Preparing for a Crafts Show

Next month, I’m selling some of my arts and crafty supplies at my local arts center and I’m so jazzed about it! These wonderful items will finally go to a home where they will be used and not sit on my shelves anymore. I don’t like to see anything go to waste and I don’t like having a bunch of stuff around me which makes me feel overwhelmed. But, in preparing for the show, I didn’t realize just how many items I had and how to prepare them for sale.

So, today I’m sharing how I’m prepping to make this process as seamless as possible and my procedure is very much like what hubby and I do for arts shows that we participate in. His ideas have taught me a lot!

Check that List.

First up, I created a checklist and listed:

  1. A full list itemizing all the items I’m selling, and
  2. Supplies I’ll need at the show (i.e., stapler, clipboard, paper clips, etc.)

On the list of supplies I have, I broke it down into two columns: (a) names of all items; and (b) prices I’m selling them for. I also decided to sell some items in a set like 20 colored pencils and 20 colored Primsacolor markers. So on the list I put down the quantities for the sets I have. This way, at the sale, once it does sell, I’ll cross it off my list.

What to Pack.

Other Essentials: (all these are important for any craft sale or tradeshow)

  1. Cash box. Handling change and checks.
  2. Thank you bags. To put items in for the customer.
  3. Table cloths. I’ll be using black cloths to make the items more visible and stand out.
  4. Card reader/iPad. In case we have credit card sales. I use PayPal Here as my app and we bought the chip reader about a year ago.
  5. Extension cables/surge protectors. I use these to keep the iPad and card reader charged.
  6. Extra price tags. In case I missed pricing something.
  7. Pens/tablet. I like to keep a tab on what sold for tax purposes later on. This sheet goes in our tax files.
  8. Packing tape. Useful for keeping sets together in case something comes loose.
  9. Business cards/holder. This is not mandatory but helpful as I talk to a lot of people at these shows and I get asked if I have a business card.
  10. Reading materials. I like to take a magazine for slow times where I’m sitting.
  11. Lunch. Unless you’re at a show or sale lasting no more than a couple of hours, I would bring a lunch, otherwise some snacks would work and a bottle of water.


Letting people know that you’re selling as soon as possible is really important and I actually started marketing this sale as soon as I found out about it and that I was going to be a vendor. The sooner you can get the information out, the sooner people can put the date in their calendar or planner. After that, I will post weekly or bi-weekly reminders on social to keep it in the forefront so no one forgets.

If the show has a flyer, share that on your social networks. Also, I posted some of the items and will  take pics of some of them to let potential customers know what to expect to see from my table. This is a powerful marketing method as it gives them a visual and might encourage them even more not to miss out on the sale and/or to share it with a friend.

Day of the Sale.

I like getting to the venue a couple of hours ahead of time for set up. You never know what can happen and leaving myself enough time to handle any surprises that might arise is key. We’ve had to go home because we forgot something essential but having that extra time kept us from panicking. And speaking of which, there are times that something unexpected occurs like the credit card software doesn’t want to talk to the card reader, or an extension cable decides to give up the ghost. Best thing to do is NOT PANIC. Hubby and I discuss beforehand a backup plan in case something like this happens.

If this is your first show, here’s some of my advice to make it successful:

  1. Try not to be nervous when talking to customers. I typically don’t jump at speaking to anyone that initially comes by my table/booth. I let them feel comfortable just looking and if I see that they’re hanging around a little longer, then I will let them know if they have any questions to feel free to ask. This way, they don’t feel I’m pitching or pressuring them to buy. When I first started out doing shows, I was very nervous and talked way too much. Remember the old saying, “less is more.” That goes for talking to customers.
  2. Don’t look upset. There will be busy and slow times at shows. This is just the nature of the beast. So, if you’re not selling as much as you like, try not to look disgusted or frustrated. Customers pick up on that and it might prevent them from coming to your table/booth.
  3. Don’t leave your table/booth for long periods of time. This is not just for the obvious reason (i.e., shoplifting), but what if a customer comes by and has a question but can’t find you. You might miss a sale plus it doesn’t look professional to leave your area unintended. If you are working alone, ask your nearby neighbor if they will watch your table/booth for you and let them know where you’re going and how long you’ll be gone. Even if they can’t answer specific questions about your items, they can at least let customers know you’ll be right back.
  4. Learn from the experience. Best practices is something hubby and I do after every event we’re in. We sit down and talk about what we did right and what we can do better. We try to take positives even if we didn’t do as well as we would have liked. But it doesn’t mean we failed. In fact, I don’t like that word. I only think of failure if I don’t try at all.
  5. Don’t do perfect. I’m an overachiever so this is something I have to work really hard at. I want everything to be just so and most times it never is. And, really it’s the end result that I should be looking at. Did I enjoy being in the show? Did I get to know the customers that came by or meet and talk to new people? Did I make a profit whether I reached my intended goal or not? Would I do this particular show again? If you answered “yes” to most of these questions, then you can say it was a success and anything that didn’t go as planned, you can make improvements later.

Shows can be a lot of work to prepare for and do, but they also can be very rewarding. I’ve met many great crafters and artists at the shows we’ve done and I always looked forward to seeing them again.

If you are a regular vendor at shows, how do you prepare? What lessons have you learned that helps you as you prepare for upcoming shows? I’d love to read your input so please comment below!