Please note: This post contains affiliate links to some of the products I mention I use.
Ahh, craft show season!
With craft show season fully upon us, I know many of you will be heading out there to the lots and fields of America to sell your products! I love doing shows and I wish I could do them more often. Shows are a great way to meet other makers, your audience, and to learn about buyers!
It took me a few seasons to find my groove with craft shows, so I wanted to share some fast-track tips with you. To begin though, I want you to understand that you will not have success at a show if it is not a show your target audience will be at. So choose your shows wisely when filling out applications. Also remember that your display is hugely important at shows.
However, you are probably beyond the point of applications and display items point at this time of the year anyway. So the next thing you want to be sure about is that you are showing up as prepared as possible!
Here is a list of my top craft show must haves!
Indoor or outdoor:
- Scissors – Well, you just don’t leave home without a pair of scissors. Right? No? Just me? Paper and fabric scissors if you are feeling ultra ambitious.
- Shopping bags – Something for people to carry their purchases away in. Check out PaperMart for lots of options.
- Waterproof bins – Hell hath no fury like a maker with crushed or damp product. Specifically for outdoor shows, this is a must. Tupperware bins for the win. Plus, they are easy to stack and store and usually come in a variety of colors and transparencies, so if people have to see them, at least they are good looking.
- Clothespins – So handy! And you can get a huge bag for a few bucks.
- T-pins – I feel like we shouldn’t even leave home without T-pins let alone do a show without them.
- Tables – Depending on your set up, you’ll need a table or two. Usually you need at least one to put your stuff on and to do check out at, but you might have a very creative set up where a table could be like, a nightstand.
- Tablecloths – I always used flat sheets actually, because they were easier to wash and cheaper. You can get these nearly anywhere, but also check flea markets or thrift shops for even better deals or for funky vintage ones if that is your style.
- Money holder – Basic. I usually used a zip pouch with a wrist strap but anything you can keep on your person will do – or a locked money box.
- Masking tape – Basic. So many uses.
- Scotch tape – Basic.
- Adhesive squares – I use adhesive squares in my displays but I have found a lot of ways to make use of them beyond that.
- Notebook – Or, inventory sheet, blank paper, anything to write down what you sold if you aren’t running all your transactions through a system. I usually do both.
- Packing tape – If you think it’s excessive to have 4 adhesives on this list, then you probably have not done a craft show before.
- Pens / markers – Duh. Bring extra, people will walk off with them. Bring a couple sharpies too.
- Price tags – You want to have prices on everything or easily visible with signage to begin with, but it’s always good to have some blank signs or tags on hand just in case.
- Square or other cc reader – I love my Square reader and I’ve not had any issues with the service. But there are lots of options including PayPal and Etsy.
- Phone charger – Sometimes you will get lucky at an indoor show and have outlet capabilities, or at least extension cord capabilities. I still think it’s better to have your own charging pack. I use this one but there are lots of options.
- Tent – White 10×10 tents are the standard for most outdoor shows. I tried an EZ-up for a while but my Caravan brand tent was much sturdier and in general, more professional looking. Remember, a colored top will cast a hue on your work, so white works best for most people.
- Tent Weights – If the show you are doing DOES NOT have a tent weight requirement in place, seriously consider not going. Seriously. It is a huge safety hazard for you, your work and everyone around you or your tent – or any other tent – to not have weights on it. I like to use sand bag weights because they are a little easier to deal with on the off season (you just dump them out) plus they are cheaper.
- Cooler – If you are going solo to a show, you might not be able to slip away for lunch, coffee or water. So bring it with you! Snacks never let anyone down, ya know?
If you can swing it, I also always suggest bringing a friend!
A friend can help with load in / out, food runs, bathroom breaks, and even help with customers if things get busy! Plus, it’s always nice to have a friend around in case things aren’t going so well – as a morale boost. Buy them lunch and coffee or pay them a flat rate for the day and I bet you they’ll agree!
And don’t forget those display items and your sell-ables. Sounds funny but it’s happened to me and many of my maker friends – you pack the car up and then realize you forgot the actual items in the house. Don’t laugh. It happens.