Retail vs. Wholesale – Which Art & Craft Shows Should You Attend?

February 2014

Image Courtsey: InterGem Jewelry / Flickr.comImage Courtsey: InterGem Jewelry /

Once you have created a product you are proud of and are ready to sell, it’s time to start thinking about your business plan in regards to craft shows. In the world of arts and crafts there are two major types of events to consider attending; retail and wholesale. There are quite a few different things to consider when picking the type you want to attend.

Wholesale markets give an artist the chance to meet with proprietors of art galleries, museums, and boutiques. The benefit of wholesale arts and crafts shows is that you would be able to get your product out to consumers you might otherwise not have access to. So, if your particular specialty is custom made fragrant candles that are easily made in bulk numbers, you could take a large amount to a wholesale market and sell it to one of the business types listed above for them to sell in their store. Even if you live in the middle of rural Tennessee, with this option, you could see your custom made scented candles show up in stores and boutiques across the country.

A retail arts and crafts show provides you with direct contact with customers. These types of shows are good for artists and vendors of products that take a lot of time to create and finish. For instance, if your craft of choice is hand-woven clothing like sweaters and scarves, it would be safe to say that it can be pretty time consuming. In this event, you would be better suited for a retail show where you can display a smaller amount of items for sale and be able to request a higher price.

The problem with wholesale shows is that vendors of products that are tedious and time-consuming wouldn’t be able to benefit as much as someone that was able to produce mass quantities of theirs quickly and easily. There are also negatives to the world of retail shows. A major downfall of retail shows is the cost. With retail there are booth rentals, booth fees, and travel expenses to get to a show. Are you able to make enough of your product quickly so as to benefit from selling to wholesale markets or do you prefer the face-to-face hometown feel of retail shows and the ability to develop a relationship with your customer? When picking between retail and wholesale shows, it all comes down to your bottom line, and personal preference of course. 


I have been doing retail shows because I’m unable to find any wholesale shows in my area the are affordable. Financially, I am not in a position to pay hndreds of $ to do a show as I live and buy supplies on my SS.

By Jeanne Roberts on February 26, 2014

Hello I would like to get more information on how I can sign up to sell my product at your arts and crafts fair

By Darlene on June 1, 2014

I’m interested in finding our about arts and crafts shows in my area.

By Charlie on June 3, 2014

Can you inform me before hand about the fairs in my locality.

By Rachana on June 7, 2014

I am interested in finding about arts and crafts shows in my area. Can you help me.  I don’t make my jewelry and I am having trouble finding shows that allow commercial vendors.

By Jennifer on June 26, 2014

I just did my first bazaar in June and am very pleased with the results. I uncycle and repurpose clothing with vintage lace and findings. I’m not sure if what I do is considered handmade. I do put a lot of time and effort into this.

By Karen Jereb on July 2, 2014

I am interested in finding craft shows in my area. I have had great results with my product. They are hand made braided headbands and hair clip. I would love to do more fairs. I’m small but have a great product!

By Emy Scott-Miller on August 17, 2014

I would love to be notified of upcoming Arts and crafts events in my local area.I am a professional Artist who would be interested in letting people see if they want to purchase my art that is for sale.

By Stephany Causey on September 27, 2014

I have both hand made and resale jewelry.
Where can I sell both

By Fran Quinlan on October 27, 2014

I currently sell locally at craft fairs and do very wll but really would like to find a wholesale show near me.

By Laurel Taft on October 29, 2014

I make handmade jewelry,and would like to set up at craft shows in my do I go about this?
Financially, I am not in a position to pay hndreds of $ to do a show as I live and buy supplies on my SS.

By margaret culbertson on November 3, 2014

I have a online women’s clothing boutique. I am looking for shows that I can sell my resale clothing. I live in TN.

By Lynn Gillman on November 3, 2014

I have a couple of questions. I sell resale candles and beauty products as well as jewelry direct sale. I have inventory of my candles and beauty products but only have samples for customers to touch and try on Jewelry. They then order thru my personal website at that time and it will be delivered to them personally in three to five days form the warehouse. Where can I sell and what shows can I sell at in my area

Hollie Gorman
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

By Hollie Gorman on November 3, 2014

I also sell locally at craft fairs and other events, now I am looking to sell at show and don’t know how to get started, please advise.

Thank you!
Llundez@gmail, com

By Lundez on November 21, 2014

I am selling promo items; t shirts, cups, koozies, etc items that help promote someone’s business or event.  Is this a good outlet for that type of sales?

By R on December 13, 2014

I also sell locally at craft fairs and now I am looking to sell at shows and don’t know how to get started I need advised please.

By Carina Soria. on February 21, 2015

I make unique (fall/winter and spring/summer).one of a kind wreaths to hang indoors and/or outdoors for doors and/or walls.  I have sold some at a few craft shows with moderate success (barely breaking even after booth rental, expenses, etc.) I find that most of the larger fairs and festivals are multiple days, quite pricey for booth rental etc, and require the vendor to be present to sell every day of the event including Sundays. However, in late November 2014 I did find one craft fair promoter that, as a first time trial, accepted consignment. I must say, even after their commission, that was the most profitable sales I EVER had.  I am unsure if they will repeat this for the upcoming Christmas season. My product is unique, reasonably priced and I now know it WILL sell. But I need to find a less time consuming and financial way of promoting and selling my product .I am looking for craft fairs in my area that are Friday and/or Saturday only. I would like to do more consignment but do not know how to go about finding any other craft promoters or others who would accept consignment..Any help would be appreciated.

By Mary P on February 23, 2015

Is this something that I would be able to set up a booth to sell travel.

By Kim Patrick on December 11, 2017

yes i am starting a business and i am doingit through craft fairs ,festivals,and fairs, andflea markets i do not make my crafts i am sellin g party supplies mylar balloons, and a little bit of this and a little bit of that so i was wondering if i could get a booth at the unity maine fair in 2019

By candace a gayne on August 29, 2018

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