Thursday, July 5, 2012

My First Craft Fair - My dos, don'ts, and all my new found craft fair knowledge!

Well guys, I survived my first craft fair!  Doesn't seem like a major feat?  Well consider this...I signed up late and only gave myself 2 and half weeks to prepare, it was outside, and it was 103 degrees by the time the thing got over at 1:30! was hot.  But it was also so much fun!

Did I make a ton of sale?  Uh..honestly..not a ton.  But here's the thing, no one seemed to.  I think the only things that sold were cheaper kid's toys...not more involved crafts.  Which makes sense, because it was an event that was mostly a free festival with kids' activities...the craft fair was a first year add on.  But, I'm not too bummed because I gave out a ton of cards (around 45) and a lot of people said they were very interested but didn't want to carry around a board when they still were going to a petting zoo, moon bounce, etc.  So, probably not the best venue for sales, but great practice.  I did sell a few small pieces and had a couple of custom orders that were placed, so that's really exciting.

But what I was really happy about, was how cute my tent came out!

Booth #4 represent!

I really wanted to politely ask the woman in the background to get out of the picture..but she was trying to help setup the tent next to me, and asking someone to move didn't seem like it would help the neighborly love.  I really liked how the bunting along the top of the tent came out - I used small triangles cut out of scrapbook paper and cut my shop name out of vinyl and attached it to the flags - all of the flags were attached to a ribbon using sticky dots.  I hung it by tying the two ends to the tent supports, then clipped it onto the tent in a few places with clothespins.

This was at the beginning of the day (it was only about 85 degrees when we set up at 7:30am so that helped out a ton with the heat).  I'm wearing my apron which really came in handy and made it so I could keep all my cash on me and didn't feel like I had to keep looking over my shoulder at a cash box.  I also dressed super cool in shorts and a t-shirt...and I was still a hot mess by the end of the day with the heat, etc.

And here were my partners in crime (a definite must if you're going to be at a craft fair for half a day)

On the left is my future MIL, Patty.  She helped me setup and hung out with me at the tent all day long!  On the right is my mom.  She was working the fair (lucky for me she was helping the crafters) so I got to see her throughout the day and she helped with the setup and take down too!

So I took a ton of pictures and I also created a pretty helpful master list of things to bring for a craft fair - so I hope you're ready for all this jelly ('cause my body's too bootylicious for ya babe).

So for my tables - I had some pretty cheap (and awful looking) card tables.  I chose the lightest tables I had that wouldn't take up a lot of room in my car and were easy to setup and take down.  I didn't want to invest in table cloths, so I used two tan sheets.  I laid a big piece of burlap over them, then has some homemade paper bunting that I hung across the front (clipped on with clothespins).

I used cheap flowerpots to hold my discs.  I originally planned to use card catalog drawers, but I simply didn't have enough discs to fill them.

I tried to add some height with basics and my vintage kitchen scale.  I made a ton of little signs around my booth and put them in frames - they included pricing info, info about my shop, etc.

Here's my good old garage sale picture - spray painted and chalkboard painted.  I chose to keep it pretty simple.  I mainly wanted to advertise custom orders and the fact that I took credit cards (thanks to square).

My granny crochets yarn onto hangers and makes them no-slip - so I had a basket full of those for sale, aptly named "Granny's No-Slip Hangers."

I used a couple of small outdoor tables as an area to advertise custom orders.  I included the leashes and things hooks i made for my mom as a sample.

The display Mr. J.G. crafted out of peg board worked awesome!  I ended up tying a small ladder behind it so that it was nice and sturdy on the table.  The wind pick up a few times and actually knocked a board off the pegboard hooks - but it didn't get scratched up or anything so it seemed to work just fine!  You can see a little bit of the paper bunting I had hanging from the top of the tent.  It was really cute at the beginning of the day, but getting blown and whipped around in the wind caused it to fall apart a bit by the end of the day.  So, for an indoor fair paper bunting on ribbon is fine, but for outdoor I think I'll sew fabric bunting next time.

Here were my tags - the price was on the other side. I loved how they turned out - I found the blank tags at Hobby Lobby and a little rubber stamp that I could just fill in the JGD on.  Tags were definitely a good thing so people didn't have to keep asking the price.  I always think it makes people a bit more comfortable when they dont' feel like they have to ask.  Although I'm thinking next time I may put the prices on the chalkboard - it did seem like the tags were a bit hard to see so I was still getting quite a few questions.  I like having people ask because it gets a conversation started, but I also don't want them to feel like things aren't well marked.  I was really happy that I had everything pre-marked and packed that way so I wasn't trying to do it that morning.

I felt like my booth was pretty darn cute - my mom said it was the cutest but she probably has some bias there.  It really didn't take too long to setup - we got there and started unloading the car at 7:30 and had everything setup by 8:45 or so.  I had kind of an involved setup, but I felt like it was worth it and it seemed to draw some attention.  There was a kid's train ride that went right through the craft fair.  At first I thought that may be a pain for us, but I quickly noticed mom's that seemed to be looking at my booth as they rode by, then walking up later saying "I saw you on the train and had to stop by!"  So I think the involved setup was well worth it!

