After 3 years of vending at a variety of craft shows, I can confidently say that the way I set up and run my booth is vastly different than how it started out. To save you some of the trouble of figuring it out over time like I did, I wanted to share my favorite hacks and things I've learned over the years that have made my life easier!
In this blog you'll find:
Links to my favorite products that have made my life easier during craft shows
Some hacks and DIY's for setup and displays and strategies I've used to connect with shoppers
A free PDF packing list so you can make sure not to forget anything you'll need
Q & A from other makers about craft shows
I also have a blog post with more general advice for craft shows, so if that sounds up your alley click here
to read that post.
Products That Changed My Market Game
1) Utility Cart and Cart Topper
This is my brand new setup for a packing station and it is my new favorite thing (plus I can use it at home too, carting my tools and materials from room to room while still looking neat and organized).
Why I love this:
It has wheels, so it's super easy to unload and transport to my vendor spot
I love that with the cart topper, I have a nice flat surface to neatly pack my items on.
The topper also hides the first shelf, so I use that to put all kinds of random items I don't want sitting out in the open such as my cash box and spare scissors.
It is a bit difficult to pack in the car as it doesn't compact or fold, especially if you don't have a lot of trunk space.
2) Outdoor Rug
This rug is available in 4 color options, and I chose the Taupe color. Link here.
Why I love this rug:
Variety of color options
Very lightweight and easy to transport
If you get a vendor spot with any unappealing spots on the ground, this makes your setup still look neat and presentable
It may be slightly tricky to clean but I haven't gotten there yet! After my first market using it, I had a couple people spill drinks or step some dirt on it which now show slightly. However, this is the risk you run with any sort of rug and isn't specific to this rug.
Very thin and flimsy which may be a con for some people, but it was actually a pro for me since its lightweight.
Small Pegboard: I zip-tie it to a clothing rack to create a vertical display for some of my smaller items.
Hexagon Letterboard: I love this one because it has more space than some of my other letterboards. Plus it's way cuter!
Baskets: All thrifted!
Dried Florals: Purchased at LA Flower District. You can also find them online here.
Mirror: I highly recommend having a mirror if you sell items like jewelry. This one goes perfectly with my shop's natural theme!
I came up with the design for my standing pegboards myself and created them all in one day! The best part: they fit in the back of my Toyota Rav4 once the seats are laid flat. Hell yeah!
Since I first shared how I made them on social media, I've had hundreds of other makers tag me to share how theirs turned out and they've all looked amazing! I'm working on getting some written instructions and diagrams made in a future blog post, but in the meantime I have an Instagram story highlight you can find here where you can find the details on how to make your own.
For this sign, my partner carved the design into wood panels using a router. You could just as easily trace and paint your own though if that sounds daunting!
We then attached two eye hooks from the top and use rope to hang it from the post.
The post is simply a single shelf track and a shelf bracket that we zip-tied to one of the legs of my ez-up! Super easy set up and looks presentable and clean.
The only con is that sometimes if a taller person walks past and doesn't look where they are going they might hit the corner of it on accident..oops!
Wrapping Wall Hangings
One of the most common questions I get is how to send people off with their wall hangings at markets- to package or not to package? I personally always prefer to package them up. Most smaller items can just be wrapped in tissue paper and put into a gift bag, but wall hangings are trickier. I use my packing cart to first roll up the wall hanging in a piece of packaging paper, and then seal it with some tape or a sticker. If it fits into a bag then great, if not I take a long strand of rope and double-knot it to either side of the wall hanging.Then they can use the rope like a strap to sling the wall hanging over their shoulder as they walk!
Having signs and prices readily available is super important for markets- it lowers the "barrier to entry"-if you will- for the customer. Many customers at markets love connecting and talking with makers and they don't typically have an issue asking you the cost of an item, but you never know- some people are too shy to ask! I recommend making everything as easy as possible to navigate in your booth.
At my last workshop, I put one stack of flyers for an upcoming workshop at the outside corner of my tent and I couldn't believe how many people walked by and grabbed them without necessarily even coming into my booth or seeing what it even was before grabbing it! Next time I'll definitely bring more and possibly bring some other materials such as brochures or flyers for all of my upcoming events.
