Having a great display and unique items can make your craft fair experience a success. This guide is about selling crafts at craft shows.
By Linn from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia
In my community, craft fair season is fast approaching and I would like to try selling my own handmade items. Since I have never done this before, any suggestions would be helpful. What sells well? How do I determine how much to charge for each item? (For example, I like to rag quilt, so do baby quilts sell better than twin or full size? I'd rather make 3 baby quilts that sell than 2 twin size that don't.)
Do I need to claim my earnings on my taxes and do I obtain a tax-exempt number to buy my materials? If so, how? I have been told that I can't sell fabric items with licensed characters on the fabric, why? Thanks for the help?
By Marie from Idaho Falls, ID
May 11, 2013
Here in Lawton, Oklahoma our craft club has one large craft show a year. We mark off 211 10X10 ft booths. We rent these booth to mostly crafters. If we do not fill all booth we will allow select comercial booths. Items have to be sold not party set up. We have great sucess each year. We are always looking for new crafters.
Many of our crafters have campers and stay on the grounds where the show is happening. There are hook ups for campers. We provide security inside the building each day and over night to protect our booths. We have some members who live out of state. Many of our crafters who are not members come back year after year. Contact ivazimmerman AT aol.com for more information.
What crafts are selling best at craft shows?
Jean from Columbus, Ohio
March 6, 2008Best Answer
I do craft show for a living (I sell hand painted pottery) and the one thing that always sells and makes money is garden crafts. It may be actual plants, or seeds or live floral wreaths or flowers planted in unusual things like in boots or old chairs or tires. Wooden window boxes always sell too, or even garden art or yard furniture or bird baths and stepping stones, but let me tell you, anything for the yard or garden sells like crazy!
You gotta have 2 price scales; the pricey stuff and also something to sell that's under 20 or 30 dollars. The lower priced stuff is what people will buy without thinking to hard about it.
Craft fairs aren't bringing in the money they used to (Believe me!), with the economy these days being so bad you have to have something either people need and is useful or is super cheap that they can buy for a gift. I'm making less than half what I made before 2000. Really! Even though I have a great reputation and people know me better and better each year). When the economy sucks, so do sales at craft fairs (unless you're selling food items). I sometimes drive 180 miles (round trip) to sell my stuff "where the money is". Try to sell your stuff at a fair where the people with money live. Get my drift!?
This project is used for vendors and crafters who want to display their earrings for sale at craft shows, festivals, and fairs.
Approximate Time: 20 - 30 minute, depending on how many you make
Yield: sheet of cardstock yields 4 strips and I use 10 sheets of paper
I'm looking for craft fairs that will give you a booth for low cost or free. I'm a first timer and don't want to spend a bunch of money for a booth right now. Are there any craft fairs in Minnesota that have really cheap or free available booths for selling?
January 16, 2013
You're so right in thinking of doing the lower dollar craft shows. These shows are so. Participating in such shows can be so iffy. You just never know how well things will go. Keeping the expense of participating down betters your opportunities of doing well. Googling "Craft Shows" is a great way to get links to various sights that list shows around the country. I know there is a Church there in MN that does a Summer event each yr. I've donated a gift basket to them for their event before. Best of luck!
Does anyone know of a website or place that lists all upcoming craft shows, fairs, and markets for a certain area? I am in Chicago and I'm interested in selling handmade purses and pillowcases. I am having trouble finding places other than online. I have never sold anything, but now I'm ready with enough product. Do I really have to wait until summer? Don't these things happen indoors throughout the winter?
By down n dirty from Chicago, IL
January 1, 2011
Here is a link that I have used in the past.
http://www.eventlister.com/. You can also check with local churches, schools andevent planners. Where at in Chicago are you located. I use to live there and I did a number shows in the area.
By Mandie 4
Need ideas on displaying your items at craft shows or in your booth?
The number one thing in displaying your crafts is make sure all of your items are priced and the tag can be easily seen. 9 times out of 10 those few items that are not priced will be walked away from because most shoppers are just simply too "shy" to ask.
