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Craft Show Tips for Beginners: Part 1 - How to NOT be a Nervous Wreck

Craft show, tips, beginners
As I've mentioned a time or two on the blog and Facebook pages I'm currently crafting my heart out to prepare for my first craft show.  The show is a few weeks out and since I've been preparing for months now I thought I'd share what I've learned so far with you.

This is by far not a conclusive list or one that will probably work for everyone, but is intended to be a guide to help you decide if and which craft show is right for you and how to be successful at your first show without being completely overwhelmed and a total nervous Nelly on craft fair day.

I'll continue to follow up on this series as we get closer to the craft show and then afterwards to wrap up my craft show best and worst sellers and what I learned along the way.

Find the Right Craft Fair

To be completely honest with you I never really considered selling at a craft fair until over the summer when a friend of mine suggested I join the holiday vendor fair she did last year for the first time. It's a relatively small show with about 45 vendors and just $30 for a 5x6 booth area. It's an indoor craft fair at a local school that is open for just 3 hours only on the Friday evening before Thanksgiving.  As my first fair, all of these things were important to me.

I sell on Etsy and my items do well, but how will they do at a craft fair? I wasn't sure - I'm still not sure.  But what I did know is that shelling out $30 wasn't going to break the bank if it's a total flop.  I don't think it will be...I certainly hope it's not...but the price was right. A small 5x6' area may sound super small and it is a pretty small area, but here's the thing - this is my first show.  I don't have a whole ton of stock. If I had a 6x10' area or even larger it would appear that I have next to nothing. So for me, smaller is actually better.

My Etsy shop and the local version of my Etsy business are great supplemental incomes, however I'd love to expand by reach further into the community. Being at a craft fair is a great way to get your card into peoples' hands...especially right before the holidays when gift-buying mode is in full swing.

The three hour craft fair is definitely among the shortest I've heard of, but again, for me this is perfect I have two little children and several other businesses aside from the blog. Taking up an entire weekend to tend to a craft fair would not be least not without going totally insane along the way.

Of course, everyone's circumstances, stock, and crafts are different, but these are things to think about when you're considering which craft fair to start with.

Edit Your 'For Sale' List 

If I had the time, I could probably offer dozens and dozens and dozens of different items to sell. However, I really had to edit myself down for a number of reasons.  Look at your top sellers on Etsy or what you've gotten great reaction to on your personal Facebook page or Instagram or what people request from you most often and start making a list.  Maybe it's custom wine glasses, wedding items, burlap items, personalized onesies, holiday decor, wood signs...just think and start making a list with your top 10 or 12 items as your main focus.  (Plus if you don't sell out of them you'll have a better shot of selling them on your Etsy or through your other channels ie family and friends since you know they are popular items already.)

Before I even started crafting for my craft fair I made a list of about a dozen items that I would offer all in different price ranges.  These were a combination of holiday and non-holiday related items.  A very select few were personalized and only those that I know won't take me long to make should I get a bunch of orders.
My business thrives on personalization and monogramming of pretty much anything - earrings, shirts, growth chart rulers, pillows, phone cases.... The only problem is with the craft fair just five weeks before Christmas I am making a conscious effort to limit the number of personalized items I offer. Again, this is a personal decision - with two young children and the holidays to enjoy with my family I don't want to be stressing out that I need to make dozens of personalized items in such a short period of time especially because I know my other businesses go crazy during that time of the year, too.  

Concentrate on stocking up on these items in a variety of colors and sizes (depending on the items) and then if you still have time before the show, add additional items. 

Stock Up - Early

Once you decide to sign up for your first craft show, start working on your inventory immediately.  I have been crafting since early September for my November 21 show.  That sounds like a lot of's not.   And again that's another reason I suggest limiting what you offer to maybe a dozen or so of your most popular items. 

As I'm stocking for my craft show I continue to get Etsy and custom order request. One thing I've learned is I can't take from my craft show stash to fill those orders or I'll never have what I need for the show.  I actually ended up hiring seasonal help to get my through the busy time and it's paying off because the more you have the more you can sell and the better you'll do. 

One of the most often asked questions is "How much stock should I bring to a craft show?"  At this point I can't give you a great answer and I wish I could...I have heard differing advice such as bringing the value of 10x the cost of the craft show spot (for me $300 worth of inventory - which honestly doesn't sound like much) others suggest twice as much as what you think you'll sell and others suggest everything you have.

I'll tell you what I'm doing. I'm crafting my heart out and I'm bringing it that doesn't mean I'm going to put it all out there on the table or displays right off the bat (you may want to give the perception that perhaps there is only one of those beautiful items left...the idea of limited quantity sells stuff).  My thought is: I'd rather have to pack it back up and bring it home than lose a sale because a potential customer asks, "Oh do you have another of xyz?"... and what do you know I do, but it's at home. 

Make a Mock Display
The craft show I'm participating in takes place in a school gymnasium.  I'm not, however, sure where my booth will be located...against the wall? against the bleachers? in the middle of the floor? on a stage?  All I know is that I have a 5x6' space.  

To help me plan, I have marked off a 5x6" spot using blue painters tape in my craft room. If you don't have a designated craft area try to grab a space in your garage, basement or guest room where you can temporarily set up.  This will help you greatly in getting an idea for how you want to set up your booth and how much inventory you actually do have.  

I am required to bring my own table - which you may or may not be required to do depending on the show. Mine is exactly 6' and will go at the front of my space.   I will be standing behind the table and in front of some large peg board walls or grid walls that I will be bringing to hang some of my items on such as banners and onesies.   I have created a mock set up with table coverings and  my inventory so that I can see exactly how it will all fit and where. It's always a work in progress that will come together in the last few days before the show.  (Don't mind the box spring that can't fit down the stairs and is therefore stuck in guest-room-turned-craft-room. Dear Lord!)

Craft show, tips, beginners

I plan to take pictures to help me quickly set up on the day of the show. This is also helpful if you have friends or family who are helping you but may not be as familiar with your set up. 

Next week I'm going to have part two of the Craft Show Tips for Beginners Series which will cover the importance of branding, advertising, pricing and any other questions you may have between now and then! So ask away...

Note: This post may contain affiliate links. By clicking on them and purchasing products through my links, I receive a small commission. That's what helps fund Silhouette School so I can keep buying new Silhouette-related products to show you how to get the most out of your machine! 

Thanks for coming to class today at Silhouette School.  If you like what you see, I'd love for you to pin it!

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