5 Mistakes to Avoid at a Craft Show

Whether you’re getting ready for a large trade show and have an entire booth to fill, or you’ve booked a table at a community craft show, these 5 mistakes are always important to avoid.

 

Craft Show Mistake #1: Too much variety

Although you don’t want an empty booth and you want to give your customers options, you don’t want to overwhelm them. Try to focus on your niche and offer a few options within a product line.

 

As creative people, we can brainstorm a million items and styles to create, but it’s best to narrow it down to your key pieces.

 

You’re not a department store. So although you could offer a wide variety of handmade products, consider what you want your target market to remember you for.

 

When you offer too much selection, you become a Jack of all trades, master of none.

 

The best brands know who they are and what they’re offering. They’re not trying to please everyone; they’re going after a targeted demographic (that’s profitable…here’s how to find yours) and offering a specific selection that appeals to them.

 

Although you may be able to make dishcloths, scarves, paintings, and purses, having them all on your table waters down your message.

 

I’ve been to a LOT of craft shows and some of the more popular booths only sell one product. That’s not to say offering several products is a bad idea…not at all.

 

If you want to know what sells best at craft shows, check out:

 

And if you’re interested in what’s trending, check out:

 

Booths with several different products for sale can be just as popular. But even when there’s a wider selection, there should be just ONE key message.

 

And that message should tell shoppers:

What makes your products better or different than your competitors?

 

What do you do exceptionally well? Is it making bold statement pieces? knitting chunky scarves? Or maybe you source the best ingredients for your soaps.

 

For example, if you sell jewelry but every piece is made with a healing crystal and has a bohemian style, you have one message: you make bohemian healing crystal jewelry.

 

On the other hand, if you offer a wide variety of jewelry and some are bold statement pieces, some are minimalistic gold pieces, some are made with plastic beads and others incorporate healing crystals, you’re sending a mixed message. In general, you’re saying: I make jewelry. Millions of people make jewelry, but far fewer make “healing crystal jewelry”.

 

Narrowing your selection alone makes your business more memorable.

 

The reason your products are different or “better” needs to be obvious and the more selections you add, the harder it is to convey that message.

 

If you need a little help and direction when it comes to refining your product selection, join the FREE email challenge: 5 DAYS TO A STANDOUT CRAFT SHOW DISPLAY.

 

 

Craft Show Mistake #2: Not enough variety in pricing

Although you may be narrowing your selection, you do want to offer a range of price points.

 

Every business is different and if you only make one product, you may only have one price point, which may work perfectly for you.

 

But the higher that price point goes, the more you want to consider offering an entry-level product.

 

You need to gain consumers’ trust before they’ll be ready to give you large sums of money.

 

Spending $20 and under with an unknown business isn’t a huge risk. Wasting $20 (or less) on a product they don’t end up loving/using, or that falls apart isn’t great, but they’ll get over wasting $20 pretty quick.

 

On the other hand, wasting $50, $100, or more, is a harder pill to swallow. So if it’s their first encounter with your business, they’re less likely to jump in and spend $50+. They want to get to know your business better first and feel more confident it will be money well spent.

 

Try to stock up on low and mid-priced products so those who are being introduced to your business for the first time, have a selection to buy from. Use your high-priced items as the showstoppers. Place them at eye level and in a spot that catches the eye to draw people in.

 

Here are several ways to add a variety of price points and increase sales:

 

And here’s where to place each type of product in your display: Craft Show Table Layout Tips

 

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel or spend a lot of time and money creating new products. Just a few small changes and you can instantly boost your sales.

 

 

Craft Show Mistake #3: Customers don’t know where to find you after the show

We’ve just talked about the people who do buy from you.

 

But what about those who don’t buy?

 

On average, only 2% of shoppers will purchase from you.

 

That number can go up or down based on several factors (e.g. if you sell a niche product with very little competition, are selling at an event targeting your exact market, it’s around a gift-giving holiday, etc. it may go up).

 

That leaves 98% of the people who walk through those doors, not putting money in your hands…..today.

 

If you think about that number and find ways to encourage a second contact with them, you can keep sales rolling in long after the event is over.

 

A stack of business cards on the outer edge of your table is a must! (or try this trick to save money and ensure shoppers hang onto your information).

