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.

I’ve made every mistake on this list and when I corrected them, I saw an improvement in:

  • The type of shopper who visited my booth
  • The number of shoppers who stopped by my booth
  • The number of sales I made
  • The amount I could charge for my products
  • The number of items I would sell in each transaction
  • Wholesale orders from retailers
  • And more

Did I make sales when I was making these mistakes?


Did I make more sales when I corrected these mistakes?


These aren’t rules but rather advice based on my experience 🙂

5 Mistakes to Avoid at a Craft Show

Craft Show Mistake #1: Too much variety

Although you don’t want an empty booth and you do want to give your customers options, you don’t want to overwhelm them.

When I started selling at craft shows, I figured: the more types of products and product options I have, the better chance I have to sell something to each shopper. 

There’s actually a study proving that more options can actually reduce sales. You can read about that here if you’re doubting less selection can produce more sales.

Not only does too much variety make your craft show table look disjointed (and sometimes unprofessional), it also makes it hard for shoppers to make a decision.

If you have the choice between vanilla or chocolate ice cream, how quickly can you make a decision and purchase your ice cream?

A matter of seconds right?

If you have 50 ice cream choices, plus cake, pie, and donuts to choose from, it’s going to take you much longer to make a decision.

This is what happens at your craft show booth when you have too much selection.

Shoppers take longer to make a decision, and sometimes need to walk away and think about it.

You’re not a department store; you’re a small handmade business.

Don’t try to offer something for everyone, or serve too broad of a target market (e.g. jewelry for all women).

Determine who your target market is (e.g. people who are a mother to a daughter) and what you want your business to be remembered for (e.g. mother-daughter jewelry).

In the craft show display below, there is too much variety:

  • mittens
  • cosmetic bags
  • burp cloths
  • baby blankets
  • heating pads
  • scrunchies
too much variety craft show
This craft show display has too much variety

I’m targeting a few different types of customers and serving conflicting shopping occasions. Meaning, when someone is shopping for winter accessories (mittens), they’re unlikely to also be shopping for cosmetic bags.

Trying to get shoppers to think about bundling up in winter accessories and then think about what type of cosmetic bags they need for traveling is too much context-switching.

Keep your shoppers focused on one task while at your table (e.g. accessorizing for winter OR organizing cosmetics for travel; NOT both).

What’s your key message?

I sell ___________ 

For example: I sell cosmetic bags.

If I have cosmetic bags, mittens, and burp cloths on my table, that message (I sell cosmetic bags) won’t be clear to shoppers.

When I remove products that confuse my message, my display looks cleaner, easier to shop, more cohesive, and more professional.

Instead of looking like a crafter who dabbles in a variety of products, I now look like a business selling cosmetic bags.

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather buy a cosmetic bag from someone who specializes in them; not someone who dabbles in them.

I’m also willing to pay more for a product when it’s made by an expert.

>> If you’d like to read about the 6 mistakes made with the first display and how to correct them, check out: 6 Simple Ways to Improve a Craft Show Display

Bonus points if your message also tells shoppers what you do differently or better than competitors.

For example, I may focus on “vegan cosmetic bags” and sell only high-quality vinyl bags. Or, I may be different from competitors by focusing on cosmetic bags for brides. 

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”.


When narrowing your selection, you may want to consider what types of products tend to sell better at craft shows:


Or, the types of products that are trending:


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 still want to offer a variety of price points.

This not only helps you appeal to a range of budgets, but it also makes shoppers who are on the fence feel more comfortable buying.

For example, if I discover an artist at a craft show, I may not be ready to spend hundreds of dollars on an original piece of art. But if the artist is selling smaller prints for $20, I might buy a print to take home and test in my space, or to have something to enjoy until I’m ready to spend more money.

A variety of price points also allows you to increase your units per transaction (UPT) and boost sales.

>> Here are 5 ways to increase how many items each customer buys

If I only offer one size and style of cosmetic bag, it’s unlikely one customer will buy 2 or more of the same bag.

But when I offer a bag in different size and style options, a customer is more likely to add items to their purchase.

price options
One customer may purchase all 3 bags as a set. If I only offered one style of bag, it’s unlikely one customer would purchase 3 of the same bag.

