If you are just starting a craft business, you may be considering doing craft fairs but you could be wondering how to find show to attend. When I started doing craft shows I made a bad decision that affected my entire first year (see my story at the end of the article).
However, I did get to talk to a lot of experienced crafters who gave me a lot of ideas about finding more shows than I could possibly attend.
Who Is Sponsoring Craft Shows?
Some craft show require that you apply months in advance. One crafter told me that he’d only look to sign up for shows that were occurring the next month. You have to decide whether you prefer to book your schedule months in advance or whether you can be spontaneous.
- Start by typing “craft fairs in (your state)” into a search engine and check out the results. You’ll probably come up with results from previous years, but you can use this information as well. Look for contact names and numbers and call or email the contact to ask if they are planning on hold another craft show this year. Do this frequently as promoters are always listing new shows.
- Each time you do a craft fair, ask the vendors around you (as long as they won’t feel you are their direct competition) if they can recommend shows they’ve done in the past that they thought were successful.
- You can also search online for “craft fairs in (specific towns in your area).”
- You’ll find people whose business it is to run craft shows for profit. As you start looking for craft show, you’ll see the names of these businesses show up frequently.
- Search Craigslist for craft fairs. These are usually shows that are trying to fill up spots at the last minute or that are looking for new vendors.
- If you notice roadside signs advertising a craft fair at a local school, give a call in search of a contact person who can tell you if there are still spots available. So many schools hold craft fairs, you could look for them online by the name of the schools in your area.
- Nursing homes and assisted living locations will also hold craft fairs. If you don’t see any mentioned on craft fair lists, try typing “nursing home craft fairs” into your search engine.
- Look to see if your state has a webpage advertising local events, including craft shows.
- Check local newspaper’s websites for upcoming events.
- Call town and city halls to find out if they allow vendors at parades or other town events.
- Churches frequently host craft shows.
- Look for local flea markets.
- Consider farmer’s markets as they usually have booths selling more than food.
Once you do a show, you’ll likely be among the first to know about the following year’s date. Keep notes about the shows and the locations where you do shows. Most shows are at the same time each year, such as the third Saturday in October.
Where Are the Best Craft Fairs?
Unfortunately, the best way to answer this is through personal experience. When I questioned crafters about where they found good craft shows, some people told me to avoid church craft shows while other people raved about them. One person said nursing home craft shows were great while another said they were a disappointment.
If you do a show and you aren’t making money, ask around to the other vendors if they did the show in previous years and if the show was busier in the past. Weather can play a factor as well as a nearby competing craft show or another type of event.
Make Your Own Craft Fair
No, you don’t have to organize dozen of crafters, just find a place for yourself. One woman mentioned that she set up a table in the front yard of a friend who happened to live next door to an apple picking farm. Someone else mentioned being able to have a table at the local ice rink, giving parents an opportunity to shop while their kids were at practice.
As long as your items complement and don’t compete with the location and their merchandise, it may be worth asking someone if you could set up a table.
What Not to Do
For my first year of doing craft fairs, I met a woman who ran small craft and vendor fairs as her business and I signed up for numerous shows that she was organizing throughout the year. I liked the idea of working with one promoter because it seemed easier as a newbie to deal with one person’s rules and expectations instead of making unintentional mistakes by confusing the rules of different shows.
Unfortunately, the woman didn’t promote her shows effectively. Often, there would be more crafters than customers throughout the day. I was stuck as I’d paid up front to hold my spot in different shows. I did get money back from a few shows when she was able to fill my space with another knitter. However, by the time I got my money back, it was too late to try for other shows.
Lesson: don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Try a couple of shows with a promoter before committing to working with them frequently throughout the year. Talk to other crafters at the shows to hear what they think of the promoter’s organizational and marketing skills.
Don’t get caught up in, “You can’t miss these shows/show dates” unless you have a successful track record with a particular promoter’s shows.
In the beginning of your craft fair experience, go with a variety of locations: a couple of school fairs, a few church and temple fairs, a promoter’s show, an outdoor fair and discover where you get the best responses for the merchandise you sell.