Craft Show, Craft Fair, Vendor Event… What’s The Difference

Craft Show, Craft Fair, Vendor Event, Craft Bazaar, Maker’s Faire. Craft Fayre, Summer Market, Winter Market… with so many titles how do you know what you are getting into? 

Is a vendor event better than a craft show? 

What’s the difference between a show and a fair?

What is a “Juried” show?

Juried or Non-Juried?

You may have heard the phrase “juried show” during your quest to find an event. What is a Juried Show and how is it different from a Non-Juried Show?

Juried Shows

Typically a juried show has a selection committee that evaluates applications from artisans and crafters and chooses vendors that match the theme and aesthetic of the event. These events are fairly exclusive and you won’t be selling next to direct sales businesses. 

Juried shows will have a published set of standards on their website or their application packet which outlines the selection process and requirements. You will be required to provide pictures of you items, displays, or even workspace. In some cases the committee will have certain individuals do a presentation of their products in person. The application process and fee will be different from event to event. So make sure you reach out to the committee with any questions or concerns about the process or the event.

For some events there is an additional application fee that may or may not be refunded if you are not selected for the event. If you are not selected for the event, I would recommend reaching out to the committee for feedback. Ask them what you can improve on for the next event, and then follow through with their suggestions before you apply again.

These shows are great for established sellers that have a strong brand identity and that can afford the higher show fees and travel expenses. I would not personally recommend a juried show for your first craft show, but if you believe that it is a great fit for you then go for it.

Non-Juried Shows

Non-juried shows are far more common and will most likely make up the bulk of the events that you will participate in. These events are less costly than juried shows and do not require the same rigorous application process, there is not generally an interview process nor do they require photos of your work. A non-juried show will simply have you pay a fee and you will be guaranteed a space at the event. You most likely will be selling next to other crafters that have similar products, direct sellers, or local businesses. 

These events are great for newer businesses or first time vendors due to the lower cost, less stringent rules for the event, and reasonable hours. They are also really great networking opportunities since you will be coming into contact with a large portion of your towns local businesses.

Let’s go over a few of the show types you may come across.

Event Types

Types of Shows

There are several kinds of events that you will come across when you are researching events in your area. Some of the names are different just because of the area you are in… and sometime the name change can mean that the event rules may be different. Let’s take a quick look at the different kinds of events….

Flea Market

Flea Markets are typically markets where many vendors gather to sell their merchandise. Modern day flea markets sell new and used items and can be either indoors or outdoors. Vendors set up and sell from designated spaces at the event which they rent from the market owner or organizer. Usually each vendor stays at their space and handles their own transactions. Although some of the permanent indoor markets do not require this. Instead vendors will set up and stock their space and flea market employees handle the rest, the market then pays the vendor on specific days.

Swap Meet

Traditionally, swap meets are a gathering of people who swap goods and services. However, most modern swap meets are more like flea markets where a variety of vendors sell new or used goods to customers.

Vintage Show

A vintage show is a newer term in the world of events, it usually refers to a show or series of shows where the items for sale are not new but also not quite old enough to be antiques. Many of the vintage shows are curated by the organizers, this means that they choose vendors that all have a similar theme or aesthetic and are adept at showcasing their items. Often, these items are altered in some way by restyling, upcycling, or repurposing.

Vintage Market

A vintage market is often just another name for a vintage show. Generally this is a one=off event, or a spin off of another larger event. 

Pop-Up Market

A pop-up market or event will look no different than any other market or event. The main difference is the regularity, pop-up markets generally “pop-up” in a new location on a non-regular schedule. You will see some regular events using this title due to its tendy sound, but if the market happens at the same spot on a regular basis it’s not a real “pop-up” market.

Antique Show

These are indoor or outdoor sales featuring items that are at least 100 years old. The items are typically larger, finer, and more expensive than what you would find in a flea market or swap meet. 

Antique Mall

Antique malls are like indoor stores, where different sellers have rented spaces that they are in charge of keeping stocked. Some of these malls take the antique part of their name very seriously and require that a specific portion of the merchandise be at least 100 years old. Others use the term loosely, and sell anything from new handcrafted goods to used modern items to vintage or antique items. Some antique malls require vendors to work at their booths similar to the permanent flea markets, and some have a central checkout location where all items are tagged with an identifiable tag and at the end of the day sales are distributed to the appropriate vendors.

Craft Show

Craft shows can be held indoors or outdoors and fdeature primarily handcrafted items. Some shows will allow a limited number of direct sellers. Each vendor mans their own booth space and handles their own sales. These can be juried or non-juried shows that last from a few hours to a few days, although generally they last for a single day.

Craft Fair

This is another name for a Craft Show and generally follow the same format.

Craft Bazaar 

This is another name for a Craft Show and generally follow the same format. Although I find that these are also like a Vendor Event and include multiple Direct Sales companies and food vendors. 

Vendor Event

This usually means that in addition to the crafters there will be Direct Sellers, local businesses, and food vendors at the event. If you are going to one of these events then you will be selling along side of small companies such as LulaRoe, Tupperware, MaryKay, and Scentsy.  

Farmer’s Market

These are primarily food markets but many of them will allow a select number of handcrafters, artisans, and local businesses. Fresh produce, baked goods, and other food related items are the most prevalent items at the market.

Other Market Types

Artisan Markets

Artisan markets are just like craft shows, but they tend to focus solely on handcrafted items at a higher price point. These can also be juried shows, where crafters must apply to be included in the market.

Barn Sales

Just like the name implies these are sales held in a barn, and are often set up like flea markets, swap meets, and vintage shows.

Indie Markets

Indie markets are just like Artisan Markets. These markets feature products and designs by indie designers and artists. (Indie is a shortened version of independent)

How Do I Know What Type Of Event Is For Me?

Before you start narrowing down events, you need to think about two really important questions:

Who is your ideal client? What kind of event would they be attracted to?

If your ideal client is a busy mom shopping for her kids, then you might not do as well at a vintage or artisan show. But you would be the perfect vendor for an event that has kids activities in addition to shopping. If you sell high end jewelry you are going to find your ideal client at an artisan market or maybe even a bridal themed event. In case you are still struggling with determining your ideal client, check out this blog post for some really good information.

Find a word, phrase, or image that should be in the title or advertising of the event that resonates with you and reflects your ideal client. Then look for those things in the events that you find. Give priority to the events that match your products and your client. Now I’m not saying that this will automatically guarantee that the event will be a huge success for you… but I am saying that it will help, a lot.

Final Thoughts

I’ll be going into more detail on researching potential shows in the next post in my series. If you want to skip ahead you can find it here “You Found A Craft show, Now What?”. Otherwise, keep reading to learn more on finding shows, and a show season break down in my next post “When Is Craft Show Season?”.

Blog Posts In This Series

1 thought on “Craft Show, Craft Fair, Vendor Event… What’s The Difference”

  1. Pingback: Everything You Need To Know About Craft Shows - A Fox in the Fabric

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