Most people think of craft show season as starting in the fall and ending right before Christmas, but that is not entirely accurate. There are craft shows, vendor events, conventions, farmers markets, handmade markets, and vintage fairs all year long. I tend to group my shows by season, and I focus heavily on the fall and winter markets. This is when my ideal clients tend to shop for gifts. And while I know I could do well at summer shows, I just can’t keep up with my website sales and summer shows.
When beginning your search for available shows keep these seasonal trends in mind. It may help you to start with just one or two seasons. This will help give you time to recover between shows and give you time to make adjustments to your plan.
Here is a break down of the shows by season and what I use to plan out my inventory and displays.
For each season in this section you will find:
- Holiday Focus – what holidays or important events are happening during that season
- Product Themes – the kinds of items that I have found tend to do well during that season
- Customer Focus – the things that may be affecting the customers shopping habits as well as some of the product requests that I have had from customers over the years
- Need To Know – quick tips and tricks for that season, including easy ways to decorate your table for the event
- Mother’s Day
- End of the School Year
Spring Cleaning items, spa items, Easter decor, Easter Basket gifts, Seasonal Cards, Personalized graduation gifts, Teacher Thank-you gifts
Customers tend to be looking for unique gifts for spring holidays, they are also looking to save money. I tend to sell lower price point items better at my spring sales, people seem to be recovering from their large spending sprees during the winter and are sticking to their New Year budgets still. The higher priced items that I do sell tend to be gift baskets, I will take some of my smaller items and add them to a decorative basket with one higher price item, this new bundle will be priced slightly lower than the total item cost. Customers really like being able to buy an entire gift in one stop.
Need To Know
These events are often smaller and more intimate, and don’t have nearly the foot traffic the Summer and Winter markets do. You also really have to watch the weather, I have been rained out of numerous shows in the spring (although this may vary by location). These shows may be indoors or outdoors, but due to the rain heavy springs my area tends to have, I avoid outdoor shows during this season.
- 4th Of July
- Father’s Day
- Summer Vacation
- Back To School
- Teacher Appreciation
BBQ, outdoor activities, kids activities, personal pampering, farmers market, travel sized items, summer themes, beach decor, food, party supplies, school supplies, back to school, teacher appreciation gifts
Customers are looking for ways to keep their kids entertained during the summer break. Party supplies are popular this time of year, as well as kids toys. Once again the product bundles and lower priced items seem to sell best for me. My biggest seller on my website in the summer is fruit and veggie themed items as well as back to school items like my giant pencil and apples.
Need To Know
These events are often held in combination with farmers markets, family activities, and festivals. Make sure to do some research into what other activities will be happening in addition to the vendors sales. If all the traffic is being directed away from vendors and towards activities you may not do as well. If the event is focused primarily on tourists, they will most likely be looking for items they can travel with.
You will also be competing with yard sales, so price items reasonably for your area. These are primarily outdoor events, so plan accordingly, I will be doing an entire section on outdoor events and how they may differ in my next post “Indoor Shows VS Outdoor Shows“.
- Back To School
- Christmas (people will be starting to look for this fairly early)
Halloween decor, costumes, fall decor, Thanksgiving decor, small gifts for teachers, classroom decor, Christmas gifts, fall and winter wearables, family themed decor, rustic chic items
Fall is often thought of as the beginning of craft show season, and you can find an event every single weekend. Due to this customers will soon become inundated with similar craft show products and a significant portion of them will be Christmas or holiday themed. I choose not to do holiday themed products, and if I do I market it as an exclusive or limited item so that people will snag it at the beginning of the season and I won’t be stuck with it for another year. I also find that I sell some of my biggest pieces during my fall shows, customers haven’t yet started holiday budgeting and they may have some cash left over from summer vacation so they are willing to splurge on the perfect piece.
Bulk items for parties or teacher gifts are also big sellers and are a great thing to offer bundled pricing on. Fall and Winter clothing is also popular at these shows, things like hats, gloves, mittens, scarves, and socks.
Need To Know
By this time of year most of the shows have moved indoors, this provides a different set of challenges when setting up. You won’t have a tent frame to hang things off of and you may have a smaller space then you would get at an outdoor event.
Shows may also start to have themes, so you will want to have a handful of season decor accents for your booth. I have a box of fall leaves, burlap, and pumpkins that I have acquired over the years from the dollar store or even the clearance section after the holidays. I can quickly add a few fall accents to my normal set-up to match the event theme without having to go overboard with a specific holiday in mind.
Custom orders are also a great thing to offer at the fall shows, because you have an extended deadline to finish the item before any of the major holidays.
- New Years
- Generic Winter Theme
Christmas gifts, winter decor, teacher gifts, gag gifts, christmas cards, generic holiday/winter items, snowmen, classroom decor, winter wearables, new years, party supplies
Customers are generally looking for holiday items by this time of the year, that could be anything from decor to supplies to gifts. Most of my customers are looking for something unique as a gift for a family member or a work friend. Custom orders will be requested, and it is up to you to decide if you can reasonably accept them (I recommend getting a minimum of 50% as a non-refundable deposit for the item, that will weed out the people who are unsure about ordering or who will flake out on you later). Stocking stuffers and holiday decor are also popular this time of year. If you have products that are small or inexpensive as part of your product line you can quickly change up your marketing technique with a sign and maybe a holiday themed gift bag/box and call them stocking stuffers.
Need To Know
It’s Winter, so be prepared to haul your items through bad weather to set up and take down. This is also a great time to wear any wearable items that you may offer, like hats or scarves. As it gets closer to the holiday people are looking for a way to quickly (and cheaply) get all the last minute gifts for all of the people on their list, so be prepared to offer bundle deals and smaller items.
Shows will often have a christmas theme, so you will want to have a handful of seasonal decor accents for your booth. I have a small christmas tree that I hang my crochet ornaments on, but I’ve seen people using stylized trees and even christmas lights on their displays. You could always add a holiday themed table runner. My branding is all orange and brown so I generally don’t do decorations for the winter shows but I will put out a small bowl of mini candy canes on my table.
Custom orders will be on a much tighter deadline, so either limit the number you take or keep a close eye on your time. Also be aware that shipping times will be very long, so order your supplies and business items early on to help avoid running low.
Now that we’ve broken down the show seasons, let’s talk a bit about finding a craft show. Check out my next blog post in this series “How Do I Find A Craft Show?” for more information.
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