Craft Show Prep Work
A major portion of my income for the last several years has come from working craft shows. I make t-shirts, caps, aprons, tea towels, tumblers, and occasionally other cool things to sell. My sister-in-law (she sells BEAUTIFUL doorhangers) and I partnered together to do our first craft show around 6 years ago, and we’ve never looked back.
How I prep for a show
Decide what products to bring
I always bring t-shirts, but depending on what type of event I am going to, I will sometimes bring caps, and in the fall I always bring plenty of aprons and tea towels because they make great gift items. Since people aren’t as “gift-minded” in the spring, I tend to bring more items that they’re likely to buy for themselves.
Decide how many of each item
I try to bring a MINIMUM of 5 different shirt designs in sizes small through 3XL, with multiples in each size. Some vendors don’t cater to sizes larger than an XL, and they are missing out on some amazing customers.
Caps, tea towels, and aprons, I try to have between 10-20+ of each, but higher priced items like tumblers, I bring 5-10 of.
I always want to make sure that I get everything in with plenty of time to make items before a show, so I order at least two weeks before a show so that I have at least a week to get products made before the show.
If you order at least two weeks before, this should give you a week to a week and a half to get items made (some crafters prepare items all year round and they are my heroes!). I start printing transfers and doing any prep work that I can the moment that I decide what I will be bringing and I submit my blank order. This makes it easier to start making products the moment that my awesome UPS man brings them to my door.
I cannot stress enough how important it is to PRICE YOUR PRODUCTS. Even with them priced, you’ll still spend a good bit of time telling shoppers how much something is.
You can order tags, but I actually make my own using cardstock and a laser printer. After printing, I cut them using this paper cutter and even perforate the price area so that it can be easily torn off. This is great for when items are being given as a gift because then the recipient knows where it came from.
After making products, I tag them with this tagging gun. For items like my tea towels I use these hooks to make them easy to hang and display.
Sometimes an item can’t be tagged with a tagging gun. I found a great solution for that as well! I use this printer to make stickers for those items!
Pack and organize
After everything is made and tagged, it’s packed inside a tote, and then put in my trailer with our tent, chairs, and all displays. When our journey first began, we would pack everything in the back and the back seats of two pickup trucks. I am so grateful that a friend was selling this trailer, and while we are beginning to outgrow it, it has made our lives so much easier.
When we book a show and get confirmation that we were accepted, I try to always create a Facebook event for that date and start sharing it. A week in advance, I start making additional posts on other social media platforms showing a few items that will be at the show.
Bring order forms, business cards, etc.
I order my business cards from VistaPrint and have always had a good experience. It’s easy to go in and edit if necessary and reorder as well.
You can use Microsoft Word or Google to make order forms, which is what I do. If you can afford it, order carbon copy order forms for a more professional appearance. I haven’t done this yet, but I plan to start this fall as soon as I find a vendor that can affordably print some that I design myself.
After the show
Take inventory of product and stock booths
If you have another show coming up, or if you have fairly new designs that you stock in a local store, you may want to replace sizes of short or other items that have sold out. I try to make sure that when I restock at The Warehouse that I have at least one shirt in each size for each design.
Order materials for day of show orders
Any items that sold out on the day of the show and you took orders for, you want to order supplies and materials for as quickly as possible. Pro tip- I try to build shipping into my pricing structure, this way I can offer free shipping for sold out products to my customers so they don’t feel like they’re missing out on show specials. It sometimes cuts into my profits, but it makes my customers happy.
Make and ship day of show orders
I cannot stress enough how important it is to make and ship these orders as quickly as possible. These customers will follow you on social media, and if you impress them, they will definitely tell their friends. And, if you’re not quick to ship, they’ll tell that too.
Start looking for other shows
This is another case where social media is your friend. The events section on Facebook is GREAT for finding something local, that is typically not super expensive to sign up for. One great trick that my sister-in-law and I have learned is to sign up for shows as early as possible to not only save money, but also to make sure that we get accepted to really big shows that we want to do.
I hope this has helped! Please let me know if you have any questions, I would be happy to help you get started with earning extra money at craft shows.