How to Host a Successful Craft Show
If you’re planning to host a craft show, this article is a must-read. It shares do’s and don’ts from vendors and all the little things they appreciate from a craft show host.
To have a successful craft show, you need each vendor to bring their A-game. Consider sharing this free checklist to help them prepare:
>> Free Craft Show Checklist (& Preparation Steps)
I’ve written several articles covering the do’s and don’ts for craft show vendors:
- Craft Show Organizers Share their Vendor Do’s & Don’ts
- 5 Mistakes to Avoid at a Craft Show
- Craft Show Etiquette
And one of my amazing readers suggested I put together a few do’s and don’ts for craft show organizers. So I asked craft show vendors on Facebook for their advice:
What do vendors expect out of market organizers and how can they help contribute to a great show for them?
A big thank you to everyone who gave their suggestions. Here are tips for first-time organizers or for those just looking for some vendor insight.
CRAFT SHOW HOST TIP 1 – Advertise, advertise, advertise!
Vendors were definitely all on the same page with this one. They want to be sure their time and money are being spent wisely by attending shows that are going to bring in a good crowd.
Craft show hosts should be sure to spread marketing efforts out and not rely on one resource. Make use of different forms of advertising, vendors, social media, and regular media to get the message out.
I’d suggest to do some market research about the show’s target market, when planning the advertising. Also HUSTLE to get word out… don’t sit back and expect flocks of customers just because you were on the radio for 10 seconds. ~Cheryl of Cloud & Lolly
Advertise the event on a regular basis through different media and encourage your vendors to do the same. There’s no better feeling signing up for an event that you feel is going to be a hit just based off of the advertising. The more excitement from the organizer, the more successful the event. ~ Ashley of Comfy Cozy Knits
I would think about what kind of traffic you want to bring to the show and advertise in that manner. It’s better to pay a higher vendor fee for a show that is well attended & advertised than a show with a cheap table that gets zero
traffic. Not worth setting up for a weekend. ~Crystal of Crystal Driedger Fine Art
Do advertise at places other than FB (should be a given, but I find that so often people don’t.) ~ Stephanie of My Little Sweet Pea’s Bowtique
Advertise, and then let us know where you are advertising. I like knowing where my booth fee is being spent. ~ BonNette of Bonseye Design
CRAFT SHOW HOST TIP 2 – Allow ample time for setup
We know it’s a lot of work to organize events; you’re probably sleep-deprived and have some long hours ahead of you on market day/weekend. But try to get to the venue as early as possible to give vendors enough time to set up, without feeling rushed.
If it’s a big event or the vendors have a large area to set up, consider renting the space the day before so displays are complete by that night and everyone can come back feeling fresh the next day. Having sweaty vendors rushing to finish as customers are walking in isn’t a good look 😉
Allow enough time for set up, I like to have 3 hours to not feel rushed. I do shows alone so, finding my spot, unloading, parking all take time. ~ BonNette of Bonseye Design
Allow sufficient time for set up. ~ Crystal of Crystal Driedger Fine Art
CRAFT SHOW HOST TIP 3 – Leave room between vendor tables
This isn’t always possible, depending on the venue, but even having a break every 2nd or 3rd table for vendors to sneak through is helpful. Not only do they need to step out from behind their table once and a while to rearrange their setup and have bathroom breaks, they also want to be able to come out and chat with their customers without having to crawl under the table or be in the way.
Consider the aisles and people attending the craft show as well. There are crowds that can’t be avoided (and really, who doesn’t want shoppers banging down the door?) but people want to be able to browse and chat with vendors without feeling like they’re in the way.
