6 Reasons you Didn’t Sell Anything at a Craft Show

Craft shows require so much time and money to prepare for.

Walking away having only made one sale, or no sales, is deflating (and frustrating).

Sometimes it’s just the way the cookie crumbles. 

Even experienced vendors who typically generate hundreds of dollars at a craft show can have zero-sale events for reasons out of their control.

But if you’re new to craft shows and have walked away from your first one with zero or low sales, check to see if you’re making any of these mistakes. 

 

1) Your table looks too crafty

Tables that say “Here’s a bunch of stuff I made” don’t tend to do as well as tables that have a clear direction. 

Show shoppers what you’re an expert in. 

The more specific and customer-focused the better. 

Showing customers you’re an expert at crocheting by filling a table with crocheted goods isn’t customer-focused. 

Consumers don’t shop for “crocheted goods”. They shop based on the purpose a product serves in their lives. 

What purpose do you expertly serve in your customer’s lives?

>> Are you an expert at crocheting winter accessories? (hats, headbands, scarves, mittens)

>> Are you an expert at crocheting kitchen linens? (dishcloths, tea towels, pot holders)

>> Or are you an expert at crocheting baby items? (baby blankets, stuffed animals, mobiles)

Show customers, through your product line, what you’re an expert at making and the purpose you know how to serve. 

This will not only attract the right shoppers to your table, it will also help you build trust with them so they feel more comfortable buying from you.

Crafty craft show table vs. focused craft show table

 

2) Products are lacking purpose

Try to focus your product selection on items that consumers value more and put more thought into purchasing.

Shopping for a new pair of earrings is exciting for many shoppers.

>> Every morning they might pick out earrings to wear

>> They wear earrings to help express their personality or show their sense of style

>> Others might compliment them on their earrings

 

On the other hand, consumers don’t put much thought into purchasing an item like a bookmark.

>> They don’t pick out their bookmark every morning when getting ready to leave the house

>> People don’t typically use bookmarks to help express their personality

>> Not many people see their bookmark

>> Our society doesn’t place much importance on what your bookmark looks like 

 

A pair of earrings are generally more purposeful in a customer’s life than a bookmark.

That’s not to say bookmarks don’t deserve a spot on a craft show table.

But if a craft show table is full of items that don’t hold a lot of meaning or value in a customer’s life, shoppers may be less likely to buy.

 

3) Products look too similar to your competitors

Reading hundreds of positive and negative craft show reviews taught me that craft show shoppers don’t like seeing the same old items from craft show to craft show. 

One example was from a shopper who had seen multiple vendors at different craft shows selling succulents in similar styles of pots and was hoping for more originality from succulent vendors.

Take the time to walk around the craft shows you’re vending at, and even visit craft shows as a shopper. 

What are your competitors selling?

Do your products look similar to your competitors or do consumers have to come to you for a specific product/style of product?

Offer something craft show shoppers can’t easily find somewhere else.

 

4) Your prices are too low

Yes, low prices can actually deter sales. Again, it makes your products seem like “crafts” (i.e. something you tinker at for fun) rather than professionally handcrafted wares.

If you’ve underpriced your products, you may have deterred more people from buying because they questioned the quality.

Imagine, as a shopper, seeing two beautiful scarves. They look very similar but one is half the price of the other.

Wouldn’t you wonder what’s wrong with the scarf that’s priced lower than average?

Take a look at your prices in comparison to your competitors.

Don’t underprice your work unless that’s the brand you’re trying to build (budget-friendly) and the shoppers you want to attract (bargain shoppers).

 

5) The event isn’t a fit

Choosing the right craft shows is an important part of the process. 

If you’re selling at a free event with little to no promotion, it may have drawn the wrong target market for your business, or a bunch of looky-loos.

An event with a clear direction and marketing plan (e.g. a craft show for moms) will attract a specific shopper. If your products are a fit for that specific shopper, you’ll have an easier time making sales.

The event may also have too many vendors from one category (e.g. too many jewelry vendors), which will impact your sales. 

