I’ve been doing my fair share of craft fairs for 10 years now, so I’ve learned a lot of tricks along the way. (I even wrote a book about it.) My craft show tool kit has evolved a lot over the years, and now there are a few handy items I can’t live without bringing to a craft fair.
Whether you’re preparing for your first craft show and wondering what to bring, or you’re an experienced craft show vet looking to improve your arsenal, I hope you’ll find my top 5 craft show must haves useful. Listen to Episode 005 of the Badass Creatives podcast to hear me talk about my craft show tool-kit, or read on:
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If you’re planning to do outdoor art markets or festivals, a good craft show tent is an absolute MUST! Many event organizers require everyone to have white 10×10 craft show tents, to keep things looking classy & uniform.
My EZ up tent has lasted me through many years of craft shows, and it’s still going strong! I have the pop-up canopy kind of EZ up tent with four zippered side walls, which are great for closing up shop overnight or keeping out the elements on a rainy day.
After years of fussing with big pieces of fabric and homemade tablecloths, pinning and tucking just so to keep it looking nice, I made the move a few years back to these fitted polyester tablecloths. They’re so much easier, and they look super professional. They come in a variety of sizes to fit different lengths of folding tables.
You could always screen-print or add appliqués to the front to customize it with your business name or logo!
You can see my own tablecloths pictured below, from my craft show booth at Gretna Heritage Festival:
For my 6 foot tables, I use a pretty standard size plastic folding table I found at a hardware store. But these tablecloths are too wide for most of the 4 foot tables out there. Luckily, I discovered an alternative which fits these tablecloths perfectly! Click here to read all about my favorite 4-foot lightweight folding table that I use for craft fairs.
I spent years sitting on low chairs, uncomfortable stools or just standing during craft shows, to stay eye-level with my customers so I could talk to them.
My tall fold-up director’s chair has been a lifesaver since then, and many of my craft show buddies have asked about it and picked up one for themselves! (Click here to read my full review of this chair.)
You’ll definitely want to have some sort of shopping bags or gift wrap available! What size you need depends on what you sell, of course. I usually keep a few sizes on hand – small organza bags for jewelry and some bigger paper shopping bags for larger items.
Finally, if you’ll be hauling all your stuff to and from your car or truck to your craft show booth, you’re going to want wheels! I cannot begin to tell you how much our Magliner convertible hand truck has changed my life!
I don’t know how I could have done Frenchmen Art Market so many nights without it – I can get everything I need on it in one trip and haul it a couple of blocks back to my car with ease:
It’s pretty high end, so if you’re a craft show newbie just getting started, I also use a smaller Magna Cart for shows where it’s easier to do multiple trips back and forth to my car.
Okay, so maybe I fibbed. I mayyyy have more than just 5 craft show must haves. Here are a few more of my favorite art show display ideas:
Doing outdoor art markets can take a lot out of you, especially if the sun is hitting your neck all day long. That’s one reason I came up with the curtain backdrop for my art show tent seen below:
I made it by sewing together three semi-sheer curtain panels. On each outside edge, I added a few pieces of ribbon to make it easy to tie off the edges to the sides of my tent poles. At the top of the curtain, I use spring clamps to attach it to the top of my tent. Easy-peasy!
Not only does it block the sun, but it also provides a colorful and eye-catching background for my booth! (Hint: sew in something at the bottom of the panels to give them a little extra weight so they stay more secure when it gets windy!)
Many artists use gridwall panels to display their artwork. This type of portable craft show display setup works well for fine artists who have paintings or photographs to show off, but most gridwall systems have other accessories available like clip-on baskets or shelves or hanging racks, which can also show off clothing or accessories too.
Above you can see a photo from one of my own craft show booths. I’m not the artist using the gridwall seen here (that’s the back of the booth next to me), but you can see here how the back of the artwork is attached to the gridwall with clips or zip-ties.
I took the above photo at one indoor art show I did. Even though we were inside, the artist used his tent frame to hang these screens from so that he could then attach his artwork.
There are definitely plenty of expensive, professional art display panels out there, but I found this DIY video tutorial that explains how you can make similar art display panels for around $50 per panel using materials found at the hardware store.
While this is by no means a totally comprehensive list of what to take to a craft fair, this should cover most of the important things that you should plan to have on hand, but might otherwise forget to bring with you. (Download and print a copy of this checklist!)
Are you just getting started with craft fairs? Lucky for you, I wrote a whole book full of my craft show tips, tricks and advice, full of everything I learned from more than 10 years of doing art markets and craft shows regularly:
If you found this post useful, you should also check out my book, How to Make Money at Craft Shows – Art Market and Craft Fair Tips & Tricks. This e-book covers the basics of getting started selling at craft fairs, as well as how to design a great looking booth, how to give outstanding customer service & sell more, and even how to find and create additional events at which to sell your handmade work.
It also includes how to define your target market, where to find good shows to sell at, how much you should expect to spend on a booth fee at a show, promoting your show & getting your customers there, dealing with crazy weather & unexpected events, theft prevention, how to give great customer service, how to use craft shows to create after-the-show sales and lots more!
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It’s an easy to understand introduction to search engine optimization for for artists, makers & #BadassCreatives. You’ll also gain a basic understanding of the importance of link-building, digital PR and conversion optimization, aka the art of getting people to buy more of your stuff!
There are 10 video lessons which also include a text transcription. The total runtime for the 10 video lessons is less than an hour & a half. It is a completely self-paced online course – you decide when you start and when you finish.Learn more!
If you’ve been doing craft shows for awhile and think that I missed something here, please contact me and let me know! You can also reach out on Twitter or Instagram, where we can continue the discussion!
Mallory Whitfield has been making things and performing for as long as she can remember. She started blogging at MissMalaprop.com in 2006, and currently hosts the Badass Creatives podcast. Throughout her journey as a creative entrepreneur, Mallory has worn many hats, including blogger, visual artist, upcycled clothing creator, performance artist, jewelry designer, craft show vendor, creative strategist, speaker, teacher and consultant to other small business owners.
She worked as Content Analyst at FSC Interactive, a leading digital marketing agency, prior to taking on her current role as Director of Marketing at LookFar, a New Orleans-based startup studio which builds digital products and visionary companies.
Do you believe that art, creativity, innovation, and kindness can change the world? If you answered “Heck yeah!” then this is the podcast for you.
Badass Creatives is hosted by Mallory Whitfield and features marketing and business advice for creatives, as well as interviews with a diverse range of handmade artists, performers, makers, and creative entrepreneurs.
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