Tomorrow is exactly one month until the Etsy Made in Canada pop-up market at the Nanaimo Museum. I’m excited to meet some of my fellow Etsy sellers and to hopefully see lots of new and familiar faces come through the doors.
It’s been more than 2 years since I’ve done a craft market, so I’ve been reviewing my display set up and making lots of to-do lists. Plus, I always like to revisit my old set-up and make it better if I can.
One of the challenges about getting your display right is that booth and table dimensions vary from market to market, so it’s important to build some flexibility into your booth. Creating a gorgeous 8 foot shelf isn’t going to help when your booth is only 6 feet wide. Also, make sure that your display (plus all your inventory and equipment) fits into your car – you can’t set it up if you can’t get it to the show!
The booth size at the Etsy Made in Canada market is quite small – only 6 feet by 4 feet which includes a 6 foot by 2 foot table. For a larger booth, I would bring a free-standing display to put my suncatchers and hanging items on, but this time there simply isn’t enough room. So, I’ve had to get creative and I think I’ve actually come up with a design that will be even better than what I had previously. I will post pictures of my new and improved display as soon as I get it built!
In the meantime, here are some of my favourite craft fair tips, for both buyers and sellers:
Tips for Sellers
- Bring more inventory than you need
Seriously, if you’ve made something and it’s for sale then bring it to the market with you. Having too many items is a far better scenario than having too few. I usually try to have between 200-300 items for a sale, but that number will vary depending on what you sell. If you sell jewelry, you may need more and if you sell large wooden bowls, you may need less.
- Be at eye level
Craft markets are (hopefully) busy places. There’s a lot going on and you want to make sure that people can see your work. The best way to do this is to build a display that gets your work up off of the table. Also, using different levels make your work more eye-catching.
- Don’t read your book
Speaking of eye-catching – you want to be at eye level as well, so prepare to stand, or bring a tall stool instead of chair. It seems like every show I go to, there’s a vendor who is huddled out of sight behind their display (sometimes with their book, sometimes not) and it’s as though this has created a black hole in front of their booth. No one wants to engage with someone who doesn’t want to be there or who they can’t see.
- Bring a “show-me” piece
A “show-me” piece is a super-sized piece that showcases your work. If you have the ability to create a piece that’s bigger or showier than what you usually make, bring that piece to the show. You might not sell it (although it feels amazing if you do!) but it’s basically a giant billboard for your booth that shouts “Look what I can do!”.
- Figure out the flow
As well as making yourself approachable, make sure your booth is approachable. This is especially important for larger spaces, where there is a temptation to create a booth with a dead-end alley. Unfortunately, this means that many buyers will skip by you entirely as they don’t want to get trapped inside your booth. Make sure your spaces has a good flow so that buyers can naturally pass through without feeling constricted.
Tips for Buyers
- Buy what you love
This may seem obvious – who would buy something they hated? But, how many times have you talked yourself out of buying something and then regretted it later? If you truly love it that should be enough justification to take it home.
- Buy it when you see it
The magical thing about craft markets is that they are often filled with one of a kind items that you will never see again. While it’s easy to convince yourself that you will follow up with a vendor after the show, more often than not, that business card will end up at the bottom of your drawer. (You know the drawer, the one that you’ve been meaning to clean out since March?)
- Don’t be afraid to approach sellers
Yes, I want to sell things when I’m at a market. And, I’d love to sell them to you. However, making eye contact and having a conversation with a seller doesn’t mean that you’re about to be drawn into a high pressure sales pitch. Saying hello and asking a question doesn’t mean you’ve committed to buying something.
- Don’t be afraid to walk away
On the other hand, sometimes something will catch your eye from across the room and disappoint when you get closer. If it’s not right, don’t take it home.
- Respect quality and price
Part of the experience of going to a craft market is getting to see unique, handmade items that you can’t find anywhere else. Handmade generally means that the seller designed, prototyped, handcrafted, photographed, marketed and did a thousand other behind the scenes things to create their items. Unfortunately, the sad reality is that most craft sellers are under-pricing their work. Trust me, no seller wants to hear “I could make that myself” or “I can get that for $5 at Walmart.” Respect the work that goes into each item and the price that reflects that work.
Those are my top craft fair tips – what are some of yours?