's about the same as Etsy and Paypal. No monthly fees, no contract, and no equipment to buy. I had this at my second craft show and my sales almost doubled. I had a little sign that let everyone know I accepted credit cards, and buyers were really impressed with my sweet card reader.
image source

6. Get Creative With Your Displays. I use household items for displaying my creations. I have colorful bowls, decorative trays, and a few purse racks that my boyfriend made for me. I also have a thread rack that I use for my leather cuff bracelets. All of these items were relatively inexpensive and can be found everywhere. If you're selling something like jewelry, try to create a display that is unique instead of using generic jewelry racks that can be found at every other booth. Choose something that is different but won't distract or take away from your products--you want them to stand out on their own.

I hope this helps if you are interested in having a booth at a craft event. I am by no means an expert, but I'm glad to offer any help I can. If you have questions or want to ask more about my experiences or my booth, feel free to ask!
The Mrs. will be hosting a link party to share tips and ask questions about craft fairs. I'll be linking to this post on July 21st!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks - my first Craft Fair is this coming Saturday. I have my Square but haven't tried to use it. Hope it all works out. :-) I appreciated all your tips and suggestions.

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