Wednesday, January 29, 2014

What To Take To Your First Craft Show…

What to Take to Your First Craft Show
My first craft show was a learning experience.  Since I like to be prepared, I have made a list to make packing for your 1st craft show easier.  Here are some items to take with you…

Inventory – make sure you have plenty of inventory already tagged with prices.

Money for float – lots of low bills and coins (if needed, depending on the prices you set)

Extra price tags

Bags or gift wrap options

Business cards and holder

Signs and display props


Safety pins

Zip ties




String / twine / cord


Super glue – in case something breaks, like it did for me!

Phone and phone charger (for pictures, calculator, credit card reader)

Calculator (or use your mobile phone app)

Credit card reader

Carbon receipt book

Custom order form or some paper to write custom order requests on

Band Aids (because I’m a klutz)

Headache/migraine medication

Snacks and bottled water

Business License or Permit – depending on where you are selling

Extra clothes – keep some extra clothes in your car in case you get spilled on or if the show is outside and weather changes.

Be sure to check out my other advice for your first craft show!  Happy selling!

As Always,

Friday, January 24, 2014

First Craft Show Do’s and Don’ts

First Craft Show Do's and Don'ts
Here are some lessons I learned from my first craft show.  I had many fears going into my first craft show… Would people buy my items?  What if a part of my display gets broken? (This actually happened to me, be sure to bring super glue!) How do I talk to customers?  How do I take payments?  Here are a few things I learned along the way…


Plan and Do a Little Research.  Get ideas for craft show set ups.  Pinterest has lots of images to get ideas from.  Catshy Crafts blog has great ideas and links to help with your first craft show.  Since I hadn’t been to a craft show in years, this really helped me.

Prepare using items from around your house.  I didn’t want to spend a whole bunch of money on my table set up so I used items I already had around my home.  I gathered photo frames and baskets from around my house to use for the day.  One item I did purchase was a clearance priced white sheet set, which I would use as my table cloth.  My table was 6 feet so the bed sheet worked well to cover the table.  I safety pinned the pillow cases to the side ends of the table so the table sides were fully covered.  I made sure to hide all the safety pins so the table would look clean and neat and not look pinned together.  With the side edges of my table covered, I could pile my containers under the table and no one would be able to see the clutter of my packing containers.

Taking Payments.  I looked into taking credit card payments and came across ‘The Square’.  I highly recommend getting this tiny credit card reader (swiper) that plugs in to your phone or ipad.  It takes a little while to get your reader in the mail, so make sure you give yourself enough time to receive it, set it up and customize your items on the application.  It costs 2.75% per swipe, but no set up or monthly fees.  Giving your customers the option of paying by credit card gives your shop/table a more professional look.  Plus, many people don’t carry cash with them even to craft shows, believe it or not.  So giving them the option of credit card payments can increase your chance for sales.

As for cash, keep a variety of bills and coins on hand to make your change.  To keep it easy, make sure to round all your items prices to the nearest dollar.  Example – don’t use $1.25 use either $1 or $2, unless you want to make change using coins, which is a huge hassle.

 ‘Square’ does offer the option of having a receipt emailed or sent as a text message for a credit card and cash sale transaction.  But in case someone insisted in having a paper receipt, I purchased a carbon receipt book from the dollar store.

Decide if you are willing to take cheques from people.  I personally decided against taking personal cheques as a payment unless I know the person.  (But this might just be me being over cautious, since I used to work in a bank).

Make Product Inventory.  Make sure to have lots of inventory made and displayed.  I found the tables that were successful had lots of products organized on their tables.  Make it look plentiful and like a mini store.

Lavender Sachets

Make sure to have different price points.  This is one thing I need to improve on.  I received some advice from another vendor at the craft show and they told me that I should try to have a variety of different price points.  Sometimes only low priced items will sell (eg. $1), depending on the buying crowd at the show and this might be how you cover your table fee.

Display Your Business Cards.  Whether you make your own business cards or have them made, you should display them and have them available for potential customers to take home.  I purchased my business cards from  For a box of 250 business cards it cost me $26.74 (approx. $0.11/card) including shipping.  Vistaprint has frequent sales, so keep your eye out and you might be able to save a little money if you can wait to receive your business cards.  Another great source for business cards is, a little more pricey but lovely designs.

Manage Your Time.  Try to start preparing for your show early.  I started preparing for my show right after my application was accepted in October.  Start getting ideas and gathering display items early.

Don’t wait until the night before the show to start planning your table set up.  Allow yourself some time to play around with table set ups and different signage options, especially if this is your first show.  Take pictures of your practice set up with your phone so you can see at a glance how things were placed in your set up at home.  That way, you can replicate your practice display at the craft show easier.

