Every Fall I do the Glendale KY Fall Festival, and each year the goal is the same. To have a successful craft show. There are people who definitely do more craft shows than I do. But I’ve been at it for years and have learned a few things along the way. Glendale 2017 was definitely the most successful craft show to date! The weather was perfect, there was probably a record crowd. Those are the top two things to be successful, but totally out of your control.
I hope these 12 successful craft show tips will help you with your next show!
Tip #1 Preparation is the Key for a Successful Craft Show
I have been renting a u-haul for a few years. The craft show is on Saturday. I spent Wednesday gathering all of my projects to one area. I picked up the u-haul on Thursday afternoon and loaded it in just over 2 hours. (with help from my neighbor Rodney). I arrived to set up at the show around noon on Friday—the earliest I’ve ever set up. Preparation is the key to a successful craft show!
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Tip #2 Make an Inventory Price List
Make a Price list spread sheet. You can do this on Google Drive. Listing your items by category and giving them each a price will make it easier to fill out price tags. In addition, if a price tag is lost, anyone running the booth will be able to know the price at a glance of the sheet.
Tip #3 Pack Carefully
Most of these projects have been on the blog, but how many can you identify? Very few. I use sheets, towels, moving blankets and more to wrap the projects to protect them on the ride. Bungee cords and nylon rope are also helpful to keep the load from shifting. While driving down the interstate, the constant bouncing can create stress against painted objects and rub off the paint.
hint: take a handful of emery boards to distress any paint that may chip along the way.
Tip #4 Fill up that booth
Staging is pretty, but it’s more important to fill up that booth. I rent two booths that create a walk-through from one aisle to the other. If your booth looks empty customers will pass you by and not come in.
Tip #5 Don’t SIT
This pallet potting table had just enough room for me to stand behind. That allowed me to be available for questions, but kept me out of the way of traffic in the booth. Running a booth is a lot of work, and a long day. We arrived around 6:45 and didn’t sit down until after 2:00. After the crowd died down, I went to the u-haul to bring out the craft show chair. IF you must sit, sit high. It makes you more visible to your customers or passersby.
hint: don’t eat in your booth unless you are manning your booth alone
Tip #6 Hire Help
Working a booth alone may cause you to lose sales. Hiring help will increase sales and allow you to take breaks when necessary. My cousin Terry has been helping me for the last several years and it has helped me have successful craft shows. Having an extra pair of hands and an extra set of eyes will make a big difference.
Tip #7 Use quality tents
Quality white tents are a must. I have two tents. The first one I bought when I first started attending craft shows. It is a King Canopy. It is very heavy duty. I found it on Amazon, but I don’t see it there currently. The other is an EZ UP tent. If you use a blue or red picnic canopy, it will cast a funny hue onto your projects. I recommend going the extra mile and buying sides for your tents. It helps secure your items overnight, and leaving the sides up makes your items show up better.
hint: waterproof your tents (they are not waterproof when you buy them) Heavy dew will seep through. Before you open the doors to your tent, use something to knock of the dew from the roof. Not doing so, will cause it to drip for hours. If, like me you join two tents together, don’t display any items where the two tents come together during the overnight hours. Dew (or rain) will make it through the crack and ruin your projects.
Tip #8 Use “S” hooks and zip ties
If you space out your items, “s” hooks will allow you to hang many items from the side rails of your craft show tent. In the beginning I used rope and string, but I quickly realized that hooks are so much faster and easier. Zip ties come in handy as well. We use them to connect the two center poles together to help secure the tents together. For this craft show zip ties were also used to hold the console table to the slatted bench since there are no walls.
Tip #9 Protect Furniture Legs from rocks and debris
Protecting the feet and legs of furniture projects at your craft show is a must! You’ve worked hard on your projects and you want to make sure your customers get to take home damage free furniture.
Tip #10 Be creative with pricing signs
Small rustic chalkboards or pedestal signs make great pricing options. Note the small chalkboard on top of the grateful thankful blessed headboard describing the price of the cutting boards above.
Tip #11 Offer to hold large items to assure a Successful Craft Show
Because I sell a lot of large items, I always offer to hold items till the end of the day, or when the customer is ready to leave.
Tip #12 Make Claim Tickets
Take a good look at the price tags that I make. I buy perforated raffle tickets for my price tags. I started doing this because one year a customer asked me to hold something, and at the end of the day she didn’t remember where I was located.
The front of the perforated tag has my name, phone number, and my location. The back of the tag has the price and a description of the item. Customers must present the claim ticket when they are picking up their item. This is helpful if you have more than one person working the booth. It’s also a good idea to write the customers name and phone number on the large part of the ticket in case they don’t return to get their item.
hint: save the claim tickets as a quick source of keeping track of your inventory and what was sold.
