5 Things Craft Show Shoppers Shouldn’t See

Although craft shows typically have more of a casual setting, you still want to keep a professional vibe and represent your brand properly. Doing so will reflect positively on your sales.

With over a decade of crafty events under my belt, I’ve made all the mistakes and seen a boost in sales when I corrected them.

Read about my top craft show do’s and don’ts plus my mistakes and lessons learned from encountering thousands of craft show shoppers.

5 Things Shoppers Shouldn't See at a Craft Show


DON’TS: What Craft Show Shoppers Shouldn’t See

When I first started selling at craft fairs, it was all about ME. The products I wanted to make, how I wanted to set them up, the display that was easiest for me, etc.

But if you’re not at a craft show to please the shopper, then what are you there for?

These 5 don’ts put the shopper first and may help you view things from their perspective.


#1 – Items they could ask another vendor to make

When I sold my purses at craft shows, I started with a wide variety (I mean really wide; no two purses were alike).

I made purses but couldn’t really define what kind of purses I made.

I created a bit of everything and a few times I saw my competitors selling purses made out of the exact same fabric or in a similar shape/style to mine.

It’s not that anyone was copying; it was a matter of me not going out of my way to find something to really set my purses apart.

My totes, shoulder bags, and coin purses were cute, but no one was coming to me specifically for what I did differently.

(This is one of the mistakes worst-selling Etsy shops make too. Read about the other 4 big mistakes that kill sales here.)

Craft show shoppers would buy if they found something they liked, but my booth wasn’t a destination.

  • I didn’t get return customers
  • I didn’t get orders after an event
  • I didn’t get many from local storeowners to carry my bags

My shoppers, sales, and opportunities changed (for the better) when I started focusing on my weekend bag.

My weekend bag was different from what other vendors in the local craft fair circuit were selling and it obviously stood out to shoppers. If they didn’t buy from me that day, or take a business card and find me after the event, they would have a hard time finding something similar.

It’s NOT that I reinvented the wheel when it came to a weekend bag. But when the majority of bag vendors at craft shows were selling tote bags in every color and pattern under the sun, I was selling something different; which made me stand out.

If your items don’t have anything truly unique about them, you’re not creating a signature style (here’s how) or giving shoppers a unique experience.

It’s easy for them to go to another vendor to buy something similar or forget about your business once they leave the craft show.

There’s no urgency to buy from you that day because they can find something similar at the next craft show.


A nice variety of knitted hats and scarves but nothing that’s unique, signature, or that makes a shopper feel they must buy from that vendor. They could find similar hats and scarves made by another craft show vendor or at a department store.


Even the way you present your products can give the perception you’re offering something different.

  • Group products by color so shoppers get a different vision/inspiration/feeling from your booth (here’s how to create product groupings on your craft show table) – For example, highlighting pastel colours in a scarf display can give the scarves a feminine feel.
  • Use props and signage that tell a unique story – For example, when other jewelry vendors are simply displaying their jewelry, a vendor could stand out by adding props that help tell a story about WHERE the jewelry might be worn. Such as beach elements for casual jewelry that might be worn to the beach, or Christmas-themed elements for jewelry that might be worn to Christmas parties and dinners.
  • Highlight a benefit your competitors aren’t – For example, many soap vendors sell “cold pressed soap” but not many vendors explain WHY that’s a benefit. If every vendor is advertising “cold pressed soap” and one vendor is advertising “Gentle skincare” or “Environmentally friendly soap” they will stand out to shoppers.

>> Learn how to create a signature style shopper must come to you for


#2 – Everything you can make

Conveniently, my “best” product ideas would come the day before a craft show and keep me up until 2 am making “just one more”.

I used to think: The more types of products I offer, the more likely it is someone will find something to buy.

Not only is offering a wide variety of products exhausting as a solopreneur, but it also dilutes your brand/message/expertise.

Adding more types of products to attract more sales can actually have the opposite effect.

As this study proves, more variety can lead to decision-overwhelm, which leads to fewer shoppers buying.

