Track Your Inventory at Craft Shows and Festivals

November 2009

Keeping track of your inventory is vital for success at fairs and festivals, no matter what you’re selling. Successful vendors of hot dogs, paintings, clothes, jewelry, soup, and anything else you can think of must properly track their inventory. Can you imagine having to shut down at a festival early because you didn’t have enough product to keep selling? This would be a good day only if you had three times more customers than normal.

One of the best places to start is, well, by making an inventory. No matter what it is you’re selling, you need to have an inventory of everything that you use at fairs and festivals. This includes not only the products you’re actually selling but also things like bags, plates, napkins, condiments, boxes, and hand-written receipt books.

One of the best ways to track and keep your inventory is probably to put your current inventory into an electronic spreadsheet format and to update it after every day of every show. Keeping an individual spreadsheet, which can be as simple as a tick mark for every bear or bun sold, for each show can also be helpful, as you can use it to create a picture of what sells best at each show you frequent.

Finally, be sure to check your inventory before each show, preferably two or three weeks ahead of time, which will give you enough time to stock up on the things you’re missing or running low on. Failing to get this step in between each show can really harm your reputation as a vendor. Imagine what people would think if you came to half of your events unprepared.

A great way to be prepared for a show as far as inventory goes is to talk to the people in charge. Figure out exactly how many people tend to come to the show, and overshoot for that amount in case it’s a particularly good day. Later, when you’ve been to the event a couple of times, you can start knowing what to expect for that event. Maybe you bring lots of sweet rolls to the spring festival and lots of apple crisp to the fall fair. Or maybe you’ll sell a lot of purses at your summer show but will sell more backpacks at your fall festival.

Whatever the case may be, knowing what is in your inventory at all times is crucial to doing well as a fair and festival vendor, no matter what you’re selling.


Great advice ! 
For those of us that work a full time job and participate in craft fairs on weekends, building and recording your inventory as you pack it up for travel has been the way to maintain an inventory.  This works especially well for the last minute creations you want to make sure go with you to your next event.
Coastal Carolina Artists & Crafters Guild

By Laura Voss on December 4, 2009

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