What is a Juried Craft Show? (& Why They’re Better)
If you’re starting to sell your handmade crafts on the craft show circuit, you may have heard the term “juried craft show” and are wondering; what’s the difference between a juried craft show and a non-juried craft show and which is better?
This article is going to cover the topic of juried craft shows, explain why they’re beneficial, and how to properly apply to one.
You may also be interested in learning about the products that sell well at craft shows: What Sells Best at a Craft Show?
WHAT IS A JURIED CRAFT SHOW?
A juried craft show is an organized event that requires vendors to submit an application before a deadline. The “jury” (aka event organizers) will then review all applications and choose the vendors they believe will be the best fit for their event.
Juried craft shows are harder to get into than non-juried craft shows, but they create a better opportunity for your handmade business to make money.
WHAT IS A NON-JURIED SHOW?
Non-juried craft shows are events that accept vendors on a first-come, first-served basis. There may be some restrictions on how many vendors there can be under each category (e.g. only 5 jewelry vendors, 5 soap vendors, etc.) but the event organizer won’t decide who those vendors are; that’s left up to who gets their money in first.
Non-juried events tend to have lower table fees than juried events and be smaller community events such as church, school, or neighborhood craft shows. They can still be successful events but there’s typically less organization, marketing, and foot traffic with non-juried events.
They can be a great way to dip your toes in the water and get some experience under your belt. If you’ve been invited to sell at a non-juried craft show, put your best effort in to create a professional-looking display so you can take pictures and use them to apply to juried events in the future.
BENEFITS OF A JURIED CRAFT SHOW
Juried craft shows are often preferred by handmade business owners, over non-juried craft shows, because it means the craft show organizer has thoughtfully chosen vendors to ensure there won’t be too many businesses competing with each other under the same category (e.g. 20 vendors out of 40 selling jewelry).
This selective process means each vendor has a better opportunity to make money and shoppers have a wide variety of products to shop from.
JURIED CRAFT SHOW PROS
- More likely to get your money’s worth
- Less competition under your category of product
- Wide variety of products for people to shop
- Tend to attract more shoppers
- More money put into production & marketing
- Well organized
- Potential to earn more money
JURIED CRAFT SHOW CONS
- More expensive table fees and higher costs (parking, table display, credit card reader, etc.)
- Harder to get accepted to
- Bigger events with lots of vendors to compete with
- Harder to grab shoppers’ attention and get them to stop at your table
- More expectations on you to help market the event (here are ways to help promote an event)
- If you don’t follow vendor etiquette you may not be accepted to future events (here’s what organizers expect from you, and what other vendors expect)
- Require your product collections & display to be top-notch (not really a con but something that requires time and money from you)
HOW DO I FIND JURIED CRAFT SHOWS?
Smaller, non-juried crafts shows are usually just promoted within their community (e.g. at the school, church, or community hall at which they’ll be held), while juried events are typically marketed through several platforms that reach people within an entire city.
There are several ways to find local craft shows and you can find a list of them here, and several other ways to sell your handmade crafts locally (besides craft shows).
HOW TO GET INTO A JURIED CRAFT SHOW
When you apply to a juried craft show, you’re competing with dozens, maybe even hundreds of other small businesses, so your application must be on-point.
There are a few things that event organizers always look for and that you must have in place to even be considered for a juried craft show.
A SUCCESSFUL JURIED CRAFT SHOW APPLICATION WILL:
- Follow application guidelines – put effort into your application and follow their instructions to a T. That means, if the online application asks you to include a link to your social media platforms, include an actual link; don’t tell them to search “XYZ bags” on Facebook. They likely have 100’s of applications to sort through so creating more work for the organizer or showing a lack of effort can easily get your application tossed.
*Find more reasons your application might get tossed here.
- Have great photos of your display – even if you’ve never sold at a craft show before, clear off your dining room table, cover it in a clean white table cloth, and set up an impressive display. Organizers want proof that you know how to create a professional-looking display.
*Want to know how to create a display that really wows? Join the free 5-day challenge: 5 DAYS TO A STANDOUT CRAFT SHOW DISPLAY.
Or, check out some examples of stunning displays here.
- Share what you bring to the table – craft show organizers are responsible for the majority of the marketing, but craft shows are a team effort. The more everyone collectively does their part to make the event great, the bigger success it will be for everyone. If you have a large Instagram following and plan to promote the event to your followers, let them know. The organizers will be looking for team players.
*Here are several other ways to help promote a craft show and get more shoppers to your table.
- Be a match for the event – that doesn’t mean you need to go out and rebrand your business, but if the event is targeting moms shopping with their babies, don’t showcase your new sassy product collection that uses swear words. Showcase the products that are the best fit for the event, use language and keywords in your application that fit the event, and follow-through (e.g. don’t showcase one product collection in your application and then show up with something completely different, that will get you banned from future events).
*Find more details for increasing your chances of being accepted to a juried craft show here.
If you don’t get into a juried craft show, don’t stress about it; it happens to the best of us at one point or another. Review the reasons you may not have been accepted (find several here) and be gracious; thank the organizer for considering you and ask if they have any feedback that may help you improve for next year’s event.
Sometimes your business, brand, or products just aren’t a fit for an event. And that’s okay; your business can’t be a fit for everyone. You must choose your target market wisely, and stick with it.
HOW MUCH MONEY CAN VENDORS MAKE AT CRAFT SHOWS?
How much money a vendor makes at a craft show will depend on the profit margins of their products, how much money they must spend to sell at the event, and how much product they sell at the event.
- This will help you increase your profit margins
- This will help you understand ALL costs you must consider and cover
- And this will help you estimate how much product you can sell at a craft show
You may also be interested in reading: CAN YOU MAKE A LIVING SELLING AT CRAFT SHOWS?
HOW MUCH DOES A CRAFT SHOW MAKE?
A craft show can break even, take a loss, or make thousands of dollars with one event; it just depends on how big the event is, how established the craft show’s brand is and what they can charge, and how organized the event planner is.
A juried craft show will charge each vendor a table fee, which can range from $20 all the way up to hundreds of dollars, maybe even thousands. A good portion of that fee goes towards paying for craft show expenses, such as:
- Renting the space
- Renting tables, chairs, dividers, a cash machine, etc.
- Marketing the event (e.g. paying for ads, radio spots, etc.)
- Swag bags and door prizes (you may want to contribute items to the swag bags, here’s what you should consider)
- Staff to help set up, run, and take down the event
- The organizer’s wages
The bigger the event, the more costs there are and the higher expectations will be. As a vendor, if you apply to a big event that costs you $200 for a booth, you’re expecting that there will be lots of shoppers ready to buy your products.
The organizer may also charge shoppers an entrance fee, which can help cover expenses and increase profits.
How much a craft show organizer makes will depend on how well they manage their money. If they sell 100 spaces at $200/space and have 25% profit margins, they can profit $5000 from one event.
You may also be interested in:
I hope this article has helped explain juried craft shows 🙂
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!