THE (VERY) BASICS:
- FOLDING TABLES I started out with two 4’ tables.
- A TENT OR CANOPY. Spring for the removable walls, too. You’ll be glad you did. PS: Set your tent up at least once in your back yard before you go to the show.
- WEIGHTS FOR YOUR TENT: we’ve used gallon-sized jugs of water. Just be careful that they don’t leak!
- YOUR HANDMADE CRAFT, of course!
- VINYL BANNER with your company name on it.
- FOLDING STOOLS. You’ll sell more if you don’t sit down. Folding stools are a nice compromise for those all-day shows.
IN CASE OF EMERGENCIES KIT:
- DUCT TAPE, ZIP TIES AND SAFETY PINS
- BINDER CLIPS, T-PINS, BUNGEE CORDS & ROPE OR TWINE also come in handy.
- A MULTI-TOOL such as a Leatherman or Swiss-Army Knife (Or Scissors, Pliers and Screw Driver at the very least.)
- ASPIRIN (or whatever you normally take for head aches)
- SMALL TOOL/REPAIR KIT that pertains to your craft. Whatever you’d need to make minor repairs to your handmade items while you’re at the show. (A small sewing kit, or your needled nosed jewelry pliers, for instance.) You never know what’ll happen in transit.
TAKING CARE OF YOURSELF:
- SUN BLOCK AND BUG SPRAY
- SUNGLASSES – you’ll sell more if you can make eye contact, so avoid mirrored glasses.
- WATER & SNACKS. If you’ve gotta be there all day, make sure you’ve got enough food to keep you energized. Avoid too much caffeine or sugar, which will cause a crash.
- BREATH MINTS
- APRON WITH POCKETS will help you stay organized.
TAKING CARE OF YOUR CUSTOMERS:
- CASH TO MAKE CHANGE. I like to have AT LEAST $20 in ones and $20 in fives. Your first customer may not have exact change.
- CREDIT CARD READER and Accessories. You may also want a sign that says that you accept Credit Cards.
- METAL CASH BOX to store all of the above.
- CALCULATOR can come in handy.
- BAGS/BOXES to put your handmade items into after they’re sold. Kraft Paper lunch sacks are widely available and affordable if you’re just getting started and have a small product. If what you make is fragile, you’ll want tissue paper or other packing material as well.
- BUSINESS CARDS or other small giveaways with your name (or your business name) and the web address to your blog and/or Etsy shop.
DISPLAYING YOUR HANDMADE GOODS:
- TABLE CLOTHS. Use thrifted bed sheets to save money, or buy fabric by the yard.
- PRICE SIGNS. People feel shy/awkward about asking how much something costs. They’re more likely to buy if they don’t have to ask how much it costs.
- MIRROR if you sell accessories, don’t skip this!
- LINT ROLLER
- SUITCASES OR WOODEN CRATES. All of my displays double as carrying cases. I carry all of my products to the show in the suit cases, then use them as the base for my displays after unpacking. The wooden crates get turned on their side to become modular shelves.
As you’ll see from the rest of these photos, I do a lot with displays, and it makes a big difference in sales. Even though my set-up looks complicated, it’s a mish-mash of modular crates, wooden boxes and fold-up displays, all of which has been sourced from various Thrift Stores over the years. My set-up changes slightly every show, and it evolves as I get new products or new displays.
I’m a visual person, so I’ve learned to set up my booth at home before going to a show. I’ve done it in a spare bedroom, out in the backyard/alley, and even in the middle of my living room when there was no other available space. Not only do I get a practice-run of setting up the table, but I can see what I’m forgetting or what I don’t have enough of.
OTHER CRAFT SHOW TIPS AND TRICKS
- BE FRIENDLY… It seems obvious, but talking to people will help you sell more. Don’t be shy. People have attended this show because they like to meet the artists and buy handmade goods. They may also be artists themselves.
- …BUT DON’T BE PUSHY. A simple “Hi! How are you folks today?” will get things started. After niceties are exchanged I typically say something along the lines of, “Just let me know if you have any questions at all.” and then just let people do their thing.
- KNOW YOUR PRODUCTS. An “elevator pitch” is a short but sweet (think two or three sentences) explanation of a product or idea. Develop a pitch for each type of product you have, so you’re not fumbling for words when someone asks questions.