Hello my fellow creatives! If you’re reading this then you are probably getting ready for your very first craft fair. Congratulations! This is such an exciting step on your business journey. As a consumer I have always enjoyed attending my local craft fairs. You get to meet so many new people and see beautiful art. It’s a win-win in my book. As a vendor I had hoped to have a similar experience. I would get outside for the day, meet new people and see beautiful art. I am very happy to report that my first fair exceeded those expectations. Seeing people enjoy my art and hearing them say how beautiful it is was such a humbling experience.
As amazing as my first experience was, I wish I would have thought of a few things beforehand. Let’s start off by talking about the items that I definitely needed. Please keep in mind these suggestions are what work best for me and my business. You may want to adjust some of the items to the needs of you and your business.
(If you see a bluish green word that is underlined I have linked the website where I purchased that item. Feel free to click. Most of the items were bought off of Amazon. *I am not affiliated with any of the links*)
Money & Card Reader
Money is the second most important thing to bring (the number one thing is your inventory haha). Make sure you bring small bills to make change for your customers. How much is up to you. Keep in mind your price points and how busy you think the fair will be. I bring $150 in $1’s, $5’s and $10’s. To keep your money organized I suggest a lockbox. You can of course use a fanny pack or some sort of bag to carry on your person if you’re more comfortable with that. However I have a check out stand and prefer to not carry everything around. Whichever you prefer just make sure its on your must have list. Nothing is more unprofessional than giving your customer their change by pulling crumpled money out of your back pocket like a ten year old buying bubble gum.
Don’t forget your credit card reader! Signing up for Square was the best decision I ever made. If you’re on the fence about taking credit cards please take the leap. The grass is indeed greener on the other side. When you sign up for Square they will send you a free credit card swiper. If you end up losing it or breaking it they have replacement ones for around $10. If you prefer a swiper with a chip reader they have those too but it’ll cost a little more, about $49. They also send you a free sticker kit to show that you accept credit cards. Once you get the Square app (it’s free) you can add prices and details for all of your items to help with a speedy checkout. You can also add discount codes for loyal customers. Plus you can sync your Etsy shop to the app if you have one. This makes it easier to track your inventory and sales. Square does charge you a small processing fee (around 2.75%) yet I don’t think you’ll find a credit card reader/app that is free. If you would like to use my Square referral link you can receive free processing on up to $1,000 in sales. If you prefer to not take credit cards then I strongly suggest signing up for Venmo. They don’t have any processing fees and the chances of your customer already having the app is pretty high.
My fair was outside so I definitely wanted a tent. Some can be pricey but I went with a pop up canopy from Amazon. I figured if this was my only fair I ever did at least I had a canopy for when we have family bbq’s. Best case scenario I keep doing fairs and will get a lot of use out of it. I also purchased a tent side wall in case the sun is too strong or if it starts to rain. This isn’t a necessity yet its a nice addition for those “just in case” moments.
Weights & Bungee Cords
For outdoor fairs you will need tent weights in case it gets too windy. I got a cheap set on Amazon since I wasn’t sure how many fairs I’d be doing. They’re a good start up set yet two of them are already ripping and it’s only been two months. If you get the same ones I have I suggest storing them in a shed or garage, away from the elements. Its also a good idea to have small bean bags (kind of like the ones you would use for corn hole) in case it gets windy, to weigh down your merchandise. You can make your own with some old fabric and rocks or marbles. I also bring bungee cords with me. I got a variety pack from, you guessed it, Amazon. It comes with a bunch of different sizes. The first few times I set up my booth I brought them all with me to see which ones I might need. Turns out the small ones came in handy when my 6 foot lattice display fell over and I needed to secure it to the tent ASAP.
Table & Tablecloths
Obviously tables are a must have. For my setup I have a 6 foot long table and a 4 foot table. We have a lot of family gatherings at my house so I didn’t need to buy new tables I just used what I had. As for tablecloths I know there are fancy banquet tablecloths that touch the floor and everything yet that wasn’t in my budget. I decided to go to Walmart and look at their bed sheet options. For my 6 foot table I got a plain white Queen sized flat sheet. This ended up being the perfect size. It touches the floor and gives a clean look. I also wanted some pattern in my setup so I chose a blue and grey twin sized flat sheet to put on top of the white. I really love the look with layering the sheets. It looks clean, professional and both sheets combined cost me under $20! I also bring along tablecloth clips or clamps to gather the ends of the fabric under the table to give it that clean look. While I was at Walmart I picked up a few of the gray fat quarter fabric squares. They are sold in the fabric/sewing aisle. I use these as little “placemats” under my displays. It adds a nice contrast between the patterned table cloth and my displays.
These, of course, are a must have. My husband and I built all of my displays (there will be a how to series for my displays coming soon). Depending on what you are selling your displays will vary. If you’re stuck on display ideas I suggest going onto Pinterest. There are endless ideas on there. That is where I got most of my display inspiration.
It can be a long day standing there so definitely get a chair to relax in when it gets slow. I wanted a director’s chair because its foldable and I love the look. I needed a 24″ high one so I could sit comfortably at my checkout stand. I was able to find the one I wanted on Amazon.
