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I'm Taryn! I’m a Creative Business Coach and the straight shooter Business BFF you need in your corner. Read more about me
During the weeks leading up to a craft fair you start thinking of all the things that you need to have prepared to make it successful and increase those craft fair sales. After all, you’ve committed your schedule, paid a vendor fee, and created some of your best product to debut. You’re thinking about getting everything packed up in the car, how you’ll set up your booth, posting about it on social media and even getting cash out so you’ll have change for customers.
You want to be making sales at the craft fair AND gaining customers while having an awesome time sharing your passion and product with people. So, naturally you don’t want anything to sabotage that!
Here are 5 simple things that can get in the way of having a successful craft fair experience.
Customers are walking through to see all of the different vendors, hopping from booth to booth to pick up a painting or examine a necklace. And all the while, what are you doing as the seller? Are you on your phone, checking Instagram? Are you sitting at your table, day dreaming about what to order from the taco truck that just showed up? Maybe you showed up a little later than expected and your sorting through price tags and hanging up product? Well, I hate to say it but the two women who walked into your space to look at your stuff left before you even said hello. One of my biggest pet peeves at any fair or market is not being greeted or interacted with by the small business owner. Remember, you don’t have to be Miss Social Butterfly but a simple “hello” and “how are you” can go a long way to make someone feel welcome in your booth.
When you are selling at a fair there is a lot going on and different things fighting for your attention. You could have a customer strike up a conversation with you that takes you away from the rest of your patrons for a little too long. There could be the dreaded “fallen display” situation that needs your immediate attention. Maybe sales are going great and you can’t seem to catch a breathe while swiping that Square reader. Try to just take a moment to acknowledge people to let them know you will get to them shortly and encourage them to look around. Doing this does two things. First, it shows them you care, makes them feel welcome and reminds them that you want them there. Second, well, it lets them know that you see them. Like, literally see them. It’s sad but true, craft fairs aren’t an exception to shoplifters.(Swiper no swiping!)
Your booth looks great and your product is on point, but things are looking a little barren. Every seller should have the dimensions of their selling space provided to them by the event host ahead of time and have a good idea of their tables and stands so planning ahead for how to fill it is important. A lot of sellers forget that even if you have a plan on how you want your product to be displayed you have to think about the empty spaces that will occur as things get sold. (That’s the goal, remember? You want product flying off the shelves!)
A good plan here is to have extra inventory hiding out of site ready to refill as items are being sold throughout the day. A great investment are some of those large Rubbermaid containers that can fit easily under your tables and be hidden by a tablecloth. This way you can put out new items . If you start running out of inventory and notice a lot of empty space within your booth, just move things around a bit. This is a great strategy in itself, just to make your space look a little fresh and new each time customers walk by throughout the fair.
Another side of things here to look out for is not having a surplus of items to sell on hand. Many people come to craft fairs to purchase gifts for friends or family and we all know that one girl who loves to buy their friends matching presents! Having duplicates of a product is always a good idea, unless of course you sell one-of-a-kind artwork etc. I’ll tell you from experience, one of the saddest feelings is having a customer willing to buy multiples of something only to tell them you don’t have any left. It’s enough to make you see dollar bills vanish before your eyes.
OK, ok- wait a minute. Didn’t she tell me that having not enough is the problem? Yes, you’re right! But hear me out. Having too much inventory can also kill your sales for a few different reasons. Just picture that one family member who has a million figurines, plants, picture frames and God knows what else all over their living room that when you walk in you can barely find place to sit down or set your coffee mug down? Yup, same idea here. Having a booth with a surplus of inventory taking up space can be distracting for the customer and can take away from your product’s appearance and worth. Think of a high end boutique and what sets it a part from other stores. When you walk in, you can see all the product but it’s merchandised in such a way where there is negative space between items and product is arranged to create interest and feels inviting.
