View Full Version : Selling at craft fairs

12-09-2011, 07:13 PM
Selling at craft fairs can be a good outlet for your work.

In our area the local high schools hold craft fairs to help pay for their band expenses. A good one will net close to $1000 in sales for a 2 day show. The bad ones earn us about $250 to $300. This last week end we did one in which we only sold about $250. Not good, but better than anyone else we talked to. Most of which didn't even make enough to pay for their booth rental. Some had no sales AT ALL!

We had to set up between 8:00am and 10:00 am on Saturday. By 8:30 am there was not a single parking space within a quarter mile of the school. Good? NO. They also had a state wide(??) wrestling turnament going on at the same time, every high school within 50 miles was there. Not a single parking space for some one that came to buy stuff! Yes, as the school told us, we had several hundred people walking around until about 1:30 pm. But they were just killing time between wrestling matches. They did not want to buy anything.

The people that may have come to buy, couldn't even get near the place. The show started at 10:00 am and not a single parking place existed after 8:30. At least not withing a quarter mile.

Fortunately, the other vendors bought our products.

The tip? Make sure you know what is going on at a highschool craft fair BEFORE you sign up.

12-10-2011, 11:22 AM
Hi Terry,

Sorry the show didn't work out as well as you hoped. But, WOW! How could anyone resist buying? Your products and display are top-notch! I would have expected a sell-out with all those extra people milling around.

12-10-2011, 01:58 PM
The last Craft Show I did at my old High School was the same.... But in my case it was 5 FIVE bus loads of Students going to the PENN STATE Game and left at 5 AM and FILLED the parking lot.... Yes, People drove around a few times and left.... Left hand didn't know what the Right hand was doing.... That is where it becomes important to do some PRO Active Research..... Check on Events.... The Buses could have parked at the Middle School and left the parking open at the High School IF someone had cared....

Good Luck,


12-11-2011, 09:04 AM
Wow, good info.....I never thought of that.

12-11-2011, 12:33 PM
Another good source for finding local craft fairs in your area is http://www.craftmasternews.com/. The one I use is the western copy, but it also covers the east and every month. Plus it has comments from vendors on how successful the event was, attendance, sells cost etc. Pay attention to what they are selling they may be selling something you wouldn't even buy!


12-21-2011, 09:08 AM
I am just curious. When you attend a craft show, how much inventory of each item do you take? Do you only sell what you display or do you take orders based on the display sample to ship to the customer later?

12-21-2011, 10:34 AM
Hi Gene, it has been a while since we talked. Talking about inventory for craft shows. My better selling items such as the yard signs, cajun humor signs, rosry boxes, coasters, I have 2 or 3 of each on hand, but I do tell them I can take orders and give them one of my cards. A lot of my work is after show orders. Some are weeks after or the next day. I also carry some samples of the address signs and tell them I will take orders on those. I also carry a book of pictures of all the projects I have completed. I also tell them I can customize a set of coasters or yard sign for them in a short period of time. This really works. I will start in Janurary building up my inventory for the March, April and May shows. This year I will try some new Items, such as the candy dishes, the spring wreath, etc. Show them some new Items.
My items sell well since I am the only one with these carved products. Oh and I also push the CW machine to really instrested ones.
I hope this helps you get into the crafts shows.
One other thing I don't do shows that have food(beer) dancing etc. They just walk around and don't buy, I do mostly just craft shows, the people are really looking to buy things for the spring or fall.


12-21-2011, 10:47 AM
I usually only have one of each item. Some jewelry boxes and, of course, cribbage boards (15 or 20 crib boards) I usually have several but they have different patterns or designs on them. I have been known to ask a customer to let me borrow something back to display it, if it is something that is "one of a kind" or highly customized. I try to take enough generic items to sell on the spot to pay for the booth space. I do take orders for custom items during the show but most of those orders actually come later by phone. I sell as much or more in the week or two after a fair or show as I do during it. People take our card and call once they figured out what they want.

Some items like address signs are made with fake names or addresses just for display and we take orders for them.

I learned an important lesson from my son awhile back. He was working with a customer that was clearly interested in a certain cribbage board. I chimed in with "we can customize that and put anything you want on it". The customer said that was great and they would have to think about what they wanted on it. After they left my son told me they where ready to pull out the money and buy the board until I started talking about customizing it. The lesson is, if someone wants to make a purchase don't confuse them with unneccessary information.

