10 Ways to Boost Craft Show Sales

10 Ways to Boost Craft Show Sales on Dear Handmade Life

Editor’s Note: We were so excited when Patchwork Show vendor Rachel Potucek of The People’s Soap Company asked if she could share some of the insights she’s learned about vending at craft shows with our Dear Handmade Life readers. Rachel’s business The People’s Soap Company has grown in less than 18 months from a farmer’s market stand to wholesale sales in nearly twenty retail locations.

P.S. – We’re also big fans of our Craftcation Business + Maker’s Conference presenter Mallory Whitfield’s book How to Make Money at Craft Shows.

If Rachel’s awesome tips and suggestions for making the most of your time and effort at craft shows inspires you to take your craft show game to the next level be sure to check out our online workshop: Craft Show Success: Make sales and build your business, confidence + community through selling at craft shows.

I share the tips and tricks I’ve learned from vending at over 300 craft shows and producing over 40 of them. You’ll learn how to: find and apply to the right show, develop your “look” using basic branding, prepare for shows with products, checklists, staff, and a pitch, merchandise and display products for maximum effect, deal with pricing, permits, and taxes + MORE!

Craft Show Success teaches you how to:

  • Find and choose the right craft shows for your brand
  • Determine and achieve your craft show goals
  • Get organized and be prepared before, during and after craft shows
  • Submit a stand-out application with great photos
  • Create cohesive branding for your business
  • Maximize your booth space and create unique on-brand displays
  • Price your goods for profit
  • Navigate licenses and permits
  • Maximize your time at the show
  • Build and solidify relationships with your customers, creative community and show producers

Click below to preview our Craft Show Success online workshop.

-Nicole S.

Now onto Rachel’s 10 Ways to Boost Craft Show Sales…

Selling at a craft show requires a little extra sales savvy. At a show where you’re competing for attention among 10, 50, or even 400 makers, your booth aesthetic is critical. But on top of that…when someone is in your booth, are you making the most of their interest?

You can get more people into your booth, and have them spend more while they’re there, by making a few sales-savvy changes that don’t require much money.

When I first started my soap business I met with the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) consultants and got some great retail sales advice. I applied that advice to craft shows, and compiled this list based on my experience. (If you haven’t considered visiting an SBDC consultant, give it a try. As a subset of the US Small Business Administration, the SBDC offices advise businesses for FREE on everything from legal issues to business plans and finances.)

Here’s a few things you can to do maximize sales at your next show:

1. Run a “100 Foot Test”

Stand where your shoppers will see your booth for the first time, maybe 50-100 feet away. This is an important perspective: it’s your shopper’s first impression of your booth. What’s your first impression? Does your booth look dark, empty, boring, or uninviting? Can you see what’s for sale? Do you have a sense of your brand? Ask a friend for input: what’s their first impression? If your booth looks like a dark cave, try pulling the tables/displays to the front edges, and consider investing in a white-top canopy or electrical lighting. If you can’t tell what’s for sale, consider large signage shouting (or even suggesting) what you offer.

2. Clearly display your prices

A lot of people hate to ask for prices (I’m one of them). Don’t lose customers over a trivial inconvenience! Display your prices clearly. You have a few options: You can display one easy-to-read price list, or group your products into price categories and display a price for each category, or label each item individually with hang tags or stickers. It’s up to you. All my products are the same four or five prices, so I hang a price menu in a few places around my booth. Most importantly, if you display your prices on signage, make sure the sign is clear and easy to read, like these vintage store price displays by Roaming Yankees on Etsy.

10 ways to boost your craft show sales on Dear Handmade Life3. Embrace the psychology of a good description

Customers love knowing what makes your products special. Avoid vague descriptives like “best,” “most,” and “high quality.” Instead, highlight specific, interesting and valuable aspects. For example, I recently came across a gemstone vendor who described one of her crystals like this: “Tibetan dual-point quartz crystal, high vibration, very clear.” She could have described it as “high quality quartz,” which is equally true, but I’m glad she went with the former.

Take a tip from savvy restaurant menus. Restauranteurs are experts at exciting, pithy descriptions: A good menu description can transform chicken liver into the hippest $35 entree this side of Paris. This New York Times article offers great insights.

4. Encourage touch

Touch improves sales. Post small signs like “the softest lace you’ll ever feel” or “touch me I’m hand-felted wool” or “glazed ceramic, cool to the touch.” Or, invite verbally: About one third of my customers will stand right outside my booth, stop, and look. At this point, I usually invite with a smile, “Would you like to smell my soaps?” Nine times out of ten they respond with glee and walk in.

