Should I or shouldn't I? Craft fairs pros and cons

Pros and cons of selling at a craft fair
In my last post, I talked about feeling out of place at OddMall, a craft fair new to the Seattle area Now I have to decide whether to re-up for the next OddMall in May. Should I or shouldn't I? 

Here I look at both sides -- the pros and cons of selling at a craft fair. 

People who need people
If you're an extrovert, the #1 benefit of selling at a craft fair is the chance to talk to other people -- hundreds of other people, strangers who want to chat with you, tell you about their childhood, ask for directions to the food trucks. For an introvert like me, it sounds like a nightmare!
happy people
Shiny happy customers
To be honest, I do enjoy meeting new people and seeing them react to my work. I can watch as they pick up one of my tablet cases and examine it -- are they smiling? Pouting? I can ask what features they'd like me to add. Several customers, for instance, told me about the value of a pocket inside a tablet case. If they ask the price and then lose interest, I know there's a problem.

Show me the money

For every show I do, I set a sales goal. Sometimes I surpass it and sometimes I fall short. It's hard to predict (although you can do some research ahead of time). I've guessed wrong about which merchandise will sell and which will stay on the shelf.

At OddMall, it was hard not to give in to booth envy. I watched as vendors around me made sales while I waited for my first transaction. That led me down the dark path of self-doubt. What's wrong with me? Why does everyone hate my stuff? Why am I here? Why was I even born? Not a fun way to spend an afternoon.
unhappy craft vendor
I just want to fit in...and make a bunch of money.

Local or global?

Go to a craft fair, you're told, to get your name out there. Out where? Since I sell online, my "out there" includes Denmark and Israel, not just Seattle. I bring lots of business cards to shows and am tickled when someone takes one. But if I spent 8 hours on optimizing my search keywords instead, would I reach more people? 

On the other hand, selling my work locally means I don't have to send packages hundreds or thousands of miles. It's more in keeping with my green mission. At OddMall, to offset my carbon footprint, I offered customers instructions on making their own tablet cases out of books. They seemed genuinely grateful to take a copy.

It's hammer time

Preparing for a show can take weeks, especially if you're building your booth from scratch. In my case, this is a way to draw my husband into the process. He loves to solve my logistical problems. For OddMall, he helped me transform wooden ladders into shelves for displaying book tablet cases.
using ladders to display books
Mr. Upcycler fine-tunes the booth setup
He also figured out how we could use tripods we already had to support the ladders and a curtain. Working together was fun. But it also meant hours I could've spent making stuff. 

When we got home from the show, we had to figure out where to store our new props. Next to the other props we'd made for other shows? Behind the large collapsable tent I'd borrowed for outdoor shows? Our garage is starting to fill with fair props.

Those who don't sell, blog

I enjoy writing as much as making stuff. If I had been a visitor instead of a vendor at OddMall, I would've had time to meet more artists, examine their work, and ultimately write about them here, in my blog. Most would have appreciated the attention, I think. And I would have had more fun -- and walked away feeling more successful. 

What do you think? How do you decide whether it's worth selling at a fair?

Other artists describe pros and cons of craft fairs:


  1. Everything has their pros and cons. However, just because you did not succeed one day, doesn’t mean you should keep yourself from joining in the future. Just take it as a learning experience, and move on to other events, if that one really did not seem a good fit for you. You could also ask around for recommendations, and the favorite ones that other crafts enthusiasts go to. At the very least, observe and analyze those probable reasons why it turned out far beyond from what you anticipated.

    Clint Shaff @ Franchise Match


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