You can still offer pricing options, even if you only make one type of product.

Let’s say I only sell a medium-sized cosmetic bag. I can offer that bag in:

  • a polyester fabric (low price point)
  • a vinyl fabric (medium price point)
  • leather (high price point)

A shopper who loves my pieces but is on a budget may purchase the bag in polyester fabric, while someone buying a gift and wanting to spend around $40-$50 can purchase the bag in leather.

Craft show shoppers are browsing and discovering new products and businesses.

This means, most shoppers won’t be prepared to spend a lot of money.

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


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

The majority of craft show shoppers won’t buy from you.

The average conversion rate of a brick-and-mortar store is 20% – 30% (source). Which means, if 100 people walk into a shop, on average, only 20 – 30 people will actually buy something.

Online conversion rates are lower; typically 2% – 3% (because options are endless online).

Because shoppers don’t know what they’ll find at a craft show until they walk through the doors, and there are dozens (if not hundreds) of vendors to choose from, it’s likely conversion rates at a craft show fall somewhere between brick-and-mortar and online averages.

Your conversion rate will vary depending on the type of event you’re selling at, what you’re selling, price points, time of year, etc.

Let’s say the average craft show booth conversion rate is around 10%.

That means 90% of shoppers won’t buy from you. 

But that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re not interested in your products.

So it’s important to market to those shoppers in hopes they buy from you after the event.

First, your booth should be memorable. 

You want to be known for something. Such as: THE vendor selling candy-scented soaps”. Or, “the vendor selling healing crystal jewelry”, or “the vendor selling cat-themed bags”, etc. 

“The vendor selling a few bags, some mittens, burp cloths, and heating pads” is NOT as memorable.

Then, you should give shoppers a way to contact you after the event.

Place a stack of business cards on the outer edge of your table so it’s easy for shoppers to grab one as they’re leaving your space (or try this trick to save money and ensure shoppers hang onto your information).

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

Even better, give yourself a way to contact shoppers after the event, by getting them 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 read over this article in regard to newsletters.

>> You may also be interested in: 3 BIG LEGAL MISTAKES CRAFTERS MAKE.



Craft Show Mistake #4: Ignoring the numbers

Craft shows AREN’T profitable for many vendors. They require many hours to prepare for, sell at, and pack up from and there are many expenses associated with them.

I used to count my money at the end of an event, subtract my booth fees from that total, and if I had money leftover, I considered the event a success.

There were many expenses and wages I wasn’t accounting for and I’m sure I lost money on most craft shows before I started treating it like a business.

>> Here are 10 Costs of Selling at Craft Fairs that are often ignored

If you’re selling at craft shows for fun, you may not be worried about your conversion rates, revenue, profit, etc.

But if you’re selling at craft shows to grow your business and profits, you’ll want to track your numbers and adjust accordingly.

Although it can be harder to track numbers at a craft show than online, it’s beneficial to make notes throughout the show to gather information that can help you make improvements. 

Some of the stats you may want to gather are:

  • Number of people who attend the event (the organizer should be able to give you an estimate of this number)
  • Number of people who stop at your table

These two numbers will help you calculate your booth’s conversion rate; how many craft show shoppers do you convert into your shoppers. If this number is low, your display or what you sell may need improvements.

  • How many sales you make – this number will help you calculate your sales conversion rate; how many people who stop at your table buy?
  • How many items you sell in each transaction – this will allow you to calculate your units per transaction and can help you improve your product line. When you offer items that are used by the same type of customer, for similar scenarios, or are typically used together, more people will buy more than one item.
  • Here are more ways to increase your units per transaction
  • Hours spent prepping for, setting up, selling at, and packing up from the event
  • Money spent on craft show related expenses (here are several to consider)

When you gather averages (e.g. your average sales conversion rate at craft shows) you have a benchmark to compare future shows to.

When you sell at a new craft show, is your sales conversion rate higher or lower than your average? This will tell you if it’s worth it to sell at that event, or type of event, again. 

Tracking your numbers also helps you be more mindful with your spending and time. 

If you notice, like I did, that you’re putting in way more hours preparing for a craft show than you’re paid for (through the sales at that event), you can find ways to be more efficient with your time. 

