8 Tips to Rock Your Next Craft Show
You’re making all sorts of crochet goodies and want to start selling at your local craft market. How do you start?
I just finished a series of posts on preparing for your first craft show. I was inspired by Molly who blogged about her first show last year. I learned so much doing this series here is a few tips to get your started.
image: craft table by normanack on Flickr
1. Choose Your Show Wisely
You don’t want to vend at just any show. You want to choose a show where your target market is. It won’t benefit you to sell at a market where there are no buyers for your product.
You also want to choose a show that is within your marketing budget. Crafts shows can get quite costly with fees, insurance and equipment not to mention inventory.
2. Be Prepared and Plan Ahead
I’ve done a total of two craft shows. I was super green and did not give myself enough time to learn and research my market before jumping in. Take your time and visit prospective shows you’d like to sell at. Ask lots of questions from previous sellers.
Set deadlines for product creation. You want to give yourself plenty of time to create enough high quality pieces. You need to take time to think about branding too. Make sure you include business cards, hangtags, banners, and packaging in your production schedule.
image:Crochet hats by starmist1 on Flickr
3. Make More than You Think You Need
One article I read suggested making twice as much product (value) as you want to earn. This would mean if you want to make $100 then you need to make $200 or more in product.
There is no telling what will sell at any given show especially if it is your first. Think about your target market, what will they buy? Some suggest that dish cloths, baby products, holiday pieces, and character hats sell well. Make a variety of styles in a number of colors to give your customers a choice.
4. Decorate Your Booth with Style
My first booth was a simple round table with a table cloth. I did pick up a couple of corner shelving units at the local department store before the show.
You want to create a booth that is not only inviting but functional for your customer. Use colors that coincide with your branding. Try to keep it simple, less is more. You definitely want a banner. Incorporate crochet into your decorations. i.e. make a crochet banner with your shop name
Display your crochet at multiple levels. You want to catch the eye of customers as they shop no matter how far away they are.
Buy props at your local thrift store to save money. One booth I found repurposed a vintage suitcase by painting it with doily stencils. Inside she displayed her crochet covered pillows.
image: A personal Booth by Orin Zebest on Flickr
5. Smile and Engage Your Customers
No matter how pretty your booth is or how spectacular your pieces are if you sit around on your duff with your face in your yarn working on your latest project you won’t be successful. This isn’t to say you can’t crochet while tending your booth but make sure you make each customer feel like you are there for them 100%. You appreciate them.
Smile and chat with your customers. Find out where they are from and what brought them to the show. If they pick up a piece let them know the story behind the piece. Why did you choose that particular yarn? Was the piece inspired by your child’s favorite television show or sports team?
Not every conversation or customer who visits your booth will end in a sale but practicing the skill of connection will help you in future shows.
6. Make a Lasting Connection
Don’t let your contact go to waste. Even if your customer doesn’t buy something from you make sure that they either connect with you on Facebook or via your newsletter. An easy way to do this is to have your smart phone ready along with the QR code for your page and email list.
Invite each connection you make to fan you or sign up for updates. This will help you build a relationship with them long after the show is over.
image: AnneArchy at the Novi Craft and Gift Extravaganza by anneheathen on Flickr
7. Make Plastic a Priority
No longer are shows strictly cash only events. People want to use their credit cards and debit cards. You are in a time where technology has made merchant accounts easily available to micro businesses. Use the Square or the Paypal payment attachment to accept credit cards.
Be sure to display the fact that you take plastic in prominent places. I interviewed one seller who told me about the time the ATM machine ran out of money. Having her Square available made it so customers continued shopping with her.
8. Price Your Work for Profit
Please don’t undersell yourself. Yes, you can do shows for networking but that doesn’t mean you need to giveaway or undervalue your work. Sure you want to break even but plan for that before the show. What does it cost you to make your item? Pay yourself and add a profit on top of that even if it’s just one dollar.
Don’t forget to charge sales tax if your state or province requires you to collect it. You can calculate at the time of purchase or add it into the list price. Depending on the show you choose to vend at you might want to give yourself a bit of padding. For instance, if you want to make your wholesale price your profit, price your products at retail to give some wiggle or haggling room to give on the spot discounts. For more on pricing I recommend Sedruola Maruska’s book “Pricing Crochet Fairly For Maximum Profit” available on Kindle.
Doing research, asking questions and preparing ahead of time will help you choose the right craft show for you and your business.
Have you done a craft show? What was your experience?
Sara Duggan loves crochet and writing. She joined the crochet blogging community in 2007 as Momwithahook. In 2008 she toyed with designing patterns and shares her creations on Squidoo. Find more crochet business tips and resources at http://crochetbusiness.com.