Craft shows are a great way to generate revenue and move a lot of stock (when executed properly).
First, you must find craft shows in your area (or an area you can travel within and stay profitable).
Then you must wisely choose which ones to apply to and submit an application that convinces organizers to accept your handmade business.
And then…you must prepare. Which means:
- Plan your display
- Calculate how much stock to bring
- Get comfortable with pitching your products
STEP 1 – WHERE TO FIND LOCAL CRAFT SHOWS
Here are 10 ways you can discover craft shows in your area:
1 – SOCIAL MEDIA
A little less conventional but can be effective if you’re willing to do a bit of searching. Here’s how you might find craft shows near you through some of the more popular social media platforms:
Try searching “craft show”, “market”, “farmers’ market”, “festival”, etc. in Facebook’s search bar.
Along the top of the screen, under the search bar, you can click on “Events”. You may also find local craft shows listed under the “Pages”, “Groups” or even “Posts” tab of your search.
Once you’re under a tab (e.g. Events), along the left side of the search results you can select “Choose a location” and enter your city/town.
Log into your Instagram account and click on the search icon found at the bottom of your screen (the magnifying glass).
Tap on the search bar at the top and try entering a keyword such as “craftshow”. It will first show you the “Top” results for that keyword so you may see Instagram accounts that have “craftshow” in their account name, or hashtags. If you click on a hashtag result, it will show you all the posts that have been made and include #craftshow.
To find craft shows that are near you, add your city or town to the keyword (e.g. “edmontoncraftshow”) or use the airport code for the city you’re searching. For example “YEG” is the airport code for Edmonton so I would search “yegcraftshow”.
If hashtag results appear, click on one and check out the posts that use that hashtag to find names of specific events.
You can also click on “Accounts” or “Tags”, which appear under the search bar, to specifically search for only Instagram accounts that have “craftshows” in their name, or only posts that use the specific hashtags.
You can also type the name of a venue into the search bar, then click the “Places” tab. That will bring up any posts people have made and added that location. If you scroll through the posts, you may find photos of a craft show held at that venue and discover the name of it in the post’s description.
Similar to Instagram, you can use the search bar to search keywords (e.g. craft show) along with your city’s name or airport code (e.g. “Edmonton” or “YEG”).
Once you type a keyword into the search bar, you’ll also have the option under search filters to search “near you”.
You can also use the advanced search to find tweets made during a certain time period. This would come in handy if you were looking for craft shows happening during the holidays this year. You could search for tweets made during November/December of last year to see where shoppers and vendors were when they tweeted about “craft shows”.
Under the search bar, you can sort results by “Top”, “Latest” (to find the most recent posts made using the keyword), or “People”, which will show you any Twitter accounts with the keyword (e.g. “craft show”) in their account name or description.
2 – ONLINE CLASSIFIEDS
Websites such as Kijiji and Craigslist are places where people can create classified ads, so you may find craft show organizers in your city have created ads for their upcoming events.
I prefer Kijiji but there are many classified websites out there. When you visit their website (https://www.kijiji.ca) you can search for craft shows, farmers’ markets, and events in a couple of ways:
Enter a keyword (e.g. craft show, craft sale, market, vendor market, etc.), keep “All Ads” selected in the drop-down, select your city or area, and then click the search icon.
Once you conduct a search, Kijiji will also have keyword suggestions under the search bar. You can click on any one of those links to find more ads.
Make sure the correct location is selected in the drop-down and then hover on the “community” tab found on the home page (you can click the Kijiji logo in the left corner to get back to the home page at any time).
Under that tab, click “Events”. You can further refine your search, once on the Events page, using the links and options on the left side of the screen.
You may also check out the “Artists & Musicians” link under the “Community” category as sometimes event ads are listed there.
3 – COMMUNITY HALLS & CHURCHES
Bigger does not always mean better when it comes to craft shows. There are some amazing small events held by community leagues, churches, schools, etc.
If you receive your local community, church, or school newsletter (online or off), check it out to see if there are any upcoming craft shows, bake sales, bazaars, etc.
You can also search online for well-known community leagues, churches, or schools in your city and check out their website for upcoming events. Sign up for their newsletter if they have one, or even contact them and ask if they have any events coming up, as well as how to get on their contact list to be notified when an event is booked at their community hall/church/school.
4 – LOCAL PAPERS
Your local newspaper may have a “What’s On” or an “Events” section that mentions upcoming events in your city.
Some organizers may even advertise vendor calls under the classified section of the newspaper.
