What makes a Craft Show successful?

April 2011

What makes a craft show successful?  Ask a dozen vendors and you may get 20 different answers - all of which are right from their perspective.  Don't let their definition of the success of a craft show affect your perspective.

Before you go to a craft show - even before you apply - set a goal (or even multiple goals) for the show.  This goal depends on you.  Here are all examples of different goals for different types of vendors.

- For instance, if you have high end products like art or sculpture, you may have a goal to sell five of your pieces.
- A furniture maker who makes custom chairs made have a goal for three orders for custom chairs. 
- A furniture maker that makes primitive furniture may set a dollar goal - say $3000 in sales.
- On the other hand, a vendor that sells lower priced items like jewelry, candles, doll clothes, etc. may set a goal of 10X the booth fee and costs. This is the one I use since we sell candles.  Don't forget to include meals, gas, hotels, etc.
- Finally, a vendor with a brick and mortar store may have a goal of increasing the awareness of the store in the local area.  For them, referrals are more important than the number or amount of sales.

For all of these vendors, meeting their goals means a successful craft show. Here are some tips for setting goals:

- Use an active voice - Use an active voice not a passive voice - Phrase your goals as "I will…" not I plan to…, I hope to…. 
- Be specific - Don't say I will sell some paintings - instead say I will sell 5 paintings; I will make $200 in sales not makes some sales
- Be optimistic, but set goals that are realistic and attainable - Don't set a goal that is unrealistic and unattainable, e.g., if there are 500 customers expected, don't set a goal of selling $10,000 worth of handmade toys.  It's not realistic or attainable.
- Set a timeline - Each day at this show, I will sell $500 worth of necklaces; This weekend at this show, I will sell 10 of my quilts.
- Put your goal in writing before you go to the show. Review your goal frequently during the week of the show as well as the morning of the show.
- Don't let down when you reach your goal.  Strive to continue selling throughout.
- Focus your selling and marketing efforts on achieving your goal - If you want to sell 5 quilts, emphasize the quilts, but don't neglect your other items. Likewise, don't emphasize your table runners if your goal is to sell quilts.

After the show, review your goals that you set.  If you met your goals, then think about raising your goal for the next craft show.  If you did not meet your goal, analyze what you did right or wrong.  Was the goal realistic?  Did bad weather limit the number of customers?  Is the show wrong for your product (you have primitive furniture and the non-juried show focused on high end art and crafts)? Do you need to modify your selling techniques or marketing?

The key to successful craft shows is setting the right goals.  Remember, only you can decide if a show was successful. Success is truly in the eyes of the beholder.

Mark Cato and his wife own a candles business and have participated in over 200 craft shows. They average 35-40 craft shows a year. Mark loves to help other craft vendors improve their marketing at both craft shows and on the internet. Over the past three years, he has been a featured speaker at several regional craft workshops.


This my first time selling jewlery, what do I need to do, what are the best places to go and how do I contact them.

By Sam jabsheh on April 27, 2011

Help! I have been accepted to my first faire; a one day, 6 hour which had 10,000 people attend last year. I make shea butters and I have no clue how much inventory to make. I like the goal idea, but does that mean 10x the booth rental and costs of making the product or just hotels, etc.? The booth rental was exceptionally cheap considering other costs I have seen (only $70) so should I up it? AAARRRGGGHH! Help??

By Cheryl on June 3, 2011

Hi, I went to my first fair last Friday. I t was a 2 &1/2 hour show at a school. I sell books for upper elementary students. Because of the time limit and the fact it was moved to the cafeteria instead of being on the playground because of rain I set a goal of only four books. I sold 12. The goal setting idea was a true help. It settled my anxiety.

Bill June 12

By Bill D Page on June 12, 2011

If you are making jewlery the one key is to be unique.  If you follow the trends coming up then again you might do trendy things knowing they change every year.  The market is saturated with Jewlery from International markets, the competition is tough.  Good Luck.

By Diana M White on June 13, 2011

I have been selling jewelry for 6 years.  My advice to you is to have a nice display and offer reasonable prices. You will find several vendors selling jewelry, but you can make the difference if your fashion jewelry is unique.  Don’t give up…. if you are willing to work hard you can do it. Best of luck,

By Maria Esmeralda on June15, 2011

By Maria Esmeralda on June 16, 2011

I never knew how to set a reasonable goal was ten times the booth fee. I never get near that amount. I am usually with three times the booth fee, expenses and a three referal sales!

By Debbie Latham Magee on June 22, 2011

Is there anyway to avoid the trap of having your application accepted a day or two before a fair without notice and then losing your application fee as the contract reads. I asked the sponsor directly if they thought my product fit into the event. They said, Yes. This recently happened to me and my support people weren’t able to help out at the last minute. I did attend the fair (as a observer) after calling and emailing the sponsor and telling them that I felt this was not a responsible way to do business. Turns out there was one vendor that was not food or sports related and it was an actual bicycle invitational. I sell reversible products for the home and children’s wear. I’m hoping to fight the C.C. charge if they try to put it through.  Frustrated.

By Sue - on June 30, 2011

I participate in shows during the year and I have learned if you have people at your booth ask them if they have something in mind (for husband, child ..) this way you can just direct them to certain items.

Also, if you keep talking in a calm manor people listen even if you think they arn’t. Don’t go by their facial expressions. Sometimes you think they won’t by anything but then they do when you talk to them for a moment. The main thing is to say hello, talk to everyone, especially when they are looking at your items. I have seen so many people pass by a booth be/c the vendor wouldn’t say a word. If you get frazzled or nervous just take a deep breath and think about what you are saying.

Good Luck!

By Vanessa L on August 19, 2011

My wife and I are starting a community art and craft show in So. Cal. for the summer of 2012. It will consist of 30 vendors, prepared foods and a central canape with seating and live acoustic Hawaiian music. This web sight has been very helpful in assessing the needs our future vendors.
We are very excited to begin this adventure and now the biggest challenge is getting the land we’ve picked out approved by the city. It’s an amazing location!
Keep posting those pros and cons of past festival experiences and good luck with your businesses!!!

By Dave on October 4, 2011

Manfred’s Gourmet Golden Light @ Fluffy Brittle,  New at the shows this year. I have used most of your ideas here and learned some thanks.manny’ (CinnamonBrownsugarPecan) (SemisweetDarkChocolatePecan-with Toasted Coconut or not

By Manfred Sherman on November 2, 2011

Hello,I am looking for a place to sell my crafts. I hand craft a variety of different beautiful wreaths for any occassions. If you could send me information on locations and price quotes, I would certainly appreciate it.                                                                                                                        Phyllis Henderson

By Phyllis Henderson on March 23, 2012

Hello, I wanted to say thank you for all the tips and information on your site.  I will be starting a pushcart business, and have found your site so helpful. I am starting locally (upstate NY)  for my first year. My two year goal is to expand to warm weather states from September to May so it will be a year round business.  I have already researched hundreds of events throughout the south and west.  (I already have set goals and figured expenses to see if it is profitable).  I see the potential and am excited to begin.

Thank you again for sharing your knowledge.

Helen White

By Helen White on December 29, 2013

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