Thursday, June 2, 2011

Craft Fairs 101 - Part 2

(Above: Oh Hello Friend)

When you are preparing for a craft fair, it is easy to get caught up in just making enough stock to sell! However, a thoughtful display will help you sell your work by drawing customers in, and showcasing your beautiful designs.

(Photo of Urban Heirloom by Oh Hello Friend)

It’s important to consider how you will get to the fair, and what the conditions will be like when you arrive. Consider how much you can fit in your car or suitcases, and keep those space restrictions in mind while you design your displays. There’s nothing worse than spending days creating a beautiful display element, then realizing the day of the event that it won’t fit in the car. Try to visualize the size of your booth by marking off space in your living room, so you can better predict how you can organize your space once you get there. Will you event be outdoors or indoors? Will you be under a canopy, or will you be in full sun? Lots to think about, location wise.

(Photo of Something's Hiding in Here, by parallelbotany)

(Photo of Tugboat Printshop and Spin Spin)

Once you’ve accounted for the location conditions, the best thing to think about while designing your booth space is the mood you want to create when customers visit your booth. For example, if your company is focused on eco-friendly handmade items, perhaps you’ll want to use a natural linen tablecloth, or display plants to reinforce the eco themes. Think about how you can brand your space, the same way you’ve branded your packaging or your business card. As always, think creatively about how you can use materials and items you may already own, or even recycled materials, in creating your displays.

(photo by Amy Stocklein)

One great way to maximize your booth space is to think vertically, not just horizontally. How can you build up your booth to have multiple eye-lines, or to create more visual interest? Many sellers use risers or small shelves on their tables, to help draw customers’ eyes, and to be able to display more items. Try to visualize how your booth will look when it is filled with customers. Will passers-by be able to see your signage or items when people are standing in front of it?

(Photo of Lulu Dee's booth by Margaret of Paper Pastries)

Clear signage can be a big help to shoppers, especially shy customers. Not everyone will want to engage with you about prices or materials, so it is important to have all vital information clearly displayed. Try to share vital information through signs: is everything in your booth made locally? Do you donate any proceeds to charity? Do you take credit cards? Having this info available without having to ask can allow customers to shop without worrying about having to feel awkward.

After you’ve designed the displays, you may want to consider where you will keep extra merchandise that won’t fit on the table. As items sell throughout the day, you’ll want to replenish your stocks. You want your displays to look full, but not overflowing. Don’t pack your tables so full that customers risk toppling items onto the ground. You’ll want to find a way to keep extra merchandise safe and clean, and your personal belongings (purse, lunch, etc) out of sight.

(Photos from the National Stationary Show 2011 by Fugu Fugu Press)

The most important thing to consider is the overall experience customers will have when shopping in your booth. Think of the craft fair as your opportunity to have a tiny retail store; how would you treat your customers if they were entering a brick and mortar store for the first time? Try to make shopping at your booth as fun and comfortable as possible, and you’ll find that during the show you can concentrate on meeting your customers, and enjoying the process of sharing your work in person.

Up next: Part 3 of Craft Fair 101, things to consider for the day of the craft fair!


  1. These are such amazing displays. I know how much an appealing display can affect people's interest. My display is so basic, and compared to these ones, ugly, it really makes me realize that I need to work on mine before I sell again. Thanks for the great advice, also!

  2. great photos!! I would love be in a craft fair even as a visitor but I think in my city nobody do that... so sad!!

  3. Inspiring post! The displays shown here are amazing!