When you try to offer too much variety (e.g. metal jewelry, wire wrapped jewelry, crystal jewelry, plastic beaded jewelry, etc.) or too many types of products (e.g. jewelry, knitted goods, candles, soaps, etc.) you end up confusing shoppers.

  • They don’t know what you’re an expert in
  • They don’t know who your products are perfect for
  • They question the quality of your products (i.e. “can one person really be skilled at creating soap, jewelry, AND knitting? Or is that soap going to give me a rash and will that jewelry fall apart?”)

Can you make sales when you have a variety of items on your craft fair table? Absolutely. 

But from my experience, I made one-time sales from shoppers who wanted to buy something small at the craft show.

Show shoppers what you’re really great at making, what your passion is, and why they should buy from you, by keeping your product selection limited.

A craft show display with too much variety also starts to look cluttered and messy. Sticking to 3 – 5 types of products, colors, materials, etc. keeps your display looking and feeling cohesive.


A craft show table full of jewelry, dolls, candles and more. The display lacks a story and cohesion.


>> Here’s how to know if you’re offering too many types of products and how to boost sales by 27% simply by reducing options.


#3 – Display fixtures borrowed from your living room

Don’t do what I did for my first few craft shows: empty out baskets, picture frames and strip your dining room table of its cover to piece together a display. It doesn’t send a strong or clear message to craft show shoppers.

Unless your home is decorated in the same colors and style as your brand, it’s unlikely your household items will work as both home decor and display fixtures.

You don’t have to go out and spend hundreds of dollars on craft show display props, but do make a trip to the dollar store or thrift store and find items that have the same style or that you can re-paint, re-cover or re-purpose to build a cohesive display.

>> Here are 50 craft show prop ideas

Not only is piecing together a variety of items not a great display look, it’s also a bit of a pain.

I hated having to put my living room back together after an exhausting craft show and found it much more convenient to keep all of my craft show props tucked away in a bin so I knew where everything was and could simply throw the bin in my trunk without having to ransack my house.

Finding the right style for your craft show booth, working in your brand, and making sure your display fixtures don’t bring down the value of your products, is covered in DO #3 below.

#4 – A display with no story

The first craft show table I set up said: here’s some stuff I made…and there’s also some photos my friend took on the other end of the table.

My second or third craft show table took a different direction and said: here’s a bunch of purses I made.

I was showing people that I sold purses. But I did nothing to help them imagine how or where they might wear one of my purses.

  • What type of woman were my purses for?
  • What type of style did she have?
  • Where would my purses be worn?
  • What would they be worn with?
  • How would someone feel when they wore one of my purses?

I didn’t have a clue.

I just wanted someone, anyone, to buy my purses. And so, my craft show table ended up lacking direction.

When I introduced my weekend bag, my craft show display started to take a different direction. It slowly morphed into a “travel” story. People could imagine using my bags for a trip because everything on my table told that story.

When my weekend bags were next to evening bags and beach bags, it was hard to tell a clear story.

A good story is easy to follow and doesn’t jump around.

When my display forced a shopper to think about going to the beach one second (with my beach totes) and then going to a fancy dinner the next (with my satin clutches), it created confusion and made it harder for a shopper to focus on making a purchase.

Think about the details that surround your customers when using your products.

  • Who are your customers? (specifically…e.g. not just “women”; what kind of women?)
  • What are they doing when using your products?
  • Where are they using your products and what are they surrounded by?
  • When are they using your products? (e.g. time of day, week, year)
  • Why are they using your products? How do they want to feel? What’s the benefit/goal they’re hoping to achieve?

These details can help you build a story, which you can then communicate through products, fixtures, props, colors, and signage.

>> This FREE 5-day email challenge will help you come up with a story that helps you sell more: 5 DAYS TO A STANDOUT DISPLAY.


#5 – A vendor who doesn’t know how to sell

I spent my first few craft shows meekly saying “hi” and awkwardly watching people shop. I’m sure craft show shoppers didn’t appreciate it and my sales numbers were reflecting my lack of efforts.