Even if your not pricing your items but are using the "Here's your Sign" tactic by displaying a large sign stating something like 1 for 2.99 buy 2 for $5.00, I suggest to still price everything! Shoppers are so excited and distracted from looking through all the products and discussing the oohh's and aahh's with their shopping friends that the signs are sometimes missed especially in large craft shows where they get crowded.
Make your display booths unique and interesting to draw in attention. Using a folding table with a country plaid tablecloth are great, but why not really spice it up and use something out of the ordinary to grab the shopper's eye from across the room. These are depending on your space size of course, or could be scaled to fit.
Some other ways to display items are using baskets, ladders, stacking suitcases, crates, crocks, coat racks, stacking various sized tables, cutting barrels in half and adding shelving inside, Christmas trees, old galvanized wash tubs, dress mannequins, wood ironing boards, quilt racks, shutters, or fencing.
And one last craft display tip. Don't forget the kids! Most shoppers will be bringing along young children. Have items to catch a child's eye down low or invest in a bubble gum machine and fill it with sweets. A few turns on the irresistible machine will make you some profits as well.
Please help. I would like to sell my handmade patchwork tote bags (made out of old jeans and new fabric) at a local farmer's market this summer, but I don't know how much to charge. I know how much the jeans and fabric cost, but I don't know how much to charge for labor, thread, use of my machine, etc. I would also need to invest in a canopy and tables for my booth. The bags are an easy technique, but it takes 2-3 days to make a bag, if I don't have any other wife/mom things to do. Plus, I live in a community with a lot of crafters who could make the items they see at a craft fair and people who like to negotiate for a good price. Thus, I need to find a fair price that will not scare away potential buyers, but will give me room to negotiate and still make a decent profit. How do I make my craft fair dreams happen?
By Marie V.O. from Idaho Falls, ID
My daughter Katie and I would like to make crafts items to sell at local craft shows. We have some ideas but would like more. Does anyone know of some good websites for free craft patterns and ideas? Thanks!
Sharon Young from Benton, AR
I have a suggestion that is fairly inexpensive to make and seems to sell well for me. At Michael's or Hobby Lobby you can purchase tiny canvas (about 5 1/2" x 6") They come in colors as well as neutral. Next use just about anything to decorate them. I use buttons, rick rack, fun fur trim, beaded trim extra. I sell mine for $5.00 ea., but you could get more. I am going to try and send you a picture of a couple of mine to give you a better idea. I mostly glue my trims on with Fabritac and glue buttons etc. with Gemtac. Sometimes I sew the buttons on. Contact me if you would like more ideas.
Go to this web site and download this computer software for free! You can use it to make bags, shawls, hats, and slippers. It supplies you with the patterns and sewing instructions - you supply the labor, supplies and creativity. It's great. The link is: http://www.wildginger.com/products/wildthings.htm
Have fun crafting!!! Sincerely, CaseyT6 (07/26/2006)
If you are going to stay with local craft shows, then why not make your crafts fit the area .
I am thinking calendars with local photos even local events on the calendars.
The same crafting picture frames.
Candles are a great sale along with wrapping them with homemade stitchery. Shaping your candles into figurines are very salable. Perhaps figurines that are high school and college mascots .
Unique flower arranging using containers that would normally be called trash but made so beautiful and unique that they outshine the norm.
My trick in making crafts is to spend much less money but invest much more time on my projects.
I wish you and you daughter well.
By Mr. Thrifty
I just found a REALLY cool site with TONS of FREE patterns its called craftbits.com check it out.
I live in Essex in the UK and along with a friend, we would like to start making and selling at craft fairs to enable us to continue to stay home with our children.
I thought I would ask for suggestions on here as being an american site, you would probably come up with suggestions that we don't have over here.