DO leave room in between set up…with my products I sometimes can’t just stand behind table…I need easy access to come out to front of table. ~ Marlene of LunaBeam Pets
Don’t overcrowd. Make sure your layout includes enough room for people to move about in both directions. ~ Stephanie of My Little Sweet Pea’s Bowtique
Don’t overbook vendors and crowd the space. Makes for unhappy vendors and frustrated customers when it takes forever to move through. ~ Alanna of While She Was Dreaming
CRAFT SHOW HOST TIP 4 – Lead by example
Chances are you’re not going to get through an event without some type of hiccup. Whether that’s leading up to the event or the day of, try to keep your cool.
You’re not only representing your brand as a craft show host, you’re setting the vibe for the whole show.
If vendors or shoppers are watching you frantically run around and lose your cool, they’re going to feel uneasy too. Think of it like your wedding day; Things are going to go wrong and you’ll feel like it’s the end of the world. But as long as you keep a smile on your face and remain calm, no one will even realize the tablecloths were supposed to be white……not CREAM!!! 😉
Stay calm! Any freak out no matter the circumstances should be done in private. Fritzy organizers with little to no patience really turn me off. ~ Richelle of Handmade by Rishshells
CRAFT SHOW HOST TIP 5 – Have a good variety of vendors
There are categories that will fill up fast but try not to overpopulate them just to fill the show. This leaves vendors competing for attention from shoppers and shoppers lacking variety from vendors.
If you are having several vendors selling under the same category (e.g. jewelry) try to choose designers whose style will appeal to different customers. Be sure to spread out vendors selling similar products. This gives variety to customers as they walk around the show and doesn’t leave vendors sitting right next to their competitor.
Don’t put like vendors side by side. I once did a show with 8 jewelry vendors all side by side. ~ Jenn of Ollie Boo Jewelry
Do plan a thoughtful layout of product types. ~ Shannon of She Does Create
Don’t place vendors with similar products side by side. If shoppers don’t know where one booth ends and the other one starts, this becomes a problem. One way for a successful show organizer to prevent this from happening is to have a limit on the number of vendors for each craft (along with proper spacing). ~ Ashley of Comfy Cozy Knits
Don’t put similar vendors next to each other.~ Julie of Majesty Industries
CRAFT SHOW HOST TIP 6 – Provide well-designed material for vendors
Although it’s not the vendor’s job to take care of marketing, they’ll likely help spread the word. Offer them marketing material they can share online and in print. Be sure that you’ve designed a logo and material that fit the feel of your show, looks professional, and is something they’ll be proud to hand out.
Provide vendors with electronic flyers that can be posted on their social media sites. Ensure location, date and time are indicated. ~ Jenn of Ollie Boo Jewelry
Get a graphic designer to make your handbills, posters, logo. Or better yet, offer free booth space for your designer and you may attract a student to design something perfect for your show. No one wants to attend a show that looks terrible. ~ Crystal of Crystal Driedger Fine Art
Do send out flyers early so we can advertise. ~ Julie of Majesty Industries
CRAFT SHOW HOST TIP 7 – Inform applicants about the types of vendors who will be attending
Vendors may switch up their product selection a bit based on the other vendors that are attending so it’s a good idea to keep them in the loop.
Although they are home-based businesses as well, reps selling through companies like Arbonne, Scentsy, and Tupperware are quite different than handmade home-based businesses. It sets a different tone for the show and can leave handmade vendors competing with the prices of mass-produced items. There’s nothing wrong with an event that showcases both but it is an important aspect to convey to vendors who are applying.
Let potential vendors know if the show is handmade only or if Marykay/Tupperware types are entering the show. ~ Crystal of Crystal Driedger Fine Art
Please don’t call it a craft show if the majority of vendors are direct sales. When I see craft show I think handmade. If I walk inside as a customer, thinking I’m going to find a lot of handmade vendors and I see mostly DS, I’m most likely to walk back out. Do be upfront with potential vendors as to whether you are accepting a mixture of both. It does matter. ~ Stephanie of My Little Sweet Pea’s Bowtique
Let vendors know exactly how many vendors will be selling the same thing as them. ~ Marlene of LunaBeam Pets
CRAFT SHOW HOST TIP 8 – Be available & answer questions
A craft show host has a hectic job, but do your best to be involved and available every step of the way. It’s a good idea to put together a vendor package beforehand that includes an application form and all the information a vendor needs to know; table space, access to electricity, set up/take down times, parking, directions, etc. This will keep vendors informed and you won’t have to answer the same questions multiple times.
