What you should know and how to choose the one for you.
Selling at Craft Fairs can be a fun and rewarding experience, but there are some things you need to consider before you forge ahead into 'sales mode'.
- Be a customer first - before you dive headlong into selling your crafts 'test the water', so to speak. Check out some venues while shows are there.
- Check the layout - make sure you like the way the Craft Fair looks. Does each booth have equal space? Is there enough space in between rows for customers to browse comfortably?
- Check out vendors displays - look for display ideas for your products. Do you already have an idea of the way your booth should look? If a vendor has similar products to yours, would a similar display work for you? Is their display drawing sales or just glances?
- Check if there is power available - if you need special lighting for your items, be sure to find out about the power situation. Occasionally you may find you need to pay extra if you need more than a certain number of outlets to light your displays properly.
- Talk to vendors - do they like the set up? Is there a support network for complaints or problems? Have they been happy with the way things are set up?
- Find the organizer - if they have time to talk with you, that's great. You can address all your questions then and there.
- Look for variety - Try to make sure that there won't be too many people with the same kind of products as yours. Expect a little competition, but 3 jewellery booths in a line is just not fair to anyone - customers or vendors.
Once you have checked out a Craft Fair venue you need to apply for a space, table or booth. When you get your application read through it very carefully. There will often be a ton of information included.
Depending how well organized they are, they should give you details
- The booth size - the dimensions of the space are important so that you can plan your display accordingly.
- The fee per booth - you will need to pay a fee for your space. The fee can vary greatly depending on various factors...
- the Craft Fair venue - parking lot, hotel lobby or convention hall?
- advertising - do they promote the event or not?
- number of booths - many or few?
- reputation - 35th annual event or first time?
- Is the Craft Fair 'juried'? - sometimes to keep the products of a high quality, they require you to send photos of your items and your booth set up with your application. This would be a 'juried' show, as your work would have to be approved first.
- Set up/take down times - there should be enough time before the event for you to arrive and set up comfortably. You should also be allowed time after the Craft Fair to pack up and remove your booth.
- The organizers - you need to have names in case you have a problem or grievance. You need to know who you can contact in an emergency.
- How to make sales - I have come across Craft Fairs which are set up so that all you do is write out tickets and your customers pay at a central 'checkout'. They collect their purchases when they're done shopping. Mostly it's your responsibility to apply for a sales tax licence and pay taxes on your sales. Sometimes they won't even accept an application without a sales tax number or copy of your certificate.
Ok - you've been accepted. Now you need to think about this...
- Do you have enough inventory? - be sure you have enough to cover the whole sales period. Better be safe than sorry. People may accept placing an order, but customers usually want it NOW.
- Is your display ready? - are you happy with the way your products look when they're laid out on your display. The right 'look' can make or break your whole Craft Fair experience.
- Do you have everything priced? - customers usually like to see the prices on items. I know I don't like it when something isn't priced!
- Is everything labelled correctly? - there are laws which state that certain products, especially children's clothing, should have labels which include washing instructions.
- Do you have business cards? - some people like to take contact information for later. You may lose orders if you don't have a way for a potential customer to make contact with you.
- Do you have change/credit card machine? - you should always take plenty of change (notes and coins) to a Craft Fair, just in case. If you can accept credit cards, don't forget your machine, and a stamp for the back of your checks.
- Sales Tax Licence - take it with you in case anyone asks to see it, but keep it safe.
- Take someone with you to help! - ALWAYS have someone with you to help out if it is at all possible. You may miss sales if you need to dash to the bathroom. Brief them beforehand about your products and give them any other 'need to know' or 'selling tricks' you may have.
Phew - are you exhausted yet? There's a lot of stuff to think about with these Craft Fairs. Still - if you've gone through that whole list you should have pretty much everything covered.
Ready to sell at Craft Fairs? GO GET 'EM!
Find out what to consider when selling your crafts.
Are consignment stores the right place for you to sell your crafts?
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