If you've been making and making and making and are toying with the idea of doing a craft sale, I think you should go for it! The hardest part is getting started into the craft sale world because you don't know what to expect. I remember how nervous I was for my first one, and trust me, I get it! But I don't want you to put it off any longer. They can be so rewarding and it's so much fun to get to showcase your beautiful products off to a group of fresh eyes. Don't let fear stop you! I've done well over a dozen craft shows in the past year and I've learned a thing or 2 about what to expect and how to analyze your success at each show. Craft shows are the PERFECT way to test your products out to see if people are interested in what you have to sell. Feedback should be welcomed but also taken with a grain of salt, since not everybody you speak to will be your target market. So here we go - here are 3 things you should know before doing your first craft sale! (Kudos to you if you make it to the end - I tried to keep it concise, I swear!)
1. If you don't make money, it doesn't mean you're a failure.
I had 2 reeeally bad sales, and they weren't even in the beginning of my craft sale ventures, they were just last year! One of which I only sold 2 items (and it was to other vendors!). Literally none of the shoppers bought from me! Did I let that bring me down? No! I was in this craft sale that was totally the wrong fit for me. I had read things in the past about craft sales and how important it is to pick sales that are right for your business, and I didn't know how a craft sale - AKA an opportunity to get exposure - could be wrong for your business. Let me tell you.. I understand it now! As soon as I walked in, I could tell I wasn't going to do well. The vibe and asthetic was totally not my style, and the people weren't interested in what I was selling. It was a summer market, and my display was much too preppy for that specific crowd who was a bit more grungy. None of the other booths were even businesses, they were just people selling random things on tables. I looked (and felt) out of place, but that's okay - it was a learning experience! Don't feel bad if you have a bad sale. It doesn't mean you're a terrible business and have no future. It just means that you need to evaluate why you didn't sell as much as you expected - was it your pricing? Your display? Was the craft show the wrong fit? Was your display shoppable? (I'll get to that in a minute!) Did you get a lot of comments on fit? Style? Sizing? See what people think of your items, and do another show. Do the same comments or suggestions come up again? If so, then maybe you can re-evaluate some of your branding and keep trying til you get it right!
2. Always be prepared with change and a credit card reader.
I can't stress this enough! Let me paint a picture for you: Someone is at your booth and they love your stuff. They're holding one of your items up and they are so excited to have found it! They told you that it would be the perfect gift for their loved one and it's totally their style. They tell you they'd like to purchase it! Yay! Oh no - but wait.. they're paying with a $50 bill and you don't have enough change. The customer then says, "Do you accept card?" and unfortunately you tell them that no, you don't have a credit card reader! The customer then puts down the item back on your table and walks away because you can't complete their transaction. You then think of the money you could have made... but didn't.
I hope my dramatic story (lol) made my point.. always have change and always have a card reader. Since we're talking about money, also think about what you're going to keep your float in. Are you going to bring a cash box? An apron? (Just don't use your wallet!)
Something I wondered for my first few sales was how much change to bring. I round all my prices to the nearest $5 so that I only need to bring bills, but you don't have to do this. I bring about $2-300 worth of $5 bills for change for small shows and about $700 for large shows. Trust me, you do not want to be running out of change mid-show and begging your neighbouring vendors to make change for you. Bring the change you think you'll need, and then bring some more. You can always deposit it back into the bank as soon as you're done. Better safe than sorry and lose sales because of it!
3. Make sure your display is shoppable!
What does this mean? It means that people aren't going to take the time to snoop through all your items to decipher what they actually are. If you have knitwear that's in pile, very few people are going to sift through the pile and look at each item. Very few people are going to pick up a cowl that looks like a flat tube because you didn't make it obvious what it is or how it's supposed to be worn. If you think that people will pick it up if they're interested, you're giving them too much credit. You need to make your display as easy-to-shop as possible so that a complete stranger can take one look and know exactly what it is, what it's for, and how much it is.
You can get signs or photos printed to use at your table to help demonstrate how your product is supposed to be used, or you could use a mannequin if your items are wearable. I find that promotional printed items are really helpful if your product is in a bottle (like skin care or bath products) or if it's hard to distinguish exactly what it is. If you feel like you need to explain to everybody what it is for them to understand, maybe you should think about supplemental material to have on your table so that customers can understand what you sell and why it's so great, just in case you're busy talking to another customer.
People will be so much more likely to buy your items if they can see a price attached to each piece! For smaller shows, I use chalk boards with an easy-to-read price list. For larger shows, I use a pricing gun on hang-tags for each item. I have tags just like store-bought clothes do, and I put the prices on each individual item. Both are great ways to let the customer know the price. Don't assume that they will ask you the price if they are interested (yes, sometimes they will, but not always!).
If I was shopping and thought "hey, I really like this item".. and looked for a price and didn't see one, I would immediately think "it's probably for the best, I don't really neeeeed this item" and put it back. But, if it said clearly that it's $25 or whatever on the tag, I'd immediately start weighing in my mind whether or not I think I should purchase it, whereas otherwise I would just put it back because I wasn't given enough information to make a decision.
Please don't be scared to start selling at markets - a little prep work goes a long way! You've worked too hard to keep your talent all to yourself. Just go for it! <3
Loved this advice! I’m heading to my first market next month and you’ve given me some great ideas on how to make my display even better! Thanks Janine!!
Wooow, again I was supposed to do one today but as I explained (previously in the comment for the previous post) I had a dilemma so I didn’t go. So so much thank you for those tips. I didn’t think at all about the change. I have the reader but wouldn’t have any change. I can’t believe it. Thank you so much xx
This is so comforting to read! My first craft show is going to be in the fall, and each little piece of advice just made me less and less anxious :)))