What to Expect at Your First Craft Fair: My Experience & What I Learned

by Shehla Ahmed

Last weekend, I participated in my very first craft fair! Overall, it was a blast and I learned a lot, but there are some things I wish I knew beforehand. While it’s still fresh in my mind, I decided to share the experience with you guys and give you some tips for your first fair. I could write several posts on different aspects of the whole experience so just let me know what you want to know more about. If you’re thinking about doing a craft fair or an art show, I hope these tips help you out!

 

 

 

Before the Craft Fair

 

Tip #1: Give yourself ample time to prepare!

 

The fair I signed up for was a small local event and I signed up very last minute – only a week away! I happened to drive by a sign advertising it and decided to sign up even though I didn’t have much time to get ready for it. It worked out, but if I had the extra 2-3 months to prepare, I could have made a lot more inventory and figured out my setup a little more too. 

 

 

Make sure to give yourself enough time to make all your products and take care of anything else you need, without rushing it. I spent almost every day since I registered just crocheting nonstop and stressing out about not having enough inventory, or worried that what I did have wasn’t right. With more time, I could have really thought through it more. This is where the Make it Happen Guidebook really comes in handy and helps me plan out what I need to get done and set goals. You can get the first 2 pages for free above!

 

 

Tip #2: Focus on quality of products, not quantity

 

 

Speaking of inventory, I really fretted about what I had in stock. Because I typically focus on creating patterns, I didn’t have much product already created. So I had to make new ones and I focused too much on quantity. 

 

Some of the items I brought with me were from my own patterns – like the Juliet Beanie, Bobble Beanies, and the plushies. Others were made from patterns I found (the headbands from All About Ami) and people suggested for a craft fair. The rest were things I whipped up freehand because I had fun making them and thought they would be different. Guess which sold the best?

 

 

The lovey blankets I made were all freehanded, and although I will have patterns for them soon, I took out the stressful parts of following/writing a pattern and just made the things I liked. And I think it showed because they were the products that brought people to my table and were sold. 

 

Focus on creating great products that fit your brand and your identity, even if they take a bit longer and you can’t make as many. 

 

 

Tip #3: Bring people to help you out!

 

Get as much help as you can. The best part of this craft fair for me was that my whole family was involved. I had borrowed a tent from my cousin, and his kids came over the night before to help out with last minute tasks and setting up the next day. My parents helped me with creating the display and setting my booth up. My mom has always been my #1 sales rep and she was there to talk to customers and answer questions if I had to step out. And my sisters gave me a TON of input both before and after the event. 

 

It’s pretty tiring to spend all day at a fair, so having people around to help and watch your stall while you check out the other displays is super helpful. 

 

 

Tip #4: Set reasonable expectations

 

Going into the craft fair, I knew I didn’t have a lot of inventory and I worried I wouldn’t sell a single thing. Actually, I worried no one would even stop to look at my shabby display when there would be so many better ones around. These expectations were overly pessimistic, and I had to take a minute to think about what I wanted to get out of the whole experience. 

 

Exposure. 

 

Now, I know that exposure isn’t as great as making actual sales, but it does go a long way in building my brand and getting my products seen. My expectations were to sell at least 2 items, get about 10 signups for my blog and maybe a custom order.  I didn’t expect to break even with the registration fee and supplies cost with the number of products I had, but I took it as more of a learning experience for next time and an opportunity for exposure. 

 

 

I made it obvious what else I offered by having my Make It Happen Set displayed where customers could see all the resources, guides, and cheat sheets included, and how to get them on Etsy. I also printed out a signup sheet for the blog for people who mentioned that they crocheted. In the end, I did make a few sales (and made a profit!), got the signups I was looking for, and talked to several people about custom orders.

 

 

 

 What I Learned From My Craft Fair

 

Overall, my first craft fair experience was amazing! Now that it’s behind me, I can take a look at some of the things I wish I had done differently. 

 

 

I learned what products do well

 

Just by watching what people gravitated towards, and what they actually purchased, I learned a lot about what products I should focus on for next time. My dolls and loveys were different than anything else at that particular fair, even though there were other knitters and crocheters. I had hats and scarves and the typical “knit” items, but it was the stuff I was really putting myself into that did the best. 

 

In the future, I’d spend more time on creating those products and less time on the ones that were more generic. 

 

 

I learned how not to be salesy

 

Selling in person is much different than selling online. Online, you list all the great things about your product and throw in keywords and push push push until someone buys. You can’t do that in person. 

 

Most of the time, I learned it was enough to say hi to customers and smile when they came up to my table. If they spend a while looking at something or discussing it, I would step in and tell them I also did custom orders if they needed anything more specific. Overall, I learned to pay attention to what they were saying and gently direct them to products that suited them best. For example, if someone was talking about how they also knit and crochet but are just getting started, I’d tell them about the tutorials and this site, and ask them to sign up for free. 

 

 

I also learned some display tricks!

 

One of the things I was most nervous about was having a good display. I didn’t have a ton of product so I thought I could add a bunch of signs and tags and info to fill up my table a little bit. These tags looked great and I love them (I got them here), but I don’t think they suit my fun and whimsical theme very well. Turns out, less is more. Especially on a windy day when you might be running after windblown price tags!

 

 

I checked out some of the other displays and took pictures of how other vendors used their space. Next time, I think it’s worth taking the time to set up some displays instead on just splaying everything out on tables. 

 

I got these pictures with permission.

 

 

 

Have you ever take part in a craft fair?

 

Let me know about it in the comments below! I’ve already signed up for a second fair in October and would LOVE to hear your tips!


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2 comments

Bobby Jo May 25, 2019 - 7:17 pm

I did a craft fair once. They put me on the back side of the fair, very little foot traffic so hardly no customers. I sold enough to cover the cost of the space but that was it! I spent a year preparing and didn’t even make enough to cover the cost of my supplies. I learned the location of the booth is everything.

Reply
Shehla Ahmed June 1, 2019 - 12:39 pm

Booth location is important, but there are other things that factor in too. I had my booth at the very end, but luckily there was another entry point there so for some, I was the first booth. I do wish my display stood out more so more people came over though!

Reply

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