I recently worked my first (and last!) craft fair. It had long been a dream of mine to have a booth at a craft fair. I had big dreams of this being another way I could supplement our family income. I was surprised when a month ago, there was a notice in our local paper advertising a couple craft booths still available at our local fair.
Now, our local fair is a big deal! It’s a 3 day event that is attended by people from all around the area. It’s been said that our town of 1,000 gets 100,000 people who attend the fair. There are over a hundred craft booths and dozens of food vendors. We’ve always enjoyed attending the fair so with my husband’s encouragement, I decided to give it a try and signed up for a craft booth. I hoped to earn some money and clean out the crafts that had accumulated in our attic.
Since I’ve been creating custom, Biblical versions of “Oh, the Places You’ll Go” and selling those successfully for several years now, via my website, I thought I’d see how those did at the craft fair, too.
I signed up for the smallest booth (a 10 by 10 size) and committed to being at the fair for 3 long days. I found a tent to borrow from one friend as well as some folding tables from another friend. Thankfully, I had dozens of wreaths and other assorted craft items in the attic, but I still invested time in rounding out the selection. Every night, I spent time crafting in preparation for the fair.
A friend from church and my mother-in-law agreed to help baby-sit Nathan so I could have this craft booth. And of course, my husband was home with Nathan all day Saturday. I went to the bank and got money ready. I researched how to accept credit card payments. I priced all my crafts and organized them in plastic bins.
Before I knew it, the week of the fair was here! I set up my booth on a Wednesday night so I was ready to go on Thursday morning. Thankfully, part of our fee covered security for the night so we could leave our booths set up overnight. I did put most things in bins for protection from the weather.
Thursday morning, I headed out and got my booth set up. I was excited to see what would happen! I sat….and sat…and sat. The weather was pleasant. My booth looked nice. I got lots of compliments on my wreaths and other crafts for sale – but little was bought. In my initial dreams, ah-hem, I had hoped I’d sell enough the first day to make back the cost of my booth. That didn’t happen. I was a reassured a bit by the couple in the booth next to me who had been doing this fair for 33 years and said it was a horrible day of sales for them. I was glad I wasn’t alone!
Friday’s forecast held rain so I was prepared for a quieter day. My tent didn’t have sides but thankfully, the gentle and steady rain came straight down so the tent did its job. I flipped plastic bins upside down and over crafts, then I covered up with a quilt and umbrella and sat cozy in the corner of my booth reading. Some people ventured out but the rain kept most everyone away. This was my worst day sale wise as I sold only $10 worth of crafts in 12 hours! I did read 4 books that day so that was the good news of the day. (Please note that when I say I was reading, as soon as anyone appeared even slightly interested or came close to my booth, I put down the book and welcomed them and asked if they had any questions. I was not, as some may assume, oblivious to my potential customers!)
By Saturday, I gave myself a big pep talk and reminded myself that I couldn’t do worse than the previous day. I tried to be hopeful that I would sell lots but also realistic that this was the last day. Whatever I sold, I sold. I marked prices down again and sat. Once again, I got lots of compliments but not a lot of buyers. It was my best day of selling but I still didn’t sell nearly as much as I hoped.
For three days I sat (10-9, 10-10, and 10-9) and would you believe it? I didn’t even sell enough to cover the cost of my booth! This was a failed craft fair experience and one that I won’t be repeating. Still, I did learn some valuable lessons. I’m sharing what I learned in hopes that it will help everyone who decides to sell at a craft fair in the future!
1. Be prepared with a variety of crafts to sell.
What you think will sell quickly might not, and the items that you are not sure they will sell may do great. I had 2 dozen different wreaths available for sale and only sold 1. The one that sold was my least favorite wreath that I threw together quickly the week before. You never know what may or may not sell!
2. Have an assortment of snacks and drinks available.
When you are sitting at a booth, the day will get long. Be ready with snacks to munch on and a variety of drinks. Caffeine is good, too!
3. Be prepared for all circumstances.
Bring kleenex and ibprofuen. Bring pens, sharpies, tape and scissors. Bring umbrellas, blankets and jackets (if you are outside). Bring a power strip and lighting if necessary. Think of anything you could possibly need and bring it.
4. Have plenty of change, particularly in small bills.
Decide if you are going to offer credit card sales. I sell a couple things on Etsy so planned to use their quick sale method on my tablet if I needed to for credit cards. It’s a great perk of Etsy!
5. Be prepared with things to occupy your time as you wait.
Bring crafts to work on and books to read. I ended up reading 5 books over the course of 3 days in my booth. Please note that I am a fast reader! 🙂 A Kindle, tablet or smart phone is great to have on hand, especially if you have the free Kindle app.
6. Plan to have someone stop by and give you a break.
If you don’t have someone sitting in your booth with you, arrange for someone to stop by – so you can stretch your legs and use the bathroom! My husband hurried home after school each day to give me a break. That was necessary and very much appreciated!
7. Keep a good attitude!
The days can be long and they may not go as planned. Give it your best and keep a smile on your face.
8. Don’t be afraid to take a risk.
You don’t know how your craft items will sell at a particular fair until you give it a try. The worst that happens is you are out a couple days of your time, but maybe you’ll be a huge success. Take a risk and give it a try!
Even though I have no plans to have a craft booth again, I’ll enjoy supporting vendors who do. For now, I do better selling my custom books on Etsy and here on my blog. If you decide to sell at a craft fair, be sure to let me know how it goes! Any other experienced craft vendors want to add some additional words of advice?
Update: Since this failed experience back in 2015, I have started selling on Etsy and have been much more successful there! In fact, I would highly recommend Etsy for any craft seller because you are reaching a targeted audience from the comfort of your own home! People come to Etsy looking for handmade things. Etsy costs only $0.20 to run a listing for 4 months and then takes a small percentage when you sell something. Even if you don’t sell something, it is worth it to try because the upfront cost is so minimal. Even better? If you are a new seller on Etsy you can get 40 listings completely free when you sign up here.