In a little over a week, I’ll be “doing it again!” That’s right—another upcoming arts and crafts fair, this time at Dallas Center-Grimes High School’s 9th annual FOFA (Friends of Fine Arts) Arts & Crafts Festival. For me, this represents the fourth time I have sold at this growing-in-size venue, which maps out space within its brightly-lit high school gymnasium. This year there will be at least 49 vendors, not all of them crafters. You’ll see such “brand” names as Silpada Jewelry, Tupperware, Scentsy Wicklesss Candles and Longaberger, but you’ll also see booths for hair bows, felted wool needle books, fabric purses and bags, melted glass bottles, bling jeans and Dutch letters. In a word, nearly every booth has a unique product.

The organizers play both live and recorded holiday music throughout the event, and intersperse announcements about vendor-provided giveaways to elevate the shopping excitement. They do charge a low admission fee, but that buys customers a ticket they can use in a random drawing for a vendor gift. Breakfast, lunch and snack items are sold throughout the day, with lunch orders being filled and delivered directly to the sellers so they don’t have to leave their booth and miss a sale. Sellers are provided with a flyer they can distribute locally, and with links to a craigslist listing and Facebook FOFA event.

As I complete some last-minute items for this arts and craft fair, it occurs to me that not all fairs are created equal. Some fair organizers invest very little time in planning their event, do almost no advertising, and provide cramped booths at high prices. The fair in which I am participating on Saturday, November 12th is not one of those. I am looking forward to it, and to meeting some of the other vendors that I haven’t seen since last year at this time. It warms my heart when a potential buyer approaches, smiling, and recalls she “saw” me last year. I hope she’ll be excited about the headwarmers, scarflettes and felted wool items I will have on display. Below, for example, is a scarflette I’ll be selling.

A successful arts and crafts fair or craft show does not not need to be large to be successful, but there definitely are some elements you’ll want to consider before you book it on your selling calendar:

  • Does the event get good traffic?
  • Do the organizers advertise for you?
  • How big is your booth in relationship to its cost? Is it enough space for your wares?
  • Is electricity available, and is there a cost? (Do you need electricity?)
  • How well lit is the space?
  • Are there competing events going on at the venue that might redirect buyers away from vendors?
  • How many vendors will be there? What is the range of products or services being sold?
  • How many other vendors are selling the same type of product you are selling? (How can you make yourself stand out?)
  • Does the venue feel friendly?
  • Is the venue easy to find?
  • How much do you want to earn in order to feel successful at this venue? Do you think you can achieve that goal at this venue?

© 2011 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

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5 thoughts on “Upcoming arts & crafts fair”

  1. Fabric Fascination

    Sounds like good advice Judy. I have only tried craft fairs a couple of times and was not comfortable or successful in selling in that setting. I hope you enjoy yours. It sounds like a good one.

  2. Splendid Little Stars

    great questions, Judy!
    I’m curious that you did well at a venue that includes brands. Mixed vendor situations have not worked well for me. Perhaps the admission charge helps.

  3. Awesome question list for craft fairs! I’m glad that this has been a good fair for you in the past and hope that it is again this year. I look forward to building a local reputation at fairs in this area so people do look forward to seeing me year after year.

  4. Great list of questions! I’m always wondering about the advertising but I saw other things I need to be alert to too. Thanks for the info and good luck at your show!

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