 

People tend to put more thought into handmade purchases and are less impulsive with them. If your booth is too busy to look through each item or they want to think about it a bit longer, make it easy for them to purchase from you after the craft show is over.

 

Even if they do purchase from you that day, stick a clever business card in their bag so they can easily buy from you again.

 

Try collecting email addresses by asking people if they want to sign up for your newsletter. 

 

There are several factors to think about and you don’t want to break any laws so be sure to have a read over this article in regards to newsletters.

 

You may also want to check out:

 

Also, make it EASY for shoppers to remember you after the show.

 

If your business, products, and display aren’t memorable, they’ll have a hard time finding you. “The one selling handmade jewelry” could describe every jewelry vendor at the event. “The one selling healing crystal jewelry” narrows it down.

 

 

Craft Show Mistake #4: Hiding behind the table

Craft shows can be intimidating, especially if sales aren’t your expertise. But people attend craft shows because they want to meet the maker and hear the story behind their work.

 

If you don’t share the story behind your business and your products, you’re taking away an important part of their experience. 

 

If you’re sitting down with your head in a book or are busy chatting with your helper, you’re going to miss opportunities to gain a new customer. You don’t have to be someone you’re not; just smile and start a conversation (here are easy ways to do that).

 

Sharing your story/stories with craft show customers gives them something interesting to talk about or think about each time they use your products.

 

You don’t have to be saving the world or reinventing the wheel to have something interesting to share with shoppers. There are a variety of ways to uncover the hidden stories behind your business and products.

 

I’ll teach you how to tell a story that sells in the FREE email challenge 5 DAYS TO A STANDOUT DISPLAY.

 

 

Craft Show Mistake #5: Leaving your display as an afterthought

If you hate selling, let your display do some of the selling for you. 

 

I know how much work craft sales are and the majority of your efforts go into building enough stock to get you through the weekend. But your booth setup deserves just as much thought and effort as your products.

 

I won’t get into too much detail when it comes to how to create an amazing display; that’s what the free email challenge will help you with. Sign up for it here.

 

But I will share why your display is SO important.

 

First, if your booth doesn’t catch shoppers’ attention and draw them over, you won’t have much need for all that product. When your ideal customer walks in the door, you want them to notice you right away based on the color of your space and products, the font in your signage, your display fixtures and props, and the image you give off (here’s how you should dress to boost sales).

 

Secondly, if you don’t put effort into your display, it can actually devalue your products.

 

Imagine being served a filet mignon on a paper plate in a dirty, noisy, run-down restaurant. The meat may be worth $20+ but you’re not willing to pay more than $5 based on the surroundings. Serve that same steak in a beautiful restaurant with an elegant atmosphere and helpful servers and you’re now willing to pay $50+ for it.

 

Make sure each element surrounding your products in your craft show booth add to their value, not detract from it. From your tablecloth to your price tags, no detail is too small to put effort into.

 

And lastly, if the space isn’t designed properly, you’ll have a hard time keeping shoppers around long enough to buy.

 

You don’t want shoppers to feel cramped, like they can’t get to things, or like they might knock something over. You also don’t want your showstopper, which is supposed to be drawing more people over, to be blocked by people paying for their purchase.

 

I explain how to create the perfect craft show table layout in this article.

 

 

BONUS TIP

An extra bonus tip is one I learned in retail.

 

The rule sales associates had to follow to boost sales was: as soon as there were more than 2 people in line to pay, an associate had to open a register and get that line moving faster.

 

>> The longer the lineup, the more reason people had NOT to buy.

>> The quicker the line moves, the more sales can be made per hour.

 

Even if you never have a lineup of people wanting to pay, your customers don’t want to stand around waiting for you to find your credit card machine, searching for change, or rummaging through boxes to find your tissue paper. No one likes to wait and being unorganized doesn’t give off a professional vibe.

 

The longer you spend completing a transaction and wrapping up the purchase, the less time you have for other customers.

 

Keep everything you need for making a sale in one area and if possible, prep bags beforehand by pre-stuffing them with tissue paper and business cards.

 

As soon as you book a show, start going into prep mode. Figure out how much stock you need, how you’re going to transport it, display it, and package it. Do a mock setup at home and take photos so it’s easy to get your booth ready the day of and guide any helpers.

