This contributor post is written by Erika of Midwest Family Life.
Hi! It’s Erika from Midwest Family Life again to talk about selling at craft fairs. If you didn’t catch Part 1, you can click here to read about the top five things you need to know before you start selling.
This second part will dive more into what I’ve learned from doing craft fairs and some personal tips for success.
What I learned from doing craft fairs.
I was super excited about craft fairs when I started my business. Personally, I could walk around them all day long, especially the really great ones we have outdoors in autumn. I’m a people person and also enjoyed designing my booth space. Each time I set up and took down my booth it got a little better, a little faster. Having done so many fairs in one year I got a little burned out and will be backing away from doing them. Trying to balance family and work can be challenging. When I do a craft fair, I’m gone from almost 7am-6pm which means my hubby is home with all three girls. In general, the profit (after time and expense) ended up not being worth it to me.
Five tips to keep you headed in the right direction.
1. Really make sure you are going to a fair that hits your target market, otherwise you’ll have wasted your time and money– big time. This is the main reason I’m personally backing away. I’m realizing that my product isn’t meant for craft fairs. In general, folks are looking for a deal and that’s not me or my products. If you are paying $40 or less for the booth rental, you probably don’t have a high-paying crowd. Get a feel for the city you will be selling in and talk to the person in charge of running the craft fair. Ask questions about attendance and get a copy of the past vendor list. Was it mostly direct sale vendors or were there a lot of crafty folks selling? Really try your best to know that customer. The one fair I did really well at was a Fall Fest, cost $150/booth and had 300 vendor booths and an attendance of over 90,000 people. Big difference, right?
2. You really need to accept credit cards. There are so many missed opportunities if you don’t do this. Sure there is a fee per sale, but it’s worth it! Square.com and PayPal both have free readers. Many big banks have their own as well. Practice with your smart phone, you need to have Internet access in order to use it. Inputting the numbers by hand carries a larger fee. Additionally, make sure you have a sign displayed in your booth that states what you accept. Customers don’t want to ask.
3. Make sure you have a lot of product for people to choose from and expect them to touch it all. I’ve played around a lot with packaging or no packaging and displaying my items. Each item will be different so make sure you research what will work for you. Put a clear pricing sheet out, I stick mine in a picture frame, or better yet, have pricing on each item. Again, customers don’t want to ask you what it costs, it makes them feel uncomfortable.
4. Set up will take you longer than you think, especially if you are putting up a tent. It’s stressful to be rushing. Give yourself lots of extra time and know where you are going. Look at directions ahead of time. Most of the big 10×10′ tents take at least two people to set up. Ask for help if you need it.
5. Look like a legit business. Hang your banner or signage where people can see it. Have your business cards out, have bags for people to take their product home in and be organized. Be a brand, think about little things like matching table cloths and not having the legs of your table show. A little goes a long way. If you want to BE a business, act like one.
This is the information I can offer you right now. After a year of various fairs I’ve decided that they aren’t for my business. I’m going to focus on wholesale and direct selling. I still love fairs and fests and regularly attend them but selling at them won’t be at the top of my list. It’s just too much time commitment for not enough payout. But maybe your product is perfect for craft fairs! Give it a good effort, follow the tips above, really research your market, design a great booth and you’ll probably have awesome success.
Good luck and remember to have fun! After all, you started this business because of your passion. Live it and love it.