Craft fairs, anyone?

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Forum topic by HodgeyPodgey posted 06-27-2017 08:17 PM 3286 views 3 times favorited 25 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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12 posts in 1503 days

06-27-2017 08:17 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

I am thinking about making some stuff to sell at some local craft fairs. I will probably make some cutting boards, bandsaw boxes, box jointed boxes, magnetic bottle openers, and a large cross that i make.

What experiences have you had with craft fairs good or bad?
What are the things that sell?
How to find good craft fairs?
Should I have product on hand or take orders or both?
Should i try a trade days booth?

Thanks in advance for all responses.

-- Brent, Texas,, If you haven’t any charity in your heart, you have the worst kind of heart trouble. – Bob Hope

25 replies so far

View Clarkie's profile


494 posts in 2611 days

#1 posted 06-27-2017 09:00 PM

Hello Hodge, the craft shows don’t live up to what people hope they should be. I did them for a number of years before finally building a following of customers for the products I made. If you first attend a bunch of the shows you will get a feel for just how much fun the shows aren’t. I did maybe five shows a year, always making enough stock for at least 10 shows, and always coming away from the shows worn out and very disappointed. The shows would cost anywhere from 85.00 upwards to 300.00 for a space for 2 or 3 days. Paying extra for electric hook-up, minimal fee 10.00 to 20.00. So, before even selling a product you are out anywhere from 105.00 to 325.00. Think about how many pens you will have to unload to just break even for set up cost. Then as for cutting boards, everybody and their brother now make them, you’ll find them much cheaper at the Walmart and less time to make. Out of 8 years of doing shows, I only sold out of product once, most shows pulled in between 150.00 to 500.00, and this after sitting and selling for 3 days, plus set up, breakdown, packing and travel. Some people still claim they are a lot of fun, I never found that to be true. Find a product you are good at making and then find a avenue for selling it, short of trade shows, where as far as I’m concerned the only one that makes out is the person renting the spaces, oh, and the guy who has the concession stand for food and water. Have fun, make some dust.

View magaoitin's profile


249 posts in 1719 days

#2 posted 06-27-2017 09:15 PM

I have always wondered about this myself. I see a lot of pens makers and bottle topper stalls the the farmers markets around me all the time and within a season they have all moved to an ETSY storefronts. I don’t know how different crafts fairs are from farmers markets though.

-- Jeff ~ Tacoma Wa.

View Gilley23's profile


489 posts in 1152 days

#3 posted 06-27-2017 09:29 PM

Forget the pens and bottle toppers. Make a good variety of things and have them there to sell. In person sales are on the spot, not ordered out… least not nearly as much.

Pull at people’s heartstrings…. Children’s furniture! You’ll go after parents and grandparents alike.

If you can weld, mix it up with metal work as well. Combine the two, get creative. Have a mix of inexpensive and higher end things, for variety.

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 4418 days

#4 posted 06-27-2017 10:21 PM

I did some craft fairs over the years selling
different things I made in different media
and was always disappointed in the money.
I had fun though for awhile anyway.

I looked around and I figured out that the
people who were making money were selling
food, ladies clothing, ladies jewelry, and
stuff rich grandmothers buy for their grandkids.

The market is glutted with pseudo-handcrafted
items made in 3rd world countries. That’s
not to say that craft shows are glutted with
imports, just that people can go to a ridiculous
amount of stores and websites and buy
the imported stuff at very competitive prices.

The cost of selling on is quite low.
There’s price competition and imports but if
you’re willing to work the hours and ship
stuff there’s modest money to be made there.

If you can stick with it long enough and get
skills in things like marquetry and carving, you
may find that doing juried shows is a good
investment because you’ll meet interior designers
and architects who may commission work,
not to mention developing your own private

View Kelly's profile


3006 posts in 3714 days

#5 posted 06-28-2017 01:21 AM

I’m thinking about getting back into craft shows, if only just because it can be fun. Hard work involved setting up and such aside, it can be a heck of a great way to socialize.

I found I was able to use my products to horse trade for things I liked, but couldn’t justify buying.

I got orders from the shows too. After a while, the inventory was just the hook. My truck had all the dash and such ripped out and people would ask me to make dashes and such for them. Of course, no one else was making wood auto interiors (e.g., replacement glove box covers, ash tray covers, speaker frames molded to the curves of the rig, overhead gauge consoles and so on). Auto interiors wasn’t even what I shot for.

Eventually, I got invited to a Paris art show with some big names. Unfortunately, it was out of this, then, twenty-four year old kids budget. I should have gone. Those things I sold, ignorantly, for $45.00 (for the next fix), would have gone for $450.00 and, in time, times more.

