Guest post by Abby Holt of Craftability
Craft fairs are a great opportunity for artists to showcase their work and sell their crafts. They are also the perfect place to learn new skills and network with other artists.
You don't have to be an expert crafter, either! There's room for everyone at craft fairs - from experienced artisans to beginners who want to learn how they can use their talents in their industry. You can get feedback from your customers about what they like or don't like about your products, which will help you improve them over time. It's also an excellent way for you to get exposure and reach new potential customers who may not know about you before the event. And finally, craft fairs allow for face-to-face interactions with people, which don’t happen much these days.
If you’re in the vicinity of Cedar Springs, Michigan, you have a great opportunity to gather with other artists and craftspeople at O’Flynn’s Art Gallery and Craft Shoppe. They offer their local artists and crafters/vendors the opportunity to share their work and passions with fellow community members through their gallery and shop.
Things to Do Before Show Day
Once you’ve decided to sell your crafts at a fair, there will be some important decisions to make. Hopefully, you’ve visited enough craft shows yourself to see how they look and operate, the kind of prices others are asking for their goods, and the kind of displays that caught your eye.
Knowing how much inventory to bring with you will depend on the expected turnout for the event. Ask the organizers what their turnout has been in the past and what they are anticipating for the day of your sale.
Practice setting up your table at home days before the fair. Arrange and rearrange until it’s as eye-catching as you can make it. If you wait until the last minute, it will be too late to incorporate some of the little extras that will really make it stand out.
Put price tags on everything. People don’t like asking you for a price, especially if you’re busy with another customer; they’ll just leave.
Don’t take too many different items. Arrange your items in four to five groupings so that you can have enough inventory available without it looking cluttered.
Have plenty of business cards available to hand out. You can print your own from home to save time and expense by using an online template.
Sales Day Tips
Create a booth that is easy to navigate, with plenty of space for customers to browse and touch your work. Make sure you have a variety of different products and prices so that you can cater to all types of customers. Some people will want to buy something more expensive, while others will be looking for a bargain.
Have an eye-catching display where people can easily see your work from far away, especially if you are near the entrance or exit of the show. Talk to people who stop by your booth, even if they don't buy anything from you. You never know who might be interested in what you're selling or what kind, but don’t be pushy; sometimes, people just like to look first before coming back later.
Set up early and stay late: Setting up early will give you plenty of time to set up, while staying late will allow you to catch the customers who come after the event has ended.
When selling your products at a craft fair, it is important to decide how you will be handling payment. If you are only dealing in cash, be sure to have enough on hand to make change. It’s also a good idea to have a sign that states what denominations of bills you are willing to accept. If you are only dealing in online payments, be sure to have a way for customers to connect to your Wi-Fi and an easy payment system in place for them to use; some popular options include PayPal, Square, and Venmo. If you are offering both cash and online payments, have separate signs indicating which method you prefer for each item. In addition, be mindful of collecting and filing taxes in the state that you are in. This will help you avoid any penalties or fees down the road.
Most cities and towns will require you to have a business license if you sell items to earn a profit. If you consider your craft business a “business” and you’re setting out to earn an income from it, you’ll likely need a business license. Not having the proper licenses and permits or registration can result in fines. Keep accurate records for tax purposes, too.
You also want to consider structuring your business as an LLC. This is an attractive option for small businesses because it can offer the limited liability protection of a corporation but without the same formalities and restrictions that corporate entities do. And they provide liability protection for the owners. This means that if the company does something wrong, there is no risk of personal assets being seized. An LLC is also easy to set up and maintain yourself, and there are several online sites that can help you do it, like BestLLCServices.com, the cheapest LLC formation service available.
By having everything ready early and knowing how to set up your booth, you’ll attract more customers. And having the right business structure while getting your proper licenses and permits means you’ll be secure knowing you’re running your business properly. And remember, everyone is nervous about doing their first craft show, but most of your fellow craftspeople have been where you are and will be supportive.