More Craft Show Advice

Jul 20, 2007

After I wrote about selling jewelry at craft shows, I received a wonderful email from Beading Daily reader, Wendy Hitchins who recounted her own experiences with craft shows and offered some advice on the topic:

"I've done craft shows now for over 5 years. It's a gruelling way to start selling your jewellery but absolutely essential. It's true that by selling at shows you become known. You gain valuable insight into what your customers want and what sells and doesn't sell. I've learned there are no magic answers when it comes to shows. If the weather is too hot, people don't come. If it's too cold or wet, they don't come. To make up for fewer customers you need a range of prices for your work. Some days earrings sell and others necklaces. Be flexible in your selection. Always look professinal. Don't eat at your display. Definitely DON'T read a book. It's okay to work on some jewellery but I find it may take me a full day to do something that usually takes 15 minutes. Keep your tables covered in a way that hides all the periferral stuff like boxes, etc. Be prepared for any eventuality. Don't forget your tools. If anything is going to break it will break as a customer picks it up. Murphy's Law.

Picking the right craft show, in my experience, is a lot of trial and error. Even those that say they are juried can be disappointing. I try to stay within 1 hour's drive of my home. If they want a lot of money for entry fees, I want to know why. Just because they bill the show as huge, with a large audience, doesn't mean those people will shop.

My first outdoor show was over a long weekend. The weather was shockingly bad. The organizers promised over 10,000 people would visit the over 400 vendors. They all did visit—on the last day. And, they were just looking. Most had kids in strollers and there were so many people going by my booth they looked like they were riding a conveyor belt. It was a crush. Not condusive to those impulse buyers we all need. So, I learned that bigger is definitely not better."

Wendy also generously offered to answer some questions on this topic, so please post your questions below!

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Beckcan23 wrote
on Aug 1, 2007 12:40 PM
How do you find out about craft shows in your own area. I am new to beading so thankx for your info. I do alot of pet jewelry/breed specific so if you have any tips for specialized markets I would appreciate it.
JoyG@7 wrote
on Aug 1, 2007 3:06 PM
Thanks for your information on craft shows. I started beading almost 5 years ago on a part-time basis, as I work full time.
I did some craft and flee markets when I first started. This fall/winter season I hope to give it a try again.
Thanks for the encouragement and tips.
Patriciakoko wrote
on Aug 2, 2007 12:07 AM
I just read the comments above and wondered if those who have participated have any special help for someone trying to run a arts & craft weekend for the first time? Our Senior Center and the Retirement Community where we have our workshops are collaborating on our first INDOOR mid-summer Art & Craft show. We are charging only $40 for a table (we provide with cloth) and an opening wine and cheese preview show and sale. We hope the indoor atmosphere in a lovely ballroom (air conditioned) will encourage folks to attend and artists to participate. Is there anything special we should be doing? Thanks Pat K
WendyH@50 wrote
on Aug 3, 2007 7:23 AM
Re pet jewellery and specialized markets. The internet is a wonderful search tool for shows that meet your needs. Also check out local arts associations and craft associations and in your case, pet groups. There are also books that are published showing all craft shows in your area or state. I paid for one and that gave me a good idea of what was going on in my province. The thing with these books is sometimes the shows are mis-represented so be careful. Ask questions before sending in your money.
Hope this helps, Beady Wendy
WendyH@50 wrote
on Aug 3, 2007 7:26 AM
Re: running a craft show. I would recommend you attend other shows in your area. Pick up cards from the vendors you would like to see pariticpate in your show. Talk up your show with those people and gauge how they feel about what you are proposing. You can also put out a call to artists via a press release to your local papers. If you have an arts organization in your area make contact with them too. What a vendor looks for when deciding what show to do is how many people are expected to attend as well as the cost. $40 sounds good. Hope this helps. Beady Wendy
CAROLEB@21 wrote
on Oct 14, 2007 2:51 PM
I have been doing events like school bazarrs & motorcycle "Bike Nite"s. I too have found that some have very large crowds (2500-7500 people), but sometimes they don't buy a thing. Most places I go to a spot, 10X10' costs $100.00, after paying that, it's hard to except only making $40.00 for 6 hours of sitting there.
But, I'm a die heart, sometimes I make more. It's very hard to figure what people are looking for, even when you have a variety of jewelry to chose from. Keep plugging along, it can be very satisfing that you know your creations are out there.
I have alot of comeback customers, because they like my pieces.
Carole B.
CAROLEB@21 wrote
on Oct 14, 2007 2:59 PM
Has anyone out there creating jewlery done "Home Parties"? If so how are they? I have lots of questions, if anyone could help. I haven't gone to any type of home deminstration in years & have not got a clue about how to have one, or how to compensate the hostess. Anybody with any information HELP.
thanks, CAROLE B>
SandraD@50 wrote
on Nov 29, 2007 6:59 PM
I did my first home jewelry show last month and it was a great success. I actually invited people in to learn to make earrings, but they all just wanted to see what I had made and buy that! I sold more in 3 hours than I did in a two-day, well-advertised and well-attended show just a month before! I just put computer generated invitations in mailboxes at work and had about a dozen people show up. Every one of them bought something and I was also given two "can you make something from this" commissions from people with great-grandma's crystal jewelry. Worked out great for me!