What Do You Really Need to Get Started at Craft Shows & Festivals?

November 2012

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Getting things off the ground when it comes to selling your arts and crafts at festivals, fairs, and craft shows can seem incredibly confusing to a newcomer. It’s hard to know right off the bat what you really need in order to get started, as opposed to what can wait until later. However, everyone – whether they’re a painter, a photographer, a jewelry maker, and so forth – needs to consider getting the same basics together before they begin.

Display Panels, Tables, Lights, and Canopies

Although some types of festival may provide artists and participants with their own booths, many won’t, so it’s better to make sure you acquire the things you need to create a proper display sooner rather than later. You will need tables and table coverings to begin with. You will also need panels from which to hang artwork and display merchandise. Last but not least, you will need to include a canopy as part of your plans if you’ll be selling outdoors.

Artists, photographers, and other print artists may want to consider investing in bins for holding copies of various images, as most sales of such items typically are made that way. Think about what other types of display options would do your merchandise justice as well.

Also, not every festival is going to be able to provide you with all of the lighting options you’ll need to set your merchandise off to perfection. Consider investing in some attractive portable lights to help make up the difference.

Payment Options

Make sure that you have some kind of option set up that will allow you to take credit card payments. Even at open air festivals and street fairs, about 75% of sales are made via credit or debit. Operating on a cash only basis could really limit your success. While it’s fine to try a show or two before making an investment in a credit card machine or similar device to see if art shows are a good fit for you, it’s important that you make such items part of your long-term plan.

Record-Keeping Software

It’s important to have some way to keep proper sales and bookkeeping records right from the get-go. A laptop with bookkeeping software installed on it would be a great way to go. However, keeping a running spreadsheet or other kind of record would also work.

Also, don’t forget to bring plenty of merchandise to your shows! You don’t want to run out just when things are really getting started.


This is really good advise. I have pickedup a lot of pointers and will definitely put them to use.  Thank you so much.

By Alicia on November 15, 2012

I hadn’t thought about portable lighting.  I’ve looked at bins for photography online but they’re really expensive.  Any idea where I can buy gently used bins?

By WildAboutNature on December 14, 2012

Good morning.
We are called PNACT ( Philippine Nurses Association of Connecticut ). As the official professional organization of Filipino- American Nurses in Connecticut, PNACT upholds the positive image and welfare of its constituent members; promote professional excellence and contribute charity services back to the community locally and overseas.
I would like to inquire about setting up a booth on possibly most of the fairs and festivals here in CT to spread the word about our organization and increase our membership.
Please advise.
Thank you.

By PNACT on January 7, 2013

I’m only interested in shows in the Milwaukee and surrounding counties can u send me those show dates

By Frankie Flowers Carter on January 29, 2013

how much to rent a booth

By nikellehaas on June 7, 2015

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