How have you done at craft fairs?

United States
August 7, 2007 9:46am CST
For those of you who have sold at craft fairs, how do you typically do? Do you break even, make a huge profit, or lose money? A bunch of women from Etsy and I just had a double booth at one of the local markets here, where they sell a lot of antiques, vintage stuff, and handmade stuff, and I think we did okay. Personally, I made enough money to pay for my share of the booth and to buy my lunch, so I pretty much broke even. I would really have liked to have sold more, though, so I didn't feel like I wasted my time by sitting outside for about 10 hours.
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13 responses
• United States
7 Aug 07
I am a member of an aquarium club that had a show in combination with a pond and koi club. It was mostly a vendors show but I got permission to sell some of my crafts there. Our aquarium club pair over $300 for the tables that we had and I wound up selling over $100 worth of my native American crafts (with a nautical theme). I paid half of what I made to the club because I would not have been able to rent table space there. So I actually lost money because the cost of the beads etc was more than what I finally got out of the show. But it did help the club.
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• United States
7 Aug 07
Those sound like interesting crafts! I know there are a lot of Native American crafters in this area, but I don't think many (if any) do a nautical theme!
• United States
10 Aug 07
By nautical theme I mean that each item had to have something connected to the waters. I put together several dream catchers using sharks jaws and then there were the ear rings with sharks teeth and sea shells, necklaces and chokers with sea shells and sharks teeth etc. I only took a few non nautical items with me to try and sell. I look round and see if there is anything that i can use in my crafts and there are many things that i do use. The most important things is that I try to not make any two or more items the same, that is that everything is unique. If I can get my computer running right and a decent printer/copier/scanner I will try to sell on EBay.
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• United States
10 Aug 07
If I might, I would actually recommend Etsy over eBay, or both at the same time. Etsy seems to be a much more profitable site for crafters. When you do get some of your work online, I'd love to see it! :)
• United States
8 Aug 07
Now a days, you will not make a huge profit as we used to long ago. The fees are too high, and a lot of places charge for insurance and licenases. When you add that up, with your food, gas, and overnight expenses, you must have a product that will go over good, and have sold a lot of it. Some products sell better than others. I have done so many fine art shows and craft shows. I always broke even. More and more people are lookers, not buyers now. Food sells the best I have noticed. Good luck to you.
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• United States
8 Aug 07
All of the expenses is a lot of the reason that I prefer to just do local shows. I've discovered that I can get a good chunk of my stuff, along with most of what I need to vend, into a rolling suitcase and backpack, so I can take the bus to wherever I'm selling. So that's pretty much my requirement now--must be accessible by bus. :)
@makingpots (11922)
• United States
17 Aug 07
I have to agree with margie here. I am an art lover and visit every show I can find. But I am usually just there looking and getting ideas. I get cards from artists that I like and think about their art around my house for later but I don't often buy while at those shows. You could consider these shows as a way let people see your work, and a way to get a mailing list of interested customers started.
@wiccania (3360)
• United States
7 Aug 07
I haven't done any craft fairs yet, but it's something I've been thinking about. First I would need enough stuff made to sell. I actually had a lot of handmade "cookie cutter" ornaments last year that I'd planned on listing on ebay or etsy or something like that. Unfortunately, my son found them and they became toys. Gradually they all ended up being carried to school and not coming home, lol. I might try again this year, though.
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• United States
7 Aug 07
That was another nice thing about doing this as a group effort. I ended up bringing maybe 40 items, which was a much more manageable number than trying to fill a whole booth on my own. (Of course, I have so much stock because I sell online, and haven't figured out when to stop. :) )
@wiccania (3360)
• United States
8 Aug 07
I was checking out your Etsy page earlier today. Once I have some money to spare I might buy a few things. I love those belts and the camo bags (I have SUCH a thing for camo).
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@carlaabt (3505)
• United States
8 Aug 07
My sister did some fall festivals last year, and made a little bit of money. I think her booth rental at one place was like $40 and it was free at the other one. She made around $300 with both weekends combined. This year she plans on doing some more festivals. Last year was her first year to do it, so I think she did really well. She sells handmade jewelry, soaps, and candles. She had a website (she is currently in the process of redoing it) that she had on cards that passed out, too, and that brought in some more orders as well.
