{3 tips for selling your wares at a craft show // guest post}

Sharon of Shaggy Baggy is guest posting here today with her experience selling wares at various craft shows. Sharon and I first met through a meet-up or blog event or craft show, it’s hard to remember since we see each other around Minneapolis every few months ;] Naturally I thought she would be a great resource for today’s post — selling your wares at a craft show. ENJOY!

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I am thrilled to be sharing this post with the Gussy Sews community. Welcome!

I have just finished a busy 3 months of holiday craft sales, boutiques and art shows. My season began in September at The Creative Connection Event.  I sewed like crazy to re-build my inventory in October and had two sales in October and a sale every weekend  in November. This has been my second year of holiday craft sales. Here are a few things I have learned:

1. Choosing a venue. Big investment doesn’t always result in big sales. Of the nine sales I participated in throughout 2011 the best organized, run and attended was done by volunteers of a local school PTA. Being a member of my local ETSY street team has been a great help in finding local sale opportunities. I also make the effort to connect with at least one person from this team at each sale I participate in. Living in the metro area of Minneapolis/St. Paul gives me lots of choices. Festivalnet.com is good online source as well as just doing a google search for sales in your area.

2. Tracking your expenses. This goes beyond participation fees. Things to consider: Display costs – keep these to a minimum if you are just starting out. Keep it simple at first, this will let you figure out what works and what doesn’t. How much time goes into to getting ready for a sale (tagging items, packing, transportation) as well as your time spent at the sale. Will you go alone or have help {and will you pay for this help}?

3. Stay positive. Often a slow craft show has resulted in future online sales or a great connection with a local shop for wholesale. This is also a great opportunity to meet other local artisans, and learn of other upcoming sales opportunities. Don’t show your frustration or join in a conservation with fellow vendors that may be disappointed with a sale. Be friendly, be proud of your work. Take advantage of this opportunity to show off your work and brag about your passion for your craft.

♥ Connect with Sharon on her blog | shop | twitter | facebook.

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EVEN MORE RESOURCES:
* craft show tips + tricks via sunshine and carousels
* craft show display tips + must-haves via Etsy
* successful craft fair tips via Handmadeology
* 7 common vendor event blunders via craft show tips
* craft room organizational tips {great for displaying/organizing product at a show} via My Blessed Life

SHARE WITH US: Have you participated in a local craft show? Are you new to the craft scene?  Are you a seasoned pro with years of experience? Have a question or tip to share? All comments are welcome!

PS. enter to win $500 in personal style/home decor services — {a Full Red Carpet Package [style] giveaway, via cupcakeMAG!}, yeow!

Comments

  1. 3

    says

    I have a love/hate relationship with craft fairs/vendor events! I love meeting/talking to people and I am proud of what I make but I find them to be really hit or miss. Many of the shows I did this year, if I hadn’t told my existing customers about them, I would not have had one sale. :( I guess it’s all about finding the right shows/events for you/your products. The search continues! :) Great tips though! Thank you!

    [Reply]

    Gussy Sews Reply:

    i’ve learned it’s all about the venue and the customers attending — NOT just about your wares, your prices, your booth display. if customers don’t understand handmade {and aren’t coming to shop} then it can be a total bust. which yes, is so frustrating — but i try and look at it as confirmation that it’s OK to only sell online.

    i don’t need to do 238 different things to feel successful with my business :]

    [Reply]

    Michelle @ theLoveMichCollection Reply:

    I think that has been my problem! The customers at the fairs/shows I’ve done do not understand handmade. Super frustrating! I even had one lady pick up a wristlet and say “Wow this is so cute!” then looked at the price (which mind you was only $30, not like it said $300!) and says “Well I don’t love it THAT much.” STING!!!

    Thank you for confirming that it is OK to not try to do 238 different things with your business! I’m beginning to realize maybe I’m trying to do too much and just concentrate on what works best! Thanks Gussy!!! :) xoxo

    [Reply]

    katy reitz (lil' alice) Reply:

    Michelle,
    Your stuff is so nice. I only do 2 shows and those are the 2 shows that I organize. One at my church and one at my kids school. Since I am busy with the other vendors/crafters I have had a girlfriend offer to sell my products. I show up to check on my table and it’s half sold. She sets mental goals for herself and overachieves them.

