Everything You Need To Know About Craft Shows

One of the most common questions crafters, direct sellers, and small business owners face is “Should I be doing a craft show?”. If you have ever contemplated doing an event you probably also had a ton of follow up questions, questions like;

  • How do I know if a craft show or vendor event is the right move for my business? 
  • What’s the difference between types of events? 
  • What should I look for in an event? 
  • When is event season? 
  • Where do I find events? 
  • I’ve booked a show, what do I bring?!

I’ve been there, I was so confused about the different kinds of events and what I should make and bring. Over the last five years I’ve kept notes on all of the events I have attended and now I’ve distilled my notebook of scribbles into some really good tips and tricks.

In this blog post series I will be doing my absolute best to answer all of those questions. Plus a few more you didn’t even know you should be asking.

While I recommend reading the posts in this series in order, I understand that some of you have been doing this for a while, and not all the information I am about to present is relevant to you. Feel free to skip around and read the topics that are most important to you. To help you navigate all of the posts in this series, here is a topic list with links to the matching article. 

What To Expect In This Series

Here is a quick breakdown of the material covered in each post of this series. I’ll be including an abbreviated version of this list at the end of each post to help you navigate.

  • Everything You Need To Know About Craft Shows
    • A quick explanation of what is covered in this blog post series as well as an explanation of why doing a craft show could be beneficial for your business.
  • Craft Show, Craft Fair, Vendor Event… What’s The Difference?
    • Largely focusing on definitions of terms you will come across when looking for events. Including juried shows, vendor event, craft show, vintage market, swap meet, and artisan markets. I also help you decide which type of event is the best fit for you.
  • When Is Craft Show Season?
    • I break down craft show into four seasons and explain what holidays to focus on, that customers are looking for, and what you should be keeping in mind for each season.
  • How Do I Find A Craft Show?
    • Where can I start looking for shows in my area?
  • You Found A Craft Show, Now What?
    • In this post I cover the questions you should be asking organizers, and what to consider before applying for the show. I also discuss things you need to take into account when traveling a longer distance for an event.
  • Indoor Shows VS Outdoor Shows
    • Outdoor shows can seem scary, but in this post we will break down typical weather conditions and how to plan for them. Plus questions you should ask the organizer and emergency plans you should have in place.
  • Promoting The Show
    • You’ve booked your show (yay!) but now you need to start advertising. In this post we talk about what the organizers should be doing, when you should be promoting the event, and what you should promote.
  • Prepping For Your Craft Show
    • What should you be doing to get ready and more importantly when should you be doing it?
  • Things To Bring To A Craft Show
    • A list of items I’ve found useful at shows.
  • Inventory, Pricing, and Custom Orders At Craft Shows
    • In this one we talk about how much inventory you should bring, how to price your items, and your plan for taking (or not taking) custom orders at shows.
  • Craft Show Set-Up and Displays
    • Tips and tricks to help your booth stand out at a craft show.
  • How To Act At A Craft Show
    • First impressions are very important, so in this post I go over the basics of your appearance, interacting with other vendors, and interacting with your customers.
  • Going It Alone, Why Bringing A Friend To Your Craft Show Is Better
    • Best practices for bringing a friend to help including, their knowledge, appearance, and duties.
  • After The Craft Show
    • Packing up your inventory, restocking, and evaluating the success of your event.

Why Do A Craft Show or Vendor Event?

Craft shows can present you with a great opportunity to generate income for your business, but they are also a bit of a risk since no one can guarantee you a sale. I do not recommend doing a show with the sole goal being to sell a ton of items and make a bunch of money. Participating in local shows allows you to network with other small business owners and help get your name out to people in your area. This may not lead to immediate sales, but it can lead to opportunities for collaboration or sales later on. If your ultimate goal is to open a brick and mortar store then building a local following and creating a buzz around your brand is important, this is where your craft show focus should be.

In person events also allow you to observe the current market trends in real time. You may have created an item that you absolutely love, but its not selling on your website. Bring it to a show and watch how customers interact with it. What questions do they ask you? Do they try and hagle with you on the price? Do they ask for a different size or color variation? This could give you really good feedback on your products and potentially an entirely new product line.

Giant Bananas
These fun bananas were 100% inspired by my customers. You can see them here.

Another benefit to doing a vendor event or crafts how is for generating new ideas. I often get custom requests from customers and fellow vendors at shows. Many of them have become permanent parts of my product line. These are designs that I would not have been able to come up with on my own. As crafters we tend to get so focused on our style and techniques that we forget to look around and learn something new.

Like these bananas, originally I made the standard size banana as kind of a joke… and customers loved them. They immediately asked for more sizes and these new sizes are even more popular than the original. I would never have come up with this without the help of my customers.

pokeballs

I am a stay at home mom, which means that I don’t get many opportunities to go out and interact with people more my age. Now don’t get me wrong, I love my kids and I love my family, but I need social interaction. Doing an event can help provide that for me. Some of my closest friends right now I met at craft shows, and they have become some of my most vocal supporters.

These pokeballs were a design specifically for a comic book shop that I met through networking at events. You can find the comic book shop here and the pokeballs here if you want more information on either.

The final reason I like to do shows is seeing people’s faces when they see my products. Most of what I make is very whimsical and fun. How often do you come across giant fuzzy fruits and vegetables? I love being able to see the joy my items bring to people of all ages. It is the entire reason I started selling in the first place. I often struggle with my “why” and my motivation to keep going with my business. After I do an event I find that seeing the joy my items bring to people gives me the energy boost that I need to get through the tough times and push past my temporary uncertainty.

Final Thoughts

The next post in my series covers the different terminology you may come across when looking for craft shows. You can find it here or by using the navigation list that will be at the end of each blog post in this series.

I’d love to answer your questions or hear your feedback, so feel free to comment. If I have missed anything please let me know so I can add it to the series, and if you have a picture of your set up or a story that you feel would help someone else please feel free to share it here.

Blog Posts In This Series

Leave a Comment

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Scroll to Top