Creative Geek

My Tips for a Successful Craft or Art Show…

I was reading over at Jane’s blog yesterday, The Borrowed Adobe looking for ideas for our new house.* She had posted about her hunt for a tent for her upcoming craft show, hopefully her first of many, and when she emailed me today in response to my comment that I left, I decided to share my tips for a successful craft show.

Not because she asked, but just because that is how I roll. (Oops.) After I wrote them all out, I realized that I should share them with all of you in case you foray into the world of craft shows! (These would also apply to art shows, farmers markets, really anything that involves selling things.)

I did my first craft shows in 1999 when I sold soap full time. Let me tell you, there is a CRAZY amount of prep time that goes into a show! Most of those were indoors, as my soaps would have melted outside. I had to prep inventory for every show. It was brutal. Then in 2006, Elaine & I started doing the First Saturday Art Market in the Heights, which was a lot less brutal after the initial prep for the first show or two. We had fun, but that whole Saturday thing eventually caused us some problems when we started photographing more & more weddings.

  • My biggest rule: According to, if you’re not standing, you’re not selling. Stand as much as possible. I bring only a small camping stool so I’m not tempted to sit in the comfy camping chair for too long.
  • Create two-for or three-for specials. People will always buy more. When I sold soap, they were $6 each, 3 for $15. I sold 3 pretty much every time. Any time someone bought one, they always came back and bought the other two.
  • Price for profit!!! This isn’t a charity. You’re not doing this just to have something fun to do all day. You’re there to make money. Make sure to add up *all* of your business costs (booth fees, booth supplies, tents, tables, display items, manufacturing costs, etc) to make sure you’re making money! I’ve seen a lot of people pay for the privilege of being at the market. If you want to do that, just go hang out there.
  • Make friends quickly with the people in the booths around you. Share water, watch each other’s booths for bathroom breaks, get each other food when needed, and to check out what else is for sale. Helps make the day go by faster!
  • Bring change! Small bills & coins too if needed.
  • Personally, I priced at odd prices so that with tax my sales came out to even amounts. I’d rather sell something for $20 with tax included. Makes math easier at the show when things might be moving fast.
  • Bring a friend to help, maybe two or three in shifts. If someone offers to help, take them up on it!
  • Have a smartphone? Get a Square credit card reader if you can, or sign up for a PayPal Virtual Terminal account. People buy more if they don’t have to use their cash!
  • Speaking of credit cards, be sure to factor in that 3% cost to the credit card companies into your price – do NOT tack it on as an extra fee, which is against all credit card companies’ terms of use and you can lose your merchant account! You can give a cash discount with special cards as the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, but do NOT charge extra for taking credit cards!
  • Pack snacks! Bring water! Bring extras to share!
  • Have a change of clothes in case you get sweaty, rained on, spill food or a drink, or the weather changes on you – we had one day that should have been cool end up being super hot, and at one winter craft show there was a 30 degree temperature drop while we were there and we had no heavier clothes. Oops!
  • We kept an emergency kit around – markers, pens, tags for pricing, scissors, and anything else we used when prepping things just in case. We used that kit all the time. (Props to Elaine for our emergency kit!)
  • Use the phone only for taking credit cards or the occasional Twitter/Facebook shout-out encouraging people to come see you at the show. People won’t shop if they can’t talk to you!
  • Save the whining for later! The people shopping at the show don’t want to hear you complain about how slow it has been, how ugly you think someone else’s booth is, how the organizer is horrible, or anything else. They will just keep on walking if they hear you complain and you may have just lost a sale.
  • SMILE!!! (After all, who wants to buy from you if you’re grumpy?)
  • Have any more tips for a successful show? Feel free to share them in the comments!

    * Yes, we are moving! Like how I snuck that in there? We’re buying a house in the HEIGHTS!!! The closing is May 31, 2011. I’ll be sharing more details soon – want to get pictures ready to share too!

    By Christine

    Christine is an Avenger of Sexiness. Her Superpower is helping Hot Mamas grow their Confidence by rediscovering their Beauty. She lives in the Heights in Houston, Texas, works as a boudoir photographer, and writes about running a Business of Awesome. In her spare time, she loves to knit, especially when she travels. She & her husband Mike have a food blog at Spoon & Knife.