What is “Fair Price” for Artists at Craft Shows and Festivals?

March 2011

Image Courtsey: Filomena ScaliseImage Courtsey: Filomena Scalise

Most likely, one of the most widely debated issues when it comes to selling methods of artists at craft shows, fairs and festivals is the issue of fair price. How does an artist determine what a fair price for their products actually is?

There are so many ways to determine price for items that it can seem confusing, and it can lead to pricing ranging greatly from one artist to the other. However, when you are trying to determine what the fair price for you to charge for you artwork actually is, there is much you will have to consider. The economy plays a role since you have to think about how willing customers will be to pay for items. Competition is, of course, a big factor. If you charge much more than your competition, you will lose business.

Determining fair prices for your artwork at craft shows, fairs and festivals can definitely be a confusing thing to do. Here are a few things to consider to help you get a better idea of just what is fair price.

The Hobbyist vs. the Professional

A source of debate among artists throughout the fairs and festivals world is how fair price is affected by the hobbyists. There are many artists who use these craft shows as their main livelihood. The money that they make goes to pay bills and put food on their table. Other artists may see the craft shows as a hobby or something they just enjoy doing on the side. For these people, the actual income is not the most important matter.

Craft shows, fairs and festivals are the perfect place for each of the two groups, however, fair price is often debated since in many cases, hobbyists may not charge the same type of pricing that a professional would, causing the professional to potentially lose customers.

The Effect of the Economy

It is no secret that the United States economy has been faltering for the past few years. Because of this, fewer people are willing to spend money. Many people simply stay home to avoid the extra expense while others may visit the fairs, but are not willing to pay the same prices for artwork that they may once have.

In light of this, the artists must consider fair price in a different way. Of course, you will want to make sure to cover your expenses and still make an income; however, you may find that you need to adjust your prices lower in order to keep your products affordable to potential customers.

Determining Your Cost

Determining your cost should be the first step to determining fair price.  Every artist has a base cost that they must consider, and it should cover expenses for materials and supplies as well as every other expense that may come along with renting a booth at craft shows and displaying your products in those shows. Before you can set any prices for your products, you need to establish your base cost, and then you can build from that.

Consider Time and Other Hidden Expenses

There are numerous hidden expenses that can cause you to miss-determine you costs.  One of the most often overlooked is time. Too many times, artists forget to consider how much time they put into crafting each item. However, this should be factored into the base cost of every product. If selling your art at fairs and festivals is your livelihood, you have to pay yourself for the time you put into it.

There are many other hidden costs that you may accidentally overlook. Some of them include transportation to and from the craft show, cost of advertisement like copying flyers or making posters, and cost of displays. Every little expense can add up and if you miss these hidden costs, then you will not be making the profit that you need to for your hard work.

Finding a Happy Medium

When it comes to setting a true fair price for craft show art, you have to understand that a happy medium is a must. Of course, you cannot base your prices totally on what the competition charges, but you should take it into consideration. If your prices are inordinately lower or higher than the competition, this will most certainly lose customers for you.

You will need to consider your base cost for each product, what other crafters charge for similar products and what type of profit you want. With these considerations, you can find a happy medium that is sure to come as close to fair price as possible.

Location Matters

The cost of living varies from one part of the country to another. What may seem like a fair price in a larger city may come across as too expensive in a rural area. You cannot just set one fixed price for every single craft fair or festival you attend. You will need to consider the location in which the event is taking place and then adjust your prices accordingly. Of course, you will not want to adjust your prices to the point where you lose money, but you must recognize that fair price is not always the same from one location to another.

Quality is Always Important

Here is one last word regarding fair price. Without quality products, there is no such thing as a fair price. Of course, your handmade art is quality, however, if you find yourself dealing with the frustration of a mass produced competitive product undercutting your own prices, just remember that they are not quality products. It may seem at first like you lose customers, but it will not stay that way in the end. People will notice true quality products, and as long as you set fair prices for them, those people will come back to you.

Setting a fair price in the world of craft shows, festivals and fairs can be a little difficult, and it is widely debated. In the end, each artist has to determine for themselves what they feel like will be a fair price. If you consider your own cost and you work to find a happy medium in what you charge, you should have no problem finding a fair price that is sure to keep customers coming to your booth.


It would be a lot easier for pricing, if show operators would be more practicle with their booth (space) rental rates.  Higher rents = higher costs = higher pricing of our products, and , because of the economic problems, less business (ie, customers).

By Dave on March 16, 2011

Dave is exactly right.  I know, I certainly have second thoughts about paying $400 - $500 for a two-day show when it is almost certain it won’t be as well attended or as lucrative as in the past.  It affects me most when doing shows that are a long distance away because the travel cost (fuel) is up as well.  I’m no longer even looking at shows that are far away regardless of how good the show is supposed to be.  The bottom line is, I think the shows will continue to draw fewer and fewer exhibitors from long distances and that is a negative for the customers so, they stop coming as well..  Everyone loses with conditions the way they are.  And, unfortunately, there is a limit on how much any of us can carge for our work.

By Don on March 16, 2011

If you don’t do it for the love of it, Just don’t do it in this economy

By cosyjo44 on March 20, 2011

I do my crafts for the “love of it” as stated above, but my husband gets frustrated with expensive entrance fees etc. I have recently been selling with greater success as my product has improved in quality, but worry so much about the price. I know I should charge something for my time as some pieces can take a week and all take several days to complete. I do not do this, nor do I charge for travel. I think my customers are getting MORE than a fair price from me!! I have a son in college and a husband who was laid off, but I am still afraid to raise prices. Any comments of support?

By Barb on March 20, 2011


Why are you afraid to raise your prices?  The cost of everything is going up.  That includes your material costs, shipping costs, etc. If you have a quality product, then you should price accordingly.  I set prices that will cover my costs including travel, booth, my time etc.  I then educate my customer on why my products are better that the cheaper ones.

Education is the key.  If they understand that my products last longer, smell better, and look better than the cheap ones, then customers will pay the extra price.  Don’t think that the customer will recognize quality on their own.  How many times have you bought a cheap copy then someone explained why the original was better made.

I also look for testimonials.  Nothing is better than a real customer walking up to the booth and telling other customers that my products really work and they want to buy more.  It happens all the time at every show.  Record them on video and use the testimonial in your advertising.

Also, try raising your prices at the beginning of the season.  Twice I started out the season with a new product.  Each time I priced them reasonably with a good profit margin (300%) or 4 times cost.  They sold well.  The next week I raised the price by $1 or $2 each.  They sold as well or better.  I was instantly making 25% more profit on the sale of each item.  No complaints because they still thought it was a good deal.

Finally, I don’t offer deals on multiple purchases until they buy 10 or more.  When I’m asked, if there is a price break for 2 or more, I say NO.  Never had anyone walk away. When it gets to 10, I offer a 10% discount.  I feel that if I offer a price break for lower quantities, I am devaluing my products.

I am not an account or lawyer, but mine have told me that the IRS says that you must have a profit motive to be a business.  If you can not show that you are attempting to cover costs, including time and travel, then you will probably be classified as a hobby and any business expenses will be disallowed.

I hope this helps.

By Mark on March 21, 2011

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