When it comes to selling handmade, you need multiple ways to
get your name out there and sell your goods. Craft shows are one piece of that
puzzle. They allow you to test your products, meet local customers and make a
lot of sales in a short period or time. There are so many great craft shows and
markets out there but they’re also getting more competitive. It’s not enough to
just apply and show up with a handful of products; you need to be sure you’re
putting effort into your application & booth display and practicing your selling techniques.
We asked 4 event organizers who put on amazing shows in B.C,
Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario to give us some advice on applying, setting
up, selling and proper etiquette at a show. Check out these 4 market’s bios and
read their advice below.
(formerly the Kelowna Christmas Show) produces 2 shows annually in beautiful
and sunny Kelowna, BC. We are a juried craft fair, featuring talented
crafters and artisans from all over Western Canada . Our events are the
biggest of their kind in Kelowna, always resulting in big crowds and happy
DATE OF YOUR
NEXT EVENT: May 2-3, 2015
at the Kelowna Curling Club, Kelowna BC
THE VIXENS OF VINTAGE
The Vixens of
Vintage Markets are held 3 times a year in Calgary and 3 times a year in
Edmonton. Spring, Summer and Holiday versions. These Markets are filled
with vintage and vintage inspired products. Shabby Chic, farmhouse and rustic
styles from local artisans and shop owners.
DATE OF YOUR NEXT
EVENT: Edmonton Spring Fling Market April 4th and Calgary Spring Fling Market April
FLOCK & GATHER
FLOCK & GATHER craft collective is a non-profit organization that hosts
semi annual handmade markets in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. The collective
consists of six members, Amy Smith of Three Leaf Designs, Ashley Merkle of
Clair Ashley Jewelry, Bonnie Thiessen of Mimi and Lala, Mike Zimmer of Uncle
Mike’s Natural, Natasha Just of Just Sewing, and Ricki Skoretz of Hiddenstitch.
We aim to bring together a community of people that support handmade artisans.
We are committed to presenting a diverse selection of finely crafted handmade
items. Each juried market presents a changing list of both local and regional
DATE OF YOUR NEXT EVENT: The FLOCK & GATHER Springtime
Handmade Market is May 8 & 9, 2015 in Saskatoon, SK
SPRING FINDS & ONE-OF-A-KINDS
& One-of-a-Kinds is an exclusively handmade craft market where shoppers can
expect to find unique items from a variety of talented and local
artisans. Light refreshments and a popular local food truck will be
available and our grand prize basket raffle will benefit a local women’s
DATE OF YOUR
NEXT EVENT: Spring Finds & One-of-a-Kinds is on April 18th, 2015 in Ancaster, ON
AVOID WHEN APPLYING
What gets an
application immediately tossed out of your pile?
Craft Culture: I’ll admit, I’m a big softie… I
rarely toss an application out without a bit of follow up first. However,
preference is definitely given to vendors who complete the application properly
with good photos and a detailed description of their products. It seems simple,
but you’d be surprised at the amount of applications that are submitted with
zero information. Not only is it impossible to assess the vendor properly
to see if they are the right fit for the show, it also shows a lack of effort
and an inability to follow directions. Professional photos and active Social
Media accounts go a long way too! Good photos shows us organizers that you are
serious about your job, and being active on social media means you can do your
part in advertising the event and getting the word out there to your followers.
Vixens of Vintage: I NEVER toss an application out of the
pile. I guess the two things that make apps “unusable” are incomplete
applications, and applications that do not suit the market theme. ALot of
people apply without reading the full application. In our apps, we describe the
type of show and theme, and several people apply with products that aren’t
Flock & Gather: Jurying is an incredibly difficult process. Applications will
be discarded for several reasons. Any craftsmanship that appears to be of poor
quality will immediately get tossed. Sometimes products are better suited for
different seasons. For example, crocheted and knitted items are typically
juried more heavily for our winter market than our spring market. Some vendors
are super crafty and make several different types of products in various
categories. These are the most difficult applications to jury and often become
discarded for lack of cohesiveness. Our advice is to stick with what you do best.
Focus on a theme or brand. This will help in designing an effective booth
display as well. Lastly, and possibly most importantly, send good quality
photographs that highlight your work. Remember that you are not able to show
the jury what you make face to face; effectual photography is the next best
Spring Finds & One-of-a-Kinds: An application will get rejected usually
because the vendor did not take the time to read through the vendor call and
make sure their product/service fits well with what the organizers are looking
for. For instance, direct sales vendors don’t have a place in a handmade
craft market, or vendors with adult-targeted goods at a baby/child expo.
Knowing the targeted audience will help you to decide if it is a good fit for
your products. Late payment and application submission are also high on
the list of reasons for potential rejection. If the vendor is truly
committed to being part of a show, they will do their best to return any
documents and payment in a timely manner.
What are the
key elements that make a great display that draws customers in?
Craft Culture: Having an aesthetically pleasing booth is
always going to draw in customers – people are always attracted to pretty
things! I also believe that prices should be clearly visible on all
items. Customers should be able to browse products and view prices
without engaging the vendor. I know that a lot of people (myself
included!) feel a bit awkward asking the price – it makes you feel a bit guilty
to get into a conversation with a vendor, and then walk away after discussing
the cost. You might have the perfect product at the perfect price,
but customers are walking right by because they don’t want to start up a
Vixens of Vintage: This one is
EASY! The key element that make a great booth display and draw customers in is
UNIQUENESS! If the customer is passing by booth after booth without
stopping in, nothing is catching their eye to enter yours. You want to place
things up front that are unique and colorful. Something that may have proven to
be, your best seller, at a previous market.
