Fall is definitely here, as evidenced by leaves falling from my trees, as well as by local newspaper announcements about autumn craft shows. It doesn’t take long before my calendar is filled with events I want to visit as a shopper, in addition to a few where I hope I can sell my own handmade items. This coming Saturday, for example, I am selling handmade goods at an arts and crafts festival being held at a local church. I’ll be showcasing mini clipboards for Post-it Notes® (see Picking up old threads), gratitude books, brag books, holiday shopping pads, felted wool needle books, sewing notebooks, and inspiration books.

The weeks leading up to a craft-selling event are packed with preparation. Besides ensuring that enough product is on hand, you have to price goods and generate a plan to display your items effectively.

Paper-crafted goods present a special display challenge. While their small size means they don’t take up a lot of space, they also are not large enough individually to attract attention from a distance. They can become dirty if handled by sticky fingers, or if they are dropped on the floor. If you enclose paper goods in cellophane bags to keep them clean, they often become victims of fluorescent light glare. You don’t want to create a barrier between your product and your buyer, so I take my chances and don’t put things in cellophane bags.

You have a limited amount of space in which to display your wares, so every inch counts. My space this weekend measures 8 feet by 8 feet, just enough for one venue-provided utility table, but not enough space if you have a lot of merchandise. I do. So, I generally bring my own lightweight folding tables, narrow 20-inch by 48-inch tables that allow me to arrange my space in a more flexible way. I like to move the tables so they form a shallow “U,” and then sit behind the tables so that I can help folks who need assistance, but stay out of the way when people just want to browse.

Items laid flat on a table do not usually catch people’s eyes, so I try to find attractive, accessible and vertical ways to display items that aren’t going to cost me more than what I can sell. I agonized for a while about how to display my mini-clipboards at this show. I have a metal “tree” that accommodates hung items, but when I hung my clipboards on it, I discovered they took time to hang, and took time to remove. In other words, my tree made my items somewhat inaccessible. I evaluated whether I needed to purchase a fixture for them, and in the end discovered a rotating display rack at Display Diva on Etsy that I can use in other ways at future craft shows. I was very pleased with how quickly the rack below shipped, and with how well it displays my mini-clipboards.

Finally, I thought about how to display my shopping list pads vertically. They have magnets on the back, so the obvious solution could have been a metal board on a stand. I was unhappy about the amount of space this would take, however, so I began thinking about inexpensive alternatives. On a trip down into the basement, I spotted an empty holiday cookie tin that was the perfect size for what I had in mind. I stood it on its side on a kitchen carousel, and hung my items. Perfect!

I still have quite a number of tasks ahead of me before my selling event, but having display decisions behind me is a big relief. What are some of your larger concerns when you sell at a craft show?

© 2011 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

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7 thoughts on “Preparing for a craft show”

  1. I hope that your shows this fall go well! I actually did the show that you posted the flyer for last year. It was my worst show yet. The attendance was low, there were way too many jewelry sellers, and people were not interested in buying. I hope that it goes better for you than it did for me.

  2. Fabric Fascination

    I’ll bet your display is very attractive. Perfect solution for your notepads, and the spinning display looks like it will serve well too.

  3. Splendid Little Stars

    Space is definitely the biggest concern with me since I sell clothes. My items take up a lot of room. I love it when the space is 10 x 10. I can also get messy hands, but at least I can wash the items.
    Clever display for your shopping pads!

  4. Sarah ~ Magnolia Surprise

    Excellent ideas — love the cookie tin for display! I haven’t done a craft show in a million years, but who knows, maybe next year!

  5. Memories for Life Scrapbooks

    You’ve got some creative display ideas…I love them!
    I always get nervous displaying my scrapbooks in case they would get dirty or dropped! I don’t cover mine either, but sticky little fingers make me cringe…LOL 🙂
    I was once next to a booth that sold cookies…and gave out free samples! People would still be eating their cookies while looking at my books…scary day!

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