So what do you do when a craft show is a bust? Not only are your booth fee and time gone, a bad craft show can be traumatic to you and your business. It’s probably just that your target customers did not show up; or maybe because no people showed up in the event due to lack of advertisement.
This is a very good point to bring up as some handmade sellers have experienced these problems with some craft shows.
For instance, Etsy seller phippsart shared his craft show experience:
“Last Saturday I drove 45 minutes to set up for a show in order to sell my T-shirts. I had stayed up until 2:30am the night before in order to get ready for it.
There turned out to only be about 10 vendors, but that was no big deal. But it didn’t take long to find out that it was all a mistake! Other than an occasional friend or family member of a vendor, only about 3 or 4 customers showed up to the ENTIRE EVENT!!! I’ve been to some slow shows before, but this took the cake.”
Here’s another bad situation encountered by Fivelittlegems:
“I recently did a well established, well advertised craft show in an upscale neighborhood, which i would normally do well at. However, they decided to bring in 27 vendors with jewelry. 48 vendors with jewelry showed up (they did not disclose in some cases that jewelry was their “other product” and took up most of their tables). Next, the organizers thought it would be a great idea to include “direct sales” companies like lea sophia, pampered chef, party lites, and others. There were about 20 of those. and to top it off, they brought in the “made in china” resellers who all had gobs and gobs of jewelry that looked a lot like the things that were being sold there (although not if you looked closely or knew what you were looking at) but to the masses, it just looked like they were selling the same stuff we were selling for about 1/3 the price.
I made negative 98 dollars that day after the table fee and the raffle donation item. 🙁
and it was a juried show.”
This is such a huge debate for all of us because you just never know what will come out of a show. But I think you do have to know something about it. That being said, these craft fair tips will show you how to avoid bad craft shows and see if it’s worth your time and effort.
It’s all about asking the right questions. Such as:
Is the show well-advertised?
- Are there banners or posters for the show outside the venue?
- Are there posters around town advertising the craft show event?
- Are there ads in the local newspaper or online?
- Do they have a good website? Are they on Facebook and Twitter?
In this day and age, these are the tools shows use to spread the word about their shows. If they don’t have a strong online presence it might well be reflected in their attendance. Check out any press they have posted, but also Google the show to get the real scoop.
These are signs that the organizers have worked hard to bring in shoppers.
Is the organizer credible?
Contact the organizer. Ask about the expected numbers of visitors, how long they’ve been in the craft show biz and what they’re marketing efforts entail. If it’s really a good show, they’ll be happy to share the info. If they keep their cards close to their chests, they could well be not worth your time.
You might also want to check them on the internet and see what people say about them.
Will it be held in a good location?
- Is it an area that already gets foot traffic, or is it in an out-of-the-way destination that people have to make the effort to get in their cars and drive to?
- If you live in a major city, where many people don’t own cars and depend on public transport, is the venue accessible by bus or train?
Would other crafters recommend this show?
Crafters talk, and most won’t hesitate to spread the word about selling at craft shows that had zero paying customers, that treated crafters badly, or that were poorly organized. If you have a local Etsy team or a Facebook page for crafters in your city, post to the page or team forum asking what others think of the event.
Is it the right show for your product?
Knowing who your customer is, what they shop for, where they shop and why, will help you hone in on the perfect show for your product line.
Does the neighborhood or town have residents who would buy what you make? If you make racy burlesque accessories, a show in a conservative suburb may not be a good fit. The “alternative” part of town might not work for you if you make sweet traditional baby accessories.
Asking these questions to the organizer before you enter can take a little extra time and may be tedious, but it is truly one of the best ways to ensure that you have a good experience and make money in the process.
Check out this list of great craft shows around the world to see if you can find somewhere suitable for you.
Happy Craft Show hunting!