  • Telling people about product features they can see for themselves (e.g. it’s 8″ x 10″, made with a green plaid material, etc.), was not helpful.
  • Watching people shop and saying nothing while they were at my table was awkward.
  • Looking at my phone or talking to other vendors while people were in my space was rude.

You’re not annoying people by selling your work.

Especially when you find the right way to sell.

You have to uncover the benefits people care about and share your story.

As explained in the soap example above; “cold processed” doesn’t mean anything to most consumers. That’s a feature; not a benefit. 

How do your customers truly benefit from buying your products?

Don’t point out benefits that every product in your category provides.

For example, all jewelry adds style to an outfit, all soap cleans, and all art decorates walls.

What type of consumer are your products perfect for and how do they specifically benefit them?

  • Jewelry might add a bohemian style to an outfit
  • Non-toxic soap might be a benefit to those with sensitive skin
  • Mid-century modern style art will help add a mid-century modern vibe to a home

When selling, point out how your products are different and how a shopper will benefit from those features.

Give craft show shoppers an experience, teach them something they don’t know, and leave them with a story they can re-tell to friends and become more interesting themselves, just by meeting you 😉

If you really hate selling, check out these ideas to promote your products without speaking.


DO’S: What Craft Show Shopper SHOULD See

Now that the don’ts are out of the way…what exactly SHOULD a craft show shopper see? Here are my top 5’s:


DO #1 – You selling something unique

I would like to tell you the fact your products are handmade by you gives them a unique angle, but that’s just not the case anymore.

Handmade is everywhere and people can hop online and buy handmade products at any time so there must be something truly unique about what you’re selling so shoppers say “I have to have it!” rather than, “let me think about it, see if anyone is selling something similar I can get at a lower price”.

People buy without hesitation when they know they’ve found something truly unique, they won’t find it anywhere else.

The hunt is over, there’s no question; if they don’t buy now, they may miss the opportunity to own your amazing piece.

For example:

>> Are you selling word art people could ask another vendor to make or that they themselves could whip up on their computer using a similar font and text?

>> Or are you selling word art in color collections that match popular paint colors, with inspirational messages hand-painted on old window panes gathered from farms around the city?

The latter is a little more difficult to replicate right?

>> Are you selling a variety of jewelry using different stones and beads or are you THE vendor to turn to if someone wants authentic, high-quality turquoise statement pieces in a bohemian style?

>> Are you selling bars of soap in a variety of scents or are you offering astrology-themed bars of soap infused with crystals and stamped with astrology signs?

>> Are you selling a variety of knitted scarves or oversized, chunky-knit scarves in a high-quality, animal-friendly, environmentally-friendly yarn?

You get the idea

Your work is amazing but you can take it to the next level with just a few small tweaks and watch your sales increase. You just need to find your niche and unique selling position (USP).

It will set you apart from vendors selling similar products at an event (or online), have craft show shoppers remembering you, and getting more repeat customers because they can’t find products as great as yours anywhere else.

Finding your USP is covered in step 1 of my FREE 5-day challenge, which you can sign up for here or below:


DO #2 – You selling something specific

Working off point #1, part of creating a strong USP is narrowing down your selection.

So many handmade vendors go overboard with their products, trying to offer something for every crafts show shopper who walks through the door.

But that’s the wrong approach.


A craft show display with lots of variety but it looks cluttered and unprofessional

Offering too much variety adds stress to you. How do you know which products to make and how much to make of them? How many different tools and materials do you need to make each item? How are you going to display everything properly?

>> Here’s how to know if you’re offering too many types of products

And it adds confusion for the shopper.

>> What’s your expertise? Is it a jack of all trades, master of none scenario?

>> Do they have to worry about their item falling apart?

>> Which pieces actually go together?

People who shop handmade love to shop from niche vendors. Vendors who look like they’re an expert in their craft; doing one thing really well as opposed to doing many things so-so.

You are not a department store.

Don’t stress yourself out trying to offer a wide variety of goods.