    By nature I am shy so selling my stuff I am not openly outspoken about the items. I do better behind the scenes selling things on FB etc. and letting the items sell themselves.

    [Reply]

    Michelle @ theLoveMichCollection Reply:

    Katy – Thank you so much! Your stuff is great!! That is a good idea to organize your own event and to have a girlfriend handle the selling while there! Hmmmm you’ve got me thinking now! ;)

    [Reply]

    Gussy Sews Reply:

    this conversation = HAPPINESS! so glad you two connected :)

    Skye @ Neathering Our Fest Reply:

    I love this thread!! Michelle – have you heard of Revolutionize Her? It is a site written by work at home women who thrive on handmade. There was a post the other day that I think you might like to read, especially after the woman balked at a $30 price tag. (REALLY? It isn’t that much.) Check it out here: http://www.revolutionizeher.com/2012/01/12/the-fair-price-of-handmade-dont-be-rude/

  2. 4

    Nadir@StitchSense says

    I did two craft shows last year & both were great! One was at a local church & the other was at a high school.
    I hope to fill my spring & summer with more this year! I love craft shows, they’re so fun & such a great place to network, I love meeting other crafties at shows :-)

    [Reply]

    Gussy Sews Reply:

    do you stick to local shows, or do you travel?

    [Reply]

    Nadir@StitchSense Reply:

    The two I did were local but we live right smack in the middle of two HUGE metropolis areas. Washington DC & Richmond, VA. I’d love to be able to get to a show in one of those cities if I ever got enough inventory. The furthest I was going to travel for a show was a 45 min drive but it was shut down b/c of hurricane Irene last summer :-/

    [Reply]

  3. 5

    says

    I’m terrified of craft shows (as a vendor, attending is completely fun)! I tend to be a shy person – ok I am shy. At a party it is almost physically painful for me to initiate a conversation with someone I don’t know (or don’t know well). I’m afraid that because of my shyness I’d do horribly at a craft show. [This sounds too much like an excuse to me...]

    I think I’ll challenge myself to sign up for at least one (even if I don’t attend until next year, I know there is a lot of work involved) by the end of the year. I know it would be good for me and since I know it’s an area of weakness.

    Does anyone else have to deal with shyness at a craft shows? Any tips?

    [Reply]

    Michelle @ theLoveMichCollection Reply:

    Hi! I tend to be shy when it comes to my craft shows/business…I know that is not a good thing… But I think because what I make is so personal to me (and I’m sure to you too) and (being that you are up til all hours putting things together with your two hands!) is the reason I am shy to talk about it! That is something I hope to overcome sooner rather than later. The thing I find that helps me at a craft shows/vendor events – is to bring someone with me! Particularly, my hubby-to-be because the man can strike up a convo with anyone at anyplace, so he is my icebreaker! Maybe you have someone like that that would tag along with you?? Obvi I don’t pay my spouse but if you were to ask a friend, maybe you could offer a small gift instead of having to pay them?

    [Reply]

    Kasey M. Reply:

    Michelle, it sounds like we have very similar men in our lives. I’m sure I’ll bring HB along to help me. And giving a friend a gift for their help is a great idea too!

    [Reply]

    Michelle @ theLoveMichCollection Reply:

    What would we do without our men?! Haha! Glad to help! :)

    [Reply]

    Gussy Sews Reply:

    LOVE this — such a great tip michelle, and thank you kasey for opening up. shyness is a huge thing to overcome. a lot of times i’ll see artisans bring little projects to work on — things that are simple and don’t require too much distraction. i also think that’s a great way to show customers your skill, live!

    bring a friend that’s good with people, that understands WHY you are there {to show off your wares, not to talk} and make friends with the vendors around you. xoxo

    [Reply]

    Nadir@StitchSense Reply:

    Kasey, I was the SAME way & bringing hubby along was the only thing that kept me sane, smiling & laughing the whole show. It does get easier! Hubby was my lifesaver for sure at the shows I did, he’s a people person & loves to strike up convos with people, even if they don’t buy, they’re at least drawn to your table & may even take a card! :-)

  4. 7

    says

    Great! This is perfect for getting ready for this summer. (My area only has shows during the one season.)