10 ways to boost your craft show sales on Dear Handmade Life5. Instigate a conversation about your craft

Put your esoteric makers’ knowledge to work. Invite visitors to ask questions about your craft. Explain what it’s like to make your wares, how many hours it takes, what kind of decisions are involved. Above all, tell them why you love doing what you do. Your bright passion will shine through, lighting up the space around you. You don’t have to give away trade secrets. But once a customer understands the labor and value of craftsmanship, they can appreciate a “high” cost as a reasonable one.

10 ways to boost your craft show sales on Dear Handmade Life6. Ask your customers for feedback

A craft show is one of your rare opportunities to get feedback. Don’t waste this opportunity to improve your business. Ask your customers why they are interested in your products, how they heard about you, what problems they hope to solve with your products, and what they are using your products for. Customers who believe in you will love to help you grow. Invite customers to keep in touch by displaying an email sign-up sheet. Give out your business card, a postcard, or coupon code with every sale.

7. Increase your average-sale-per-person

Imagine if, every time someone purchased your wares, they bought twice as much as they do now. You’d double your “average sale per person.” This is a key concept for any business: If you boost your average sale per person, you can be more profitable with the same customer base, and you can better survive slow sales periods. Try to measure your average sale per person, and set a goal to increase it. One way to improve craft show sales is to offer a special deal that customers can’t get through your online shop or anywhere else. You can offer a one-day-only, “free-item-with-minimum-purchase” deal, a percentage off, a giveaway, or a buy-3-get-1-free deal.

10 ways to boost your craft show sales on Dear Handmade Life8. Offer both low- and high-priced items

Having a mix of high- and low-priced items will help you appeal to more customers, and might even help you improve your average-sale-per-person (if you read that New York Times article I referenced above, you know customers usually buy in your middle price range, good to know). My grandmother was an accomplished fine artist and loved attending art fairs (she was a true extrovert). She occasionally sold her most expensive paintings at summer fairs, but her lowest-priced items, like prints and mini papier mache sculptures, sold like hotcakes. By having lower-priced items available, she could still generate sales, and her lower-priced items helped her initiate relationships with new customers, some of whom later commissioned large pieces.

10 ways to boost your craft show sales on Dear Handmade Life9. Get vertical!

People like to buy things that are at eye level, so display your products at eye level. Hang your art up, hang your jewelry on rods, hang your scarves and clothes up. Set up shelves, stack boxes on your table, or lift your tables on risers. Stacking shelves also expands space to display more things, and helps you attract more customers from farther away.

10 ways to boost your craft show sales on Dear Handmade Life10. Swap products with other vendors

Your fellow vendors aren’t your competition. They’re your allies. Not only is it rewarding to befriend a fellow maker, sometimes vendors display each other’s products at festivals and craft shows. Offer to swap a few products to display at another vendor’s booth. You will expand your presence at the show, you might get a few referral sales, and who knows — your fellow vendor might end up being a friend and collaborator.

That’s it! I hope this list helps you improve sales at your next show.

Am I missing anything? Add it to the comments below. Don’t be shy! By helping each other, we’re supporting the entire handmade industry and making all our craft shows better.

Come find me at a show sometime! I’m @PeoplesSoap on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

-Rachel Potucek, The People’s Soap Company

*If Rachel’s awesome tips and suggestions for making the most of your time and effort at craft shows inspires you to take your craft show game to the next level be sure to check out our online workshop: Craft Show Success: Make sales and build your business, confidence + community through selling at craft shows.


  1. I did craft shows full time for a few years, and what took the business from average to hugely successful was concentrating on increasing the average sale. We sold handmade candles and potpourri. Taking the product out of the packaging and displaying it exactly how you would do so in the home more than doubled our average sale. Another point not mentioned, make it a point to collect email addresses, have a facebook group customers can join, or at least drop a repeat order flyer in every bag. One final tip, most booths are grossly underlit. These days with low voltage led lighting and much improved batteries or portable generators, it’s cheap and easy to have a well lit booth regardless of the availability of an electrical outlet. The web has changed shopping forever, but a six figure income is well within reach for most business savvy crafters.

    1. Dave is there a good step by step manual on how to sell on web and craft shows. My wife is selling soap. I would like to market as she produces product.

  2. These will come in handy for my vendor fair this weekend! Especially the first tip. Didn’t think to do that during my last fair.

