Tips for selling crafts at a fair - my first time doing this
October 31, 2018 10:55 AM   Subscribe

I saw the recent thread about selling at a craft fair, and I have some questions of my own, like what cash should I have on hand for making change, and other stuff.

Tomorrow is my first craft show, and I have some questions. This show is at my workplace, and they do it every year. It doesn't cost money to set up a booth, and it's first come first served. There will be approximately 60(?) booths or so, and maybe 200(? wild-ass guess) customers (employees) coming through. Hours are 8:00 am - 4:00 pm. Most activity will be during lunch hours, from 11:30 am - 2:00 pm.

I am going to sell embossed greeting cards that I made. My daughter will be there to assist me. I have a table, a chair, a stool, and little containers that can hold up to 20 cards each and the cards are easy to flip through. All cards are bagged in clear bags. I have about 65 cards and another 14 will be ready tonight, for a total of 79 cards or so. Some cards have messages inside, and some are blank. I will clearly mark all that.

I have a gmail address and a very simple blog hosted on blogspot that has like 50 cards I made. I have the domain that goes with my gmail address (think Is it worth it to just make a landing page for now that says I will do commissions and list my email address and point to my blog?

I plan to price them something like 5/6/7/8 dollars, based on size and how detailed they are / how much time/work it took to make each one. I have colored dot stickers that I plan to use to indicate the price, which will be listed prominently on a sign (like red is $5, blue is $6, etc with four categories max).

Based on some advice in the other recent thread, I plan to have a "buy 1 get the 2nd $1 off" deal or some such. Does this sound like a good idea? Should I extend it to "buy 1 get additional cards for $1 off each"?

Other questions:

- For cash to make change, I was thinking of getting $100 in 1's, $100 in 5's, and 100 in 10's. Does that sound reasonable?

- I got some business cards to print on, how important is it that I make them? Do you think a lot of people would want to have one?

And overall, I don't plan to make my living doing this or anything, it's just for fun and a little cash.
posted by cats are weird to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
in my experience, you will get lots of 20's, so you will definitely need those 10's and 5's.300 dollars is alot of start up money, but if you can swing it, it certainly won't hurt anything.

how many sizes do you have? if it is just a couple different sizes, i would price by size for ease and clarity. if there is a wide range of sizes, i would price by detail, dividing up into just simple and complicated categories.

as for sales, you might consider framing it like one for $5 or two for 9. one for 8 two for 15.
posted by domino at 11:11 AM on October 31, 2018 [2 favorites]

Assume that none of your customers will have anything smaller than a $20 bill, because a lot of folks (like myself) generally don't carry cash unless they're going somewhere where they know they'll need it, in which case they hit up an ATM for some twenties. Even if they get cash back at the grocery store or whatever, it'll be mostly twenties unless they specifically ask otherwise.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 11:22 AM on October 31, 2018

Almost everyone - even the most networked - asks me for my business card - they seem almost talismanic in their ability to get people to come back.
posted by unearthed at 11:31 AM on October 31, 2018 [1 favorite]

Consider organizing your cards in boxes based on messages vs blanks.

I don't know how fancy these cards are, but $8 for a greeting card sounds really high to me.

Business cards are good. Put your name, email and site on there. People will put them in their wallet and pull them out a week/month later and you'll get commissions. Much better than a flyer at the event itself.
posted by basalganglia at 11:47 AM on October 31, 2018 [2 favorites]

If you have any Christmas material, consider not selling it but instead using it as a way to get orders for boxes of, say, a dozen Christmas cards. Perhaps the Christmas cards could be high level reproductions instead.

You might show a card in a frame. For some people, $5 is a lot to spend on a card, no matter how lovely, but a steal when it comes to a work of art. It would encourage them to think about the cards as works of art whether they ultimately send them or display them.

For the future, you might want to get a paypal credit card reader for your phone. It's a very easy and inexpensive way to overcome the "not enough cash on hand" barrier. For now, since it's your office, perhaps you might take an IOU under these circumstances?

Consider a bowl of Halloween candy, which is going on sale in 3. 2. 1.
posted by carmicha at 11:54 AM on October 31, 2018 [9 favorites]

I do this at my work every year and I completely agree with getting some sort of card reader (I use Square). It really helps capture that crowd that says they don't have cash and will come back. And definitely put out a candy dish and offer it to everyone who passes by. It pulls people in and they usually will spend a few minutes browsing, even if they don't buy anything.
posted by LKWorking at 12:18 PM on October 31, 2018 [1 favorite]

I work a lot of tables and booths at my current job and past jobs running craft sales tables was literally in my job description. My biggest piece of advice that hasn't been covered is if you are at all able to stand DO. You will interact and sell so much more. Extrovert, be genuinely interested in what your coworkers are looking for, and yes yes yes to certain amount for a set price (if your cards are usually five bucks each, I would do a 5/20 deal, this way you'll sell more and won't need to make change).

Bring a nice tablecloth (bright or black) to cover the table, and if you're looking for commissions I would make a quarter sheet of paper with rates and ideas for what you'd be able to do (wedding and party invites? Custom Christmas cards, birth announcements?)

Have a sign of some sort with your name or business name on it. I like using a large-ish photo frame with a built in stand for this. Do something to create different levels on the table. You can even put a cardboard box under the tablecloth to create a raised area.
posted by Sweetchrysanthemum at 2:46 PM on October 31, 2018 [1 favorite]

Don't spend time on your phone when you're there, because I see so many vendors at farmers' markets and such on their phones, and it's a huge turnoff.
posted by Slinga at 3:50 PM on October 31, 2018 [1 favorite]

Related: a friend shares her Top Ten Pieces of Craft Show Advice in her vlog.
posted by roger ackroyd at 7:37 PM on October 31, 2018

Agreed with the recommendations for square or some other mobile payment solution. Square used to ship readers to you for free, but if you need it on short notice, I've been able to buy the little readers at retail outlets before as well.

For the landing page, I strongly suggest having one since people will expect some sort of online presence to look you up later. Something like Launch Rock can get you quickly and easily set up to collect contact info (leads) and display some information in a fairly slick package.

Another suggestion I have to getting an online presence is to launch an etsy shop. They are reasonably quick to set up and will give you another sales avenue. I have a custom art business and we get our commissions almost exclusively from there.
posted by fonzie at 9:10 PM on November 1, 2018

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