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What Went Wrong at your first show – Newbie Arts and Crafts Vendors

February 2014
What Went Wrong -The Horrors of Newbie Arts and Crafts Vendors

Image Courtsey: Fred Miller / Flickr.com Image Courtsey: Fred Miller / Flickr.com

We all have to start somewhere. No one is ever perfect on their first try; no matter what it is they are attempting to do. You are bound to fall on your head a few times when trying to perform a cartwheel for the first time. So, it’s safe to say that in your first foray into the world of arts and crafts fairs you may experience a serious faux pas or two. It’s okay; everyone does!

The biggest mistake I made going into my first arts and crafts show was letting the drama of everyday life show on my face. Although I was excited to set up the high end scented candles I had been slaving over for the past few months and rake in the piles of cash, I had been stressing about unpaid bills and a slipping relationship. It was evidently written all over my face. I swear it seemed like people would start heading my way only to look me in the eye with a smile on their face and lose it instantly while abruptly turning away.

In addition to my ever-present sourpuss face, I was fielding calls left and right from my neglected boyfriend. I had told him he could come with me, but sitting with his girlfriend surrounded by candles and strangers wasn’t exactly his idea of a great Saturday. There were countless times where I would be in the middle of pitching honeydew and strawberry scented candle and my phone would ring. Fearing for the end of my relationship, I would answer the phone like it was an emergency and each time I would lose a potential customer.

Last, but certainly not least, I left my booth. Never, ever leave your booth. There are so many people walking around, not to mention a few overly competitive vendors, you never know what you will come back to. Since I went alone, I didn’t have anyone to watch my booth for me when I needed a bathroom break. Seeing as how these shows can last all day, I had to take quite a few. By the end of the day, when I was packing up my stuff, I realized that the amount of candles missing didn’t equal the amount of sales I had. Because of a few trips to the bathroom with no one to watch my stuff, I lost almost $400 worth of product.

After all this I almost swore off craft shows forever. I told myself I would stick to selling my candles online and never step foot into another fair or festival again. Thankfully, though, I learned from my mistakes and have been improving my festival presence with each event. What mistakes did you make your first trips out there? Share your stories so you can finally realize that you weren’t alone!

Comments

i am a fish out of water when it comes to arts and craft shows.  I would love to speak with vendors of these venues…..I design and make decorative pillows and was wondering if direct marketing or online selling is the way to go…...................thank you in advance.

Carmen

By Carmen Quirindongo on February 12, 2014

I LOVE doing the flea market type shows.  The first thing I try to do is to make friends with at least one person on either side of me.  That way, if a break is needed you have someone to keep an eye out for you and you for them. 
When I look back to the first few shows, of course mistakes are made, but they are learning mistakes.  I look at what happened and decide what needs to be done so that it is not repeated.
As far as cell phones, if it is important they will call back.  Leave it on vibrate and check it AFTER you make the sale when you have no one looking at your goods,  Leave a message on the phone that you will return there call if a message is left.  If no message, nothing is lost.
I make a list before every show of what I need to bring,  I keep a well stocked suitcase ready to go with anything I may need from tape to safety pins.  Its better to have unused items than to need them and be without. AND once word gets around that you are the one with all the extra’s, you would be surprised at all the favors you get just for letting someone use the duct tape!
SO don’t give up. come prepared, and leave with more learning experiences for improvement.
Happy selling
God Bless
Sharon Meyer, B*D*I*‘s Jewelry and Beads, Baltimore, MD.

By B*D*I*'s Beads and Jewelry, S. Meyer on February 18, 2014

Hi this is Naomi Im running funnel cake. I would like to be in your festival please if you have a space available please can you contact me to my email or cell phone 8015125266 I m happy to hear from you thank you.

By Naomi Tuamoheloa on February 24, 2014

I’m a newbie in the arts and crafts field and now realize how time consuming it can be to research all the materiel for upcoming shows and to see what ones will benefit me the most.  I sell hand painted recycled brass lamps and handmade garden art from recycled china and have them priced at high price point, not only for the time that goes into them, but the uniqueness of them.  I had my first booth, but didn’t realize that it was a “flea market” type of an event and that is the type of crowd it drew.  I found that those type of events, you have to have a product with a low price point, because no one is going to pay top dollar for something that probably worth more than the price tag that is on it. I found that by letting my 20 dollar garden art go for 5 dollars at the end of the day, just to make some sales is what they are after.  The other problem I have with my products is that the festivals where my products would sell, are so expensive and even with being able to afford a booth, your products are judged to see if they will even let you in. I’m trying to find a happy medium.

By Patty on March 3, 2014

My partner & I will be diving into the world of craft shows, art festivals and the like in the near future. Is there an inexpensive book we can read that will help us know what to look for, the do’s & don’ts, etc? If there is, please email us & let us know. Its greatly appreciated. May we all be prosperous in our business journeys. Enjoy the day!

Regards, GarksArk Woodcrafts and Designs (soon to be online)

By Sherrie on September 21, 2014

I did my first craft fair at a church close to my home. My step-daughter saw a sign that read “Crafters needed” so i sent in my application, fee and pictures and low and behold—- I was picked to be in the show!! I was the second booth from the door. They said i was in a good spot. POO. I wa soooo nervous!! It was my first time. I had my daughter drive 75 miles to come be with me (watch the booth - get food, etc…) and help with sales, set up and break down. It was a lot of fun. I didn’t sell much - (2) $5.00 rings. :( If it wasn’t for my coworker stopping by to purchase some pre-christmas gifts, I wouldn’t have considered another one. Plus the fact that MY name was the first “door prize” winner which was a gift certificate in the amount of the booth cost!!! Glory be!! So all in all it wasn’t too terrible. I had done some research about what to do and how to do it before hand. I think it helped. Also the fact it was only a one day INSIDE show! I’m not prepared for the elements! Since I didn’t sell much I am considering a new look for my next try!! :) Good luck to all!!

~Natalie
on ETSY & FB : NoveltiesByNatalie November 19, 2014

By Natalie McDorman on November 19, 2014

Looking for crafters for a bazaar in Lynchburg on November 5 2016. Don’t want yard sale stuff.

By Madeleine on September 25, 2016

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