Craft Show Tip: Dos and Don’ts of Dealing with Customers at a Craft Show

Craft Show Tip - Dos and Don'ts of Dealing with Customers at a craft show

Are you letting your shyness keeping you from doing craft shows?

I know I used to.  I was worried about what to say to people.  I was worried about people telling me how horrible my work was.  Guess what?  I figured out what to say and no one told me my work sucked.

Here are some dos and don’ts of dealing with customers at craft shows.


  • Greet each person walking into your booth.  I found it helpful to have a few things ready to say, such as “Good morning.”  “How are you doing today?”  or “If you have any questions, I’m happy to answer them.”  As you get more comfortable, you can add some more things specific to your artwork, maybe letting them know it’s all handmade by you.
  • Be friendly and cheerful, but not fake.
  • Compliment people genuinely.  (Again, don’t be fake.)
  • If someone is interested but looks like they’re afraid to touch something, put it in their hand.  If you’re selling jewelry ask them if they would like to try it on.  9 times out of 10 once it’s on them (if it fits) they’ll leave it on and purchase it.
  • Work on your artwork, but be ready to put it down at any moment to talk to or help a customer.


  • Read during a show.  Think about it from your customer’s perspective.  If you see someone reading in a craft show booth, you’re probably not likely to bother the person if you have a question.  You probably would just walk away.  Plus, if you’re really into your book you might not even notice customers.  (Same goes for magazines and newspapers.)
  • Talk to neighboring vendors too much.
  • Complain about the show to or in front of your customers.
  • Ignore your customers in any way.
  • Let your grouchy mood affect how friendly you are to customers.  You can use the dos list above to get ideas of things you can always say without thinking too hard in case you are feeling moody.
  • Let the weather affect how you deal with customers in a negative way.  If you’ve stuck it out and they stuck it out, buck up and be a good sport about it.  (Read about how much I hate the wind here.)
  • If someone does happen to say something negative about your work, don’t let it get to you.  Not everyone will love you.

Like these dos and don’ts?  You’ll love my Craft Show Tips eBook.  Read all about it and purchase it here:  Craft Show Tips.

Note about these craft show tips posts:  I am combining my Craft Show Tip posts with my Jewelry Business Tip posts.  They will be right here every Wednesday.  Starting next week, Jewelry Business Tips will be weekly on Wednesday with a Craft Show Tip monthly (also on Wednesdays.)  Sign up for the new combined email updates here.

Craft Show Tip: How Much Inventory to Take to Shows

Craft Show Tip - How Much Inventory to Take

How much inventory to take to a craft show is a question I have been getting a lot lately, so I’m going to tackle it here today.

There is nothing worse than going to a craft show and doing well and then running out of something that is the hot seller of the day.  While, believe me, you can’t always predict what your hot seller will be from show to show, you can at least try to plan from your previous shows.

If this is your first show you might have to guess a little more.  However, if you sold in any other venues think about what sells well in those venues.  If this is your first selling experience, then consider what people compliment you on or what your friends or coworkers have asked if you would make them when they see you wearing it.

Don’t necessarily count on that, though, because without exception – no matter how much of something you bring – there will be people who wanted it in the only color you don’t have.

Start Working on Your Inventory Early

No matter how much you end up deciding to take with you, start working on your inventory well ahead of time.  If you start doing more and more shows you’ll eventually just have to supplement and replenish what you sold at the previous show, but it can seem pretty overwhelming at your first show.

Make a plan of how much you want to bring (we’ll talk about this in a moment) and then make a plan on how you’re going to be able to complete that amount of items in the time you have.  Figure out how many pieces you need to make each week and even each day if that’s what you need to stay on track.

Don’t forget about actually tagging items, too.  That can be time consuming as well.

Even if you don’t reach your total goal, take as much as you can.  You can’t sell if you don’t have it with you.

How to Figure Out How Much Inventory to Take to a Craft Show:

Here’s a little caveat, how much you take will vary based on what you sell and your brand.  I sell jewelry, so I mostly have in mind jewelry when I’m writing this.  Jewelry is light and easy to carry.  So if you sell something light, it’s always a good idea to bring as much as you can, even if you don’t put it all out right away.

If you sell something large or heavy, you may have some restrictions because you can’t fit as much in your vehicle or even in your booth.  It’s still good to have more than you think you will sell.

1.  How much did the show cost?

I don’t always necessarily find this true, but there used to be this thing where you should plan to sell 10 times more than the show cost.

So if you paid a $100.00 fee, then you should plan to sell $1,000.00.

This is not always the case, so don’t feel crushed if that doesn’t happen for you.  I have had different shows where I have sold less and shows where I’ve sold more than that.

It’s a good starting point for deciding on inventory.

2.  Then multiple that by 2.

So in our example, that would bring us up to $2,000.00 worth of inventory.

If this number seems high to you, don’t panic.  This is just a goal.  I always say you should have more than you plan to sell.

Think about it this way, when you go shopping, if there were only a few things left to choose from you might choose nothing.  So we have to have more than we plan to sell.  If it’s a busy show you can keep replenishing your booth with new inventory as you sell it.  If it’s not a busy show, well then you’ll have to make less for the next show.

If you’re worried that you’re just starting and you’ll be putting a lot of money into untested products, then adjust accordingly.  This is just a guide.  Or perhaps do some smaller shows and take less inventory to get started to test out what sells well.

