What to do If Your Crafts Aren’t Selling at Craft Shows & Festivals

February 2013

You are packing up your goods at the end of another bad day. Only one or two sales were made, and you did not even "break even" on the space rental. What is going on? There are many reasons your crafts may not be selling, and we want you to consider the issues and solutions below in order to remedy this situation:

You are like too many others - It really doesn't matter if you are using the very best materials and techniques if the items you produce are too similar in look, color, and design as others around you. Here is what we mean: Imagine that you are someone attending an arts and crafts show, fair, or festival. You have been walking the aisles for one or two hours. You have seen dozens upon dozens of tables of jewelry. Though everyone makes beautiful things, if you see one more pair of jade green earrings you will scream! This illustrates the need for an artisan to be true to their own personal esthetic, but to also consider how to make their goods truly unique and how to make them stand apart.

You are not displaying your goods dynamically - As some who is working to sell their goods at arts and crafts shows and fairs, you may feel like it is a real advantage to be able to avoid the standard "brick and mortar" store investments. You don't have to pay for displays, racks, and any other furnishings meant to easily sell your goods. However, this way of thinking is wrong. Many customers at arts and crafts shows will begin to develop a strange sort of fatigue as they browse the flat tables of open trays. It is a very savvy crafter and vendor who invests in some upright and innovative displays. Even something as basic as decorative branches, old-fashioned benches, or other appealing "racks" will help to sell your wares. Don't forget the benefits of "staging" too. If you are selling goods based on nostalgia or vintage themes, set the stage to look like that era.

You only work the shows - Do you count on your sales as a primary source of income? If so, you should be doing more than selling at the shows. You should also be selling yourself (and even your goods) online. Build a website, blog, use social media, network, advertise when you will be at shows, and use every outlet you can to "sell" the business.

If you use these three tips, you will notice your sales beginning to climb and things can be turned around very quickly.


A must rule in retail (or should be) is called “the ten foot rule”. What this means is any customer within ten feet of you - you greet them. Works the same in craft shows. Greet every one. Have an “ice breaker ready”. This is a good line about something. Weather, event, or anything of interest. Gauge how it is working and change it if need be. Be ready to show, explain, demonstrate your product with all the excitement you can muster. Not like the used car salesman on TV but like the interested friend who wants to show you something. IF you are sitting there reading a book, staring at the ground, or day dreaming then you could get one or two sales. If you want more - MAKE IT HAPPEN!

By Jerrell on April 17, 2013

Great advise… does work!

By Meyer's Gift Shop, Inc......William Meyer on April 17, 2013

H Jerrell I am so in agreement with your tips and tools for selling at craft shows.I am a jewelry designer and I practice all those you mention,changing displays all the time if I see they are not working, greeting customers you name it I do it all the time, It so happens I do this for a living and the only income I have, ““YET I AM NOT SELLING MY JEWELRY”“, I am told by every customer that come into my space How pretty and unique and different hold a good conversation them they just walk away. what I am doing wrong apart from a lot of jewelry out their.

By marie smith on April 19, 2013

I am just getting into the crafting business, but I agree with Jerrell as well.  A vendor must be willing to look your customers in the eyes and talk to them.  People want to feel cared about as a person, not just as a potential buyer.  If you sit working on something and don’t even look up and smile, people get no opportunity to connect with you and are less likely to connect with your product.  Sharon Glapinski/The Bag Babe/Etsy

By Sharon Glapinski on April 23, 2013

It also helps to have a story to back up your product.  For example; I create sea glass jewelry from the sea glass I find on the beaches in New England.  After Super Storm Sandy I found lots of pieces and made a whole line of jewelry from them.  People LOVE knowing that the jewelry has a history and a conversation they can repeat when complimented on. 
Hope this helps…
By: Sea Glass Creations by Sharon DeAngelo

By seaglass.creations on April 23, 2013

To Marie Smith:
It could be that you are at the wrong “kind” of show… I make and sell needle tatted jewelry.  It is a luxury item with roots in history.  I cannot compete at a show that sells Avon, Scentsy, and cutsie-pootsie. I choose to do shows that are Heritage Festivals - turn of the century crafts.  I do very well there.

By Carrie on October 22, 2013


I sew and am looking towards maybe selling my crafts.  I have no idea how to do this on line.  Any hints out there?

By Brenda Zimmerman on September 20, 2014

I make beautiful picture frames but none of my work is selling I’ll put it on Facebook eBay even YouTube

By Tanya simmons on May 10, 2017

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