Answer any questions that do come in, in a timely manner and be around for questions the day of. Vendors are likely a little stressed, tired and nervous when they arrive to the venue; the last thing they want to do is run around looking for the host.
Have someone present to greet the vendors as they arrive and let them know where to set up. If you need to hire an extra hand the day of, the help is certainly valuable to the vendors.
My favorite organizers are the ones who are involved in all aspects of the event. I don’t expect them to do everything but I would like them to have knowledge of what’s happening before and during the event. Communication and organization are key. I truly appreciate being told where, what and when to show up, set up and shut up! ~ Judy of The Mombot Window Art
It’s also helpful to have volunteers walk around to allow vendors bathroom breaks. ~ Crystal of Crystal Driedger Fine Art
Do come and ask us how things are going and if we have any concerns or need anything. Don’t bend the rules for your friends or have your own table you’re more concerned about. ~ Louise of The Vintage Magpie
Interact with your vendors. Someone ‘with’ the show should stop by each booth and introduce themselves. ~ BonNette of Bonseye Design
Respect a Vendor’s time and give information well in advance. ~ Shannon of She Does Create
CRAFT SHOW HOST TIP 9 – Add a swag bag
Any bonus to get customers in the door is great for vendors. Whether it’s swag bags or a gift basket shoppers can enter to win, try to offer an incentive for people to visit your event or want to be the first through the door.
Check out: WHAT TO CONTRIBUTE TO SWAG BAGS
Do have swag bags as that seems to bring in tons of people. ~ Alanna of While She Was Dreaming
CRAFT SHOW HOST TIP 10 – Over Prepare
This last one is a suggestion from me. I’ve met a lot of craft show vendors over the years, as a fellow vendor and as a craft show website owner and formed some great relationships. They’ve always felt comfortable enough to share their honest opinions and they’re well aware of craft show hosts that organize a great show but weather, events, etc. are out of their hands, and when they don’t put the effort in to get people there.
They’re quite understanding if weather throws off a craft show’s results but if they feel the event was poorly organized and put on by someone who thought it would be a quick and easy way to make some money, they won’t be signing up for future events are are likely to warn other vendors about the host.
Times are always changing and unfortunately, it’s not enough to run a radio ad or place a billboard on a busy street. You should be working with the local press to get featured on News stations, in the paper, on the radio, etc. People tune ads out but you have a better chance of being noticed if you get to have a conversation about your event with a radio/TV host or newspaper writer.
Get creative with your marketing, know your target market and do more than you think you need to. You’ll never be upset if too many shoppers show up but it’ll be a tough day if you didn’t get enough marketing in and shoppers don’t show up.
Thank you to everyone who gave their valuable input! Feel free to comment below if you have any other tips 🙂
You may also be interested in these reads:
12 Ways Vendors can Help Promote a Show
4 Craft Show Organizers Share their Do’s & Don’ts
Craft Show EtiquetteCraft Show Checklist
12 Tips to Help Introverts Sell at a Craft Show
How to Start a Conversation with Anyone at a Craft Show
Hey, I’m Erin 🙂 I write about small business and craft show techniques I’ve learned from being a small business owner for almost 2 decades, selling at dozens of craft shows, and earning a diploma in Visual Communication Design. I hope you find my advice helpful!
Some great ideas here for show organizers. Thanks.
let vendors know what kind of photos you’d like to see for your social media campaigns. It’s such a fun way to participate if an organizer calls for process shots, lifestyle shots of your product, post-market loot shots, etc.