5 – CITY WEBSITE
Your city or town should have a website; check to see if they have an “Events”, “Festivals” or “Attractions” page. They may list some of the bigger events that attract people to their city each year or have an event calendar where craft show organizers list their events.
6 – LOCAL EVENT CALENDARS
You may be able to find an online event calendar for your city or town by Google-ing “_____________ (name of your city) event calendar”.
It should bring up results of any online resource that has an event calendar. You may find an online version of your newspaper’s event section, local event and activity websites or blogs, websites dedicated to listing all types of events in your city/town, or even event calendars for specific venues in your city/town.
7 – ETSY LOCAL
Etsy has a section of their website where you can find local events.
Visit this page: https://www.etsy.com/local which should automatically pick up your location but if it doesn’t, you can enter your location in the search bar and select: this week, this month, or this year.
The results will show events in your area posted by Etsy members.
If you click on an event, you can find more information about it and hopefully a contact or website for the craft show. Some don’t include many details, in which case, you could Google the name of the event to try and find a website or social media page for it.
8 – GOOGLE SEARCH
A simple Google (or Yahoo…or your favorite search engine) search can uncover craft shows near you. Simply search “__________ (name of your city) craft shows”.
You may discover different websites that list events near you, or the websites of local craft shows.
Try different keywords in your searches such as:
- Craft sale
- Craft fair
- Farmers’ market
- Vendor market
- Vendor events
You can also scroll to the bottom of the search results and find “Searches related to ________”, which might uncover slightly different results once you click on a link.
9 – CRAFT SHOWS
Head straight to the source. If you know about a local event but it’s too late to apply, put the date in your calendar and visit the craft show for research purposes.
You may be able to chat with the organizer if they’re not too busy. A simple introduction might even help get your foot in the door when you apply to their next event. Many organizers will host a variety of events throughout the year (e.g. Mom & Tot Show, Spring Craft Show, etc.) so it’s a good idea to ask if they have anything else coming up.
You should also take the time to talk to a few vendors. You don’t want to take up much of their time, even if it’s a slow show, but look for vendors selling similar items to you; that may be the same type of product (e.g. knitted goods), similar price point of products, or similar style (e.g. they sell contemporary-styled jewelry and you sell contemporary-styled home goods).
Let them know you’re venturing into the craft show world and are looking for some new events to try (or whatever is true for you…new to the city, looking to try something different, etc.). Ask if they have a business card and if they mind if you contact them for event suggestions.
10 – CRAFT SHOW LISTING WEBSITES
There are websites dedicated to listing craft shows and festivals around the country. Such as:
- Fairs & Festivals
- Festival Net
- Art Fair Calendar
- National Craft Show Directory
- Festival Finder
Once you find events, it’s not simply a matter of applying to any/all and crossing your fingers you get accepted.
There are a few more steps to follow to ensure once you’ve found craft shows near you, you make money at them.
STEP 2 – APPLY TO THE RIGHT CRAFT SHOWS
It’s just as important for you to determine if your business is a fit for a craft show as it is for the organizer to.
It takes time to apply and prepare for craft shows and in a small handmade business, time is money.
Gather details about the event to determine how much money you have the potential to make.
I explain how to calculate your potential revenue for each event HERE
Other information to gather before you apply or commit can be found in MAKE MORE MONEY AT CRAFT FAIRS, such as:
- Fees associated with the event (do they charge extra for tables or access to electricity)
- The event’s target audience (so you can be sure it aligns with your business’)
- Other vendors (tells you what type of customers the event will attract and your competition if you get accepted)
- Factors that can impact how many shoppers attend (e.g. entrance fee, parking situation, other events in the city on the same day, etc.)
STEP 3 – SUBMIT THE RIGHT APPLICATION TO THE RIGHT CRAFT SHOWS
If you’re applying to a craft show that has the potential to be an amazing event, and other vendors recognize that potential as well, your application is going to have some competition.
Submitting your craft show applications is sort of like submitting a resume for a job you really want; it needs to stand out.
It should, of course, cover all the basics such as being filled in properly, be submitted on time, and have a professional vibe, but that just gets your application looked at and not tossed aside.
There are many other little things organizers look for that tell them whether or not you’ll be a good addition to their event.
There are tons of vendors who make amazing products so they’re looking for something above and beyond a nice looking item.
There’s a Craft Fair Application Checklist (as well as many other helpful checklists) in MAKE MORE MONEY AT CRAFT FAIRS to double-check your application before you submit it, but a few things to think about:
- Do photos of your table display tell organizers your space is going to help increase the value of their show? They want professional-looking tables that make shoppers feel they’re shopping a quality show.