One thing I've noticed is that having people hang around your booth attracts even more people to come in. I plan to set up some kind of DIY station for my next market where people can customize a product (or possibly pot their own mini succulent for a mini plant hanger etc). This brings people in and makes them feel like they get something one of a kind!
I also find that many craft show attendees are crafty themselves, so I've been offering a few DIY kits lately and I've sold a few at every show I've been to! They also make great gifts.
I always feel like I'm forgetting something when packing, so making a list has been essential to my own sanity the day before a show. To download my free packing list for markets, click the download button below!
Market Q & A
I opened the floor up to market questions from my Instagram family and here are some great ones that haven't been covered in either of my blogs on the topic so far! Hope this helps.
Q: How do you know how much stock to bring and which items to stock more of? Do you take more stock than you think you'll need, or do you always have a set # of each item in mind?
A: I tend to always want to bring more stock than I think I'll need. You can always list the extra items on Etsy or your website after the fact, so even if you don't sell out at the event it's not a total loss! I go into which items I stock more of on my previous craft show blog post, but generally speaking I bring mostly small, giftable items and fewer large, pricey items.
Q: Do you have any suggestions on interacting with people that stop by your booth? As an introvert, I like having time to browse without having to chat a lot first, but I want to make sure I'm welcoming and friendly!
A: Hello, fellow introvert! This is something I'm still working on- I do feel that the majority of people that like to come to craft shows really do want to connect with makers, otherwise they could just shop online rather than coming in person. I am the same exact way as you though, so I usually just make eye contact and give a warm hello and let them know I'm here if they have any questions. Most of the time they will keep browsing but sometimes just that simple hello will strike up a conversation! Sometimes I'll give them a compliment if they have a cute bag, cute nails etc or if I see something cool they picked up from another vendor I'll ask them about it and that usually breaks the ice too. It's all about being warm and open to connection without forcing the sale!
Q: Do you need a permit or any other documentation to sell at pop-ups?
A: This answer changes along with the location of the pop up or craft show! Basically, if you are required to have a permit or business license in the city that the show is located, the organizers of the event will be obligated to let their vendors know and direct them to the website where they can apply. Some cities don't require this for in person one-time events, but some do. For me, it's been half and half. If you do need to apply for a temporary license or permit for your location, they seem to run around $30 (at least in the cities of Southern California that I've applied to).
Q: How can I express to people that I can make them custom orders and get their info?
A: I always keep a pen and notepad for this reason. If anyone asks me if I take customs, I tell them yes and ask if they would like me to send them an email to connect with them further on it. Then I'll hand them the notepad to write their name and email and after the show I go through and send emails out! Also, if you are hoping to get more bites for custom orders, you should consider putting a sign out that says: "Ask me about custom orders" or maybe a booklet/flyer showing past custom work you've done next to a notepad where they can sign up to receive more info.
Q: Do you do all cash at these events?
A: I accept cash, but I find that the majority of payments now are either card or venmo! I recommend getting a square reader and maybe printing out and displaying your QR code for venmo somewhere visible in your setup. I usually keep a $100 cash fund made up of smaller bills at markets, but I've really never even needed that much in change so far.
Q: What's a strategic way to gather emails or get people to follow you on social media when they visit your booth?
A: For emails, I pretty much just keep a pen and paper on me and only really collect them if someone is interested in working with me on something specific like a commissioned piece or a workshop. As far as social media goes, most makers will have either a QR code or a sign sharing their instagram visible somewhere at their booth. I also recommend throwing a business card with all of that information in each bag as you send someone off with their purchase.
Q: How do you pack everything for a market into your car?
A: This question is a little tricky to answer because it's not one size fits all- we all have different sizes and setups for car and trunk space! Luckily, I have a car with lots of room and the back seats fold over completely flat, so I first slide in my peg boards and the EZ up tent. My best tip for getting everything to fit after that is to try to use only super foldable, compact items whenever possible. For example, I invested a little more on my clothing racks that I use at markets, because I wanted the type that could collapse down and fold neatly instead of the cheaper, non collapsible versions at Ikea. I have a folding table and usually only bring a folding chair to sit on as well. I also recommend fitting as many of your props, signs, inventory, packing supplies, etc into plastic bins as well. This streamlines the packing process and helps you to be able to stack things up higher in your car so you don't waste any vertical space.
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