    [Reply]

    sharon Reply:

    Hi Amanda, glad these tips were helpful. I would guess it is nice to have a specific season when you do most of your sales during the year! good luck

    [Reply]

  5. 9

    says

    I haven’t participated in a craft show yet but I did do one home boutique before Christmas last year. I got several orders for signs but I didn’t sell a single sign that I took with me. But it at least let people know what I was doing and that I was creating something! :) A lot of people were surprised to even see me there!

    My plan is to attend at least two craft festivals this year. This is a great resource for planning to start on those!!

    [Reply]

    Gussy Sews Reply:

    …another great comment!

    totally agree — depending on the price of the booth, attending craft shows can be a great way to simply advertise your wares + shop.

    [Reply]

    Skye @ Neathering Our Fest Reply:

    Sometimes it is the most cost effective way to advertise when you live in a town like mine that doesn’t really have a thrumming handmade community. It is a really small town in Louisiana. I am also working with locally owned shops and such to swap ideas and advertising and product. It is slow going but it is worth it to gain the trust of local business owners because they are key to survival around here. :)

    [Reply]

    katy reitz (lil' alice) Reply:

    I do a lot of custom orders to even though I have a shop full of items. But it gets your name out there for the future.

    [Reply]

    Skye @ Neathering Our Fest Reply:

    I love doing custom orders – that is definitely the best part of my job! :)

    [Reply]

    sharon Reply:

    Attending 2 shows is a great goal and good way to “test the waters”. I have also done home shows and they are a fun option! good luck!

    [Reply]

  6. 11

    says

    Kasey, I am shy especially about talking about my handmade items. I don’t like to talk about myself etc. I organize the 2 crafts shows that I do and I bring a girlfriend, who has volunteered to run my table and she totally believes in my products and tells the people its made in michigan and made local and don’t go to china for this etc….. so needless to say, she sells a lot of my items.

    [Reply]

  7. 12

    says

    Thanks, this is great to read and I plan to read more of the blog posts. I too am more shy than outgoing, but at the few craft shows I’ve done I’ve tried to be more open and talkative with people, both customers and other vendors. It helps when you’re proud of your product and can talk about what you love. I have had some great helpers too who are happy to help and it’s great to get them talking about the product with different viewpoints and ideas as well. For example, my father-in-law was helping me and someone asked about my purse hangers. I went at it with the angle of keeping your purse off the floor, germs, etc. but he added in that his wife loves it for the security reasons that someone can’t walk away with her purse too easily. I sold all of the ones there that I had left!

    I have done a couple of church craft shows, and one in a high school that should have had good traffic but unfortunately the weather was a factor. I’m in the Minneapolis area and would love to find more shows to do throughout the year. Any ideas?

    [Reply]

    sharon Reply:

    Hi Denise, are you a member of the Etsy MN street team? Great info at the blog: http://www.handmadeMN.com they host 2 sales every year and they are very well attended, organized and advertised. Good luck.

    [Reply]

  8. 15

    says

    MAKE SURE you get some business cards printed up so you look professional and hand them out to EVERYONE! Free (or really cheap) business cards from vistaprint.com

    I once had a trunk show at Nordstrom’s and didn’t sell ONE thing! I did hand out a bunch of cards though and one of those cards resulted in selling my jewelry to a shop in Alaska that catered to the cruise people. She has since closed but it was great for 3 years!

    [Reply]

  9. 16

    says

    +1 on the business cards. In addition to sales on the spot you are getting exposed to a lot of potential future customers. Definitely put a link to your website on your cards so people can see future designs. Vistaprint is constantly doing special offers and offering discounts. They have really good deals and fast shipping too.

    [Reply]

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