Thanks in advance,
Tracey from Essex
Get some really nice business cards, business name or your name, some kind of tag line that really explains what you sell, phone number, email address or some way to contact you. Use them as tags on your goods. It will help people know how to contact you after they get your crafts home. Also, pass them out to people who ask. Even if you make the cards yourself with a stamp or handwriting it is worth it.
Make sure your displays are really good. If you sell earrings, look for earring racks or some unique way to display your earrings. If you sell dolls, make sure they can sit or stand to display them best. Whatever you are selling, make sure that it is easy to see from a distance what you have. Use nice table coverings that match and tie your booth, table or displays together.
I've bought and sold crafts for years and just like the big merchandisers how you present yourself and your products really helps make sales. It doesn't have to cost a lot but always stand back and look at your displays before starting your sale. Anything that distracts you from the "goods" should be avoided (i.e. a rusty table leg, a stain, dirty mirror, papers sitting around, loose threads).
Once you are selling, figure out what sells the best and concentrate on those items. Also pay attention to where the items were placed as that can also make a difference. Make sure all of your items are priced.
If there are two of you, avoid both of you sitting staring out waiting for people to come. Have one of you stand up, walk out and walk up to the booth, people tend to go to tables where other people are. It's funny but it works.
I find that having to buy my supplies at retail stores increases the cost of my items. If you could find a supplier that is a wholesaler you would get better prices for your supplies and then could sell your items at a lower price or have a bigger profit margin. (01/20/2007)
My friend and I have been setting up at craft shows for about 8 years. We have gone with all homemade items and we have made items that are on the normal persons budget. Most of our items are $5.00 and under. We make crochet towels, crocheted slippers, mittens, hats, dish cloths, scrubbies out of nylon net, barbie cloths, and we also make many gag gifts that we sell for 50 cents a piece. We are busy from the time we get set up to the end of the day. People love to be able to buy something even if it just a little item. We do have a few higher priced item at different shows but keep your booth friendly and bright. We sometimes have a tape player playing very soft music, helps make people feel welcome. Good luck! (01/22/2007)
I am a stay at home mom that wishes to earn extra income selling crafts at craft fairs/flea markets. Any ideas or suggestions of crafts that sell well? Thank you.
PJ from Forked River, NJ
If your craft is of the type that you can do while at the craft fair, that can really help to attract attention to your booth. It also "proves" that you really did make them yourself. I used to set up my booth for wood burned pet portraits and wildlife plaques, and actually burn one during the hours of the crafting event.
Since I was young when I did this, it helped assure others that I was really the artist, and it also showed the customers how the art was created (since pyrography is often misunderstood). Also, it made my booth a bit more approachable. Instead of just sitting there looking hopeful and expectant when customers would approach, I would be working, and look up from my work with a smile and a hello. The customer could browse for a moment without me just staring at them twiddling my thumbs. Or, they now felt welcome to approach and ask questions about the work, which most of them did.
I know that when I go to craft fairs as a potential customer, I feel hesitant about approaching a vendor who is just sitting there watching me (even if they're friendly), especially when I am not quite sure if I want to buy the products. This is just my shy nature, but I know that this tendency is shared by many. Working on your products while manning the booth allows both the shy and the outgoing to approach your tables with ease, as well as displaying your talents. Best of luck with your venture. (07/14/2008)
I am going to start selling at a local market day in my town and I was hoping for some advice. I like to sew and so far I have decided to sell children's aprons and chef hats. I'm wondering if it's better to stick to one item or if it's better to offer other things.
For example, I have also thought about selling dog dresses. Should the items I offer be related? Would it be better to sell matching dish towels instead of dog dresses? I really need some direction. Any advice would be helpful.
By Kristina from south TX
After years of selling at yard and craft sales, my suggestion would be to make a few of everything you can think of and find out which sells best for you. Never over make a lot of things, because in our down times even the dog needs a jacket and if reasonable, will sell. I have 10 dogs and 5 use jackets in the winter, so go for it. I make my own crafts. (05/05/2010)
It's good to have several things to sell. And no matter what you sell, some days nothing will sell or all of one thing will sell and then that item may not sell again for a month. There's no rhyme or reason.
