Hello, and thank you for stopping by. Today we are in the thick of summer here in Tucson, and it is getting hot. One of my favorite things to do on a Saturday morning, other than quilting, is to go to a farmers market. I secretly would love to have my own booth. I toy around with this idea all the time. Actually, I have a small stock pile of things I could sell and things for displaying items. That is why I think this is the perfect topic for today: How to Prepare for Craft Fairs and Farmers Markets.
Since I don’t have any experience in this, my guest writer is Abby Holt from Craftability.org. Welcome Abby, and take it away!
Prepping for a Craft Fair
Making a living by quilting or crafting can be hard work, but it’s definitely possible. For crafters like you, fairs and vendor shows are ideal for showcasing your products, but they do require an investment. You’ll typically have to lay down some cash to become a vendor in a craft show, and you want to ensure you can earn a profit.
First, you need to research suitable shows for your wares and makes. You may need to submit applications that include photos of your products. Many shows limit vendors by product type, but if not, make sure there won’t be a lot of other vendors with the same products you plan to sell. If you are new to the craft fair scene, here is your starter kit.
Dazzle With Your Booth
If you plan to make crafting a full-time business, you might consider first forming a Limited Liability Company. An LLC provides tax benefits, limited personal liability, and flexibility. The regulations for LLC formation differ depending on the state, so learn about Arizona LLC registration first. If it seems overwhelming, you can hire a formation service to handle the details for you.
Next, you’ll want to ensure you have a great booth setup. Your booth should be simple, professional, and draw in customers. Make sure your products are clearly visible and that there is a natural flow from your displays to your point of purchase. You have limited space, so use it wisely.
Attract Customers With Your Signs
Investing in signs helps customers to learn your brand and educates them about your product. If you are a quilter or fiber arts professional, you probably offer some custom products. Signs are essential for letting your customers understand your services and their purchase options.
Wow With Your Pricing
If you have tried selling crafts before, you may be familiar with customers murmuring about the price. You want to keep your prices attractive, but don’t undervalue your hard work. If you do run into customers who remark about high pricing, always remain polite—you never know when a customer may return because they realize your prices are reasonable!
You also want to ensure you make a profit, which means selling enough to cover any application and booth fees. When in doubt, visit some craft shows and note prices of similar products of other vendors.
Be Conscientious With Your Inventory
Don’t go overboard on inventory. You just need to bring enough to cover your fees and reach your sales goals based on the number of attendees. With fabric arts like quilting, building up inventory takes time. If you’re running low on ideas or inspiration, visit Brown Bird Designs.
Be Accommodating With Payment
Many vendors prefer cash payments at fairs and shows. However, most vendor shows also have Wi-Fi that allow you to use card readers. There are many mobile payment options available, so consider getting a card reader so you’re able to accept more types of payment and appeal to even more potential customers.
Craft shows are hard work, and it will take time to learn what works for your quilts and other products. However, shows are a great way to get your brand in front of customers and to build a network. With the tips above, you can earn a profit at your next craft show.
This is great info, Abby. Thank you so much for putting this together. Right now handmade items are selling. So, I think it will be the perfect time for me to dip my toes in the water. I know Etsy sales have really grown over the past year, meaning people are looking for that unique item they can call their own or gift to someone else. I created a free downloadable sign for use at a fair. Click here to get it. Hopefully it will be helpful. I will be working on some more things and add them in my Etsy shop.
I am always looking for inspiration on displaying products. Pinterest is a great way to catalog the photos you come across on the internet. If you would like to use my board for inspiration feel free. Click here for a link to my board. I would love to know how many other makers out there would like to have a booth at a market? If so, what is holding you back? If you have a booth, do you have any tips for us??
Bailey Stout from by & by recently participated in a pop-up event here in Tucson, AZ. She dyes and sells. This is a photo of her lovely booth!! Here are her thoughts of the experience, “I brought way too much inventory. My setup definitely attracted attention, and I was able to connect with a lot of folks. It was my first event ever, and it was the host’s first time hosting a pop up, which means crowds were smaller than other, more established markets. Next time I’ll check attendee stats before choosing what items to bring! Networking with other small businesses and getting my business out there was worth it.”
I know I worry I don’t have enough items, and I worry that they won’t sell. Saturdays are the days I can make the most progress on this crafty side hustle, so it is hard to commit those days to being at a venue. In all honesty, I am a huge worry wort. But even if I don’t sell a lot of things, the exposure alone is probably good enough, because no one is going to get to know my brand unless they see it. I have known vendors that only sold at a Farmers Market one day a month, the first Saturday of the month. Setting a day lets the buyer know when you will be there. This would be perfect for me because it is a way to keep my production up but still creating interest and a market for my products.
One way you can make sure there are not a lot of vendors with the same products as yours, is attending the market yourself before you sign up for it. That way you can get a feel for what type of vendors and buyers will be there. Another way is contacting the person that is in charge of the event and asking them.
I would recommend collecting email addresses, so when and if you get to the point where you create emails or newsletters or even just a, “Hey, I will be at the Farmers Market tomorrow! Come and see me,” you have people you can reach out to.
If you take that leap, I wish you luck!! I hope this helped if you are prepping for a craft fair. Happy crafting everyone!