Or, the event may allow MLM’s (such as Scentsy, Arbonne, Norwex, etc. representatives) which can also throw off the vibe of the event, attract different types of shoppers, and draw sales away from handmade vendors. 

Research the event, the type of shopper it’s targeting and attracting, how it’s being promoted, the types of vendors they’re accepting, whether it’s juried or not, etc. to be sure you’re choosing an event that is a fit for your products and brand.

 

6) You looked defeated

Vendors and their behaviour will have an impact on sales. 

Stay engaged no matter how far into the event you are and how low (or high) your sales are. 

People are choosing to shop at a craft show in part for the interactions they have with the makers. 

If you’re upset because you’re halfway through the event and haven’t sold a thing, don’t let shoppers feel that. 

They deserve to have the best shopping experience, regardless of your sales. 

 

 

Any other points to add? Please share in the comment section 🙂

6 Reasons you Didn't Sell Anything at a Craft Show



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6 Comments

  1. How should we (mother and daughter) set up our two/three tables at vendor events? My daughter does fiber art (crocheting) and I do everything else: soap, pet products, candles, resin, herbal products, etc? I’ve bought all of your books and setting up the tables at craft vendor/farmer markets still escape me. We are still working on our website, how important is a website when signing up for a table at a vendor show, cause no one is getting back to us?

    1. Hi Stephanie!

      Thanks for reading and for purchasing my ebooks! It sounds like you’re working with a lot of product variation, which makes it much harder to create a display. I think if you stick to products within one category (e.g. pet products, or soap, or candles…but not all 3), you’ll have an easier time developing a display.

      As point #1 makes in this article, you have to show shoppers (and organizers) what you’re an expert at.

      This will also help in getting more responses from craft show organizers. They look for vendors in specific categories (e.g. jewelry vendor, soap vendor, bag vendor, etc.) because they want to be sure they have a good balance of vendors and products at the event. Because you don’t clearly fit within one category it may be confusing for organizer to figure out where to slot you in.

      I hope that helps!

      ~Erin

  2. Frank Mulholland says:

    Hi Erin, as always your insight into the correct and incorrect ways to boost sales at craft fairs is spot on. Since I have been receiving your emails I have revamped the way I display my rustic hand made items the reaction from my customers has been very positive.
    I look forward to receiving your emails and have learnt so many things so thanks for valuable advice. I cannot attend many fairs due to age and ill health but those I do attend my sales are rising.
    Once again, thank you and God bless you.
    Frankie.

    1. Thank you so much for reading! And for your kind words 🙂 I’m so happy to hear you’re finding the advice helpful and that you’re seeing a positive impact on sales. That’s amazing!
      ~Erin

  3. Shelley King says:

    Hi Erin,
    I love reading your posts and ebooks! I have used a lot of your tips. I was wondering if you could give me some tips about setting up a table that has my hand crafted wood items such as a wood serving tray/chucutery board, salt cellars, mountain napkin holders, wood coaster sets, wood tic tac toe game(which is a decor piece too), wood signs, phone holders, wood candle holders, etc. Mostly home and kitchen decor and accessories. I put items such as fake cookies, cheese & crackers, old phone, keys, fake chocolate in my display items to show case what the item can be used for and if it is on the table I put a piece of wood under it to angle the item as well as a 3 step raised display. Any help on how to lay them out to make them appealing would be wonderful.
    I look forward to hearing from you and the next installment on your blog!
    Shelley

    1. Hi Shelley,
      Thanks for reading! It sounds like you’re on the right track with your use of props, which will help shoppers imagine how they’ll use your products. You may also consider (if you’re not already doing so), grouping products by purpose. So perhaps the majority of your display is focused on kitchen/hosting products (charcuterie boards, napkin holders, salt cellar, etc.) and that’s the story your display tells (help shoppers imagine how beautiful their kitchen counter or table will look with your products). Then create another section for your decor items (e.g. phone holder, candle holder, signs). This makes it easier for shoppers to find and visualize items they can buy and use together in their homes.
      ~Erin

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