You’ll actually increase sales by reducing options.

>> Here’s proof and how to reduce your selection to boost sales

When it comes to handmade, you should try to focus on one category of product and one specific style. The more variety you add the less time there is to do everything well.

Collections, finishing details, packaging, branding, etc. all get watered down and your products lose their impact when you’re trying to do too much.


DO #3 – A Branded eye-catching display

There’s a lot to take in at a craft show and most shoppers won’t stop at every single booth.

You should be creating a setup that makes shoppers feel like they have to stop at yours.

The point isn’t to attract everyone, it’s to attract your ideal customer.

Does your customer like delicate feminine details or are they into bold and colorful styles?

You must determine that before you build your brand or plan your display. Once your brand is on point, you can communicate its message through all the little details.

For example, a feminine brand might use a soft pink-colored tablecloth and repeat the color throughout the space. Their signage may use a script font and be displayed in mirrored frames. Display props should be light and feminine as well and there may even be a bouquet of fresh flowers on the table.

When you apply your brand’s look and feel to each element of your display, you create a visual block of color or style in a room full of booths, which helps you stand out.

Need help determining what your style is and how to bring it to life in your craft show display? That’s covered in my FREE 5 DAYS TO A STANDOUT DISPLAY.

I’ll walk you through each of the elements that make an attractive (to your ideal customer) display and one that not only attracts craft show shoppers but also converts them into buyers. Read a bit more about the challenge here or jump right in and sign up for free below!

You also want your display to say: QUALITY

Craft show displays and the details within them often take a backseat. But the effort you put into your products should carry over into the way they’re presented (online or off).

You want craft show shoppers to see your products and put a high value on them before they even see a price tag.

Imagine walking up to a table selling jewelry. Bracelets are piled into bowls, earrings are hanging off re-purposed household items; a painted cheese grater, a meshed metal garbage can, and some chicken wire stapled into a frame. The necklaces are sitting flat on the table or hanging off more re-purposed items such as vases and wine bottles. There are hundreds of different rings, bracelets, earrings, and necklaces to shop through. When an item is sold, the vendor places it into a brown paper lunch bag.

How much would you be expecting the jewelry pieces to be?

Now imagine each individual piece being showcased on a perfectly sanded, dark-stained block of wood. Rings are displayed on varying heights of wood cones. Bracelets sit on low blocks of wood and necklaces hang down the front of tall, skinny blocks. The metals and gems stand out against the dark wood background. There aren’t hundreds of pieces to browse through but each item looks special and unique. When a purchase is made, the vendor pulls stock from behind the table where each item is individually wrapped in plastic bags with branded jewelry cards. They’re then wrapped in tissue paper and placed in a shopping bag that has the jeweler’s logo printed on them.

What price range would you expect these items to be?

>> The first booth decreases the value of the jewelry

>> The second booth increases the value of the jewelry

When amazing products are surrounded by lackluster details, it throws shoppers off and leads them to believe products should be at a discount.

This is exactly why high-end retailers pour a lot of money into display fixtures and store design while discount retailers (think the dollar store) spend little time and money on displays and follow a basic setup.


DO #4 – A display that evokes a feeling

When’s the last time you purchased something you didn’t need that made you feel “meh”Probably never

We buy things that excite us and that we can imagine in our lives.

>> We think about how great a piece of art will look in a room and the conversations it will spark or how it will make us feel every time we walk by it.

>> We imagine how great our skin will look after switching to a soap that’s free of harsh, irritating chemicals and how confident we’ll feel showing it off in the summer.

>> We picture the exact outfit we’ll wear a pair of earrings with and how amazing we’ll look.

You have to pull those thoughts and feelings out of your shoppers so they have a positive feeling while looking at your display, products, or signage.

It’s simple to do once you think about the feeling you want to evoke or the way a customer might use, wear or display your products. Then it’s just a matter of applying those ideas to the finishes, props, signage, etc. in your space.

I’ll walk you through how to find your story and evoke a feeling through the FREE 5 Day Email Challenge.