3.  Now, how many pieces do you have to sell to get to that number?

On average, what do your pieces cost?  I understand that you probably have a range of prices, but thing about the middle priced item perhaps.  Let’s say that’s $40.00.  So to get to $2,000.00 you’d need 50 $40.00 priced items.

If you know you sell a lot of items that are $20.00, then maybe use that as your guide.  Or maybe just work it out that you’ll take 40 $20.00 items and 20 $40.00 items and then a few more expensive pieces.

This is not an exact science.  It’s just a guide.  So don’t get too worked up about figuring it out to the exact dollar.

4. Make a plan

For every craft show I did I had a list of what inventory I wanted to take.  (I saved it in Word and just adjusted it for each show.)

So I had a list of:






And I would decide how much of each I wanted to take.  I would list what specific styles and colors I wanted of each (and specifically how many).

Then I would see what I already had ready to go.  I would cross off what I had already from that list.  And then I knew what I needed to make.  As I completed items, I crossed them off.

Yeah, that is pretty freaking organized and you may think it’s overkill.  It probably was overkill for some shows, but for others I was glad I was that prepared.

Frankly, you won’t need that list as you get comfortable with shows.  I always did it because it always helps me to focus to have a list where I can check off things.

Your Turn

You can use my suggestions as a guide and pick and choose what works for you.  If this is your very first craft show, just take as much as you can and don’t get upset if you don’t reach that number.

If you have more inventory than what I suggested:  great!  Take it!  You certainly can’t sell it if you don’t have it.

As you do more and more craft shows you’ll get better at predicting how much inventory you’ll need.

Good luck!

Getting ready for your first craft shows?  My suggestion is to be prepared.  And my Craft Show Tips eBook will help you prepare!

Click here to purchase and find out more

Craft Show Tips 4.0



Craft Show Tip: Display Design Part 2

Craft Show Tip - Display Design Part 2

Last week, we talked about display design in great detail, including a worksheet to get you thinking about your display.

Click here for Craft Show Tip:  Display Design Part 1

In Part 2, we’ll talk about where to get your displays.

Before we even start, I wanted to mention something I didn’t mention last week and that is that there are certain shows where you will be required to follow certain display parameters.

In most cases, however, you’ll be given a 10 X 10 spot and you can do whatever you like (within reason) in that space.  All my suggestions are for these types of shows.

Where to Get Displays

It’s easy to find a tent and tables, so I’m not going to get into that here.  What I’m really talking about is more the smaller display pieces that go on your tables or in your booth that really show your style.

So refer back to your worksheet from last week.  By the end of it you should have a pretty good idea of what you need to pull off your display.  Now it’s time to put it together.

The best example I have is my own craft show display.  My jewelry was whimsical and fun, definitely not serious at all.  I used light and girly colors in my booth, mostly pink and white but sometimes I used tablecloths that were flowery as well.


I have never actually used actual “tablecloths” in my booth.  I have always used sheets.  When I first started doing craft shows I thought tablecloths were too expensive, the wrong size and I could never find what I wanted.  So I used flat sheets.  (Flat sheets were a lot less expensive back then, by the way.)

I purchased mine new and I found queen size to be about perfect for my tables.

When my husband and I got married we had an eco-friendly wedding.  My mom and I sewed all of our cloth napkins and tablecloths for the wedding.  My mom and I sourced flat sheets from thrift stores, washed them and then sewed them into tablecloths and napkins.

After my wedding I had all these tablecloths, so I picked out my favorites and started using them in my booth.  The photo above is one such tablecloth.  They were a bit shorter than I like for my booth because I prefer my tablecloths to go to the ground so I can store my bins under my tables during craft shows, so I used white and then layered the floral tablecloths on top.

You can find all kinds of unique sheets to use as tablecloths.  You don’t even necessarily need to sew them to a certain size, just drape them over your tables.  If you have a vintage or more whimsical feel it’s probably going to be a little easier.  However, I’ve found black, white and other solid colors as well.

You could also purchase them new and save yourself all the looking and scavenging around.

And, of course, you could make your own tablecloths from fabric or find new tablecloths to purchase.  Maybe you could find a tablecloth at a thrift store that’s perfect.


Once you figure out the look you’re going for, you’ll start to find things all over.  It helps if you go to yard sales, auctions or visit thrift stores, but a couple of my favorite displays have been from Target as well.  In fact, my necklace display that people constantly commented on how unique it was was simply a decorative piece from Target that I actually got on clearance.

Just think about things in a different way.  If you sell jewelry, don’t necessarily look for “necklace holders.”  Look at different decorative pieces and think about how they would work with your pieces and then how you could use them in your booth.

Of course, I’ve picked up a lot of my displays at thrift stores and antique stores.  But I have also purchased them at Target (like I mentioned), basket stores and traditional jewelry display shops.

Personally, I get bored when I see a display that’s full of those pre-made necklace holders.  It may look professional, but it has no personality.  Everyone has them.  But if you mix them up with some other pieces with more personality it makes it more interesting.

You could try garage or yard sales (or tag sales depending where you live.)  You can look around your own home or garage.  You probably have all kinds of possible display pieces for your craft show booth just sitting around.

Ask People to Help

People love to help, so if you have friends or family that can help you find pieces, ask them.  If you need someone to build something and your brother is great at that kind of stuff, ask him for some help.  If your mom goes to auctions, ask her to keep her eyes open for certain things.  If you’re not a thrifter, but your best friend is, ask her to help you.  She would love to help you!

Keep an open mind and you’ll find all kinds of things to use for displays!

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