How to Make Money at a Craft Show
Toying with the idea of setting up a booth at a local market? Worried you won’t break even?
I remember thinking those things at my first ever craft show, Third Friday in Safety Harbor back in 2013. At the time, my crafting business wasn’t really focused. I had a large collection of crocheted items, and I had just started dabbling in cross stitch. I split my booth in half, crochet on one side, cross stitch (with naughty words) on the other. The cost of the booth was $40, so I knew I needed to sell at least that much to break even. Being that it was my first show, all of my friends and family came out of the woodwork, and helped me surpass my goal. It was a fun night, but I didn’t really do the proper planning or understand my demographic enough to really, truly make money.
Fast forward to my first Crafts & Drafts show in St Petersburg, December 2014. I had begun to focus my crafting on naughty cross stitch, but still brought some crochet items along to see if they would take. To my surprise, I completely SOLD OUT of the cross stitch. Like, none left, sold out. The booth for Crafts & Drafts was $150… steep, but I thought that because it was before the holidays, I’d probably be able to get close to breaking even. Turns out, I made a HUGE profit (and quite a name for myself.)
I’ve since done many local shows- Indie Market, Indie Flea, Crafts & Drafts- and each time, have been able to surpass my “break-even” point. I also stopped bringing crochet items to my booth. Here are my top tips on how to make money at a craft show (and have so much fun doing it!)
- Understand Your Demographic– Where is the show located and who’s probably coming? You can usually find this out pretty easily using the Facebook event as a starting point. For example, I know that at St Pete Indie Market, my key demographic will be there- young, local St Petersburgers looking for a fun ironic (and affordable) piece for their home or for a friend. If the show is a holiday market in an older community, and you have something that attracts a younger audience, it may not be the show for you. Make sure the show has the right people for your product attending (and in force.)
- Bring Enough Inventory– I can’t stress this enough. This has happened to me more than a few times… Try to make enough of your product, that even if you have a really really good day, it doesn’t look like you’re closing up shop. That being said, it has created somewhat of a sense of urgency for people when they see that items are selling out quickly, so use your best judgement. Regardless, have enough to get you through the better part of the day.
- Talk to Your Visitors…– When someone comes and visits your booth, greet them! Be available for questions, and/or make some small talk. It’s a great opportunity to network with locals and have them put a face to your product.
- … but Don’t Be too Salesy– This is my BIGGEST pet peeve when I go to markets/ craft shows. People don’t want to feel bombarded when they go into someone’s booth. Sometimes, they’re just interested in the art or product you create, and want to get a closer look. It doesn’t necessarily mean they’re ready to buy said piece. Just because someone isn’t ready to buy right away, doesn’t mean they won’t come back later or contact you after the show. Offer up your business card or social media handles so they can follow you and see your new stuff!
- Price Accordingly– This is a big one. You want to make sure you price your items where you’re not losing money, but also price them where they’re affordable to most attendees. I make it a point to let my potential customers know that most items they’ll find in my booth are under $20, but that’s because the items I make are cheap to create. If you’re selling fine art, you obviously need to price higher depending on the piece. Take a look at similar booths and see how they price their items. Don’t try to undercut them, but stay in the ball-park.
- Don’t Get Discouraged– If you don’t meet your goals for your first show, don’t beat yourself up. Sometimes, you may just be having an off day. Instead, learn from the experience, and try to find things to tweak for next time. Was the time of the show weird? Were there a lot of other big events happening that day? Was the audience right? Were your items priced correctly? A few small changes can mean all the difference in being successful.
- Ask for Feedback– Reach out to people you know that came to the show and saw your booth, and solicit honest feedback. Try not to feel criticized but rather, use the feedback to better your booth for next time.
*BONUS TIP*- One time, I brought my Fujifilm Instax Mini to the show and took a picture of everyone who purchased with their new piece. I kept the photos out on the tables for the mere intention of showing my booth visitors that I can make anything they’d like custom, and I wanted to give them some items that had been sold already as ideas. This little act created a HUGE buzz in my booth and people were literally in line to get items before someone else bought them.
My biggest piece of advice is try it out. Put yourself out there and just see how people respond to your product. The worst that can happen is that you spend more than you make back. But use it as a learning process and find out if setting up shop is right for you!