Guest Author - Melissa Rodriguez
One of the most popular ways to make money from your crochet is to sell your finished items at fairs and shows. It also presents an opportunity to connect with new customers and network with crochet colleagues and needle craft artists for very little cost and hardly no overhead.
Craft fairs and shows are excellent ways to make a profit because for a nominal booth fee you are allowed to benefit from considerable markups on your work without having to share the profit with another party, such as a gallery or store owner. But itís not as simple as it seems.
Mary E. Petzak wrote a very useful article for The Crafts Report listing over 100 tips that will help you profit at craft shows. A link to the full article is at the end of this editorial.
Key facts, points, and ideas to remember are:
Build an attractive booth. The design and set-up advice in this section is especially useful, but one piece of advice was missing. Every venue is different. Before starting the design process, check the booth requirements. Sometimes there is a limit on how many square feet you can take up and even the color of tent canopy and style if setting up outside. A good suggestion is to build a model, but a more useful suggestion is to perform a set-up test run at home. Some things look good on paper, but are quite different in real time. This idea is also helpful if you plan to do the show alone. Youíll know if you can set it up and take it down by yourself.
There are many things to do before the show date, from pre-packing items to making sure you have coolers and snacks on hand. One of the best points here is the suggestion to invest in transit insurance. This is especially important if you are shipping inventory ahead of the show. Youíll be glad you have it if anything gets lost or damaged during shipping.
How you display your crochet is very important for attracting potential buyers to your booth. Honestly, it can make or break a sale. One of Maryís best suggestions here is to emphasize a dramatic piece as a showstopper to draw customers in. Also use different shelf heights and vertical displays to engage your patrons. And give the illusion of quantity. Consumers are more likely to buy something they've felt and touched. Have your work where the buyer can feel the fiber, especially if itís a wearable item, such as a hat or scarf. A no-brainer, but often-overlooked strategy is to leave room on your table for business cards or flyers with your contact information.
While youíre at the show, remember to smile and be pleasant to the customers even if youíre not feeling it. Itís better to stand and engage the customer if you can. If you must sit, why not demonstrate your craft? Potential buyers get to see how much effort and love you put into your crochet work. It also lends authenticity to your items.
Outdoor shows take as much care in design and set-up as an indoor booth. However, there are another set of challenges to overcome. Be creative and use some type of flooring. Itís unique, inviting, and can actually help if the ground is wet from a recent rain. Donít forget to bring a waterproof tarp or covering for your crochet items in case of inclement weather. You, nor your customers, want soggy crochet items.
Lastly, but definitely not least, Mary covers some great tips and advice for theft and safety prevention. Cash boxes can easily be picked up and ran of with at any moment, especially if youíre attending to another customer. Instead, try using a travel pouch or fanny pack attached around your waist. Know where the security office or contact person is and report any suspicious activity. You should use flame retardant or fireproof materials in your booth when applicable. Make sure any electrical wiring and lighting are compliant with safety requirements. If youíre outside, make sure your tent will hold up to the wind.
If you have any tips or suggestions for making a profit at shows and fairs, please feel free to send an email or post them in the forum using the links provided in the right hand column. You can also leave questions or comments.
Read the full article by Mary E. Petzak
Crafts Report - 120 Ways to Profit at Craft Shows
Another useful article:
Entrepreneur - How to Sell at Craft Fairs and Shows