There is also the change of having customers knock something over or damage your work if there is too much crowding or stacking happening. I suggest really thinking about how you want your brand’s appearance to look and then once you have everything set up, take a step outside your booth and walk in as if you were a customer coming in to shop. Approaching the different sides of your space and even reaching for things on display may help you decide if something needs to be shifted to make for a cleaner appearance or easier reach.
Your booth is merchandised beautifully with your products visible for the world to see but what happens when someone come into your booth and picks up an item that they are interested in? Typically, they’ll look for the price tag or a pricing list. So, what happens when they can’t find one? Sometimes you get lucky and you have customers who will ask you how much you’re selling your items for but sometimes you get someone who isn’t really feeling like putting in the extra minute of effort to make a purchase. So you they will put it back, walk away, and there goes money in your pocket. Its’ sad, but it’s true. Some people make assumptions when they don’t see a price listed especially when dealing with handmade items or artwork. They may think it’s going to be out of their price range or that they have to make an offer, both of which can turn them away.
You want to make sure that customers can shop within your and clearly identify how much your product cost. You can do this in a variety of ways and it doesn’t have to be fancy. Just easy to find and legible! There are price tags, stickers, chalkboard signs, dry erase boards- you name it. Find what works for you and be sure to keep it consistent and easily visible for shoppers.
I think being a jack of all trades is a compliment when talking about a creative, but when it comes to having a brand or product based business it’s good to know what you want to be known for. When someone walks into your booth can they tell what kind of business you are within the first 5 seconds? Do they get a vibe for the kind of aesthetic you have or can see that you’re a holistic beauty product business or that you primarily sell eclectic baby goods? Or are you a little all over the place selling a mix of products that don’t really fall under a common product category or theme? Am example of this would be someone who sells dog leashes and accessories but also has handmade soaps on one of their tables for sale. See the disconnect? The same can be said for the seller who has half their selling space set up in white and pink with really high end acrylic display shelves but then tosses some of their product in some random rustic farm tins they had lying around. You want to tell a consistent story with your visuals and your product.
When you’re setting up shop and planning out your product be sure to spend some time thinking about what message you want customers walking by to take away? Who are you trying to invite in to shop? How you set up and the kinds of things you sell will prove to be an invitation to passersby or a “keep walking” sign. You want to be sure your ideal client is seeing it as an invitation! Don’t try to be all things to all people!
So of course none of us are guilty of any of these things. *wink wink* But just in case, maybe take a moment to think about your last craft fair experiences as a seller and reflect on things that you could improve on. After all, that’s a huge part of being a business owner! We should always want to learn from each experience and improve. If you are just gearing up for your first time as a vendor, I encourage you to look at the five things we just talked about and think of opportunities to keep yourself in check.
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This is good stuff! Especially since I’m at the point where I find myself trying to decide if markets/fairs will be a good fit for my brand and the customers I am aiming for. I have currently been attending these fairs for that reason- to get the inside scoop. Awesome post.
You are moving forward with such amazing things my friend! Once you find the best market to try as a first go for your business you will learn so much. Being in person with customers is always beneficial event if the sales portion doesn’t come out the strongest for an individual market.Just holding small conversations with people as they shop your booth is free market research. You have a huge opportunity to engage with them and ask questions etc. I would love to hear if you sign up and how it goes. If you are looking around at which one is right for you check out another post I did recently to help you decide. https://onecraftymiss.com/5-questions-to-ask-before-signing-up-for-a-craft-show-or-flea-market/
Location is everything, but not necessarily the venue. In Ohio, craft shows lack the attention, because everyone builds. We’re all mechanically inclined. But it’s expensive to haul all our goods to the big city, where it’s more appreciated. A quality dinner table table may weigh 300+ pounds, costing $700, far too heavy to transport in a small city car. And who can navigate a moving van through city streets, if I agreed to deliver. Crafts shouldn’t be confused with fine furniture, made from real wood. Most buyers are oblivious when it comes to quality. That’s why I don’t attend craft shows. I cut and dry my own lumber. Many of us have to compete with the Amish, who are master builders in their own wright. Quality is paramount. So what is a craft show anyway, if it’s just a distraction or tourist trap?