Once you have considered the factors that impact a craft show and have selected one to attend, there are several things that can be done to make the  show successful.

  • Have good work.  There is no substitute to having a well executed craft.  If your work isn’t technically accomplished, you may not be ready to sell.   Establish a set of criteria for what is sellable and sell only your best work at shows.
  • Have a clean, professional display.  Your display needs to make sense to passers-by.  You have few seconds of their attention before they move on.  Create a display that showcases your work in a way that is consistent with who you are.
  • Have a banner with your name, what you do, and where you are from.  Hang the banner so it is easy for passers-by to see.  I have attended some shows that were so crowded that I wasn’t able to see the crafts in the booth.  But if a booth had a banner that indicated what craft was being displayed, I knew whether I wanted to fight the crowd and visit the booth.
  • Mark prices on you pieces so no one needs to ask.  This will help put buyers at ease and they will look longer.  If the prices are out of a person’s range, then they will move on and free the booth space for other customers.
  • Take credit cards and have signs indicating that you take credit cards.   Most people don’t carry cash and depending on the price range of your work, credit cards can make a difference in sales.
  • Have good business cards and give them out generously.  We have been contacted a year or more after an event because of a card.  In addition to a business card, it is valuable to have a ‘story card’ – information about who you are and how your work is done.  This can be a separate card or on the back of a business card.  People buy handmade for the story.
  • Have adequate cash for making change.  Consider your prices and have the appropriate cash to make change.  Use a cash register, money box, or cash apron when conducting transactions.  It seems unprofessional to dig money out of your pockets or purse.
  • Be available but don’t be a stalker.  Sit in your booth and be attentive.   I try to do things that do not completely consume me so I can be available to anyone who comes into the booth – like knitting or light reading.  I  welcome the visitors and let them know that I am available if they have questions.  And, never leave the booth empty – this is easy for me because Julie is always there to relieve me.  If I have a phone call, I step outside the booth  to take it and leave Julie in the booth.
  • Stay for the entire show.  Most shows have strict rules about early departures.  Because the show times are part of the contract between the show sponsors and me, neither of us should cut it short under normal  circumstances.  Stay to the end.  In fact, some of the best sales of the day come toward the end of a show.
  • Have a system to keep track of sales.  There is no way for you to know how much you sold if you don’t have a means to track what you have sold.  It is best to figure this out how to do this before the show starts.
  • Know the show logistics.  Know when the show starts and be ready for it about an hour early because most vendors walk around before the show and they are potential buyers.  Know the space limitations – plan what to bring accordingly and allow yourself enough time to set-up.  Even if a show says they provide tables and chairs, be prepared (show organizers make mistakes and it can take them a while to rectify them).

These are just a few suggestions about how to consider whether a show is a good venue for your work and what you can do to have a good show.  Shows are a great opportunities, make the most of them.