Its always a good idea to have bags for your customer’s purchases. I like to add a special touch by wrapping their items in tissue paper and washi tape or my logo sticker. Then I put it in a white paper bag with a business card. If they happen to mention its a gift I put two business cards inside. One for them, one for their friend. I like to bring a couple of larger reusable bags as well. I have a few larger items that won’t fit in my largest size paper bag. Using a reusable bag that goes well with your brand is a nice little touch that your customers will appreciate. And if you don’t have a lot of large items you won’t have to break the bank by buying a bunch of bags. I’ve gotten a dozen large tote bags from Oriental Trading and 4 or 5 jumbo bags from AC Moore that match my style perfectly. (the link only has Christmas bags right now. Check out your local AC Moore to see what styles they have).
Business Cards & Signage
This is kind of self explanatory. I put business cards on my checkout stand in a holder that I made. I also scatter some on my tables next to my work. This way if someone likes my stuff but doesn’t want to come up to me and say hi they can grab one. For signage it doesn’t matter if you have a huge personalized tent or a sign posted on the front of your checkout stand. Whichever you choose make sure your business is displayed legibly and professionally so customers know what you sell and who you are.
I didn’t know if I would need these or not but I can tell you now I definitely did. Put yourself in the customers position. I’m sure there are times when you have been in a store and were too nervous to ask the worker what the price of something is. The same goes for craft fairs. You will have some customers that are too nervous to ask. I made all of my price tags (with the help of my mom and bestie). I made a template and printed my logo, business name, slogan and website onto cardstock. I created one on Google Docs that you can download and edit if you’d like, just add text. (If you add an image make sure to anchor it to the page and wrap through the text. That way the table doesn’t distort on you while editing). After they were printed we hole punched them and added twine to tie onto my products. I write the price on the blank side of the tag right before I attach it to the item. You can always use business cards in lieu of printing your own or print it on stickers instead so you don’t have to hole punch.
Food & Drinks
Most fairs last between 5-8 hours. When you add on the set up and break down time you’re looking at an 8-11 hour day. Make sure to bring water and whatever else you might want to drink. As well as plenty of snacks, maybe even a full blown lunch. If you’re running your booth alone I know it can be difficult to take breaks. Yet it’s so important to stay hydrated and fueled so make sure to take that down time throughout the day. Remember if you pass out from low blood sugar you won’t have anyone to take care of your booth! So take care of yourself.
Uh Oh Kit
What is an uh oh kit you might ask. Imagine you’re setting up for the day everything is going well then all of a sudden… Uh oh! Something fell, something broke, something something. Your uh oh kit is going to help you fix whatever the problem is. Some things I keep in mine are twine, scissors, packing tape, small screwdriver, sanding block, sharpie pen, extra pegs for my displays and glue. This will of course vary depending on your needs. While creating your kit think of what you use to set up and what you might need extra of if something happens. Basically prepare for the worst but hope for the best.
Now that we’ve discussed the necessities let’s move on to items that may or may not be helpful depending on your business needs.
Depending on the fair you might not have electricity available to you. So if your setup has anything that needs electricity try to opt for battery operated. One necessity is a portable charger. I charge my phone before hand yet if you’re using Square or another payment app it can lower your battery significantly. Plus its better to be safe than sorry. I also bring a wireless bluetooth speaker to play some music. It’s not a necessity yet it can be a long day to sit in silence so I strongly recommend. Lastly, since I mainly do outside fairs I have a clip on battery operated fan. This is great for really hot days or days with no breeze. If you’re doing any night time fairs you might look into getting battery operated lights to hang around your booth. I’m sure there are street lamps or something yet having good lighting inside your tent is a must.
For my fair set up this was extremely helpful to have. I have a pop up tent, 4 20lb tent weights, 3 totes, 2 tables, chair, checkout stand, a 6 foot bifold lattice display, and a handful of small items. If I were to carry all of this by myself to my booth area it would take a while. So I invested in a push cart that converts to a hand truck. It was the best decision I ever made! If you have a lot of items for your setup I highly suggest getting one.
If you sell jewelry or clothing it may be a good idea to have a mirror handy. Most customers prefer to see how they look in something before they buy it. Keep in mind the items they will be trying on and make sure your mirror is big enough and accessible.
If you’re a big social media user you might want to bring along a mini tripod. You can get some great photos and videos while at craft fairs. I always bring mine when I go to fairs. I have a flexible one which is great for fun angles. I originally bought it for my honeymoon and didn’t get much use out of it. So I happily bring it with me now whenever I have a fair. I use my phone for 90% of the videos and photos I capture so I was excited that the one I got comes with a phone holder. But then my 18 month got a hold of it and lot the phone mount haha. So I got a new universal phone mount from Amazon and it fits perfectly!
Freebies or a Giveaway
I love giving out freebies. Its a great way for customers to remember you and feel appreciated. My first fair was mother’s day weekend so I bought little felt flowers and glued pin backs to them. I made cute cards that said “Happy Mother’s Day from Nicole Joliada” with my website and printed them on card stock. Then I put them in a basket with a “Free for Mothers” sign. I also did a giveaway for anyone that signed up for my newsletter. This way if they didn’t buy anything at least they were interested to hear more about my business. The lucky winner received a piece of jewelry of their choice and I received some future customers.
There ya have it folks! My guide on how to prepare for your first craft fair. I hope this was helpful. Please remember that you don’t have to go out and buy everything that is on this list. The best way to prepare is to see what you already have to work with at home. Especially if you aren’t sure if you will like selling at craft fairs. There is no reason to spend all of your money on new stuff if you will only use it once.
Thank you so much for stopping by. If you enjoyed this please follow me on social media to be updated on when I post more blogs. Keep an eye out for my how to series coming up next month. I tell you all about my displays that hubby and I built together.
Don’t forget to create today!