So play, have fun, imagine and climb in and out of the box.

View JackDuren's profile


1209 posts in 1729 days

#6 posted 06-28-2017 01:50 AM

I am thinking about making some stuff to sell at some local craft fairs. I will probably make some cutting boards, bandsaw boxes, box jointed boxes, magnetic bottle openers, and a large cross that i make.

What experiences have you had with craft fairs good or bad?
What are the things that sell?
How to find good craft fairs?
Should I have product on hand or take orders or both?
Should i try a trade days booth?

Thanks in advance for all responses.

- HodgeyPodgey

You need to think $20-25 items. I use to sell several of those and took really nothing in material.

Think fast nickel or slow dime…..You can always throw something bigger in the batch. A blanket chest usually is a sound item….

I think this stuff would sell well. Not a lot of money if you price it cheap enough and people don’t mind $25-50.

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30550 posts in 3108 days

#7 posted 06-28-2017 02:45 PM

I used to do lots of craft shows. Rule of thumb, be unique and TALK TO PEOPLE.

I don’t do them anymore. Since I do predominantly furniture now, it’s not a good craft show item.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View HowardInToronto's profile


77 posts in 2472 days

#8 posted 06-29-2017 12:35 AM

Monte summed it up very accurately.

Kelly offered excellent insight into how to make money at something distinct you might enjoy.

Jack showed great pics of great ideas – people always want something they can use for gifts.

Space at a craft show is an investment. You do not do yourself any favours seeing it as expense. It’s an investment in building a prospect list – one you can keep in touch with over time and market to. It’s an investment to really watch what people will pay their money for.


View Kelly's profile


3006 posts in 3714 days

#9 posted 06-29-2017 12:54 AM

One thing I always did in woodworking was, avoid competing, as much as possible. For example, back when others were pumping out burl, slab and stump tables, I did too, but I tried to do it differently enough to make my work stand out. I used tempered glass tops for my stumps and etched them, which is MUCH easier to do that most think. Here are a few examples [from forty years ago]:

The projects, above, aside, there, certainly, IS merit Jack’s advice of having a general price limit of around $20.00 for most your inventory. Of course, bringing a couple high end items can get you orders or, if you set up for it, they might sell.

View Kelly's profile


3006 posts in 3714 days

#10 posted 06-29-2017 12:59 AM

If you have a band saw, you can drag along samples for orders:

In the end, remember, this will justify more toys, uh, tools to expand your abilities and inventory.

View Dave Carlisle's profile

Dave Carlisle

69 posts in 2925 days

#11 posted 11-30-2017 04:45 AM

Try the Facebook sale sites. They are free and many of these groups have thousands of members so there’s lots of exposure. No set up, sitting for the weekend, tear down or travel expenses. If you are near a big metro area, there are LOTS of the groups online. I get LOTS of orders each month through these groups.

-- Woodworking Principal

View Woodmaster1's profile


1473 posts in 3357 days

#12 posted 11-30-2017 11:26 AM

My woodworking club has a show the first weekend in December. The best thing about the show no fee for members and they handle all sales at the door so you don’t need to be there all the time. You get your money the next week for your items that sold. This year they have more tables than ever. It is just about to outgrow the meeting room.

View Rob's profile


320 posts in 3756 days

#13 posted 11-30-2017 12:52 PM

I love reading the negative along with the positive aspects of selling at craft shows. I’ve commented in many threads (both here and on other sites) about how most people say how great they do selling at craft shows but here, we finally get down to the nitty gritty where some are willing to say they didn’t do well or don’t like being involved with craft shows and choose other avenues to sell what they make. No one can make an informed intelligent decision on whether to start selling at Craft Shows until they have all of the information. The good and the bad. Bravo to those who have posted explaining your experiences!

View tncraftsman's profile


93 posts in 3909 days

#14 posted 11-30-2017 01:13 PM

This guy does a good job of sharing his numbers from craft shows

View jeffswildwood's profile


4449 posts in 2747 days

#15 posted 11-30-2017 01:36 PM

I did my first craft show this year. It was tough but I got positive results. It was just a local one, out doors but attracted a lot of people. First, I stocked items I don’t see anyone else selling at any craft fair I had been to. I had items that were priced 5-20 dollars, 20-40 dollars and 40 dollars and up. Cover the whole price range. I also worked the crowd, when someone came up I didn’t just sit there, I talked to them. Being friendly. Lots of smiles. The results? I sold out of everything except three items. Later, after the fair I was contacted and they sold. Made quite a bit of profit. The down side? By selling out I couldn’t stock up fast enough for the next one.

-- We all make mistakes, the trick is to fix it in a way that says "I meant to do that".

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