 

Run through how you’re going to wrap your items when you make a sale and how much time it takes you. As you work through your mock setup, make note of anything you’ll need so you don’t forget it at home.

 

For a step-by-step guide to applying, preparing for, and selling at craft shows, check out: Make More Money at Craft Fairs

 

 

Which mistakes do you see vendors make most often at craft shows? Share in the comments!


 



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32 Comments

  1. Boy, I wished that you could give this lesson to the Annual Festival we have here in our town. Vendors act as if they are part of the inventory and just sit there an never even say “hello”. I am so fed up I stopped attending. I stood at one booth with the product in my hand to purchase and the seller never open their mouth. I put the item back. My money comes with a price: Be nice to me and I will release it, act snobbish and it will never be yours!

  2. Ive just booked my first stall and its for a Christmas Market.

    these 5 pointers are so valuable…you have given me an amazing idea with number 4.
    So excited and nervous at the same time, this all helps.

    Cheers

    1. Hi. I have my first craft fayre tomorrow! How did yours turn out in the end? Jenny x

  3. Made Urban says:

    Thank you so much Toni, glad you found it helpful! There are also some other inspiration ideas in this article for treating your booth like a store window: http://www.madeurban.com/News/want_to_stand_out_at_a_craft_show_try_these_displa/4217

    and some other thoughts to consider for your set up here: http://www.madeurban.com/News/why_youre_looking_at_your_craft_show_setup_wrong/4203

    Have an amazing event!! Everyone is nervous at their first few events but craft shows are always fun once you settle in 🙂

  4. Thank you so much for this article. You will never know how much it has helped me get ready for a show.

  5. Made Urban says:

    That’s so amazing to hear Joy! Thanks so much for reading and good luck at your next event!

  6. Thank you so much for the wonderful tips. I have done two Craft Fairs before but my main product that I want to focus on didn’t do that we’ll. I know now why. Because I had too much other stock. I am going to change that starting today. Thank so much for the great advice. Ina-Jean

  7. Made Urban says:

    Thanks for reading Ina-Jean! So glad you found the article helpful. Please keep us posted on how future craft shows go with your narrowed focus 🙂

    Erin

  8. Bellatrix says:

    Thank you for the wonderful tips. I’m about to do my first Christmas fair and your tips are very helpful. I’m excited and nervous.

    Now I know that I have to decide what particular item will be the focal point. Thank you Bellatrix

  9. Made Urban says:

    Hi Bellatrix! Good luck at your upcoming event. I hope the tips help you have a great show!

  10. Cybergenic Associates Int’l says:

    This is a very helpful advise. It’s really not appealing for customers if you show no interest or not interacting with them. It makes them feel unimportant. You’re wright about “variety” as well, too much of it can only lead to confusion although the more options the better 🙂

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  11. Henri Hayworth says:

    I’ve been selling hand-painted canvases and chalkboards at craft shows for the past few years but I don’t have a branded business. Should I still hand out business cards? -Henri, St. Louis MO

  12. Made Urban says:

    Hi Henri!

    I think it’s important to start branding your business. It’s not just about a logo. A brand creates an experience for your customers so they know what to expect from your business, why to choose you over another and to keep them thinking of you and purchasing in the future. Good branding may seem like a “nice to have” but it will help you sell more.

    Even if you don’t have a strong brand established yet, it’s important to let shoppers know where to find you after a craft fair. Most people don’t purchase on the first encounter so if they can’t find you when they think of your products a few days later or next month when they need a gift, you’re losing sales.

    A business card can still be used to hand out your email address, website or social media pages.

    Hope that helps!

    Erin

  13. Jewel Endicott says:

    I am about to venture into doing my first craft show, I found find your focal point very intriguing. Keep it simple was awesome, would have went to far to the elaborate side. This article was very inspiring thanks.

    Jewel

  14. Made Urban says:

    Glad you enjoyed it Jewel!

    Trying to offer something for everyone who stops by your table is a very common mistake and so easy to do.

