Taking Payments At A Craft Show

You’ve done all the hard work finding and booking the craft show and now you are in the important prep phase of the show. You have all your inventory finished and priced and you are gathering all the things you need to take with you. Congrats! Making it this far is an impressive amount of work. 

During all of your prep work I’m sure the thought of taking payments at the show has crossed your mind. So let’s talk a little bit more about that. In my post called Things To Bring To A Craft Show I quickly mentioned bringing a cash box and a Square card reader. But how should you set up your craft show cash box?

Setting Up Your Craft Show Cash Box

One of the most frequent questions I see being asked in crafting and vendor groups is “what change should I bring?”. The answer is going to vary a little bit from person to person. I’ll break down my standard cash box set up so you have a starting point.

What To Use

Setting Up Your Cash Box

I have the basic 2 tier cash box from Sentry Safe, you can get it for $20 at Walmart. It’s the perfect size for my needs and comes with a set of keys so that it locks. It has 4 spaces for cash and a half tier on the tops for coins. Since most of my items are over $1 I use the coin spaces for safety pins, price tags I’ve removed, stickers to give away to kids, and a couple spare hair ties. There is also room in the bottom for a pair of scissors and a couple pens. 

If you don’t want to use a cash box you can use an apron, fanny pak, or money belt. I’ve even seen people using bank bags and other similar zipper pouches. The biggest problem I have experienced using one of those methods is the lack of organization. This becomes especially apparent when you are busy. I do caution you from using your purse or wallet during a show to make change. It can look unprofessional to customers and may give the wrong impression to new customers.

No matter what cash storage method you choose you use, I would recommend bringing a spare bag for overflow storage. Sometimes at an event I will get more of one kind of bill than I usually get. And it makes things hard to find in the csh box. When I have time, or if I have a helper around, I will count and band some of the overflow bills and move them into the extra bag. That way my cash box remains at a reasonable degree of chaos.

Change To Bring

Change In Your Cash Box

Cash wise I always start with $200 for the day, split between twenties, tens, fives, and ones. Since I have packs of shaped crayons for 50¢I may add an extra dollar or two of quarters. You will want to evaluate your price points when deciding your starting amount for each type of bill. I generally see people paying with $20 bills, and since many of my items are $15 I bring extra $5 bills. If most of your items are $6, you will need more $1 bills to give change with. My craft show cash box is broken down like this: 

  • $80 in twenties
  • $60 in tens
  • $40 in fives
  • $20 in ones

By resetting my craft show cash box at the end of each event I can easily keep tabs on my daily cash sales. Then I can compare them to the sales list I keep in my notebook. This lets me stay organized between events.

Accepting Checks

I do not advertise that I accept checks at events, because I prefer to take cash or card. Most of my items are $20 or less, so I don’t generally have people spending more than they carry in cash. I also sell items geared towards kids, so I do have a significant number or grandparents who shop at my table. The times I have been asked if I accept checks have been from older individuals buying a few small items. I have never been the victim of check fraud, but it is a risk that you need to be aware of. In the instances that I have taken a check I make sure to gather some extra information from the customer, including their contact information. I also use my mobile banking app to deposit the check immediately, and I let the customer know that is what I am doing. By letting the customer know you are protecting yourself and their info you can help reduce the risk to yourself. Ultimately you are the only person who can determine the acceptable risks for your business.

Other Forms Of Payment

It is becoming more and more common for customers to expect vendors to accept credit/debit cards at events. In some cases vendors will miss out on a sale altogether if they don’t have a way to accept alternate payment forms. I personally use Square when I am at events, but I have on occasion used PayPal.

What Is Square?

Square offers a wide range of services for small businesses, but I want to focus on their payment processing devices. I use their Contactless Chip Reader when I am at shows. I simply connect it via Bluetooth to my phone and using their app I can accept credit/debit card payments. This particular model costs $49, but with the prevalence of chips cards it is worth it. There is a smaller version that only accepts swiped cards that is free that can be a good starting point if you are unsure you need a credit card processing device. The Chip Reader version I use also accepts tap to pay cards (NFC), Apple Pay, and Google Pay. I have included links to the different types of devices so you can compare and see the detailed fee chart. The fees are minimal and you can earn free processing by using this referral link if you choose to get a Square.

The only downside I have found to this method is if you have connectivity issues. There have been a couple events where the building prevented my phone from connecting to the mobile network and accepting card payments. In those cases I either walked outside or near a window and was able to complete the sale. I have never had a customer upset about the situation, they tend to have a laugh about it if you explain the situation to them.


Paypal offers a similar device to the Square for on the go payment processing. You can find the product details, cost, and fees here. I am not as familiar with this particular device but I know it works pretty much the same way the Square device does.

I have, in the past, allowed customers to send me a payment at the show through PayPal. Just make sure to take a quick picture of the customer with their items so that if they dispute the charge later you both have evidence it happened. In those cases I used my receipt paper to write out a receipt and wrote in the paypal payment information and had the customer sign it. We each kept a copy. You can also send an invoice to the customer and have them pay it while they are in your booth. I don’t use these methods in person very often since I got my Square, but it’s worth having a PayPal account just for business purposes. For more information on accepting payments through PayPal I have included this link to their website.


Taking Payments At A Craft Show - Receipts

As I mentioned earlier, I do have a receipt paper pad that I bring in my craft show go-bag.I picked mine up at Walmart but I know they also have them at the Dollar Tree. I made sure to get one that has the carbon paper, so that when I write a receipt for the customer I can keep a copy as well. I don’t often get asked for receipts, so if you don’t want to carry one, you should be fine. If you anticipate doing a lot of credit card sales and giving a lot of paper receipts you should look into the Square Terminal, it’s slightly larger than the Contactless Chip Reader, but is still small enough to be portable. 

If you are doing a credit card sale through Square or Paypal, make sure you log into your account and set up the look of the automatically generated digital receipts. You can customize the colors, images, messages, and included info on your receipt. It’s a perfect was to reinforce your brand and have a link to your online store or website.

Advertising Your Accepted Payment Types

Not all customers are comfortable asking you what payment types you accept. When setting up your table display, make sure to include a sign for accepted payment types. If you buy one of the larger Square devices you will receive a small Square logo sticker. You can use that but not all customers know what that means. I recently invested in a customized sign that I can print out and frame. It matches my branding and outlines exactly what payment types I accept. You can find some really gorgeous templates by The Hooking Reader there is even a listing  for a completely customized payment sign. Which is the one I recommend, because it helps reinforce your brand and keeps your table display cohesive.

Final Thoughts

I hope this answered some of your questions about accepting payments at a craft show. I’ll be covering deposit payments for custom orders in a different post. Below you will find the links for the rest of the posts in this series. 

If you have any additional questions, or if you would like to add to something I covered feel free to reach out to me though the comments below or my Contact Me page. I’d love to hear your experiences with your craft shows!

Blog Posts In This Series

Leave a Comment

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Scroll to Top