  3. As a weaver and knitter, I always “encourage touch,” but it hadn’t occurred to me to include signs such as “the softest lace you’ll ever feel.” Excellent idea. As you said, many potential customers look in from outside your booth. Touch and feel signs would help them cross the threshold. Thanks!

  4. Re: “displaying at eye level”:

    I followed the advice of putting things up on risers or higher up… until the first time I had someone in a wheelchair try to access my booth. Now, I really try to keep accessibility in mind in my display design. It’s very difficult to make everything actually reachable/touchable for all customers, but I do think it’s important to at least have it be visible to people who can’t just get closer or stand on their toes to see it better.

    There are a lot of really great tips in this article, particularly about studying your own booth from far away, and clear price signs. Thanks for writing it 🙂

    1. I totally agree Lynae- I had a store for 8 years and taking a step back and looking at everything as a whole is BIG. I stand and look from different areas too.
      Thanks for the comment! -D

    2. My husband is in a chair and we gear a section of the booth for both the customer ease and his.. I have found that if i sit in that area when helping someone in a chair, it gets the sale almost every time. Sitting down so you are not towering over is a HUGE help and the respect is noticed!

  5. Thank you so much for these great tips. I like to offer “especially designed for you” postcards to encourage people to order their own custom designed jewelry from my inventory. I also like discounting my earrings as a bonus to a bracelet or necklace purchase. Sometimes it makes the difference in a sale. I appreciate your posting this article, as I’ve only done 3 or 4 craft fairs so far.

  6. Here is another tip: ask a friend or relative to stand in the crowd by your booth and listen to customers and passers-by. You will get honest and raw feedback about your displays and your product.

  7. I love the idea of displaying another vendor’s work in your booth, and vice versa. However, many of the shows only allow you to display your own work. I will keep this in mind for the more lenient shows, especially since I generally make friends with my neighbors!
    Thank you so much for sharing these great tips!

  8. I’ve taken a little something from retail and use it in my crafting events. It’s called the lost leader concept I believe. I make rather inexpensive items, which a lot of time are made from recycled things. These things are geared specifically towards children and priced based on a child’s “budget”. Normally when parents go to events where crafts are displayed with children in tow, the children are given a small amount of money. Unfortunately there is very rarely anything available within their “budget”. My providing these items does two things. It allows a child to feel a little grow up shopping and making their own purchase and it draws the parent in. Parents for one don’t allow them to get too far and they are normally rather curious to see what their child has found. This allows them to see what else I have to offer and for me to engage them into light conversation. Now, I’m not saying that’ll work for everyone because the things I make for kids are related to crafts but it’s worth a try for some who don’t seem to be able to draw customers in. It doesn’t hurt that I have an easel in front of my booth informing my mini customers of the items I have for them either. LOL

    1. My mother always did this. My family sold homemade wooden toys but my mother also made stuffed toys. We always had a card table with hand puppets for the kids to decorate. Stayed within the theme, they were only $1 each, it gave the kids something to do, and helped draw in the business.

    2. At my daughter’s suggestion I tried a tray on the front table with a small chalk sign of 2 for $5. In this I put smaller sized and tinier beads or bright colored bracelets. Much to our joy the kids loved having their own selections to choose from! It’s my fastest selling items.

    3. What a great idea thanks Tina…. I sell Shower Caps for adults and children and I do notice if there is a stall beside me with kids things the child goes over to look followed by the Mother…..good by possible sale

    4. I make all kinds of fiber arts to wear, along with small jewelry items, and re-purposed items made into decorative night lights. I generally use only recycled items. Design of my booth is important to me; I have a bunting/banner across the front of my tent-booth lit up by bright led lights in my colours of Orange and Purple. Inside, are the same fun and funky bohemian colors. It is a kind of oasis in a sea of white E-Z up type tents! People see my tent from far due to the colorful fabric “curtains” I use to camcamoflage the tent poles and supports. You hit the nail on the head with these truly great suggestions. But the term is– LOSS leader, as you typically don’t make money on it, or–much money, hence the term–LOSS. Grocery stores are experts as they market/offer for sale a big bargain ( “Five cans of Peas -$3.00″ and ” Buy 3 cans of Volcano sauce, get 1 Free! “), in their flyers and store windows. A Loss Leader is an article that you offer to entice the buyer to see what else you have, and/or get you in the store. My biggest Loss Leaders are last year’s models, segregated in a bright orange plastic bin, steeply, ridiculously low priced. I like to offer something for everyone; among the bargain hunters may be the one person who will also purchase higher prices items. Also sprinkled in my booth (surprise of discovery is fun for buyers, too) are bundled up craft books I no longer need, some small packets of microwave hand warmers, small pots of sugar scrub, bags of beads I no longer want, and scrap balls of yarns. Other things –I send out a pre-sale coupon offer and also “Buy With” sales near the end of the day. I liked all the suggestions, especially —appealing to kids too, it is a terrific concept!

