Editor’s note: We are overjoyed to have guest contributor and craft show veteran Stacy Wong share her tips for vendors to evaluate craft fairs on Dear Handmade Life. Want more craft show tips? Check out our posts on: How to Submit a Successful Craft Show Application, Ten Tips on Craft Show Booth Design and How to be Better at Accepting Criticism of your Artistic Work.
AND… If you’re looking to make the most of your time and effort at craft shows 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.
tips for vendors to evaluate craft fairs
The handmade marketplace is filled with shows – some great ones and some not so great. There seems to be a new crop of them popping up every season. But how do you determine if a particular show is right for you and your handmade business? I’ve found the following factors important when considering which shows to do.
How is the Show Promoted?
Before even attending the show as a customer, start following the show organizer(s) on social media. See how they portray themselves and their show. Are they promoting their vendors or just showcasing the show itself? What kinds of fans/friends are following them? What is the organizer expecting of you in order to promote the show? I think some of the best shows provide vendors some of the tools to assist in show promotion (i.e. social media buttons and logos, postcards, posters).
Attend the Show as a Customer
Never do a show without attending it at least once. It’s essential to experience the show first hand. No show information from the organizer or past vendor recommendations will replace a direct visit. I look at show layout, how it’s organized and do the vendors seem happy.
Does the Show have Vendors Who are Compatible to Your Line and Products?
I recently visited a new handmade show which had several vendors I have not seen at local shows. The vibe and feel of their products was similar to mine so I think there may be potential if I do apply for the show in the future. Also another factor to consider is other vendors’ product price points. Do these vendors have product prices which are comparable to yours? Be sure to check out show’s blog and vendor websites for information and to take a closer look at their product photos and product styles.
Application and Show Fees
Do you think you have the potential of making back the cost of the application and show fees and then some? Don’t forget to account for all of those expenses such as travel related ones for those out of town shows (gas, hotel and meals) and incidentals including any costs you’ll need to spend for updating or buying new display materials, packaging supplies (bags, tissue paper) etc.
Ask for Direct Feedback from Current/Past Vendors
Contact current vendors to receive feedback on the show. Ask questions like – Why do they like vending? Are the show organizers easy to work with? Also, if I recognize a particular vendor from another show, I ask them how the new show compares to the other show we’ve both done before. Find out why (if possible) former vendors are no longer doing the show.
Potential For New Customers
Is the show going to bring some new customers to your business? Does the show have other vendors that would allow customers to “cross-pollinate” to your products and booth?
Would some of your Existing Customers Come to the New Show?
Is the show in a location convenient to some of your existing customers? If the show charges admission and even parking, would your customers pay this fee? Would the show be attractive to them? Better yet, is the show NEW to them? I have been lucky, from my customer mailing list, to have loyal fans that will follow me to any show I attend…
Potential for Media Exposure & Wholesaling Opportunities
Sometimes a good reason for doing a new show is the potential for additional media or press exposure. I know for me, the bigger shows are more popular for bloggers, print writers, and media to attend. Brick and Mortar retailers also are more likely to shop the larger shows looking for new product and scouting new vendors.
Although not an exact science, these factors should assist you in determining whether a new show is the right opportunity for you and your handmade business.
Stacy Wong is a maker/designer of Handmade Wood Goodness. She sells her products through her shop, www.etsy.com/shop/bysimple. She is also the owner of www.shoptwine.com an online boutique which features an edited selection of undiscovered handmade and artful objects. Stacy loves to support emerging makers, artists, and designers.