- Do you have an online presence? Organizers do take care of most of the marketing for the event but they will definitely factor in if you have an online presence and can help them bring more people to the show. The more people who participate, get excited about the event and get others excited about the event, the better the event will be.
- Are you pointing out what’s different about your business and products? They’ve seen many applications from people who make jewelry, or soap, or knit scarves. What’s different about your jewelry, or soap, or scarves that will help make their event stand out? Why will people want to visit their event to check out your products when they were just at a craft show or farmers’ market last week and likely saw jewelry, soap, and scarf vendors?
STEP 4 – PREPARE THE RIGHT AMOUNT OF STOCK FOR CRAFT SHOWS
Typical vendor behavior upon being accepted to a show is to:
- Panic about how much time there is before the event and worry there’s not enough time to fit everything in
- Get to work making, making, making
- Make as much stock as possible up until the day before the event and hope it’s enough
But there’s a better way to plan stock that gets you closer to the right amount you need for a specific show based on:
- How long the event is
- How many shoppers the organizer estimates they’ll get (they won’t all buy from you, there’s an average conversion rate you can follow to figure out the number of sales you’re likely to make)
- Your average sales per hour based on past events
- Sales stats from past events (which products you typically sell the most of and should stock up on)
- Your goals; how much money do you want to make?
- Your costs; how much do you need to make to cover all your costs and how many items must you sell to do that?
Not having enough stock means lost sales. But let’s be honest, in most cases, we vendors are left with too much stock at the end of a craft show.
Even if you have an online shop to sell leftover stock through or retailers you can send it to, it still eats into your profits.
And small handmade businesses need to be extremely efficient with their time and effective with their money.
You’ve spent time packing all those products to the craft show, setting them up, trying to sell them, packing them back up and taking them home. That’s time you need to be paid for.
Now you need to spend more time, unpacking them at home, taking photos of them, uploading photos, creating listings, packaging and shipping items once they’ve sold.
Those products you made for the craft show have now taken double the work to sell.
There will almost always be stock leftover from a craft show, and you can never know for sure how much you’ll sell or even how busy an event will be.
But the more accurate your estimate of how much stock you need for an upcoming event, the better chance you have to be profitable.
MAKE MORE MONEY AT CRAFT FAIRS has several calculations and formulas to follow to estimate how much stock you should make depending on the event you’re participating in.
Then it shows you how to create a schedule for that stock, as well as tips to make more stock in less time and what to do if you know you’re going to be short on stock (there is a simple solution).
STEP 5 – PLAN THE RIGHT DISPLAY FOR CRAFT SHOWS
Your plan for your display should not be to show up, put a tablecloth over the rented table, spread your products around, and maybe add a few risers.
Your display needs to be strategic. It should:
Tell shoppers what’s different about your jewelry, or soap, or scarves, etc.
That’s your USP and every single business needs one. Check out the 3 common mistakes crafters make with theirs here.
If there isn’t something unique about the product you’re selling (aside from the fact it’s made by you and is your design), shoppers won’t feel as compelled to buy from you.
All of your products and your branding (which includes your craft show display) need to make a specific type of consumer feel like they’ve found their perfect match.
We want your craft show display and the products in it to make *some shoppers (*not all shoppers, you’re only targeting a specific type of shopper) think:
I can’t believe I just discovered this business. It’s like it’s made for me. I want one of everything.
This piece is nice, but do I really need another pair of earrings/jar of cream/knitted scarf?
Give people a reason to choose you.
Tell a story and evoke a feeling
Think of your display like a store window that draws people in. Retail windows always tell a story. It may be that spring has sprung, lilac is the color of the season and they have it in stock. Or that it’s back to school time and they can help you be the most organized parent on the block.
We don’t shop or buy when we feel “meh” about a product or brand.
Your display, products, and sales pitch need to evoke some type of emotion if you want shoppers feeling like they need to buy that day.
Lead the shopper through your space and create an experience
We don’t just shop with our eyes; all of our senses come into play so think about how you can create a branded experience, through and through.
Maybe you add a subtle scent to your space (e.g. when promoting fall colored scarves you add subtle pumpkin spice scent through a diffuser) or even a flavor if the event allows (e.g. offering spiced cider to people as they shop your fall selection) or create a display that encourages shoppers to feel your products (e.g. offering samples of your creams or suggesting they pick up and feel the softness of your scarves).
You can check out this article for the proper layout of a craft show table, which covers the zones you should have, the purpose of them, and the products that should go in each zone.
If you want help with the story of your display, the feeling of your space, and creating a display that sells, sign up for the free email course: 5 DAYS TO A STANDOUT CRAFT SHOW DISPLAY