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10 Tips for Craft Fair Vendors

Opalmaree Stone

Posted on September 07 2019

Five years ago I sat at my first ever craft fair with Wild and Precious. It was at a small technical college where I sat with 20 other vendors at a single table and prayed that one of the thirty people that came would just buy something. Defeating? Yes. Unfortunate? You betcha! Did I want to cry because I felt like I wasted so much time preparing for an event where I sold one pack of cards? Oh my gosh, YES! 
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I’ve learned a lot over the past five years and although I am no expert, and still have lots of growing to do, I’d love to share with you some of the lessons and tips that have stuck with me. Not all businesses are the same, so again these are the things that have worked for ME, maybe they will for you, maybe not. But they are here for you if you want to give them a go! 
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  1. RESEARCH. Be weary of signing up for the first fair that accepts you or applying to a fair simply because it costs only $20. These should be the SOLE reasons for attending an event. Be patient with the process and GO TO THE EVENT before you are a vendor. This is key! If I would have attended even half of the events I signed up for in the first years of business, I would have known within MINUTES that they were not the event for me. This is so hard when you are first starting, because you are so eager to share your products, but I promise you, your patience will pay off. 
  2. COMPARISON WILL BE THE THEIF OF JOY. Not sure who the first person was that said that, but holy smokes, is it true. When you go to your first event, I can almost guarantee there will be someone or multiple people with a set-up more beautiful, products in the same category as yours, or people who clearly have established themselves within the community. But guess what? NONE OF THEM ARE YOU. None of them can make customers feel the way you do. None of them can care the same way you do. None of them have the same passion as you or exact products as you. I’ve gone to events, and still do, where I catch myself sinking into the deep dark place of comparison and the only one it hurts is you. So you do you, boss and do it well! 
  3. DON’T GO OVERBOARD WITH INVENTORY. I stayed up until God hours of the night before my first few fairs, printing, scoring and packaging cards and prints-which was all I had for the first few years of Wild and Precious. And of course, I would never sell the stuff I had spent so much time on the night before. It’s okay to have a limited selection, it can even looked a little “picked over” because everyone has obviously been shopping with you! ;) For example, when I started, I would bring about 5-10 prints or cards PER DESIGN. WAY TOO MUCH! Now, I bring about 2-3, and not even all my designs. The goal is to sell out, right? To pack up way LESS than what you unpacked when you arrived so bring enough to make a decent profit, but don’t stress yourself out thinking you don’t have enough because it’s likely you do. If you’ve been to an event of mine, you know I’m still working on this! It’s so tricky to know what to bring and how much, but the more you do, the more you’ll learn. 
  4. CARD READER. May seem obvious but invest in a card reader. People don’t always walk around with cash anymore. I think you can even get card readers for free sometimes if you’re using certain systems. Square is the most popular from what I’ve seen and I used that for years. Now, I use a Shopify reader so it syncs with my online shop when I have in-person events. 
  5. BUSINESS CARDS. Don’t have them? Get some. Need someone to design them for you? Wild and Precious can help! Xoxo But seriously, SO many people still grab business cards-they ask for them, they want them and hey! Sometimes they even go back and use them. 
  6. BUSINESS DOESN’T END AT THE EVENT. Although, I’m hating on fairs that don't result in very many sales, there have been several times when I have seen the benefits of an event AFTER it’s over. I have received wholesale orders, custom orders and wedding design customers from events that I did not profit from but if I would have never gone, I would not have received the business that came after the event. SO! Even though, some events are totally defeating, you never know what can come from them so if you find yourself in that position, remain optimistic! 
  7. BUILD AN EMAIL LIST. This is new for me within the last few years. I started doing a giveaway for a gift certificate at almost all the events I go to, and ask that customers leave their name, email and birthdate to enter. I do disclose it’s for an email subscription but also am honest when I say I won’t abuse it and hope to bring a little bit of joy and positivity to that inbox. I’ve acquired several customers from this strategy and highly recommend it. 
  8. BRING WORK TO THE EVENT. There will be down-time. Even at the busiest of events, there can be lulls. In order to maximum my time, profit and productivity I always bring work. Sometimes it’s a book about growing the business or developing my social media strategy. Often times, I try to letter while in the booth (customers LOVE seeing you designing) or I plan out the weeks ahead. This can also be a great time to focus on some goal setting. 
  9. CUSTOMER & VENDOR INTERACTION. Have it. Do it. Talk to your customers. LEARN ABOUT YOUR CUSTOMERS. You need to figure out your ideal clientele in order to sign up for the RIGHT events. What are there interests? What do they gravitate towards in your booth? What are the ages? What’s not selling? Why? What products make them laugh? Smile? And then do all the things you’d expect for positive customer interaction-smile, greet people, ask if anyone has questions, are you enjoying the event, etc.  No customers? Talk to the vendors. Guess what? They can also be customers and have connections, and more importantly, a lot of them are pretty darn cool people! YOU can be one of their customers. Even if there are customers, you SHOULD meet other vendors. Again, they are AMAZING and may be experiencing similar things to you. 
  10. HAVE FUN. Enjoy them! Whether you feel it’s going to be a dud of an event or not, find the good. Make the most of it. And don’t give up. Keep on keepin’ on. Don’t let lack of customers or sales hold you back. Try again and again. You can do it and you WILL! 
Are you a small business owner? Leave your tips and tricks below! 

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