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. 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. Here are my top 5 craft show must haves.
1. A great tent!
If you’re planning to do outdoor art markets or festivals, a good tent is an absolute MUST! Many shows require everyone to have white tents, to keep things looking classy & uniform. My EZup canopy tent has lasted me through many years of craft shows, and it’s still going strong! I have the kind with four zippered side walls, which are great for closing up shop overnight or keeping out the elements on a rainy day.
2. A professional looking tablecloth!
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 fitted 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. (Click here to see my favorite 4-foot lightweight folding table for craft shows!) You could always screen-print or add appliqués to the front to customize it with your business name or logo!
3. A comfy & tall chair!
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!
4. Shopping bags or gift wrap!
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 bags for larger items.
5. A convenient hand truck or dolly!
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 do Frenchmen Art Market 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 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.
Craft show bonus points:
A curtain backdrop for sun protection and visual appeal!
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 seen above. 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!)
Gridwall for displays!
Many artists use gridwall panels to display their artwork. This type of 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.
Even more craft show must-haves:
- price stickers or hang tags
- extension cord
- bungee cords
- zipties or reusable Velcro straps
- spring clamps
- safety pins
- antibacterial wet wipes and/or hand sanitizer
- business cards
- bug spray
- aspirin / ibuprofen
- a small cooler with water and freezer packs for summer
- a Thermos and blanket for winter
Want more craft show tips & tricks?
Check out my e-book, How to Make Money at Craft Shows – Art Market and Craft Fair Tips & Tricks.