Whoo-wee! What an awesome experience! There’s so much planning involved and many things to remember to pack when attending an event as a vendor. As this was my very first craft fair, and I’m an “expert procrastinator” (read: never have enough time to get everything done), I didn’t feel as prepared as I would have liked. As a result, I over-packed juuuust a smidgen!
So, I’m just now recovered from an amazing event, Copper K Fiber Fest in Whitehall, Montana. This fiber festival was my very first, and the first time I had ever set up my farm booth, Copia Cove Icelandic Sheep.
I’m going to share one fun story with you before we move on the the 12 tips, and this relates to the tip, Get Perspective. This was the view of my vendor booth that visitors had as they walked into the front gate of the fiber festival (see below pic). If you notice, the tagline on the banner reads, Shepherd Like A Girl.
From 100 feet away, I heard several individual visitors giggle and say, “Tee-he-he, shepherd like a girl!” And most of them headed my way FIRST! Happy dance! 🙂
Here’s a list that I put together to make your very first event as a vendor a top-notch experience. Even if you a veteran of craft fairs, fiber festivals, farmers’ markets, art festivals, or what-have-you, I bet you’ll find at least one of these 12 tips useful.
Plus, I put together a video where I show you how to make reusable chalkboard signs, just like the picture above!
12 Tips for a Successful Craft Booth
1. Set a Goal
This may sound silly, but mindset is crucial to the success of any business. Set a goal for the gross income you will make for the entire festival. Don’t be afraid to aim big! Having a clear revenue goal in mind will help you maintain a positive attitude and keep you excited throughout the day as you get closer to your goal.
Do you have number in mind? Great! Now, here’s the most important part. Tally up the items that need to sell in order for you to reach that gross income goal. You need to know exactly what that amount of money LOOKS like in terms of actual product.
Your BIG goal is only impossible if you don’t have the amount of product to sell, stocked and ready, for which you need to reach that goal.
2. Bring a Friend
Having the right friend with you can lighten the mood, lighten your load, and make your booth even more irresistible to visitors.
Many hands make for light lifting. It is always nice to have an extra person around to help set-up and take-down your booth. Your friend can sit in for you when you need to get up and stretch your legs, or if you want to take an awesome class that the Fiber Festival is offering.
3. Making It Scalable
Setting up your first booth as a vendor doesn’t have to break the bank. You don’t have to have all the fancy bells and whistles right from the get-go. Certainly, there are a few essentials that almost every booth has, such as a pop-up tent (if you’re outside), tables and a chair or two.
Beyond that, you can re-purpose, borrow, and/or reuse items that you (or a friend) already have, to complete your display until you decide to invest in a better set-up.
Here are some ideas to save you some money at your first event:
- Use bed sheets for table covers.
- Make signs from old card stock or cardboard (there’s a video tutorial).
- Use baskets, buckets, or toy boxes/organizers to display your products.
Most people shop from their waist level, up, unless they are on the hunt for something specific. Find a way to use the space at eye-level to display your products.
4. Ditch Perfectionism
You are your own worst critic. Especially when heading for your first craft show or fiber festival event! Trust me, just good enough is darn good enough!
Don’t misunderstand me, you still need to deliver awesome products and strive to make your booth a pleasant experience for visitors. But, you don’t have to have all of the lettering on your signs perfect, everything perfectly spaced, or starched linens. Don’t drive yourself crazy, let the little things go.
You are the only person that’s going to notice the “imperfections”.
5. Get Perspective
Get in your prospective customers’ shoes! Enter the venue from where visitors enter. Notice what you see first. What are you drawn to and why?
Get a far-away (about 100 ft) perspective of your booth. Is there a group of $5 items, clearly visible, at the entrance of your booth, beckoning impulse buyers? Is there one extraordinarily interesting (and probably expensive) item that is drawing in curious customers? Is your main sign readable, and of interest from that distance?
If your first impression is impressive, you’re sure to attract a lot of traffic!
6. Be Prepared
Being prepared for your event has a wide range of applications:
Bring a tool kit (of sorts) with you, which contains things like business cards, scissors, markers, pens, extra tags/signs, sticky velcro, and extra money to make change.
Set up your booth once, as a trial run, prior to the big day!
Have a packing checklist, and a pricing checklist, to make sure you bring everything you need, and also that you have priced all of you products so that they are ready to sell.
Make your signs ahead of time, and bring extra signage materials in case you want to change things up on the fly.
Be prepared to take care of yourself, too. Bring snacks, water, sun protection, chapstick, and any other comforts you desire.
7. Demonstrate Your Craft
If you have a booth at a fiber festival, I’m assuming you are also an excellent crafter. Whether you’re a spinner, weaver, felter, knitter, crocheter, or what-have-you, make it a point to bring a project (or two) to work on while you are there.
Many people will be intrigued by what you are doing! Have a small area for yourself that doesn’t impede the flow of traffic through your booth, but where you are easily visible to passers-by.
8. Engage Your Visitors
Remember, you are there to make money, right? Be sure to make customer service your first priority. Drop whatever you are doing and make conversation with your potential customers.
Greet them when they enter your booth, or if they pass by and make eye contact. Notice what products they touch in your booth, and tell them a little more about the product. Do you have a festival special? Tell them about that!
Encourage touching and smelling (when appropriate). When people experience your products more deeply than just seeing them, they are more likely to purchase those products. Here’s a few ways to encourage touching and smelling:
- Leave out a sample (of fiber, soap, lotion, whatever is appropriate).
- Make a sign that says something like, “The softest fleece you’ve ever felt!”
- Greet visitors to your booth by saying, “Please, touch and smell!”
9. Have a Range of Price Points
Don’t be afraid to have a range of products to offer. Lower-priced items are great to attract a wide-range of customers to your booth, but big-ticket items make people stop and stare!
A well-marked $5 product at the very front of your booth will attract many impulse buyers, and those needing to touch something! This will literally get your potential customers’ feet in the door to experience more of your products.
Have a few (or more) high-priced items. Don’t worry if these items follow you around from festival to festival for a while. When you finally sell one, you will be ecstatic (and you will sell one, I promise)!
10. What’s Your Special?
Everyone likes a deal. Have a festival special for a lower priced item (or items), like buy 3 get one free. Make the deal come out to an even $20 if possible. That price seems to work well in getting a wide-range of customer types to purchase your products.
For this fiber festival, my special was mix-and-match any of my milk products (lotions, soaps, candles) – 4 for $20. With this deal, I sold a lot of soap and completely SOLD OUT of my sheep-milk lotions.
11. Support Other Vendors
It’s always good practice to support your fellow vendors. Whether you watch their booth while they run around, help them set up or tear down, or buy one of their products, there are many ways to show your fellow craftsmen (and women) that you value them and their craft.
Make it a point to visit as many booths as possible, meet the owner, and buy something. I’m sure that there is a TON of nifty stuff that other vendors are selling that you want! Okay, so you probably can’t buy something from everyone, but at the very least inquire about the things that you see that you like.
On a budget? Ask that vendor if he or she would like to trade for something of similar value in your booth! #winners
12. Have Fun!
This is the perfect application for the 80:20 Rule. Aim to thoroughly enjoy at least eighty percent of your craft booth vendor experience. If you’re not having fun, why do it at all?
Relax, enjoy yourself, connect with the like-minded people around you, and savor the experience!
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Shepherd Like a Girl!