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• United States
8 Aug 07
I've noticed that the people who do soap and candles tend to do really well at craft shows. Also, diversity seems to be a good thing--if you have multiple types of items, people will get sucked in by one, but then end up buying the other, or both. :) And yes, based on the amount she made, I'd say she did great! :)
@wachit14 (3600)
• United States
8 Aug 07
I used to sell designer style bags. I used the vendor fairs as a way to generate new customers and do more home parties. If I broke even on the booth while I was there and I got a few parties out of it, then it was definitely worth it for me. Most of the vendors I met were basically doing the same thing; getting new customers through the exposure they got at the fairs and hopefully making enough money to cover the cost of the booth or table.
• United States
8 Aug 07
Yeah, that's basically what I kept reminding myself when I wasn't making any sales. At least a lot of people were picking up my card! :)
@amyann16 (414)
• United States
7 Aug 07
For about 2 years, I actively attended craft shows to sell handmade items. It really depended on the show itself. There were some shows where I didn't sell a darn thing and would be out the $20 or $30 that the booth cost. There were other shows where I recall selling several hundred dollars of items, which came in handy for Christmas spending money! Over all, I think I came ahead, but definitely did not become rich doing so. When you add up all the time involved being at the show, set up, tear down, etc. I decided in the end it wasn't worth it.
1 person likes this
• United States
7 Aug 07
In the past, most of the craft shows we were doing in Illinois only allowed us to break even, and some didn't even quite make it to that level. This past Christmas and Valentine's Day I did really well, which probably also contributes a bit to my disappointment about just breaking even at this market.
@twilight021 (2060)
• United States
7 Aug 07
Because I mostly sell knitted items, I find that the best time for me to do craft fairs is around the holidays when the weather is cooler. People just can't stomach knitting goods in 90 degree weather...not that I blame them :-) At holiday fairs I usualy do ok, enough to make a small profit, and to make me feel like it was worthwhile. I am still trying to find my niche market though. Last year I had some fairs where I did great, and others well, not so great. I think this has a lot to do with the town and type of fair, and the clientel that that these evets attract. So I keep trying to find places where I fit in. I think that's a big part of having a good fair day. It sounds like you did ok, and at least you ha some company. That always helps :-)
• United States
7 Aug 07
I'm thinking that I will have a slightly larger window of opportunity to sell hats in Seattle, because it should be getting cooler earlier in the fall, and stay cooler into later in the spring here. Southern Illinois was always tricky about that, because we could have 80 degree days in October or March, easily!
@cikedo (3487)
• United States
15 Aug 07
I prefer selling my art online than at local markets. The internet is an easier way to reach my target audience.
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@KrauseHome (35526)
• United States
11 Aug 07
I used to sell at Midway Swap Meet back in the day when they were open, and have done Craft Shows, etc. from time to time, and even had some of my stuff on consignment in places as well. I had my Good times and my Bad times, and so it was a Toss up. I find until you get known sometimes it is hard to get ahead but you sometimes need to decide for youseld cost wise, etc. is it worth it, or are you doing this just to get away? I guess more or less, it is like everything else in life.
@cutepenguin (6457)
• Canada
11 Aug 07
I've made a little bit. usually I about break even. To be completely honest, I've only really entered into the craft fair world because my younger sister isn't employed. I pay for the booth, and she sits at the booth all day. So we share a table, and she does the actual selling because I can't - I have to work almost every day. So she makes some money from it, and it's fun, too. We usually go to small neighbourhood craft fairs, because the really big ones cost a lot and sometimes they come around and check if you are registered as a business, etc., which we are not. My sister is really patient and good at talking to people, so she does pretty well and at least it pays for the cost of the supplies for me and she gets some money out of it.
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@labanyue (29)
8 Aug 07
I have a good idea to deal with the craft fairs. And I am pleasure to share with you.You can open a internet shop on some famous trade websites,such as ebay,alibaba,and so on. All you have to do is prepare some beautiful pictures of your products.Make sure, the pictures can attract others' eyes. After that ,publish them on your shop.I think it is a perfect way to do your fairs, because you can still run your booth while the internet shop opens.
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@kgwat70 (13396)
• United States
8 Aug 07
I have only participated in one craft fair so far and did not sell anything at all. I was inexperienced at the time and was not sure if anyone would be interested. I may try again at some point but need to do some more artwork. It was a neat experience.
• United States
26 Jul 10
I am going to do my first one this December. I just got back into doing crafts and am hoping that people will want to buy my items. I make salt dough ornaments, bath salts, soap and felt ornamnets. I am also launching a store online soon. I am just trying to think about prices. I am looking forward to making things and selling.