Be sure to plan your driving route to the show and give yourself enough time to arrive early.

Be Organized.  I can’t stress this enough.  Make ‘To Do’ lists of all the things you need to do before the craft show and make another list of all the things you need to do/bring the day of the craft show.

Give Yourself Enough Set Up Time.  If your event allows it, try to set up the night before the show.  You never know what could happen the morning of the show (for me it was freezing rain and icy roads) and having your table already set up for the day makes things a little less stressful. Give yourself lots of time to pack your vehicle.  Since I used baskets to hold many of my items, luckily many of my baskets were able to be stacked inside each other to cut down on trips to the truck when I was hauling things in to the show.

Plenty of Signs and Price Tags.  Not many people want to ask vendors for a price on an item.  Make sure you have all your items clearly priced by placing price tags on the front of all your items.  Some people don’t want to pick up items and flip them over to find prices.  They will simply move on to the next table.  This is one of my fatal flaws.  I placed the prices on the back of my tags or back of the items.  Although I had a price list on display, many people did not read it.  But I still recommend having one, as it helps some people understand what the items are for sale.

Say ‘Hello’.  Simple isn’t it?  Not really, if you are shy like me.  But I put on my big girl panties and tried to say ‘Hi’ to everyone who stopped at my table.  I found from observing other tables and trying it out on my own, that if you try to initiate a conversation, most people will get scared away.  Say ‘Hi’, but wait for the customer to ask a question or further the conversation or they might get frightened and leave your table.  Some people want to look at your items and not be bothered, but saying ‘Hi’ lets them know you acknowledge their presence and you are open to answering questions.  Don’t forget to smile!

Things I’d like To Do Next Time:

Find Out About the Show.  Many things contributed to how my first show turned out.  Some things were out of my control, like the weather.  We had a freezing rain warning in effect the whole day, which drastically dropped the expected attendance.  After the show, the parking lot and roads were crazy slippery.  The ice in the parking lot made taking my set up to the truck at the end of the sale a very slow process.

This show was also scheduled the day after ‘Black Friday’.  So there was was a ton of competition from retail stores and internet shopping.

The people at the show were not my target market.  I found it to be an older crowd.  I also had lots of competition from non-handmade shops.  Lots of tables were filled up direct marketing companies like Tupperware, PartyLite and Scentsy.  Next time, I hope to find out more about the potential craft show and if it draws in my target market or not.

Incorporate Lighting.  I was not near any electrical plug-ins for this show so I didn’t have any extra lighting.  Lighting at the show was actually not bad, but I know some lighting will definitely help next time.  Next time, I would like to look into battery powered options for lamps and candles to draw a little more attention to my items.

Use Vertical Table Space.  Next time, I would like to try using more vertical space on my table to make my items more visible.  I had a small 6 foot table and I was placed next to large tables.  As a result, my display did not standout.  Small 6 foot tables, seemed to get lost if they were beside 8 foot tables or beside vendors with two 8 foot tables together.

For this show, the vendors were limited to using the assigned tables only to display their products and could not have items on other displays in front or beside their tables.  I will need to work on staggering heights of my display props and making my items more accessible for people to see and pick up.  My table was in a center isle on a corner, so I could not utilize any wall space for my set up.  So utilizing graduated heights in my display really would have helped.

Ask For Help.  I was stressed.  I was doing this craft show on my own.  Everything was new to me.  Next time, I will try to have my husband drop by or hopefully a friend because it would have made the show more enjoyable.  Although, I made friends with my neighbour and he and I would watch each other’s table when we took breaks.  I found the set up and take down of my display challenging as I was hauling everything in and out myself, an extra set of hands would have helped enormously!

Take Pictures.  For this show, I didn’t take any pictures of my table at the show.  I think I was scared of getting a person in the shot who didn’t want to be in a picture and they would get mad at me.  I know, weird fear.  If someone was upset at me, all I would need to do is delete the picture they were in.  Oh well, gotta love irrational fears!  Next time, I would like to take pictures of how my table looked at the craft show.  My table set up was basically the same as what I practiced at home but I did take down the ‘Simple is Pretty’ sign at the back, I found it to look cheap and it was in the way for me when talking with potential customers.

Enjoy It!  Now my first craft show is out of the way!  Looking back, there is lots I would change, but I’m glad I pushed myself out of my comfort zone.  Next time, I hope to be a little more comfortable and take some time to enjoy the day.  To see more pics from my first craft show, click here.