12-21-2011, 04:55 PM
I am reluctant to do a craft fair because the people around here can't afford to or will not pay what I need to get for my work.

12-21-2011, 07:50 PM
I am reluctant to do a craft fair because the people around here can't afford to or will not pay what I need to get for my work.

Clint.... Think Outside the BOX.... Just 77 miles from YOU in Julian, CA is a Tourist MECCA.... I lived in San Diego for 13 years and made many trips to Julian from Vista, CA near Oceanside. It is a Town designed around Attracting TOURISTS and it all revolves around ICE CREAM, APPLES and WINE..... With MANY Shops selling all things ICE CREAM, APPLES, and WINE...... And the place is the MECCA of Dept 56 Xmas Stuff and MANY more Collectables.... You could make a FULL Time Business making "HIGH END" Wood and GLASS Display Cases for the Collectables... Clocks, Shelves, Wine Racks.... That is the Start of a 100 possible things you could make for THEM...

Julian has come up HERE before by "ME" and I am not the only User here that has been there.

I just dropped off some more of my Craft Show Stuff that was in storage, clocks mostly to a Country Store... She is Enthusiastic about the stuff... We split 50/50.... And I am letting her set the prices as I told what I was getting 3 years ago and she said it was too low... I have a renewed interest in making Craft Stuff over the Winter... She Loves my Quilt Rack.... I need to get some Wine Racks together for her.... She asked if I could UP Scale the Quilt Rack to be able to hold a Horse Saddle.... That they get Requests for them.... And with my Break Down Rail Design.... They can be SHIPPED....

So there is a market... If you know where to look....

Make it a Day Trip and do some Gold Searching.....

AL Who

12-22-2011, 09:35 PM
Thanks Al, I will have to check that out. But I have had a request from a quilter to try selling quilt racks at the store she is connected with in Temecula. There is money there. I guess I will have to be braver and find a way to get the up-front capital to make a bunch of sellable stuff.

12-23-2011, 07:30 AM
Thanks guys for the input. I am trying to get into our local farmers markets this summer. At the one here in Cedar Rapids we average 9,000 people each time it is held (bi-weekly May-October). In surveying the market, I would be one of 3 out of 215 vendors that would be selling carved wood items. I will report back when we get started and let everyone know the results.

12-25-2011, 01:02 PM
What is the price range of your stuff? The people at farmer's markets around here are looking to save money, not spend it.

02-20-2013, 06:36 AM
I love doing craft and trade shows. They make a real difference in my income. It took me years to build up the courage to do one because of the high cost of booth rental and the amount of stuff I would have to bring. I finally did my first show last October. The booth ran $100 for an 8 hour show. I was terrified that I had thrown it in the trash. When I got there, there were several other vendors I knew from craft malls I rent booths at. They were complaining that it wouldn't be that good of a show because it was their first one and because an old established show was the same day. By the time the show was over I did about 2k in sales, mostly in items that were $30 or less (mainly pens). I did manage to sell a few turned bowls and a few cutting boards. I would have sold another 3k worth of goodies, but it was a last minute thing and I didn't set up to take credit cards before going. Needless to say, I set up a square reader on my phone the very next day. The same people are hosting their second show next month, I'm looking forward to it. I am hoping to clear at least 5k this time around, maybe more with people getting income tax checks back.

CNC Carver
02-20-2013, 07:04 AM
Good luck sounds like you did great on your first fair.

02-20-2013, 07:38 AM
JM is spot on with the "Square" reader for your phone! I dont do trade shows yet, but I can tell you that the Square has easily doubled my income from my carvings. First its so convenient when someone can pay with thier card, who carries cash these days!? But the real value as the seller comes when your taking your order, its easy for a buyer to rack up an order with stuff they want, when they are only limited by their credit limit. Additionally, the Square is were most people will offer me tips. I hand them my phone with reader, and I let them enter the amount they want to charge, and they usually tip pretty good. I dont make any tip with any of my cash sales, probably because I am working with numbers like $40, $20, etc, where a couple $20 bills work out just fine. The Square is awesome, and very easy to use!

My 2 cents!