Craft Shows and Art Markets can be a fantastic way to create an additional source of income, get feedback on your products, meet other makers in your community and find new customers in your area BUT it doesn’t mean that craft shows are a perfect fit for every one or every business! In the first part of my craft show success series I wanted to cover the 4 main questions to ask yourself when trying to decide if craft shows would be a good fit for you! You can watch the video where I chat in depth about this topic or you can keep scrolling to read the 4 questions!
1) Are you a People Person of a “My Kinda People” person?
This is important because in most cases, craft shows = lots of people!
I know from experience that when I’m engaged with those people and willing to talk to them and put on an “approachable” persona, that I tend to sell more and do better overall at craft shows. This doesn’t mean that you have to be a “social butterfly” but you don’t want to sit in the corner of your booth and ignore the people passing by. A way to make this easier is to find the “right” shows for you! Different people attend different shows so look for shows that cater to people that you would hang out in real life. This will help you feel more comfortable and more willing to open up and chat with people at the show. I used to love smaller shows at coffee shops as well as shows at events like Chomp & Stomp in Atlanta GA (and Beer, Chili & Bluegrass festival!). The people that came to these shows felt like “my kinda people” and it was easy to be myself and feel super comfortable as a vendor.
Finding the right shows for you takes some trial and error and may even mean attending shows as a spectator first before trying to become a vendor. This will give you a feel for the people attending and help you decide if you should apply to be a vendor the next year!
2) Are there Shows Nearby?
This can be a big roadblock for people living in smaller or more rural towns and cities. When I was going to shows regularly I lived just outside of Atlanta, GA and the craft show and art show scene was BIG. You could find multiple shows, events and handmade pop ups happening on the same day almost every weekend throughout the year. This made it super easy to pick and choose the shows that felt like the right fit for me and my products but I know this is not the case for many people! It might take a bit more sleuthing and maybe a bit more travel for some of you to find lucrative opportunities as a handmade vendor.
3) Can You Make Enough Inventory?
How much inventory you need depends on a lot of factors, including type of items you make, how much the show costs, and how big your booth or table space will be at the show. The main things to keep in mind when pre-planning inventory are to have a variety of items that span a few price points (think $5, $10, $20, $30, $40, $100), that give people options to choose from (the same item in a variety of colors), and that speak to a few different needs (think plushies, hats, scarves, bags, cup cozies, etc.). You don’t have to go too crazy planning, especially for your very first show but you ant to make are you have enough inventory to make your table look full (but not cluttered). I used to keep extra inventory under my table in Tupperware bins so that when people purchased something I could replace it with something else to keep the table looking stocked.
As you attend more craft shows you ill be able to start to see what items sell more easily in your area and which items don’t, this will allow you to better plan out your inventory year over year! My inventory changed SO much from my very first show and it just got easier and easier to prep each year for craft shows!
Depending on what you make, your target customer, and the show you attend, it’s possible to bring only a small number of items and take custom orders on the spot. I have not personally down this but I know it can be a successful strategy for some people & businesses!
4) What “Other” Expenses will you Incur?
You know you will need to pay for the materials to make the items you are selling at shows and you also know that most shows will charge you a fee to be a vendor but what about the other expenses? Additional expenses also depend heavily on the shows you plan to attend. Does the show provide a table, tablecloth and chairs or do you need to purchase and bring them yourself? Does the show require you to bring a tent? Be sure to read the vendor information carefully before applying to a show and make sure you have the funds to purchase anything you will need to bring outside of your inventory.
You will also want to plan for the gas to and from the show, parking fees, any storage containers you will need to purchase to get your inventory to and from the show, and food and drink for the day of the show (depending on the length of the show).
I hope you find your own personal answers to these questions helpful when deciding if craft shows are a good fit for you and your business!
If you decide that craft shows are a good fit for you, you can check out These Additional Resources:
- How to Be Successful at Craft Shows as an Introvert: 5 Tips!
- How Much Inventory should I Crochet for Craft Shows? (VIDEO)
- Craft Show Success Chat (VIDEO) – TONS of great info to help you be more successful at craft shows!
- Craft Show Prep Checklist plus free download!
- ULTIMATE Craft Show Bundle – My top 5 selling items for Fall & Winter craft shows!
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