DO #5 – A helpful vendor

If I’m selling high-end jewelry, I need to dress the part. If my ideal customer is a well-put-together woman, me sporting casual wrinkly clothes, messy hair, and chipped nail polish sends them a conflicting message.

If your products say “sophisticated”, your look and language should too. Walk the walk, talk the talk and look the part of your brand.

Here’s a guide on what to wear to a craft fair to boost sales

Craft show shoppers want to feel they’re buying from an authentic, knowledgeable person.

Even if you hate selling, there are ways to make it feel comfortable and natural. You can’t be afraid to speak up and tell shoppers about your products. They won’t know what you don’t tell them and you’ll be doing them a disservice if you don’t share the benefits of buying from you. 

When you go to purchase a new laptop, do you feel annoyed by the salesperson telling you the features and benefits of each laptop? No! That’s because you need to know them to make an educated purchase.

Uncover the features and benefits your customers will care about and determine how to communicate them.

One of my favorite exercises for finding your USP (unique selling proposition) is defining your 5-E’s.

How are your products:

  • Exclusive – people always want to feel like they’re part of an exclusive club or the first to know about something. Do you make a limited number of products or give first dibs on new product lines to subscribers of your newsletter?
  • Extreme – Are your products “too” something for most people but “just right” for your ideal customer? i.e. too healthy (muffins that are too healthy for most but perfect for the health-conscious, gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, preservative-free eater), too moisturizing (too thick of a cream for most but perfect for those who suffer from really dry skin in the winter), too bold (too “in your face” for most but perfect for those who love to make a strong statement). This is a good way to find your niche and create products that solve a specific need. What is it about your product that makes it a bit too extreme or over the top for some people but perfect for your ideal customer? Seth Godin explains this concept in the book (affiliate link)  The Purple Cow  *Affiliate link means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my link, at no extra cost to you. Please read the full disclosure here
  • Exciting – excitement is hard to hide and it’s infectious. What is it about your products that get you really excited? The materials, the process, the way they can be used? This is info you’ll want to share with shoppers.
  • Exceptional – when you go above and beyond, shoppers are blown away. They then become cheerleaders for your products and your business and can’t help but talk about how amazing the product, customer service, etc. is. What do you do that goes beyond what most shoppers would expect?
  • Expertise – the more you become an expert in your field, the easier it is to talk about your products and the more people feel they’re getting value. Which area would you consider yourself an expert in? Have you put a ton of time into researching materials, production techniques, or sourcing biodegradable packaging?

I cover what’s really essential when it comes to selling and your sales pitch in the FREE 5 DAY CHALLENGE.

Once you have your selling points figured out, don’t be afraid to share them. You won’t come across as a needy salesperson when your intention is to educate and help people.


If you’re looking to continue on your journey to learning more about craft shows and making more money at them, check out these options:


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  1. Inge bekaert says:

    I pinned all you posts!! Really great tips and I’will consider them when I go to a craftbooth! Thanks a lo for all this advice: really helpful.
    Greetings from Belgium

  2. Made Urban says:

    Thanks for reading and pinning Inge! We really appreciate it and are so glad you find our articles helpful 🙂

  3. Sarah Tron says:

    Rather than count my cash during the show itself, I set up a report on my Square that I can open to see how I’m doing up to that point.
    Of course, you need to track all of your sales through the Square, not just the credit cards for this to work.

  4. Made Urban says:

    That’s a great tip Sarah. Quick and easy!

  5. Fiona Perry-Symes says:

    I think the way your photos of retail windows are translated for craft sellers is very clever.

  6. Made Urban says:

    Thanks Fiona! The retail windows are a little more extravagant than a craft fair booth but lots of ideas that can be used on a smaller scale 🙂 Thanks for reading!

  7. As a crafts show organizer I would like to add that people don’t want to see your boxes of supplies, dollies, trash, discount or sale, sale, sale signs or you thinking you are being discreet packing up before the end of the show. We need to shine from opening to closing. Dressing nicely will add to your air of professionalism. I see people sometimes who put together a gorgeous display and forget to look in the mirror. Your outfit each morning is the first art you create each day!