Flock & Gather: Once you’ve chosen a theme or brand for your products,
reinforce this theme in your display. Use clear, easy to read banners and signs.
Do some research and take ideas from booths that draw you in. Use varying
depths and levels to draw the eyes of your customers through your entire booth.
Using various heights can make your booth look exciting, even from a distance.
Repeating the same pop of colour is an effective way of drawing the eye
throughout your display. However, make sure when you choose colours that you
choose ones that add to your products, not detract from them. If you’re
products are bright and colourful, a neutral booth may be more effective.
Display a balanced amount of product so that your booth looks neither sparse
nor cluttered. Clearly present information on your product and who you are.
Some customers are intimidated by having to ask prices so have all products
labelled and visibly priced.
Spring Finds & One-of-a-Kinds: A great display uses neutral materials
such as tablecloths, stands, baskets and the like to showcase the
product. This ensures the product stands out and doesn’t compete or clash
with the display. Adding height to a table/booth allows customers to see
your items from a distance which helps draw them in. Create tiered
sections for product on the tabletop and make creative use of any available
floor space. Clearly marked pricing and offering different price points
will allow shoppers to browse at their leisure without having to ask repeatedly
for prices, which may deter them from your display.
What do the
busiest vendors at an event have that sets them apart and helps them sell more?
Craft Culture: GOOD VIBES! Attitude is everything!
If you want to have a great day with lots of sales, then you need bring a
positive attitude to the show. Your day should be focused on customers
and SELLING! We all know that every show has at least one “Negative Nancy” –
the vendor that spends the entire day complaining about the venue, show
management, parking, their neighbors, the smell, the music, the food, the list
goes on and on. Those vendors always have horrible sales. They
focus all their energy complaining and gossiping instead of selling, and then
wonder why their day was so bad. If you are sending out positive energy,
people will be drawn to your booth and I bet that will be reflected in your
sales! You pay good money to participate in markets and craft fairs – make the
most of it despite any circumstances!
Vixens of Vintage: Unique products, and a WIDE VARIETY!
I cannot stress this point enough. If a vendor has only a few different styles
of things that may be similar to something a few booths over, and that
other booth has that product plus a wide variety of others, chances are the
customer is going to purchase from the other booth. Plus, you want the chance
at having a repeat customer, away from the market. The only way to do this, is
variety and uniqueness. We all know we do markets to promote our business and
of course….sell product. But we also use the markets as an advertising
opportunity, and the one sure way to have a repeat customer is to produce
something that sets you apart from everyone else.
Flock & Gather: There’s no science to understanding why some vendors do
better than others. It may be a result of a captivating display. It may be due
to pricing. Hopefully, the busiest vendors are those selling the most unique
products of the highest quality. Customers attending a handmade market are most
likely looking for something that is truly one-of-a-kind.
Spring Finds & One-of-a-Kinds: A smile! Shoppers are more likely to
buy from a vendor that is friendly but not pushy. Encourage people to
handle your products and make sure a mirror is part of your display if you
offer wearable items. If you are able, bring something related to your
craft to work on between shoppers. Customers love to see a crafter in
action, which often leads to ice-breaking conversations and sales. Make
sure to bring plenty of business cards and enough change for cash sales.
Consider a portable payment processor for more payment options.
Share a major
Craft Culture: Starting to pack up your display before
the official closing time is considered bad etiquette. Customers who walk
through the doors expect to be able to shop right up until closing. It
can come across disrespectful if vendors act like they are more interested in
getting out of there quickly, rather than focusing on patrons.
Vixens of Vintage: One major market no-no is MOVING OUT
before the market closes. Or any type of closing up shop, before the market
ends. I can honestly say as a show producer, this one is tops on my list. I do
not invite vendors back that have not followed this rule. If the market closes
at 5, tear down of any kind, begins at 5:01. We owe it to our last customer, to
have the same show, (hopefully with less product) same vendor attentiveness,
same vendor attitude, as our first customer.
& Gather: A major no-no for vendors is presenting a negative
attitude towards the market organizers. Jurying is really difficult, please
don’t take a rejection personally. Remember that the same people may be jurying
your work in the future so try to stay positive and remain professional. When
you are selected to be a part of a show, respect the vendor guidelines
presented by the organizing committee. A major no-no for customers is
bartering. An artist sets a price for items based on their material costs and
the time they’ve put into the item. Please do not insult a maker by offering
Spring Finds &
One-of-a-Kinds: Being a
passive vendor will generally not end in a successful day out. Put away cellphones
or other distractions unless it is directly related to your craft. Avoid
eating in front of shoppers, bring a friend to cover bathroom or food breaks if
possible, or at least try to keep it very discrete. Negative comments
about the venue, shoppers, or other vendors is in extremely poor taste.
Nothing turns off a shopper faster than a vendor with a bad attitude.
For more info on any of the events, please visit their websites or listings on Made Urban!
Flock & Gather
Spring Finds & One-of-a-Kinds
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