Finding a craft show can be quite the task, and once you find one you have to decide if it will be worth the time and cost for you to participate. How do you narrow down your list of possible shows? How do you create a list of events in the first place? What questions should you ask the event organizer?
Let’s take a couple minutes to go over a few things you may need to know in order to find and book the right event for you.
Where Can I Find Shows?
These days craft shows are becoming more and more plentiful, which means they should be easier to find. In some areas, this is the case, and in other towns you may not be able to find any shows. Over the years I’ve gotten a bit more choosy about the shows I sign up for. I used to do upwards of 40 shows in a year (which was beyond crazy). Most of which were in the fall and winter. Now I try and do no more than 20 scattered throughout the year, most of which I have been invited to by the organizer. This is a great position to be in, I get to spend less time searching for somewhere to sell and more time creating and blogging.
In the beginning I worked really hard searching for shows, and you probably will too. Once you start digging you’ll find a ton of different events. Let’s take a look at where you can start looking for events.
Let’s take a closer look at each of these methods
Some event organizers are still using ads in local newspapers to advertise upcoming shows. Generally they will include the event information as well as contact information. I know making phones calls to event organizers may not be your most favorite way to spend the day, but it can be well worth it. Especially since some organizers will be hosting multiple events and will offer discounts for signing up for multiple shows with them.
I have found a ton of events through Facebook and Twitter over the years, and even a couple on Instagram. Most cities have at least one local event networking group and a couple buy/sell/trade groups that you can join. There are also quite a few nationwide networking groups for vendors of all kinds. I am personally part of at least a dozen networking groups for my business. It’s a great way to keep up on the trends and events that are happening in real time.
A quick search using Google for “craft shows near me” brings up pages of websites devoted to craft shows and vendor events.
Here are a couple that I have used in the past;
This is probably the method that I use the least, because most of my local shows are not listed on these sorts of sites (yay for small towns!) and because I don’t generally like to travel very far for an event.
Local radio stations will often do an event round up section of the news which will feature upcoming events. Some event organizers will also run radio ads as the event gets closer. They may or may not have contact info in the ad but some stations will have additional information and links on their website.
Some of the larger shows will use television advertising for their event, and will have additional info linked to the stations website. If the event is being held at a community event center, they may also run some TV ads. In my hometown, small businesses and craft shows will buy ad time at the movie theater. These ads play before the official movie ads begin.
Take a quick look around your town, especially in high traffic areas, and I will bet that you will see at least a few signs advertising community events. If your town has a community or civic center, check out the reader board, you may be able to find event info there.
Word of Mouth
I hear about tons of events from my vendor friends and from event organizers that I’ve had an event with in the past. Do not underestimate the power of word of mouth recommendations. Check local networking groups, small business associations, mommy groups, and church groups.
Most of the shows in my area are fundraisers of some sort, and a large percentage of those are held by churches. If you happen to attend a church, then check in with whoever is in charge of your events and see if they have a craft show on the calendar. If they don’t, maybe you should start one… Most churches will have some sort of bulletin board or reader board that will have a calendar of events. Plus several churches now have social media pages or websites with event lists, so make sure to check those as well.
Don’t panic if you haven’t been able to fill your calendar in advance. I try and leave at least a few weekends free. This allows me to network with the other vendors and see where they are headed on my empty weekends. Most of them will be on a regular schedule, hitting the same shows every year. If that is the case, you can gather some really good information about the upcoming event from an expert before taking the risk to sign up. Also some shows are part of a series of events, so you can learn about the rest of the series and sign up on the spot.
Your town probably has at least one community or event center, and there are probably a few more in towns that are fairly close to you. Check out their websites for an event calendar, there should be info on the craft shows listed. If not, you can always reach out and request the contact info of the organizer.
If you are at a show and you like they way it was set up, run, or advertised talk to the event organizer. Many event organizers will host more than one event and will be more than happy to have repeat vendors. Ask them if they have a vendor list that they reach out to every year, and then get on the list. Be positive at the event, offer to help, make a good impression and they are more likely to reach out with information on future events. On more than one occasion I have had a past organizer contact me and recommend me to a show that a different organizer is hosting.
I have noticed that PTA’s are starting to organize craft shows and vendor events as fundraisers for local schools and clubs. Check in with the local schools and school groups to see if they are hosting any events. If they aren’t maybe offer to help them organize one. Generally they will use the booth fee as the fundraising money, or in some cases they have the vendors donate items for raffles and that will be the fundraising money. I love these kinds of events, because they draw a larger crowd who just want to support the community. Plus many of the people participating as vendors will be looking to shop during the event.
Many of these local businesses will help advertise local events by posting signs and event calendars in their businesses. In some cases they will also be involved with organizing the local events. I have a small display of items set up at a local dry cleaners. They allow me to hang signs advertising local events and craft shows near the display.
This should give you a really good head start on your search for a craft show or vendor event. In the next post in this series we will go over what you should look for in an event and what questions you should ask the organizer before signing up for the show.
Where else have you found events? Have any tips or tricks to share? Leave them in the comments section below!
Once you’ve found a craft show, check out the next post in my series ” You Found A Craft Show, Now What?“.
Blog Posts In This Series
- Everything You Need To Know About Craft Shows
- Craft Show, Craft Fair, Vendor Event… What’s The Difference
- When Is Craft Show Season?
- How Do I Find A Craft Show?
- You Found A Craft Show, Now What?
- Indoor Shows VS Outdoor Shows
- Promoting The Show
- Prepping For Your Craft Show
- Things To Bring To A Craft Show
- Inventory, Pricing, and Custom Orders At Craft Shows
- Craft Show Set-Up and Displays
- How To Act At A Craft Show
- Going It Alone, Why Bringing A Friend To Your Craft Show Is Better
- After The Craft Show