Request vendors to move their vehicles after unloading to allow room for customer parking.
Communication, communication, communication! The organizers need to make sure that the vendors get word immediately if they are selected for an event. Vendors spend timeless hours creating the products they take to sale. I had signed up for an event close to Christmas for a well known event. Problem was the folks who were in chRge of notifying the vendors didn’t do their job. It was a high school booster club, who’s parents were in charge of taking care of the details with vendors. I signed up in April, worked all summer and fall to make product. When it came close to the event, even though I had been in communication with the organizers, I never received any information as to whether I was going to have a space for my items. I wrote, called, called, called and wrote. No reply. Finally I called the administration office and asked to be in contact with someone who would let me know what was going on. When finally contacted, they told me they were sorry, but they worked a full time job! Ugh! This was for their kids benefit and they were too busy for the task. Then delegate duty to someone who could do the job. And just because someone sends an email, a follow up call should be made to insure that the participant gets the information, and not 3 days before the event. I had talked to other vendors, who also had the same trouble as me with this organizer. It left a sour taste, and now I won’t go to craft shows. PLEASE have consideration for those who you rent spaces to. It is a lot of work and if it isn’t successful, it’s not worth doing!
Communicate more than once. Communicate a lot. Ask if there is any needs that they have for electricity, walls, tables, Ect. Have helpers there to unload and load boxes and tables. Be a good supporter of the people who support your show. It’s not just about selling booth spaces! If you want people to return, then help them be successful. Advertise on radio, tv, in the neighborhood, in school newsletters, everywhere you have the opportunity. It makes for a more successful event for all involved. Don’t just sell spaces! Organizers, follow up on committees and make sure they are doing what they are supposed to be doing, and if not, delegate to another person who can do it. Working a full time job isn’t a good excuse. It’s a cop out. We work more than full time to create products for others, keep up to your commitment. It’s only fair!
This is great information, Thank you.
When looking for a location, what area is best? How do I find a location to host a craft fair?
Thanks for reading Angela & Ashley!
Ashley – the best location will depend on your event and the type of shoppers you want to attract.
How many vendors you’ll have – you don’t want the space too small and to feel cramped but too big and it can feel empty
Type of vendors you’ll have – how big of a space they’ll need and what they’ll be selling; bigger pieces need bigger aisles and entryways for vendors and shoppers to move pieces in and out
Event branding – if going for an sophisticated vibe, you want the venue to reflect that and a school gym likely won’t be a good fit unless you get really creative with decorating
Type of shoppers – will they be driving? A place that’s easy to find and has lots of free parking would be good.
Other attractions – if there are other events/shopping venues/etc. close by, you can gain some foot traffic
Great info. I’m on my 6th year of hosting a craft fair and I still like to read these kinds of articles. Question: I’m looking for an easier way to mark booth spaces. Right now, we still hand measure everything and tape off each booth dimension by hand, for example a 10×5 or 10×7. Anyone got an idea how to better mark each space than this backbreaking work? It’s on carpet, and tape will stick. Chalk is not allowed. Tried a tape roller but too wobbly and had to handcut each piece every 10 feet.
My sister-in-law and I are hosting a craft fair in March and unfortunately we are competing with a very large craft show two towns over. Do you have any tips on getting vendors? ….and getting the costumers here? This is our first time hosting an early spring event. We can’t change the date because we already have a couple vendors. We are adding a couple cookie decorating and Chalk Couture demonstrations to try and fill space and bring in costumers but looking for more ideas.
My sisters and I are starting up our own craft fair this year and there is soo much valuable info on here so thank you! Can anyone give their experience on the business side of things. We would like to accept donations and sponsorships for our event, will jury and charge booth fees. Do we need to get a tax id number and or LLC set up with the gov’t for this, or do we just apply for a temp business liscence for the event? We do not need to be a non-profit unless that is the best way to go about it. Also, do you require tax ID info from your vendors? Help!!