As Always,

Monday, January 20, 2014

My First Craft Show

My First Craft Show
At the end of November (2013) last year, I attended my first craft sale as a vendor.  In September of 2013, I was approached by someone on Etsy to join a craft show they were organizing.  I thought I would give selling at a craft sale a try.

I didn’t plan to have my Etsy shop open before the end of 2013, but I opened in September.  I decided to open my shop before everything was fully ready. I was still figuring out and learning things about my shop when I was invited to join the craft sale.  But I figured I would give the sale a try and I hoped to gain more knowledge and see how the public responded to my products.

I went back and forth about whether I should write this post or not.  The truth is the craft show was not a financial success for me so I was not sure if I was ready to share that or not.  I didn’t want my shop or my first craft show to be a failure.  But looking back on my first craft sale, I learned so much.  I felt I needed to share my mistakes as well as what worked well for me.

Here are some photos from a practice set up for my show, which I set up in my office/studio…

Craft Show Setup

Display Props for Craft Show

Wool Dryer Ball Craft Show Display

Business card holder

Wool Dryer Balls in basket for craft sale

Wedding Favor Lavender Sticks

Lavender Sachets

Lavender Sachets and Lavender Buds

Lavender Sachet Display for Craft Show

Coming up, I’ll share my advice for getting ready your first craft show and sale, as well as what I will do differently for the next craft show I attend.

As Always,

Friday, January 17, 2014

To Paint or Not to Paint?

Basket Before from

Basket After Rustoleum Semi-gloss white spray paint from
This wire basket is one of my thrift shop finds and one of my props for my first craft show.  The basket looks fresh and new, thanks to the new coat of white paint.  I used Rustoleum Semi-Gloss White spray paint to cover it.

Trunk open side shot from
I’m still torn on what I should do with this piece.  I was thinking of trying chalk paint on the chest.  But I’ll think I’ll leave it the way it is for now.  Ideas?

Trunk open from

Trunk from
As Always,

Monday, January 13, 2014

Make Your Own Serving Tray Tower

In my last post, I showed you some of the thrift store finds I bought.  With some of the thrift store items I wanted to make a serving tray tower to display my items for my first craft show.

Making Your Own Serving Tray Tower from Simple is Pretty from
Here is what I used:

Large Tray Before from

Brass Candle Sticks Before from

Turning Tray Before from
Here is my plan:

Tray idea before paint from
First, I needed to spray paint the trays and candle stick.  Since the trays were in rough shape and the candle sticks were brass, I didn’t have a problem painting them white.  I have always disliked brass finishes.  I also find it easier to paint items if I haven’t owned the item for years and I’m not emotionally attached to it.  Since these were thrift store finds, I had a clean conscience painting them.

Trays and candlesticks before painting from
I just used 2 coats of Rustoleum spray paint in semi-gloss white to paint the trays and candle sticks.  I painted the bottoms first and when everything was fully dry, I turned it over to paint the top.

Trays after painting from
It was a little tricky to find the center of the trays so the finished piece would not be lopsided.

Originally, I used my hot glue gun to glue the trays to the candle stick.  But of course on the way to setup for my first craft show, the top tray came off and I had to re-glue it with Gorilla Super Glue.   But everything is holding up well now.

Trays after painting 2 from

Making Your Own Serving Tray Tower from
Loves it!

As Always,

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Thrift Store Finds

Here are a few of the thrift store finds I bought a couple months ago.  I’ve finally made some time to complete some projects with them.  Most of the items I found I wanted to use in my first craft show.  More about my first craft show experience in an upcoming post.

Basket Before from
A wire and wicker basket, which I will use in the craft show.

Candle Sticks Before from
Brass candle sticks, can’t wait till they are painted!  I'm not a huge fan of brass.

Glass Server from
A two tiered glass tray.  I love the look of this one just as it is.

Tray from
A silver tray made in England, and I haven’t decided if I should paint it or leave it as it is.  I love its shape.

Large Tray Before from
This tray is quite beat up but I like the intricate pattern.

Turning Tray Before from
The large tray turns, but is very scratched up.  Works for me, I won't feel guilty about painting it.

Trunk open side shot from
The chest is quite large 13 1/2” x 13 1/2” x 24”.  My kids call it a treasure chest.  I still can’t decide if I should paint it or leave it the way it is.  I was lucky scoring this one, it was not even on a shelf to purchase when I spotted it.  An employee was pushing a cart with this "treasure" chest on it and it was heading to a spot on the store shelves when I snagged it.  SCORE!  More on what I did with my thrift store finds and my first craft show soon.

As Always,