Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Tips from a Buyer /Seller on Craft Shows

This was a very long Etsy post I made that I thought should be preserved here in hopes that any stray readers will find it helpful.

Craft Show Advice from an Amateur Seller and a Pro Buyer!
(or A Craft Show Survival Guide)

I have been to my fair share of craft shows and I rarely leave empty handed. I have participated in a few as well on an amateur level and I'm happy to share my advice based on my experience as both a buyer and a seller.

Things you should definitely have on hand:

--LOTS of Inventory! If you didn't bring it, you can't sell it and it's horrible to run out of product knowing there are still people who would've bought on the spot but aren't interested in waiting.
--Bags/boxes for purchases
--Business cards if you have them to encourage repeat customers and promote your online shop as well if you have one.
--Paper, pens/pencils for keeping track of your sales, taking custom order information or anything that comes up
--Calculator for the big buyers
--A hefty cash drawer to make change
--A reliable friend to watch your booth while you use the bathroom or get a drink (more talkative the better, they have to sweet talk your buyers when you're away!)
--A nice table cover to hide the unsightly folding table that will likely be provided.
--Your craft show contract. You never know who will ask to see it to make sure you've got your t's and i's crossed and dotted.

Things that it would be to have nice if you can swing it:

--A stool. Being elevated even when seated gives you a better business presence than a chair. Your buyers will be standing after all and you don't want to have them looking down to you. If you can, stand as much as possible.
--A receipt book. It rarely comes up in small local craft shows, but some people who make a big purchase will want a receipt, so it's useful to have on hand. (If you're doing a juried event, I would move this suggestion into the must have category.)
--Your knuckle buster. If you have a propay account or another way to take credit cards, definitely have it with you. Do not take information and use your paypal account however. This is against their terms or use and can lock your account or possibly land you a fine or a sentence :(
--Snacks. You're likely in for a longish day. Having a snack will keep you at your table with your customers more of the time, just be careful to be discreet when you eat. If people think you're making a crummy mess, that will affect the way they see your work.
--Your mannequin. If there is room for it in your designated area, bring it! Change the outfit throughout the show. A manny really gets great attention!
--Tall slender shelving that is safe to stand on the tables. Vertical tables tend to attract more attention. If you have space behind your booth, consider using the area as a display for more products or for your banner if you have one.
--Vendor's license. I know not everyone on Etsy/Artfire/etc has one which is why it's currently in this category. You never know who will ask to see yours. (If this is a juried show, make this a must have)

Things to avoid:

--As much as I hate to say it, avoid crafting. It's great to demonstrate that you are the artist, but it prevents you from engaging your customers and takes your eyes away from your table and onto your hands. If you can do it without looking, go ahead, but make sure you're available the very moment someone needs you.
--Long conversations primarily with your reliable friend that came along. Some folks won't want to interrupt and it's a potential sale loss.
--Don't start taking your items down until the show is over! Last minute sales are always lurking! If you choose you can also offer discounts for the last half hour to help move merchandise. That's up to you of course.
--Don't block your table. Stand to the side or behind so that you're never a wall between your customers and your products.

What to do while you're there:

--Smile... a lot. A really lot! Engage your potential buyers. Don't hard sell, just be friendly and willing to answer questions and encourage them to touch your creations if it's clothing and try things on if it's jewelry.
--Be friendly to your neighboring craft tables. Maybe you'll spark a trade. Maybe you'll spark a collaboration! Or a get a discount. Who knows?
--Make sure all your items prices are easy to find. Not everyone will ask and that is a potential lost sale.
--If you plan on taking checks, ask for a driver's license and a phone number. The phone number will get you in touch with them if the check bounces and the driver's license number will get authorities in touch with them if they go AWOL. I hope this never happens to you :) Most people at handmade shows are completely trustworthy and responsible!
--Browse. Before the doors open, shop around. You won't be tempted to leave your stall during the show this way!
--Buy. If you see something you love, support your local artists! They will likely support you in return by advertising word of mouth and visiting your stall at some point.
--If you enjoy haggling and you will still make a profit, go for it. If your prices are firm, be firm. It's your business model and you're free to choose.

*Above all!*
--Be Positive. This is different than just smiling. Even if you're hardly selling at all and your back hurts and you're hungry, speak as if you've had the most profitable day ever, you feel like a teen again and you're as satisfied as can be. "I'm having a great time!" is your mantra.

If you're having a craft show soon, I hope you have a great time and many sales!


  1. Wow.. these are some great tips! THank you!
    ALso thank you for leaving a comment on my blog :) And YAYY for finding new blogs to read!

  2. Great tips! I remember the days!

    I can vouch for a lost sale if the prices aren't clearly seen. I won't ask unless I absolutely love it, and maybe not even then!


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