I am a craft fair shopping veteran. When I was a child, my mother was an arts & activities director of an organization that held craft fairs. I was raised behind the scenes of craft fairs. Craft fairs, handmade markets, handcrafted bazaars...whatever you want to call them, I was there. In my 30 years of craft fairs, I've picked up on a few things that strongly affect whether or not I'll buy from a seller. Whether or not I'll even step foot in their booth. Here are a few mistakes to avoid:
Craft Booth Vendor Mistake #1 - No Prices: I'm an introvert. Lots of crafty types and people who buy handmade "indie" goodies are also introverts. This means that prices should be clearly marked. Why? Because an introvert is not going to bother to ask "How much is this?" to find out a price. She'll just leave. Especially when the booth is hopping full with people, any of whom could be the owner/vendor. This means you'd not only have to ask "How much is this?" but you have to figure out who to ask, or even worse, have to just yell it out for someone to answer. Usually not happening for me so I just move on to the next booth. Especially if there is still a lot to see. I'll tell myself I'll come back later when the booth is less busy...but by then the thrill of the hunt is over and the item in question is long forgotton.
Craft Booth Vendor Mistake #2 - No Sign: I hate unmarked booths. No sign means no name recognition. A huge opportunity for "branding" is lost here. You NEED a sign at a serious craft show. You even NEED a sign at your very first craft show. It doesn't have to be professional, but if you sell at a craft show it means you are crafty. Make one! Either a small printed one or make one out of felt or fabric. This really will help people take you seriously and helps with name recognition.
Craft Booth Vendor Mistake #3 - Not Enough: Now some would disagree with me on this one, so take this with a grain of salt, but if I can see every single item in your shop just by casually walking by I will do just that. Walk by and not enter. If you only have 10-20 items for sale I'll feel weird going into your shop. I much prefer a shop that makes me walk in to take it all in. A shop that has hidden little items waiting for me to discover them. Take advantage of space and fill it up in an organized way.
Craft Booth Vendor Mistake #4 - Not Matching: I'm much less attracted to a booth if it isn't put together looking. Matching (non-busy) fabric cloths covering the tables looks great. If you use crazy busy, patterened fabric on tables that you lay your delicate jewelry pieces on I won't even notice them, I'll be looking at the fabric! You want your products to "pop" from their backdrop, not get lost in it. Matching packaging. Organized table. The use of risers to have an interesting look and to utilize space. Have business cards in a holder. Have a sign. Use fabrics on tables that coordinate with your packaging. All very important! You need to think of your booth as a stand alone product that you are selling. You are not just selling your products inside, you are selling your booth...it is like a mini store you must get people to enter!
Craft Booth Vendor Mistake #5 - No Draw: A trick I've learned is to have something really interesting (or weird, or big, or unique, or freaky) to draw people in. A sculpture? A fountain? If you sell stuffed animals, how about a GIANT stuffed animal that other smallers ones will sit on? People will see it from far and want to know about it. They may ask questions about it, giving you a chance to get to know people. It doesn't have to be for sale, it can be your booth's mascot. Use something unique as part of your display to catch people's eyes as they walk by. They'll glance at it, giving you a chance to make eye contact (see next tip) and draw them in.
Craft Booth Vendor Mistake #6 - Not Friendly: Okay, this goes back to that introverted thing and I know this is hard for many crafters, but you HAVE to be nicer than you naturally are. Be friendly. Have you ever worked retail? If you have you are at an advantage because you'll know how to put on that persona. Say "hi" when people enter your shop. Make eye contact. Smile. This is SO important and something so many craft booth vendors fall short on. Sure, it is hard to have your creations out there for people to poke and prod at and judge. Nervewracking, isn't it? Drink a shot of vodka beforehand if you have to and put yourself out there with a big smile and chat people up.
Craft Booth Vendor Mistake #7 - Business Cards/Current Info: This is a HUGE pet peeve of mine since I just encountered it today when I tried to link to two vendors I met at a recent show. First of all, always have business cards on your table. Someone may grab one thinking a friend might like your items, even if they don't. Make sure to throw in a card with each purchase too. If you just chat someone up for a while, hand them a card! Now once you have your card out there, make sure it is current info! Please, please I BEG you, don't have a "holder" on your website that says "coming soon" because this is very, very bad business practice. It is like a store starting to advertise on TV and you go to the store only to find a sign in the window that says, "oops, just kidding...we aren't open yet" as it is a total inconveinence to the buyer. Just think of those two shops I was planning to link to on my blog but can't because their sites aren't up yet. Lost publicity = lost customers!
Craft Booth Vendor Mistake #8 - No Price Discounts: If I buy more than one item I really appreciate a price discount. Trust me, if you sell earrings for $12 a pair but offer a "2 for $20" discount you are much, more likely to sell two pairs. People can't resist the opportunity to "save" money and will be more likely to buy as gifts. Everyone loves a bargain!
Craft Booth Vendor Mistake #9 - No Freebies: Customers like to feel appreciated. It always annoys me when I see people selling their promo materials. Why would I want to spend $3 on a pin with your logo on it? You want me to pay you to let me advertise for you? Makes no sense! That is part of your marketing costs! How about offereing free gift wrapping, magnet, pens, buttons or stickers. All of these things can be branded with your business logo and information too. They feel special for getting something free and you are getting your name out there more. Alternatively, you don't have to give freebies to everyone, you can set a spending limit. If someone spends a certain amount of money in your shop thank them with something special. A good plan is to set an amount in your mind (say any purchase over $200 for example) and have some bonus gift set aside that you'll give them when they do.
Craft Booth Vendor Mistake #10 - Not Advertised Stuff For Sale: When I go to a craft show I generally go because the vendors interest me. A lot of craft fairs will advertise by showing a tiny photo of one product from each vendor. Now if I see an item that interests me advertised I'll go to that booth expecting to see if for sale by that vendor. I hate it when it isn't there! Sure, I know product lines change and evolve, but if you use a photo of your adorable plush creatures for the vendor advertising but don't plan to even sell them at said craft fair, please update your advertising images!
Craft Booth Vendor Mistake #11 - Your Friends: This mistake goes hand in hand with mistake #6 on being friendly. A lot of craft booth vendors will have at least one friend help them man their booth. That is just fine and a great practice. You can give each other breaks to get food, go to the bathroom and if it gets busy, you'll need a helping hand to watch the booth and handle money. However, don't sit gloomily in the back of your booth with your friend and chat the day away, ignoring your customers. A buyer will feel like an intruder and that isn't creating a friendly, welcoming atmosphere!
So those are my top 10 mistakes I see being made most often. Got any more to add? Please post a comment!