  8. Made Urban says:

    Thanks so much for your input Peggy! Keeping your space tidy is a great point and I couldn’t agree more with dressing the part 🙂

  9. Im doing repurposed, upcycled clothing and jewelry. Ive found an infinite amount of people doing the same. How in the world do I put a unique spun on THAT??!!

    1. Edith Shaw says:

      display is going to count big. As a shopper I need ideas on how to upgrade yesterday’s fashion into today’s statement. Fortunately today world allows for almost anything goes. So when you are creating your display pay attention to color & size. Display you clothing using these 2 factors. Important because a shopper will take a few minutes to look at what you have in a size they are shopping for & to find an accent piece to compliment it. NOTE; They may be shopping for a gift! If you have a rack of assorted skirts or name brand jackets shoppers will pass you by because they do not want to waste time. They will move on because there are so many other booths to visit. I am a resale shopper, retired on a budget. When I go to a store that racks the clothing by color & type only I am shortly discouraged and just walk away. A little advice from the other side. PS. At a craft show how you look reflex how responsible a salesperson you are. coordinate your outfit the day before.

  10. Melanie Kueterman says:

    I am working part time now and looking to crafting to help me stay sane. I would love to sell what I craft and am very excited to come across your post on pinterest! I would appreciate any input you have on doing this successfully. My first craft show won’t be until September and I plan to have fall and winter crafts to sell.

  11. P.jackson says:

    Absolutely excellent article!!!

  12. Made Urban says:

    Thank you so much P.jackson! Glad you enjoyed it 🙂

  13. Just read the article about dos and don’t. Agree with it all but find it hard to chat with my customers so I use a small part of my set up to work on my craft where they can see it. This shows that I really do make the product and it’s a good stepping stone into conversations about custom pieces they can order.

  14. This is one of the best articles on marketing I have ever seen.
    Thanks for posting it.

  15. Christine Garbett says:

    Excellent article and do and don’t. Good ideas too for display which help produce some ideas. Thank you.

  16. Love these tips! But as a soap seller I can’t legally make the claims you suggest on DO #1 – this makes my soap a cosmetic. Do you have suggestions for legally selling soap?

  17. Kimberly Pelle says:

    This article got me excited to start a new side business. Next up, I plan to read your article on selling and the law.

  18. Robin Bennett says:

    I put on 2 large vendor events a year – 75 vendors in each one. I see everyone that you have talked about!!!! The one on the phone didn’t sell a thing. The guy that makes his own lotions and soaps was out in front of his table giving every one a test sample right there! He sold out!! I try to make rounds all day and talk to vendors. At some booths, I never did find the vendor there!! And I provide sitters in case of potty runs, etc. You are spot on in your article!!!

  19. Rhoda Lee Hiller says:

    Excellent article. I have been doing crafts shows since the early 80’s and first impressions make a difference. Also demonstration helps. My craft is wood and 95% of all my work are from my own patterns. People know they are getting an original design and will come back.

  20. Thanks so much for reading and commenting everyone!! Great tips Robin and Rhoda!

  21. I’ve been participating in craft shows on and off for 20 years. I’ve read many books and articles on the subject (most is crap, fluff, unrealistic) but this post is hands down the very best advice. You get into the psychology of why people buy and how we can really help ourselves. Thank you sincerely for sharing. I have some thinking and rework to do. You can teach an older dog new tricks!

  22. Tina Hanks says:

    Wonderful article and information. I can’t wait to click on all the links to learn more.

  23. Virginia Cox says:

    This is the first I have seen your article. I find it very informative. Also could be used in many different forms of work as well as craft shows. Thank you for all of the suggestions you put forth. Will watch for more.

  24. Jeannie Robinson says:

    I have been dreaming of having a booth at a flea market for over twenty years. And your article gave me the confidence to give it a try! Now I just need to narrow down my products. Thanks so much!

  25. Well written thought provoking article! Thanks for sharing!

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