Calling all crafters: summer selling season is here! Yes, it’s that time of year again. Craft shows have begun popping up all over. Whether you plan on selling at craft shows this summer or at anytime in the future, keep reading for a list of things to know before you go.
Mes Amis Vintage Antique Show, Roseville CA April 2013
1. Registration Deadlines
All craft shows have a limited number of selling spaces, so you must register in advance for your booth space. You’ll need to beware, since registration deadlines usually come up way in advance of the actual show dates – sometimes as early as six months in advance.
Most shows have their own web page ripe for the googling, and it’s there you’ll find all their particulars, including registration deadlines. If you’re having a hard time finding the registration information, check with the town’s Chamber of Commerce website. Generally, town festival information can be found there.
2. Registration Savvy
Registering for a craft show entails more than just filling out a form. You’ll need to decide on a few items first such as:
- What size space you’ll need; sizes usually offered are 10′x8′, 10′x10′ or sometimes 12′x12′
- Where you want your space located geographically within the event (indoors or out?)
- What day or days you want to participate — many require that you participate all days, but some events allow you to pick and choose certain days
Some facilities/locales require that you purchase a certain amount of property and liability insurance before selling at their shows. Some shows do provide overnight security for your merchandise. However, it’s just plain smart to cover yourself in case of theft, liability and/or damage to your goods.
There are commercial companies out there who offer this type of insurance at varying rates depending on what you need. For example, you might choose to pay a lump-sum yearly fee, versus individual pay-as-you-go event fees. It’s not uncommon to pay around $100.00 a day, or as much as $300.00 or more for a yearly policy. If possible, talk to other vendors about how they handle it and be sure to shop around.
4. Bring A Friend
A silly as it sounds, you’ll need to bring a friend. The friend doesn’t have to be an “employee,” however, they do need to be able-bodied and willing to help. Neither merchandise nor money should ever be left unattended, so having a friend there to step in when you need a break will be helpful.
In addition, the acts of setting up and taking down your booth and all that entails will most likely require another body there to help. Finally, some vendor contracts actually require that you work with a partner, for just those reasons.
5. What’s A Juried Show?
If a craft show is “juried,” it means that you are not guaranteed a spot at the fair. To the contrary, a panel of judges will view your work and decide whether or not your craftsmanship has met their standards. Be ready to submit photos of your merchandise and booth decorating style for consideration prior to the panel’s approval.
You’ll need to factor in those pesky fees. The main fee will be for the actual space you’ll be taking up. The bigger the space, the higher the fee. Indoors will cost more than outdoors, and you’ll usually be asked to pay more for a corner space and/or a space with electricity. And don’t forget to factor in the cost of gas to and from the show.
7. Dress Rehearsal
If at all possible you should have a booth ”dress rehearsal” prior to the show. You can do it in your garage or backyard, whatever works for you. This way you’ll be able to get an idea of what works and what doesn’t from a set-up standpoint, and you’re sure to have your booth looking great come the big day.
We’ve all been to craft fairs and seen what sometimes appear to be endless rows of tents. Tents are important, for many reasons.
- They shelter you and your merchandise from the elements
- They afford you a creative opportunity to “decorate” and put your best “brand face” forward
- They can give the illusion of a brick-and-mortar store, or “boutique” atmosphere
Many different types of tents are available online at competitive prices, so be sure to buy the best quality tent you can afford. You’ll be glad you did.
9. Credit Card Readers
Not all customers carry cash, so be prepared to accept credit card payment for your merchandise. One fairly new and innovative way to do this is with a card reader. Card readers are small, plastic devices that clip onto your smartphone and “read” the credit card, allowing you to process the transaction. Once you hook this free device up to your bank account electronically, all payments go directly into your account minus a small transaction fee. Easy peasy.
10. Relax And Enjoy
Most crafters report high satisfaction after selling at shows, citing a strong sense of camaraderie and support between sellers. They also cite a positive sense of satisfaction achieved from meeting and greeting their ”fans” face-to-face. Try and have fun with it.
Are You Ready?
Be sure to keep these tips in mind before jumping into the crafting season. Start small, get your feet wet, and work your way up from there. One craft show at a time.