How to Survive Craft Fairs And Make Money

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Art and craft fairs, shows, and festivals are incredibly fun to visit. Each booth has its own unique handcrafts, each booth is different, and there are surprises around every corner. Both well-known regulars as well as unknown, new faces and talents appear every year. Artisans who wish to try their hands at selling in the craft fair venue are well-advised to prepare properly for a fun and lucrative experience.

Costs

There is always a fee to rent booth space at any event. Many promoters also require a percentage of sales to be paid at the end of the festival. For the fair to be profitable, participants must sell enough to bring in more than their costs for being there:

  • Booth space fee,
  • Percentage to promoters,
  • Travel costs (gas, mileage),
  • Overnight accommodation (if necessary),
  • Food,
  • Costs of making each craft for sale.

Artisans offer at least one or two “big ticket” (e.g., expensive) items for sale. If one or two “big ticket” items sells, then the numerous small sales add up to profit. One way to cut costs is to bring a cooler equipped with food and drink. Dining out is expensive, but fair food will be priced at premium and probably not very healthy. Bottles of water and juice, sandwiches, baby carrots and dip, fruit, cheese, crackers, the list of easy and healthy food to bring goes on.

Booth Set-Up

Good display is vital to good sales. Most fairs and festivals rent 10’x10′ spaces. Each participant is responsible for anything and everything that goes into his or her display. Essential for good display:

  • 10’x10′ tent with three sides. A craft fair booth is a room in which artists create their store. Each one is separate, unique, and hopefully well-planned.
  • Peaked roof and valances. In the event that it rains, valances prevent rain from running down the insides of the booth walls. Valances also prevent sunlight from getting in.
  • Height. Items laid out on a flat table are impossible to see from afar, and less interesting up close. Attract customers and show off items with shelves and vertical display set-ups.
  • Tablecloths. Don’t leave tables uncovered. Do drape them with floor-length fabrics, not short fabrics. Floor length fabrics look elegant and create an unbroken line of “store display.”
  • Curtains. Drape one or two nice pieces of fabric kiddie-korner in the back of the booth. They should reach from ceiling to floor. Behind the drapes is a private spot, complete with folding chair with back, well-stocked cooler, and personal storage. It is nice to have this small space to take a break.

Comfort and Ease

Craft fairs can be a grueling amount of work. There are ways to lighten the load:

  • Bring a friend. A friend is an extra set of hands to set up and take down the booth display. A friend can run the booth while the crafter takes a break.
  • Team up with another craftsperson, apply to the show together, and share a booth.
  • Set up the night before the fair begins, instead of being rushed in the morning.
  • Make friends with your “neighbors.” Not only is this good manners, but it creates a pleasant experience and, occasionally, people help each other out.

Bringing a cooler of food and drink is mentioned above, but the importance cannot be stressed enough. Having sustenance on hand will make a difference in anybody’s energy levels. Other things to bring for personal comfort include:

  • Soap (the public restroom might run out),
  • Hand towel,
  • Toilet paper and tissues (see ‘soap’),
  • Folding chair with a back (for the personal space.)

The first time is often the hardest, but taking these issues into account makes a huge difference.

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