Articles

Five Tricks to Make Money at Fairs & Festivals

May 2012
Simple Tricks to Make Money and Beat the Economy

Image: Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.netImage: Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

With the recent financial upheaval the world’s economy has experienced, competition between crafters and vendors has become more intense than ever. Customers come to us looking for bargains on well-made items to enjoy themselves or give away as gifts, and some of them expect us to nearly give away our work, not realizing the amount of time and money that goes into our crafts. Here are five simple tricks you can use to maximize profit, even during this era of shaky finances.

Tip #1: Make What Customers Want

People who visit fairs and craft shows come hoping to find specific items, be it trendy jewelry, handmade pottery, floral arrangements and wreaths, handmade soaps, candles, or other items. While it’s nearly impossible to please everyone, it is possible to learn about ongoing trends and to update your styles so that they meet customer demands. When you are out and about, take a look at what people are wearing and carrying, and don’t forget to look at crafting magazines and other resources to find out what’s hottest. Put your own personal twist on things to add more character and individuality, too. 

Tip #2: Create Useful Products

When money is tight, people are often hesitant to spend their hard-earned dollars on anything that does not perform some type of valuable function. That does not mean that items cannot bring fun and happiness into customers’ lives! Wearable items such as scarves and jewelry are always a hit, particularly if they are well made, ever so slightly unusual, and universally appealing. Consumables are almost always popular, as are items that make tasks such as cooking easier and more pleasant.

Tip #3: Sell Things in Sets

People are often hesitant to purchase one of a kind items, unless they are simply purchasing art or apparel. When selling items such as cooking and kitchen gadgets, pottery, or consumables like soaps and lotions, try offering some sets that include your most popular items. Four nested bowls just the right size for dessert or cozy soup might sell better than just one beautiful bowl, for example, and an entire body care set will probably hold more appeal than a single item does, particularly if someone is looking for a nice gift to give.

Tip #4: Don’t Waste Time at Unprofitable Shows

There are loads of different shows to attend each weekend, some of which might be close to home but not as profitable as others further away. While some shows cost more money to exhibit at, others are low budget; and in some communities, people just do not have money to spend on crafts. Choose your shows carefully, and you’ll notice that your profits increase.

Tip #5: Refine Your Image

Ensure that you do your very best to create a “store” that customers will want to shop in. Make sure your displays look attractive and showy, provide samples and extra services if possible, and promote yourself shamelessly. Put forth a professional image, and customers will feel good about shopping with you. 

Comments

My daughter and I design jewelry to sell at craft shows.
We find that incentives are very helpful. Often times if the show charges an entrace fee-say $3.00 we tell our customers, if they purchase $50 or more from us they will get there entrance fee taken off of their purchase.
Our sales are normally very good in a very economically depressed area.
We keep our prices as reasonable as possible and have many return customers and special orders.

By Nancy on May 2, 2012

These are great tips and I have already tried a couple of them. I definitely think it matters to keep up with the current trends and put your own unique spin on them. Also, sets seem to do quite well and people are attracted to groups of items that make sense. It always pays to offer something useful and promote yourself shamelessly, as you say.

By fair vendors on August 15, 2012

I want to thank you for this article, it changed my way of thinking about what I should sell. I am new to craft fairs and have in the past just made a bunch of diferent items and hope they sell. I have one item a bird feeder, that I have done wll with at the shows I have done. I never thought to just concentrate on making this item the focus of my booth. I have other items to sell along with my bird feeders. This site has given me a bunch of good tips. I am hoping to join soon so I can take full advantage.

By Rich Meyer on September 26, 2012

I had to learn the hard way that what does well in one market may not do so well in others. At schools, the pens and the other items under 10.00 do very well. At churches and conferences the large sets and journals (for gift giving) do wel). THe smaller baskets and the fancier flower pens to great at girls night out and corporate events. So I now carry 50% of what will do well at each market and the rest a mix of others to round out the table. I love this site.

By Debs Silks on October 10, 2012

The information that was given will help me in so many ways.  I prefer the smaller shows- schools-churches-clubs.  I did the Knotts Berry Farm show for 5 years.  The set-up; the hours and 30 straight days just turned me off to the larger shows.  My problem is finding the smaller shows.  I’ve gone into some supply stores and asked.  I have yet to have any luck.  I’m open to any and all information regarding where to find the smaller shows.  Thank you for any help I can get.

By Jan Stafford on March 25, 2015

I particularly liked Debs Silks article. Obvious, but not something we’d think of. Different product mix for different venues. Thanks, Debs. Elaine Masters

By elaineomasters@gmail.com on April 30, 2015

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