Every year around Christmas there is a craft fair at my children’s school. The closest I get to crafty is a well designed spreadsheet. My mother, on the other hand happens to be very good at making things. She always bakes or makes presents for her friends and family – everyone she knows get something. No matter how hard I tried I could never get her to “sell” any of it. After years of pushing I was able to get her to give it a try. Between her talent and my love of all things business and strategy we were able to make $325 in one day selling $8 scarves. Here are 10 tips you can use to help you sell more at your next (or first) craft fair.
Craft Fair Tip #1: Self Promotion
My mother does not use social media. I think it is very useful in life and business and have several different accounts. For this event I put a post on Facebook letting people know that we would be at this fair selling scarves and a few blankets.
Figure out who your audience is and find group pages to post on. Let them know when you will be there and why they should shop by. Acknowledge any comment you get with a like or a reply.
To be more effective I added a few pictures up showing off some of the items we were selling. The post was shareable and added to mine and a few relevant group pages for the school and the town. Almost all of the people who said they would come say hi or buy something did follow through.
Craft Fair Tip #2: Think of a Name
There are lots of strategies for naming a business. One is to have a name that makes it easy for a customer to know what you do. Another is to use a made up word so you can grab the .com website. Some people just use their own name for their business. All of these strategies have their place but since we were just starting a business that day selling fleece at a church fair we decided to go with “Fleece Be With You”. People thought it was cute and it defined what we sold. Bonus points if the name sticks in people’s heads.
Craft Fair Tip #3: Offer Choices
People like choices but this is a tricky area. If you only sell one thing people might know they do not need it and walk away. However if you sell too many things your customers may feel overwhelmed and keep moving as well. They may need to think all of the choices over but they might not come back either. Our brains like things in threes.
…to have one choice is no choice; to have two choices is a dilemma; and to have three choices offers new possibilities. -Virginia Satir
Good, better, best is a common pricing strategy. Small, medium, large is another one we are all familiar with. We decided to sell 3 different items at 3 different price points.
Craft Fair Tip #4: Improve your Margins
Margins are the difference between a seller’s cost for their products and how much they sell them for. This business concept can be difficult for people who are used to giving things away. One thing I talked to my Mom about is how her time also has a value. With out her putting her time and skill into making the items they are nothing but fabric.
Get paid for your time and skill – they are the most valuable parts of your craft.
Charge a higher price for the items that cost the most and took the longest to make. Use your lowest price point on the items that are the easiest and least expensive to make. Also, try to get the best deals on your materials if you can. Coupons, buying in bulk and hitting up sales can all increase your margins.
Craft Fair Tip #5: Know Your Audience
Different events attract different customers. If you are getting involved with an event ask the organizer or other participants for as much information as you can get.
Who comes to this fair? When is it the busiest? What items sell the best? These are all easy questions an organizer will know if they have been in that position before.
At this event I knew it would be a lot of parents and sports fans since one of the attractions was a former New England Patriot signing autographs. Which brings me to tip #6.
Craft Fair Tip #6: Staging
There is only so much room on a table so in order to increase sales you should showcase your products in a way that appeal to the people in the room. Since we had 3 types of items (scarves, car seat blankets and a large blanket) we placed them in groups together. You don’t want to make it difficult for your customer to find what they are looking for.
It doesn’t matter what you like best – it is what your customer will like best.
Also we placed sports in the front with local and non-local teams visible from far away. In my area you can buy Patriots and Red Sox items everywhere but you don’t see much else. The most appealing child prints were also front and center. Most of our customers were buying gifts for other people. The Jets, Steelers, Yankees and kids prints sold well. Near the end of the event my Mom’s favorite off-white scarf with cardinals on it got a chance to move up front. Sometimes even tough managers have to give in. We sold it too!
Craft Fair Tip #7: Clear and Fair Pricing
I don’t mind haggling but most people would rather go to the dentist than ask for a deal. Make sure your prices are clear and easy to read. If you can price in 5’s or 10’s do that or have a lot of change ready. We posted a sign in a big 8 x 10 frame that you could see if you were walking by. It helps to know a fair price for your items. A 15-20% profit margin is good by most standards.
If you think you are going to get 50% margins because you think what you do is that valuable there is a chance others won’t agree.
Don’t overprice – not at an event like a craft fair. You may want to use other channels like specialty or online stores. That way people are searching for your items and are more likely to know their value. Fair pricing with the ability to mark down if you need to is a sure way to make sure your goods go home with other people (and not you).
Craft Fair Tip #8: Look Alive
A few vendors were sitting around looking their phones during the event. There is no better way to tell people to leave you alone. Putting on some noise cancelling head phones is equally effective. You are at this event to sell so smile and make eye contact when people come by.
At one point my Auntie’s were showing my Mom an obituary from some guy she didn’t remember. It didn’t give off the right vibe of abundance and prosperity we needed so I shut it down.
Also, yes we are stereotypically Italian sometimes. This means travelling to an event with no fewer than 2 Aunties, 1 or more cousins and reading about funerals to pass the time.
Craft Fair Tip #9: Don’t Be Too Thirsty
Ever go into a furniture store where the commission based sales team is standing around like a pack of wolves ready to attack the next customer? It’s intimidating and people will take the long way to get around you.
It is hard to hold back but remember while people love to shop no one likes to be “sold” anything.
Look, I get it. You believe in your product and maybe you even went into debt to start selling it. Make your space more appealing and try not to attack every one who looks your way.
Craft Fair Tip #10: Have Fun With It
A few people I met were selling things that they made for their family. One woman had little dog bow ties that she had seen her family spending money on and she figured she could make them for them instead. If you do something you would do for fun anyway it is a lot easier to handle the ups and downs of business. It also could end up a success and turn into an income stream.
Have you ever sold anything on your own? What are your favorite business tips for someone who is considering a side hustle? Let me know in the comments!