This weekend, for the first time, I set up a table at a craft fair to sell cards, stationery and prints. It was a nice afternoon spent outside, I sold a few things, and ended up with boxes full of cards and prints that I’ll now need to sell at another street fair (look out for an Etsy page coming soon). But it was definitely my first time and there were a few things I forgot or didn’t realize. For one, my mindset was all wrong. In case it might help someone else, here’s a list of things I’m going to keep in mind for next time. At the end of this post there’s also a list of essential items, which I was able to compile ahead of time thanks to the sage advice of more experienced vendors.
- I Need to Calm Down. I can really work myself into a lather of worry about whether my credit card reader will malfunction, my phone battery die, my tent blow over on someone, or the skies suddenly open and all of my hard work be sucked into a tropic vortex. None of that happened. I sat out at a table on the street for a few hours, chatting with the friendly ladies at the booth next door, listening to music as people wandered by.
- This is Networking. Maybe it was that I hadn’t really prepared myself ahead of time for what it would be like to actually be there with nothing to do, by myself behind a Green Comma sign. Sitting there watching the crowd, I began to over-think…am I smiling too much? Ignoring people too much? Too hunched over? It dawned on me that while I had prepared myself for a situation in which I would be selling things, this was actually a new social situation. Needless to say for an introvert like me it was pretty exhausting. I realized that while I’m actually not looking to be a full-time street vendor, I am looking to meet people and bring more visibility to Green Comma Media. Next time I will go in with more of this mindset.
- Bring Something to Do. #2 might have been mitigated had I brought something to work on – ideally a drawing project started at home, that I could continue al fresco. If I’m going to spend a few hours sitting outside, let me think about how I’d like to spend it!
- Details! My tablecloth was too short for the table! Also the credit card holders I got to hold my wood prints were a bit too small to hold them up. Details. Oops.
- Be Prepared! It was raining and I needed some scissors to cut plastic sheeting. Luckily the women at the booth next door had some. Might not be a bad idea to bring a swiss army knife. And on the “be prepared” note, I wouldn’t have minded some hand sanitizer (after I used the porta-potty which was all out), or some tissues, snacks…a parachute (just kidding).
- Company Rocks Anyone want to sit with me at my street fair booth? …thought I’d ask. I was a bit jealous of those who had company in their booth, so they could leave to use the bathroom, grab some food, or just walk up and down the street and say hi to the other vendors! Oh well. My three-year-old twins need naps in the afternoon so my husband (the only one I might be able to recruit) needed to be with them. Thank you to everyone who stopped by! I was grateful for the visits!
- Make Prices Clear I had the sign advertising the price of greeting cards, but the greeting cards were all spread across my table display, not just in one place. People weren’t immediately clear which cards applied for the 5 for $20 deal. Also, the prints on wood are for hanging on the wall, but people couldn’t tell what they were unless they picked them up and looked at the back. Next time I might get some sort of peg board or hanging display.
Here are all the things I DID bring to the craft fair and which came in very handy.
Thank you to everyone who helped me prepare!
- Tape to tape down the tablecloth, tape sign to the table, etc
- Tent canopy turned out to be important, because it was raining. I got this one and am pretty pleased with it so far.
- Weights for Tent Legs I got some cinder blocks, which is maybe not the most elegant solution but cheap and works for now.
- Change I went to the bank and got $100 in different denominations.
- Money pouch to put the change in
- Credit card reader As it turned out everyone paid in cash, but I went with a square reader, which was incredibly simple to get and set up. Even without using the credit card reader, though, it allowed me to track all my sales and keep a register.
- Display racks/cases/baskets/stands I got a wooden crate from home depot to add some height to the display, and made some greeting card racks out of shoeboxes, which I used along with some $1 store boxes and baskets, and a re-purposed tool box from my basement.
- Towel to dry off the wet table and chairs should it be raining.
- Tarp to throw over the table should it really start to rain hard.
- Signs/frames/chalkboard to display prices.
- Business cards or postcards for people to take.
- Mailing list sign-up, for people who’d like to keep in touch.
Thank you for reading! Is there anything you’d like to know about craft fairs? Or any other advice you’d add? Let’s make it a conversation. Have an excellent week.