Oh...and here's my master list of things I was super glad I had...

  • Sturdy, lightweight tables that are easy to move and setup
  • Decorations to add interest and height to tables (baskets, smaller tables, and even a kid's chair seemed to do the trick for me)
  • Good signage, and lots of it.  I saw a few tents that didn't have their name or anything hanging up - how is someone supposed to know who you are or what you're selling?
  • Business cards.  I had people take a ton of them and a lot of people would ask "do you sell these online?" so I was really glad I had business cards ready to go.  I even used labels to add my blog URL to the back of the business card
  • Signage directing people to my Etsy shop.  I kept these right next to my business cards and I saw a lot of people read them and say "oh great" and grab a card
  • Bunting, sheets, burlap, and everything else to make my tables look nice.  My card tables under everything were pretty ugly, but layering a bunch of simple and inexpensive items really seemed to make the whole booth look a lot nicer.
  • Tent - If you're outdoors, you really need a tent.  It was so hot that without the shade it would have been unbearable.
  • Snacks and water - it was super hot so water was a necessity, but even if it wasn't I was saying hi to everyone and answering questions so I know without a lot of water I would have been struggling
  • Weights for the tent - my mom had some concrete bricks that worked great.  There were a few big gusts and I was glad I had them
  • Lots of inventory and a variety of things to display
  • Special order forms and any color swatches to show options available - I had a binder full of order forms and I used a large binder ring with discs in all of my color options so customers knew all of the colors I offered
  • Information slips - I have a packing slip that I always include when I send out a board that explains how it works, the best markers to use to write on it, etc so I brought some of those for people purchasing boards
  • Rocks to hold down loose papers
  • Bags/packaging materials for purchased items
  • Pens (and lots of them)
  • Change (and lots of it)
  • Calculator
  • Receipt book - some people want receipts and it's a way to track sales come tax time
  • Duct tape
  • Garbage Bags
  • Garden gloves (for loading/unloading and setup)
  • Folding chairs
  • Scissors
  • Twine
  • Clothespins
  • Extra parts for your items (in case something breaks, something is missing, etc - I brought extra connecting rings and hardware for my boards)
  • Camera/phone to take lots of pictures
  • Credit card reader (I used square - the reader is free, they mail it to you after you sign up online; they just take like 3% of the amount collected as a fee)
  • Sunblock
  • Gum/mints
  • First aid kit (luckily we never needed ours!)
  • Apron to hold your money, calculator, receipt book, etc
  • Hammer
That seemed to be enough for me - I used a toolbox to hold all the basic things that I knew I'd need like my apron and cash, calculators, tools, twine, and tape.  It was good to have a place to go to if I was looking for something important.

Also, here's what I noticed...if the event is an outdoor event with lots of free activities for kids - bring cheap handmade stuff for kids.  One woman was selling sticks that made huge bubbles - she sat on a stool all day long making these bubbles and kids loved them.  They looked super simple and I have a feeling they didn't cost much.  That's the big thing I felt like was lacking in my booth - I just don't make a lot of simple cheap kid type crafts.  Perhaps I'll think about doing more like that in the future.

I hope everyone enjoyed their 4th as much as I did!  It's nice to have the craft fair behind me so I can focus on finally finishing my craft room...I hung a few things last night and love how they are looking.  I also have a few ideas moving forward for new crafts and things to add to my Etsy shop, so hopefully I'll start rolling those out soon.

Oh yeah, and I'm getting married in two I'm sure I'll have tons of loose ends to tie up there too!


  1. Sue Ann Evans-HarbinJuly 5, 2012 at 4:02 PM

    Your booth was gorgeous, all very attractively displayed. I am glad you had fun and I noticed Chris had dropped by. The only thing I could suggest is white tent and one of those shade screens to hang on the sunny side whichever way the sun is positioned. The whit will reflect the sun better than the dark blue. What I did was turn the silver side out and the temp under the canopy dropped. Aunt Sue

    1. Yeah, i was really torn on which tent to get. The white one cost a bit I was thinking I'd do a few craft fairs and at some point upgrade to a white one with walls. It would defintiely help on a hot day!

  2. Looks like you're well on your way to becoming a craft show pro. Cute set-up! I would add to your list a way to anchor your tent in case a strong Kansas wind comes up. Good luck and have fun with future shows!

    1. Good call! I had some big heavy concrete blocks and I was glad I got breezy a few times!

  3. Looks great! Outdoor shows scare me. Maybe some day I will get the nerve to try some. Love your shop!

  4. I'm about 6 weeks late in commenting here, but you should look into a custom stamper from I have one for our address stamp, and also one that says "handcrafted by" for the back of my cards. Super easy. Not that just adding JGD is tough, but less step, right? :)

    1. I love that idea! I was looking for a custom stamper back when I started JGD, so I'll have to try that website!