Tip #12 Condense your booth as items are picked up
Because my booth is 10x20, it starts to look sparse as large items are picked up. This year was the first time that we moved available items to one end of the booth as the day went on. As a rule, most of the large items are sold by noon, but not picked up until around 2 or 3 as people are leaving the show.
In other words, we left the sold items in the far booth, and brought the available items forward. If your booth starts to look empty customers will pass you by. Near closing time, the available items were in a space near the size of 10 x 4. It was a warm day, so I made the decision to keep the sold items on the sunny side, and the available items on this side in the shade. We did that soon after my friend Nova took this picture of us.
Terry has been helping me for a few years. This is her advice if you're new to the craft show circuit.
Just relax. Anticipate problems and be read to adjust. Have fun. Learn from others around you. Watch what they do and adjust it to fit your needs.
If you have any tips for me or those reading this post, please leave them in a comment below.
A short video
here's a little Facebook Live video I did after we finished setting up the booth on Friday afternoon
Vintage Suitcase Makeover
Chalkboard Speech Bubbles
XL Blue Corkboard
Tufted Upholstered Bench
Metal Leg Tables
Rustic Full Length Mirror
Double Column Console Table (second to sell)
Small Side Table (first to sell)
Pink Dog/Doll Bed
White Chippy Porch Chair
Pallet Potting Table
Wooden Slat Bench
Portable Folding Pallet Bar
Large Gray Glazed Shelf (6 hooks)
Small Gray Glazed Shelves
Vintage Gray Glazed Drawer Shelf (didn’t sell)
Tall Kitchen Drawer Shelf
Pallet Coffee Cup Rack
Grateful, Thankful, Blessed Headboard Sign
What I Love Most about My Home (headboard coat rack)
Small Window Hook Rack
Porch Post Coat Rack
Christmas Trees For Sale Sign
Stockings Were Hung Headboard
Black Shutter Shelf (donated to a local high school)
Easels to Display Large Items
after working your fingers to the bone and your butt off, i am so happy for you, but i am always sure you will sell most if not all because what you do is awesome xx
awww, thanks Chris! It's good to sell out, because that is definitely the goal-to move all the stuff I make for the blog. Without Glendale (and Vendors' Village) can you imagine how much stuff would pile up around here?
I’m happy to hear itwas a successful Glendale show. Now to make more goodies for the next show. I do have a question. What do you do when someone offers you less on an item? I’ve done one show and it was many years ago. At the time I was making jewelry.
It's a great crowd at Glendale. I heard there were over 20k this year. Rarely do people ask me to come down off my prices. They are very, very reasonable. Most people say "that's ONLY $35?!" If they do ask nicely and it's late in the day I will generally take some off. If it's early-no way! There are still too many people to pass by.
Many times people do ask for a discount on my projects in my booth. I will take some off. Recently I had a price of $90 and they offered $50. I think that might be a little insulting and pretty bold. I countered with 67.50. They haven't bought the piece yet. So I guess they thought it was too high.
I like taking large items, they sell very quickly. I took the cutting boards for those who are hanging out with people looking at the furniture pieces. 🙂 That worked pretty well this year.
loved seeing all the blog projects in person, and you and Terry! so happy most if not all of your beautiful items sold.
how do u handle cash/cards, etc.?
It's always so much fun to see you!!!
Cash is always nice, I took a couple of checks this year. Cards? I use paypal. I do charge a fee because I have to pay a fee to accept the credit cards. In addition-somehow paypal has put a limit on my account because of "strange" activity. grrrr I'm having to jump through a lot of hoops. Looks like I'll find a new app before next year.
What a great post, very helpful! Glad you had a successful show! I just had one tip, and I'm sure you already know this but from my personal observations, there are MANY artisans who do not; attitude makes all the difference. Back when my friend and I were doing a lot of shows, we always had a crowd around our booth when others did not. Our secret? We made our booth more visually interesting, but mostly it was because we acted like we were happy to be there (because we were) and would still be happy even if we didn't sell anything. We joked with each other and with the shoppers, smiled and laughed, and always went home with full pockets. Other vendors who did not smile or engage the customers or each other watched people pass by their booth all day. We treated everyone like a new friend and not a potential sale and people appreciate that.
Great tips Lori, thank you! We try to do that as well. I am happy to be there, and I love what I do. When others admire my workmanship it makes me even happier!
I think this is huge! One vendor near me this weekend never smiled and had her head down working on projects 90% of the time. The vendor across from me had a great smile but looked bored a lot.
Not all people can be good salesmen, but everyone has it in them to ACT like they are having a good time. Fake it till you make it? 😉
The only vendor I know of that didn't do really, really well at Glendale had very high priced repurposed items. They were a very friendly couple, and do great projects. But their prices were probably 6 times what I would sell the same project for.
I hope you had a great sale!
I'm so glad to hear you had another great year at Glendale, Gail. I look forward to these annual reports. lol Your work is beautiful!
Thank you Claudine! Your comment made me smile! Thanks for being a good friend of MRL.