    I’m definitely guilty of going overboard at my first craft fair. I split a table with a friend who sold photography and also wanted me to help him with an idea he had for pillow cases using vintage t-shirts. I made flannel pyjama bottoms with matching heating bags so our table had: photography, pillows and pillow cases, pyjamas, rice heating bags and a few other knick-knacks. Talk about a mixed bag 😉

    Keeping it simple and having a strong, clear message is key 🙂

    ~Erin

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  21. Good article . . . however, I must disagree with #1. You CAN offer a lot of different type items if you set your booth up correctly. Have sections, each featuring like items. You may need more than one booth space to accomplish this. I normally get two spaces, and at a few shows . . three.

    I sell a LOT of different items . . . from Christmas ornaments to jewelry to Pebble Art to Halloween decor, to t-shirts (and a bunch of other stuff, in between). My booth is ALWAYS busy. I attribute that to the fact that I sell a wide variety of products, therefore attracting a wider variety of buyers than those that sell a single type of item.

    So, I don’t think having the capability to make and display a lot of types of crafts should be viewed as a “mistake”.

  22. Made Urban says:

    Thanks for reading Deb!

    If selling and displaying a wide variety of products works for you, then keep up the good work.

    I stand behind my advice for handmade businesses to narrow their selection. I started with a craft show table full of everything from pj’s and rice heating bags to aprons, mittens and purses.

    When I realized the majority of my sales were coming from a few select products, I focused on those, cut back my selection and saw my profits, sales, sales per transaction, repeat customers, productivity, etc. increase.

    It was the best thing I did for my business and cut out a lot of work creating product I only sold a couple of and had to mark down at the end of a season.

  23. Sheila Carroll says:

    I’m extremely nervous but excited about my first craft show. I think your article is just what I needed to help put me at ease so that I can focus on what I should do to have a successful show. Thank you so much. I signed up for the 5 day challenge so that I can prepare myself for the best show I can possibly do.

  24. Jane Hall says:

    Thank you for the great advice and information! Much appreciated!
    I am just about to do my 3rd market and I am still learning and trying new things!

  25. David J Archuleta says:

    I have tried to be as unique and possible, selling products/items that have no or little competition with other vendors… Just have to find it and sample it to the customer…. engage your demographic targets..

  26. Really appreciate this article from you! Been doing crafts for over 20 years! Can always learn something new!

  27. Christine says:

    I think key is that you don’t have items out in a way that can easily be stolen. I had this happen as a rookie and it really cuts into profits a lot. I had put out too much and it was a busy sale (despite a few of us working the table we were swarmed by a group of people working together on distraction techniques to steal from the vendors). It is unfortunate that we have to take this into account so much.

  28. While I’ve been taking cards for a few years, I’ve found that the amount of people who still pay with cash varies from show to show (sometimes it seems they all pay with cash! LOL!). So one of the best things I changed was instead of a cash box, I used a hardware apron with 2 pockets to hold my money which made it way easier to walk around and interact with people and faster to do transactions. Many people already had bags to put items in and so didn’t want another one – they just want to pay and move on! I also made a sign with my Venmo QR code on it and many people will scan and pay by the time I have their items bagged up and off they go! Because I sell custom items, I also will give people an order sheet instead of a business card (it has prices and contact info on it) if they ask about ordering – I’ve had good success with this and a sheet of paper is harder to loose.

  29. Hello! I have my first ever craft fayre tomorrow…looking forward to it, and nervous..will be freindly…i was going to paint while there, as i persobally hate being pounced on when im browsing…but i wont now…also, im on my own…and the big thing i am really worried about is adding amounts in my head…i have a portable card machine and i will get some change for cash..but i have a real phobia with maths! I sell my paintings and have done really well…sold nearly a i make, plus commisions…i now paint stones too and have my art made into cards and prints xx @southend_beach_and_sea_art. Thank you for your very interesting article :))) bit late now…but will use it next time x

    1. I think you can great people to engage without “pouncing”. Just a simple “hello” is often enough and then go from there. If you are using an app like Square to do credit cards you can pre-set your prices and have categories you enter prices if they very too much. It’ll to the math for you. Square also let’s you indicate if the are paying in cash or check, how much change etc so you don’t have to worry about math. Bonus is it will keep track of sales so you know what sells well. I’m sure there are other apps that can do the same. Good luck!

  30. Jenny Banks says:

    Thank you so much…i have the sum up machine…it was quite a success…didnt sell much, but i did sell a painting, some cards and a print :)) covered the cost of the table plus some of an order of cards i purchased. Loved it! Lookimg forward to my next one in june

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