{Business Tips} Get Local with Holiday Craft Fairs (bonus Recycled Newspaper ToteTutorial)

Craft Fair

Can you believe that Christmas is only 7 weeks away? Let me repeat – CHRISTMAS IN ONLY 7 WEEKS AWAY!

Now that I’ve planted the seed and a sense of urgency into your brain {as if you weren’t already stressing over it}, let’s talk Holiday Craft Fairs.  Craft Fairs are a great way to gain some local exposure for your shop, your products and yourself as the creator of fabulousness. Lots of schools, churches and private groups begin putting their calls out for vendors as early as September and craft fairs begin running as early as the first week of November.

There are a number of considerations before embarking on the whole holiday craft fair bandwagon, here are a few things to think about:

How many fair do you want to participate in?

festivalnet.com

www.Festivalnet.com

This is an important decision.  Do you want to participate in one giant fair or would you rather be a vendor at a bunch of little craft fairs.  During this time of year, I personally opt for a bunch of little fairs and try to limit myself to 2-3 fairs because I know that I can comfortably make enough product for each show without stressing myself out.

If you opt for one giant craft fair, such as Bust’s Craftacular or SugarLoaf in New England, which tend to be multi-day events, you need to make sure you have the inventory to carry you through the entire show.

Not sure where to find Craft Fair information?  I have a great resource for you, check out http://www.festivalnet.com click on the “events” tab and begin search for craft fair in your area.

How much are you willing to pay of a table? 

tight budget

tight budget

Dang it!  Money is ALWAYS an obstacle.  When it comes to craft fairs, you may be limited by the amount of money you can budget to pay for a table.  Most small craft fairs will charge between $25 – $75 for a table, they may charge you extra if you require electricity of want a corner.

Before I apply for a table at a new event (one I’ve never participated in), I will contact the fair coordinator and I ask a bunch of questions, like:

How many people do you anticipate will attend the event?  How are your marketing the event (flyers, radio, newspaper, etc)? Is there an admissions fee for shoppers?  How many vendors do you currently have on board? Can you give me an example of some of the vendors who will be attending?  

I know I sound like a pain, but based on their answers I decide if it’s worth paying $50 for a table. I attend the events to sell, not to sit and look pretty, so I need to make sure that I will make my table money back and also make a profit.

Which products will you showcase and offer up for sale?

Hour Glass Production

Hour Glass Productions - Serpentine

I usually ask people what they will bring to the fair to sell and I get cock-eyed looks, but it’s an honest to goodness, valid question. I see people carrying in tote box, after tote box, after tote box, of stuff to end up complaining at the end of the show that they hardly sold any items.

I tend to be very strategic about what I offer at a fair.  I make handmade makeup which honestly at a craft fair is not a huge seller. People go to craft fairs to buy gifts and stocking stuffers, so I will adjust my products accordingly.  I bring my top sellers – Mascara and Lip Potions and I’ll add handmade cosmetic bags, makeup brush rolls, lip balm jewelry and some other trinket that I know people will grab up.

One year I packaged some lip balm in clear heart and animal shaped containers, added a clasp to the back and some ribbon.  I offered these up for $3.50 each and sold each and every one of them within the first 3 hours of the fair. The point is, with a little thought and creativity you can give your old product new life.

What type of payment will you accept? 

Love My Square

Accept Credit Cards on the Spot

Forms of payment accepted tend to be the last thing that most vendors will think about.  Most will just go to the bank and get $100 in change, toss it into a money bag and head off.  There’s no problem with this method, HOWEVER, nowadays people tend to use plastic to pay for their purchases.  Studies show that most people are much less likely to buy, or less willing to spend as much, when paying with cash as opposed to credit cards.

Nowadays, it’s so easy to offer your customers the option of paying with credit or debit even at a craft show. Enter Square a free merchant account  with a neat little doo-hicky that attach to your smartphone turning your phone into a genius – literally – allowing you to accept Visa, Mastercard, Amex and Discover on the spot at your craft fair table. PLUS, your money is deposited to your account within 24-hours.  PLUS,PLUS, this baby is eco-friendly as it’s paperless – Gotta Love It!

What type of display will you use to showcase your products?

PeriogiPicnic

PierogiPicnic Display

Once you have all your detailed decisions made, it’s time for some fun – deciding how to display your products.  I enjoy this part a lot, because I am in total control.  I’ve seen some pretty fabulous displays in my time and have learned over the years that your display can help you draw in the crowds, so it’s important to give this some thought.  Get creative.

Aside from the product display you should also incorporate the theme into your business card display.  Also make sure you decide how you will package your products once they are purchased.  You want to make sure that your presentation is cohesive from start to finish.

I like to make shopping totes made from recycled newspaper and magazines.  They become a conversation piece.  Shoppers at the craft fairs will get to talking about the totes and I tend to get extra shoppers coming over to check me out just because of my totes.

 

Want to learn how to make a Recycled Newspaper Tote?  Download my Tutorial

Recycled Newspaper Tote

Recycled Newspaper Tote Tutorial

What are some of your tips for tackling Holiday Craft Shows?  Leave your comments below. 

This post was written by

Myra @ HerbanLuxe – who has written posts on Eco Etsy.
Myra is an Etsian with an MBA. The art of business and technology are her two obsessions. She has been writing EcoEtsy Business Tips since 2010. Myra grew up in Puerto Rico with grandparents who were a head of their time and didn't know it - living what we would call today, "a simple green life." Her love of learning and teaching are the key drivers in almost everything she does.

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About Myra @ HerbanLuxe

Myra is an Etsian with an MBA. The art of business and technology are her two obsessions. She has been writing EcoEtsy Business Tips since 2010. Myra grew up in Puerto Rico with grandparents who were a head of their time and didn't know it - living what we would call today, "a simple green life." Her love of learning and teaching are the key drivers in almost everything she does.

Comments

  1. Timely advice – just had my very first craft fair today and have learned a few things. Shared the booth space with a friend and realized that my display really needs to have some empty space to look nice. Think more boutique vs. garage sale. I worked hard on my display plan, but it got lost in the “clutter”.

    Didn’t know about Square Up. Hubby and I are looking into upgrading our phones and will definnitely have to look into this. :D

  2. This is wonderful advice – thank you! p.s.. Happy to see you used my photo. =)