  9. My niece and I have decided on a carft to sale, because we are new at this we would appreciate any advice we can get. Thanks !

  10. I have a flea market booth. I make handmade greeting cards and jewelry. I’m in my second year. Business hasn’t been very good lately. I will definitely try some of your ideas. I’ll let you know how it works out. Thanks for sharing.

    1. You may want to rethink your Venue. Handmade items often do much better at farmers markets or craft shows. I find that people are usually in a bargain mentality when they go to flea markets.

      1. I agree, we did a Vintage Fair as our very first and it was a big mistake. We make babies/children’s clothes from the original Vintage dressmaking and knitting patterns. Because most things at a Vintage Fair are second hand people expect a bargain, they were not prepared to pay for something new from a Vintage pattern which wasn’t faded or tatty. So we won’t be doing those anymore.

    2. There are some very good points here. I’ve only been a vendor for two years and getting email addresses is something I struggle with. As a buyer I hate it when stores/vendors ask for my email address. I like my privacy and you don’t need my address or phone number for me to make a purchase, just my money. I know that sounds anti social but I’m already bombarded every day with so much junk mail and robo calls. Believe me if I like your product/service/craft I will either get your card or remember you and find your website. How am I to ask of others what feels like invasion of privacy to me?

  11. I just thought of a great idea sparked by your article! I’m going to have a basket of plastic eggs with prizes inside: candy, coupons, etc. Everyone can pick an egg to see what they get. I’ll have them color coded so the kids with get candy and adults coupons. Next show is 2 weeks before Easter!

  12. These are great tips! Will definitely be applying some. We sell wooden items made in our shop with our laser machine and we engrave them on site. Many times people don’t even realize what our booth is all about until we get their attention. To do this, we hand out little wooden business cards that we have engraved our business info on to everyone walking by. It does not pressure them to buy and they can keep walking if they want, but it usually catches their interest because it shows what we can do. It gets them asking about our business and they actually look at the items in our booth. I would say that having a unique business card that showcases our work as well as being active and engaging (but not pressuring or salesman-like) makes at least 50% of our sales. Thanks for the article!

    1. That is an interesting idea – I remember getting a ‘business card’ made of ceramic many years ago, I kept it for years….

  13. Thank you for all your wonderful ideas I have noted down many of them.
    I am into my third year of doing Craft Markets my very first Stall was simply two small tables in the Shopping Centers at their monthly Market days……I now have a beautiful Marque with a White Canopy, White table covers and White stands on top of my tables to bring everything to eye level…. I also hang from my Marque .
    I make beautiful Shower Caps for adults and Children. Travel Lingerie Bags / Shoe Bags / Tote Bags… I do have ideas for more to add to my collection and need to think of items that a not so time consuming…………. any suggestions would be most welcome.
    Three years ago I decided to get back into my sewing I wanted to make fun things and not clothing as that can be a bit stressful, I came up with the idea of Shower Caps and at that time I was just at the end of my Chemotherapy so it most certainly been a journey..
    I do realize that not everyone uses Shower Caps these days so I have to come up with other ideas to add as I do miss out on sales I am sure…

    1. I make adult and childrens bibs. They sell fairly well. Adult bibs go for spaghetti bibs or for nursing homes.

  14. Questions plz what kind of bags do u use?this will be my 1st time doing craft sale,do u take money or get a credit card for cell phone? or both.if take cash how much would u take with u? So new at this,it will just me,husband wouldn’t like just setting there. someone doing this craft shows that if need to watch my booth so can use the bathroom,or don’t they have this?

  15. I love these ideas. I’m doing a big show in March of 2019. I’m going to use a few of these ideas to draw people into my booth. I’ll be doing an indoor show for three days. The tables are expensive and I need to get my money back and make some profit.

  16. Thanks for these very helpful tips. I’m having my first arts and crafts fair on the last week of October and I want to generate as much sales as I could considering that I am a stand-in for another booth owner since she’s not attending, and I’m supposed to represent her and not my business. I’m just going to scale the market in preparation for next year, which I hope I be granted my own booth.

  17. Thank you for your ideas! This has always been the most stressful part of craft shows for me. These ideas will really help my set up!

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