I sold crafts all winter, but have stopped for the summer because of the heat. I have figured out that I am going to do it for the enjoyment and socializing because there's no way people will pay for your skill. I have been told to price my items at no more than two times the cost of the materials. The items I make take anywhere from 8 to 10 hours up to as much as a week or two. I am still not going to sell them for next to nothing.
Good luck. (05/05/2010)
How about making potholders to match the aprons? Most potholders at the stores are ugly and boring. (05/05/2010)
Perhaps you could make matching aprons and chef hats for Fathers' Day, matching father and son would be really cute! And this would be something that no other person would have. Using striped mattress-ticking type fabric would make cute aprons.
People really like those kitchen towels that have a button to keep them on the oven handle or cabinet, or refrigerator.
People do really buy clothing for their pets. At one large flea market, there is an entire booth selling pet sweaters, dresses, bandannas, t-shirts, and even little 'jammies". Look at Walmart and see how expensive these pet dresses are! Not too much fabric goes into them either. Seems the glitzier the better.
One thing that always sells is the crocheted net scrubbies! People buy several of them at a time. They are fairly easy to crochet. Net comes in many colors, and isn't too expensive either. You can even find the pattern for the scrubbies here.
One of my friends sold these for $1 each, and she never had enough to sell. They always sold out. She would sit in the booth crocheting these scrubbies, which called attention to herself, and her booth. If you don't crochet, maybe you have friends that do who would be glad to crochet these for you. Guys like them for cleaning their windshield, and the lenses of headlights. They don't scratch the finish on anything.
Another item that girls look for is clothing for their American Girl Dolls. Those clothes are very expensive to purchase from the catalog. There are patterns available on-line, even patterns for crocheting sweaters and such. I have seen entire booths full of American Girl Doll clothing, and accessories.
Have fun! Hope you do well.
You could always try and apron and chefs hat for dogs :)
I love your idea. You might consider making some catnip toys for cats. They are selling like wildfire because all of a sudden in the last couple of years they have become very creative. Do a Google search for catnip toys and you will see what I mean. They are shaped like food, fortune cookies, shrimp, other animals, cookies, all kinds of things. It would be easy and I bet you would sell a lot. Just make sure you put a little catnip in each one and your buyers will come back for more. Good luck. (05/06/2010)
One related apron idea that I have not seen and might be a seller is aprons in plus sizes. The neck ties would be further apart and the apron size wider, but otherwise the same. Try a prototype on someone (like me) who wishes the apron covered all her front. I don't know, but nice, decorative aprons that aren't that wrap-around kind might be great sellers, especially if you could give them a fancy name (not aprons for fat ladies)! (05/24/2010)
Is it necessary to disclose the origin of fabric at a craft fair? I sew dog dresses to sell at craft fairs and although I do buy new fabric from the store, I also get fabric from my local Goodwill. It's usually remnants from other peoples' sewing projects, but they are clean and free of odors and stains. Also, I sometimes use fabric from shirts, skirts, etc. and turn them into dresses.
I would never lie to a customer if they asked me directly where I get my fabric, but in general is it wrong to not just tell people up front? I also thought about having a separate "green section" so that my customers will know that the fabric is recycled.
Would you be disappointed or upset to know that something you bought wasn't from all new materials? Any advice/opinions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
By Kristina from South TX
It would never occur to me to wonder where the fabric came from. I really don't think you have anything to worry about. In fact, I think mentioning the fabric is "green"/recycled could be a good selling point. (07/25/2010)
If asked the question you could say to the customer that you have several sources where you buy your fabric. You are not lying, but you don't have to give them a direct answer either. (07/25/2010)
It is common to "recycle" when making crafts, even for sale, that is all that they need to know. It actually is recycled, otherwise, it may have ended up in the garbage. Best of luck to you!
