Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Craft Shows.... From a Buyers Point of View

As a jewelry artist I have only participated in small festivals and church events. Lately I have become curious about juried shows particularly the LARGE indoor weekend long shows.

Recently, I headed several hours south to a HUGE annual spring arts and crafts show to do some recon!! I wanted to learn from the professionals how to be successful if I were to be excepted to a show of this caliber. I also wanted to see what the organizers of such a show are looking for and to see the show from a buyers point of view.

Here is what I learned:


I saw three levels of booths. 1: A few tables and regular table cloths 2: Professional show goers with nice setups 3: Booths that look like a brick and mortar store set up in a postage stamp sized booth.

I have to say that buyers seemed to steer clear of the "3rd" booths; the ones with all the lighting and glass cabinets. I think they were very intimidating for people that couldn't spend a lot of money. Even though they had comparable prices to others you would have thought they were 10 times more expensive.

The girl I saw doing the best had all of her jewelry pinned to the walls!!

Lesson: You want to look professional but you don't want to look more expensive than you are.

Booth Setup:

There was one woman who had beautiful painted glass windows. In order to get into her booth you had to walk through a tiny opening that she had created between the wall displays of her work. Once inside the "cave" the table where she sat was facing you so you felt watched (even though she wasn't watching) the whole time you shopped. BAD IDEA!! She hadn't sold a thing! Even though I saw a lot of people stop and browse the paintings on the outside they didn't want to go into the cave.

Booths that had tables set up around the perimeter did really well because people could browse as they walked by. Also, shops that you had to walk into but had a very open feel to them did well.

Lesson: You don't want to trap your customers.... you need to lure them in and make them feel at home and not pressured to buy anything.



Some people you could tell were not enjoying themselves! Either they were tired from all the setup or disappointed in sales. Either way it was a real turn off!

People who I saw actually working on their crafts seemed to draw more onlookers. Also those who greeted passerby's and explained their craft seemed to draw a crowd as people got caught up in the process.

Lesson: If you're not happy potential customers will avoid you no matter how great your product!


Please don't dress as shabby as you probably feel from all the work and preparation you have put into your show! I also like to see people wearing clothes that match the feel of their product. Ex: Beach Garden Signs = Beachy looking outfit. Also if it is possible to wear your own designs BY ALL MEANS DO!! If I'm considering buying a piece of your jewelry and even you don't wear it! Thats a turn off!

Lesson: As gorgeous as your product is people still look at you as well!;)


Some sellers who payed hundreds for their booths had no business cards.... what!?!

Please invest in business cards if you are going to invest in shows. This is a really great way of getting future sells! Support a local artist and buy handmade/designed cards. This is my favorite designer.

Another thing: If you have a really unique craft say so in your banner or sign. Most people have no idea about the craft beyond what they see. Have a picture of you working on something and explain what makes your product special. I think this is really important! When I walk up to your booth of pottery I wanna know what makes yours better than all the other pottery booths and why I should spend my money with you instead of others? This is especially important for those that make jewelry since there are so many!

Lesson: People can't buy from you in the future if they don't know how to find you! And people might not buy from you at all if they don't know how special your craft is!


Please clearly display that you take credit cards and what cards you take and if there is a minimum purchase. This is VERY important. Not all buyers are outspoken and will ask questions! Don't except credit cards? Check out these two websites for info on accepting them with your smartphone! Square and Go.

Lesson: Credit cards = impulse buys!!


Once you have spent money as a customer it is thrilling to get a nicely packaged item! It doesn't have to be expensive just make it nice. And for larger items something with handles is great!! I like kraft recycled bags!

Stick a little advertising on the bag as well and snag more potential customers from the crowd when they see people walking around with your bags!

Also, if you can include a small freebie, nothing is more exciting than discovering a free gift!

Lesson: Make your sale seem special to the buyer and you will stick out in their mind for future purchases!

Insuring a repeat customer:

Put a coupon and your business card in the bag. Everyone loves a coupon and they are more likely to go visit your online store if you have one. Even if they don't use it at first they will bookmark you for future reference because they have a coupon. Make that coupon/business card a refrigerator magnet and you ensure they constant reminder of your shop in their home!! Great for when they need gifts! Order magnet sheets for an inexpensive way you can do this.

Lesson: You have only a few seconds to put a lasting impression on your buyer. Do everything you can to ensure they will remember you!

I hope that this post has been helpful. Again this is the standpoint of me as a customer. But, as a seller, I have been guilty of many of these things myself! Being a shopper really opened my eyes. I suggest we all go to a show as a shopper and really get a feel of what is going on around us. You will be amazed what you learn!!

Happy Craft Shows!!


  1. Thanks for stressing that point about wearing your own stuff! I sold cowls in the fall and noticed people had no idea how to wear them, so I put one on and it brought a lot more people over!

  2. Fantastic Megs!! Very informative and helpful!

  3. Meg, this was a great post! So many times I've gone to art shows or craft fairs and have thought many of the same things.

    Especially though people in this day and age that don't have business cards or websites... of some sort! YIKES!

    I'm bookmarking this post to refer back to it!
    Have a terrific evening!

  4. Wonderful advice! I love your observations.

  5. Great blog! These are all great points to keep in mind if you are going to be selling anything to the public! One of the main things that pulls me in to a shop, a seminar, etc. is the fact that the promoter is EXCITED about their product. (So, like you pointed out--NO long faces.)

  6. Wow Megs, I love this! It is extremely helpful and well done.