Craft Show Essentials
By now I think we have covered almost everything on the topic of craft shows. Today I'm going to share some of the essentials that you need to bring with you in order to feel prepared and be on top of your game.
Once you have all of your inventory and display items ready to go, you may be wondering what else you need in order to have a successful show. Here is a list of fifteen essentials that will help your day run smoother and have you prepared for a successful show.
Cash is a must for craft shows! You want to be prepared to take all kinds of payments and one of the number one things to have is cash. I like to bring $100 with me and I usually have mostly 1's and 5's. I price all my items to include sales tax and they always are a nice round number. That way I don't have to deal with coins and the price people see on the tag is the price they pay. You also want to make sure that whatever cash you have is secure in either a cash box or a vendor's apron. I made the switch to an apron with a zippered pocket this year and I'm so glad I did. This allows me to feel more secure because if I step away from my booth, the cash goes with me.
2. Credit Card Reader
This one is a MUST! If you don't have a credit card reader you need to get one right now! Most people pay with credit cards for everything and it's actually becoming quite rare to carry a lot of cash. Having a reader will help increase your sales because once people know they can pay with a card they are more inclined to purchase or grab a few more items. I honestly don't know how I made it my first year of doing markets without one. I noticed a significant increase in sales once I got my first credit card reader and now it's how I conduct almost 90% off all transactions at craft shows. There are a few different readers available, but I recommend using the Square reader. Now that most cards are chip cards it's a good idea to find a reader that accepts them so you are in compliance with the new technology and laws. Square has two options for accepting chip cards. A swipe reader with an extra slot for chip cards or their contact less reader which also allows you to accept mobile payments such as Apple Pay. I have the contact less reader and I love it! It does need to be charged and connects to your phone through Bluetooth. It makes taking cards a breeze and is small enough to fit into one of the pockets of my vendor's apron.
3. Phone Charger
Always try to make sure your phone and card readers are fully charged before the show starts. Make sure you bring a charger just in case you need it. Some shows won't have outlets readily available, but you never know and if you start to run low on battery at least you have the charger so you can plug in if you can.
This is kind of a personal preference. Most phones have a calculator built in and if you are using a card reader like square then you can total items up in the app. It does come in handy though if you have multiple customers waiting to pay. If you have a helper with you, they can be adding up a person's total for them with the calculator until you are ready to use the card reader. It also can save some of your phone's battery life by using the calculator instead.
5. Mailing List Sign Up Sheet & Business Cards
One of your goals for a craft show should be to get your business and brand out to new followers. One of the best ways to do that is to have a mailing list sign up sheet and business cards. Start collecting e-mails from customers at craft shows so you can be in contact with them after the show. You want people to be able to continue to find you and shop from you and what better way than e-mail. It gives you a chance to reach out and continue to connect with people. Your sign up sheet doesn't have to be anything fancy. It could be a notebook or a sheet of paper on a clip board. Growing your e-mail list is going to help you and gaining subscribers at craft shows is a must!
6. Securing Equipment
Any time you set up your booth at a craft show you need to be prepared for things to go wrong. Bring tape (scotch & duct), clamps, string, etc. These items will come in handy if some of your display needs to be secured or if you need to hang something up like a hand made sign the day of. When I first started doing craft shows my husband put together a little tool bag for me and it comes with me to every show. Some of the items I don't ever use, but the clamps and tape have come in handy many times. I have clamps in all sizes and they are great for securing table cloths on windy days or helping to keep my signs and banners secure too. You can find a set of similar ones here.
7. Writing Materials & Extra Signs
Most of your table signs and price tags will be ready to go long before your show, but it's a good idea to have some extra signs, price tags or materials for making handwritten ones available just in case. Tags can get ripped off so having extra ready to go is great. Bring printed tags, card stock, pens, pencils or markers with you. I usually like to bring those plus some little chalkboard signs and a chalk marker to make extra signs in case I forgot one.
8. Cutting Supplies
Bring scissors and a hole punch with you in case you need to cut something. Or if you need to attach a price tag. They will come in handy if you need to use your string or twine and if you have to trim down some paper for make shift signs or labels.
9. First Aid Kit
Your first aid kit doesn't have to be anything fancy. I usually have a small pouch with me with a few band-aids, anti-bacterial cream, ibuprofen and Tylenol. Accidents or headaches can happen and it's good to be prepared.
10. Sun Protection
If you are doing an outside show, make sure you have proper sun protection available. Bring sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses. Craft shows can be long days and you may not realize how much sun exposure you are getting if you are busy making sales.
11. Snacks & Water
This is a must! Craft show days can be long. You are up extra early to set up, work your booth all day and then have to tear down. Make sure you have snacks and water with you in a cooler because you need to stay hydrated and energized. I tend to be alone at most of my shows so I don't often get a chance to go purchase food. If you too are going to be working your booth alone definitely make sure you bring some snacks. It also will save you a bit of money because craft show food is not going to be cheap.
12. Repair Kit
Your repair kit will look different depending on what items you make. I make a lot of crochet items and sewn items so I like to have a bit of yarn and a small sewing kit with me just in case I need to fix an item while at a show. In all the hustle of getting ready for a show you may forget to sew up a seam or attach a tag to a hat so having a little repair kit on hand can be a lifesaver.
13. A Small Project
Craft shows can have some slow moments so it's a good idea to have a small project with you to keep you busy during those times. It can be yarn to make more stock while you are there or something just for you. I usually bring a ton of yarn with me in the hopes I'll be able to make more products while I work my booth. It also shows people that you are the person making all the items on display. It can be a great way to start up a conversation with a customer. If you are a bit shy it helps to have a project with you so you don't feel so awkward when people are in your booth browsing. I also find that it can sometimes put customers at ease because I'm not all up in their business. Definitely find a good balance between greeting your customers and working on your project because you don't want people to think you are too busy to approach.
14. Chap Stick & Breath Mints
Chances are you are going to be doing a bit of talking at a craft show. Your mouth and lips can become dry so always pack some chap stick and breath mints just in case.
15. Confidence & A Smile
Be proud of yourself for all that you have done to get ready for your craft show. Be confident in the products you are providing and make sure to greet all your customers with a smile!
I hope you found this list helpful. Most of the essentials listed can be packed up into one tote or bin and brought with you to every show. It never has to be unpacked and will help you to always be prepared. Let me know if you have any craft show essentials that weren't on my list. I'd love to hear your ideas. Leave a comment below to let me know.