Friday, August 9, 2013

How to Choose the Right Craft Show

Choosing the right craft show to sell your products at can be a little daunting.  Here are some things to consider when making your selection. 
Where do you find craft shows?  There are lots of directories that charge a fee for full information on all craft shows and other events in your area.  If you are a member of the Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetic Guild, you can get a discount on one such subscription in the member section.  If you are on a super tight budget, try doing your own foot work.  Take a look at the craft show directories, such as, find the craft show name, and then Google it.  You'll have to page through and find all of the particulars on the show, but not everyone can afford subscriptions.  So if you don't mind the extra time and effort, you can save your budget for other things.
Is the show well-advertised?  Is the show advertising in the newspaper, online, on posters around town?  You want shows that have foot traffic, so one of the things to look at when choosing a show is whether the show is advertised or how the organizer is bringing in customers.
Where is the show located?  Is the show at a good central location, or is it out in the middle of nowhere.  Is it in a place where only a few craft shows are put on each year or is there always a craft show going on.  You may not want a place that has craft shows all the time as customers will get burned out.
Would other vendors recommend this show?  Are vendors returning each year?  If you asked a vendor at the show would they recommend it? Don't be afraid to Google some of the previous vendors and see what they thought of the show.  If you are a member of the Etsy community or a similar marketplace, try posting on the forums to see how others felt about the show.
What other events are going on at the same time?  Avoid shows that have other events going on that would draw large crowds of similar demographics.  You want people at your event.
Is it the right niche for your product?  Are the customers in your target market going to be there? If you sell high end soap, a craft show may not be the best venue for you.  Craft show customers are typically looking for deals, and perhaps your $12 soaps would not sell as well at this type of event.  Do your products fit in well with the other vendors and the customers that shop there?  If you have something very unique, you may want to find a niche that fits you.  If you make soaps for sports enthusiasts, perhaps an event that drew in sports fans would be better than a craft fair.
What is the booth fee?  You will want to choose shows within your budget.  Craft shows can range from $20 to $1,000+.  The lower booth fees typically mean less traffic.  However, just because a show is large doesn't mean you will get more sales.  Larger shows will often allow 3-5 of the same type vendor, so if you are banking on 3% of a 20,000 person show, you might be in for a surprise if there are 4-5 soapmakers all competing for those same 3% of buyers and your booth fee was $600.  Sometimes, a smaller show with only 1 soapmaker can yield better sales.  So try to weigh all of the pros and cons and stay within your budget.
Don't forget to calculate your time and travel.  How many hours are you manning your booth?  How many hours does it take you to set-up or break-down?  You should always weigh this into your decisions as your time is worth something, at least minimum wage.  Do you need to travel and stay in a hotel?  Will you still come out ahead factoring in your time and travel?
In the end, choosing a craft fair is a little bit of a gamble, but with experience you can make good selections for your soaps in the future.
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  1. What a timely topic - thanks for the Guild shout-out, it's easy to forget that the Craftmaster News discount is out there for members. :)

  2. I absolutely love these tips. So important to keep in mind as holiday craft season approaches!

  3. So true. I feel like I was raised in a booth at a craft fair. My mom and Papaw have done it for years (I think she was raised in a booth as well). I have only done two myself and was a little dishearten because I didn’t do as well as I hoped. I only made one sale and the first and two at the second (selling melted wine bottles, recycled blown glass jewelry and handmade wire rings). But each of those times I doubled what I paid for the booth. The booth rents were just so inexpensive it didn’t justify giving up a whole day off from my regular job to do it. It is also kind of sad around here there isn’t much handmade at craft shows it is more like a China Expo.


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