Or you may realize that as flattering as it is to be invited to a craft show outside your city, the cost to travel to it, stay at a hotel, pay for meals and parking, etc. may leave you without profits.

Start tracking your numbers so you can find ways to be more profitable when selling at craft shows.


Craft Show Mistake #5: Ignoring what surrounds your products

Your products should be the focal point, but what surrounds them is just as important.

Craft show fixtures, props, signs, images, and even your outfit will either increase or decrease the value shoppers place on 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.

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.

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

You need your space to be shoppable and encourage people to pick up items. If shoppers don’t feel comfortable touching because a fixture looks like it might fall over, or your products look too precious to touch, they won’t buy.

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

If you want to learn how to create a display that shares your message and tells a story, check out my free email challenge: 5 DAYS TO A STANDOUT CRAFT SHOW DISPLAY



This tip is one I learned while working as a visual merchandiser for major retailers.

Sales associates had to follow a simple rule to boost sales:

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 don’t have a lineup of people waiting 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.

The longer you take to complete a transaction and wrap 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.


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


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  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!

    1. I absolutely agree with you!!! When I would attend Festivals, people would just sit behind their booths and not greet me. Even when I would intentionally look around at their items to see if they would even notice me, some would never speak and I would leave. When I participated in a pop up a few months ago (I sell body butters, soaps, etc.) I greeted every individual that came to my booth and I would never stay seated when someone was at my booth. Here’s one of my pickup lines for shoppers to stop and look, ” Hey there!! I see you looking! We have body butters that will keep your skin soft and silky! We even have items for men too!” It worked every time! I had almost as many sales from men as I did for women! Just being nice and friendly got me plenty of sales.

  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.


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

    2. Marla J. Williams says:

      I felt the same way, excited but oh as nervous, before my first show a free months ago. I was pleasantly surprised by how it all went so well. Preparation is the key, engagement with your customers and have fun, enjoy it!! I also didn’t expect other vendors to be so helpful and how willing they were to share ideas and upcoming show listings and locations. That was great

    3. Elizabeth says:

      Thank you for thr 5 tips. Really good advice.

  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 🙂


  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 🙂

    If you need a service provider for your data processing and customer services need and more. Thank you!

  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!


  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.


  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 🙂


    1. Margaret Riggleman says:

      Umber 1 was definitely me and I kept adding and then my daughter became my partner and she is OCD so I drover her crazy. I decided to take my best seller and add a special for the month so I have 2 items and this makes life so much easier
      Thanks for these tips

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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

  31. Gail Hartshorne says:

    Well done,a ton of very important points for anyone in selling.Everyone should read and revised your books as it so easy to loose the plot along the way. With early good plans and ideas forgotten loosing that freshness you started with. I firmly believe that it’s good practice to revisit your shop or stall and focus on what the customer ..

  32. I have a question about seasons. I knit unique and colorful baby sweaters. Generally, the spring and summer season is not when mothers, grandmothers, family and friends purchase sweaters. How can I entice sales? Moreover, baby sweaters are not impulse purchases like jewelry, soap and scarves. No need to buy for a baby if there isn’t a baby in the horizon. Any thoughts? Thank you for your advice

  33. Business cards are a good idea, but truthfully most of them are thrown away.
    On my cards I have
    “Bring this card back for 10% off your next purchase.”
    Because of the discount, customers will save your card and either contact you or look for you at the next craft show.

    1. Debra Mascott says:

      That’s a unique idea. Thank you. However, I would like to capitalize on nice weather in May or September for outdoor Craft Fairs. Sweaters, however are not to-of-mind. Any ideas?

  34. Genelle Hitchman says:

    *THE* biggest mistake I see often at our farmers market is vendors who don’t make it easy to buy.
    If your pricing is not obvious, you will loose customers who are too timid to ask “how much?”
    Label your items with their price or provide a menu. If an item is sold by weight, know your pricing by heart and calculate it quickly.
    Ideally, povide a variety of payment options. Cash, check, venmo, cards….whatever works for your clientele.. You’re more likely to make a sale if you make it easy for your customer to pay you. If you are cash-only POST IT conspicuously. it leaves would-be buyers with a bad impression of your business if they pick out something they love, only to be sent away because they don’t have a way to pay for it.

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