I can't imagine where all the wonderful old quilts would have come from had women not known all about recycling fabrics. I'm sure many of the quilts being made today are of all new fabrics, but if I were making a quilt for someone in my family, I'd most definitely be using recycled fabrics from our own family's old clothing just for the memories if nothing else.
I'm assuming you wash the clothing you buy from the thrift stores prior to sewing them for your own protection. That being said, if they are clean enough for you, I'm sure the dogs won't care one way or the other. I'm not even sure they're going to be thrilled at having to wear a dress no matter where the fabric came from. Ha-ha.
Good luck in your business. Sounds like fun.
You do not need to tell anyone where you get your fabric unless you want to give away this information.
I tell people that I do not give out my sources, or that it is from my "collection" from way back. Sometimes I say I collect it in my travels, which is not untrue. Of course if they ask and it does come from a used garment, then by all means play up the recycled aspect. If it comes from scraps, it is still technically new or "vintage" fabric. (07/28/2010)
All the smart people here are correct. If someone wanted to be such a snob that they wouldn't buy it from anything but new, they wouldn't be shopping for things at a craft fair! I buy my fabric and yarn any cheap place I can get it. If a skein is 2.99 new and .59 at a second hand store, but still clean and unrolled, who would know the difference. You just sell what you can and don't worry about the rest. (07/28/2010)
You might want it to be a plus and list green crafts, to stand out. None the less, most of the stuff we craft from is recycled from something. If someone asks (nosy) just say some new, some attic treasures from friends. I have some books that are trash to treasures and they go anywhere to get their stuff. (07/29/2010)
By T&T Grandma
I often see an idea/outfit in a large dress/skirt, etc. when doing Goodwill, garage sales, etc. I like going down to my old jean basket where salvaged parts of jeans are and make an apron for the fair judging. You can bet they will love it. (07/29/2010)
By T&T Grandma
I definitely agree with the rest on this subject. I think you are very innovative and there are some beautiful fabrics that are skirts, shirts, coats, etc. To me this is what crafting is all about. What ticks me off at craft shows is when people buy from a dollar store and maybe add a flower or one little embellishment then sell it off as a handmade craft. I've seen ornaments from Lakeside that are at craft shows, also. The seller buys them from Lakeside then sells them for 2 or 3 dollars more, to me that is misrepresentation. (09/09/2010)
Does anyone know how I would find out who to contact about selling my crafts at craft shows or festivals in my local area?
Sandy from Bluff City, TN
You could call your local schools and find out if they are having any craft show fund raisers, great way to meet up with other crafters. Ask at your local craft stores, or your church. Most towns have a crafter's mall, check your yellow pages for one. Good luck to you! (04/25/2007)
When you attend a craft show, ask one of the exhibitors who to contact if you would like to sell your crafts at their show. They can give you lots of information!
Send for a tourist package that is usually available from the tourist bureau in the capital city of your state. I am from Arkansas, and the package for Arkansas includes an Arkansas road map, and a calendar of events which lists many of the craft shows and festivals statewide. You could also check on local events with your Chamber of Commerce or the County Extension Office. Check on the internet, just Google it. Good key words would be "Tennessee craft shows", arts and craft shows", crafts vendor information, Tennessee festivals, etc. Hope this is helpful.
Try the local churches, ours has a craft fair every October. (04/26/2007)
Just a quick warning. Make sure when you talk to the people heading up these shows, that you ask if these are home-made style crafts or if they are "vendor" shows. I, like you, just got into showing my crafts and the first one I went to was all "vendors" such as Home Interiors, Avon, Tupperware, several wine, food, and kitchenware type vendors. We were the only ones with home-made style crafts. Even the customers were heard commenting "I thought this was a craft show". Just a heads up to ask the right questions. Good luck! (04/26/2007)
Check with school, churches, and if you have them flea markets. Usually a few times a year there are festivals that people can put crafts in. Also you can post them on a web site! If you give your crafts as gifts, attach a business card and give some for friends to hand out. I have sold things by word of mouth!
Good luck! (04/28/2007)