Selling Your Craft
Selling at Craft Shows...

Craft Shows and Markets

Picking the Right Craft Show

Selling at Craft Shows:
How Much Will It Cost?

Before You Sell at a Craft Show

Craft Show Survival Gear

What to Bring to a Show


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How To Sell Your Crafts at Craft Shows

by James Dillehay, author of seven books, is a nationally recognized expert on how to sell crafts. Courtesy of

Learning how to sell crafts can be fun especially at craft fairs. I personally like to sell at craft fairs because beyond the dates of the show, there are no further commitments. When a show is over, it’s over.

You can do one or two events and walk away with a minimum of expense of time and money and having learned a lot about how to sell crafts at shows. You may end up enjoying the experience and do shows every month. If so, take up the bohemian, craft fair life-style, while creating a profitable craft business.

In an art and crafts fair, you have your own scaled-down model of a retail store, even if it’s only for two or three days. You can use a show to test new products, designs, price changes and booth displays. You are directly in touch with the marketplace, so if your work isn’t selling, you will find out why immediately from customers’ reactions and sales results.

In selling direct to the public, you keep the entire amount of the sales, minus expenses. Since almost all shows are held on weekends, your week is free to create more pieces. You have control of your time. It’s a great feeling to go to a movie in the middle of the week when everyone else is laboring under canned air, moronic managers, and minimal wages.

How to find craft shows

Festival Network Online has a database of craft shows around the U.S.

The Appendix of The Basic Guide to Selling Arts & Crafts lists almost all of the major crafts fair guides. The cost of owning so many different resources may seem expensive, but you can make back or save hundreds of dollars more than the cost of these books by selecting or avoiding a show because of what you learn from them. Avoiding the bad shows is worth the price alone.

Another source of art and craft shows will be your state arts council. They should be listed in the government pages of your phone book.

Craft show basics

Do your first show close to crafts, within one hundred miles. There are two good reasons; lower gas and mileage expenses, and less stress. A shorter drive and a longer night’s sleep give you more energy for the show. Shows can be both exciting and demanding. Hundreds, possibly thousands, of potential customers come by your booth, many of whom will look at your work and talk to you.

If at all possible, visit a show beforehand to learn how to sell crafts at that event and if it attracts the right crowd for what you’re selling. If you can’t go in person, ask a friend that lives nearby to go. If that’s not possible you’ll have to rely on word-of-mouth information from other crafts persons and reviews found in the craft show guides.

Which craft fairs should you do

When selecting craft shows, choose the kind of event that will attract buyers of the products you make. There are several different kinds.

For example there are fine arts shows which may or may not allow craft items. Another kind of show is the juried art and crafts fairs. There are events sometimes referred to as country craft shows.

Crafts are also sold at a variety of other events such as state and county fairs, mall shows, renaissance fairs and large trade shows. Trade shows for crafts are discussed in another article.

Fine art shows feature paintings, photos, posters, prints, sculpture, and other fine art. Often fine art shows are found in combination with the better craft fairs.

Juried art and craft shows are often the most lucrative market for the craftsperson. Because the event is juried, the crafts displayed tend to be better quality and higher priced. A juried show is one where slides or actual pieces of your work are judged by a jury committee who selects the best from hundreds of applicants. All of the finer art and craft events are juried to screen out mass made products from kits and imported items.

Country craft shows are distinctly different from the juried art and craft shows. Their main criteria for entry is that you aren’t selling assembled kits or imported products. The crafts exhibited are often for the home, usually selling from $2 to $50. These shows often work well for small inexpensive gift items. I have tried them with high-priced crafts ($150 to $200 range) and did not do well. When selling higher priced items, choose the more established, juried art and craft shows.

Renaissance fairs are outdoor events that include craft booths as a part of a total entertainment package. All the vendors dress in medieval costume and booths have the same theme. A variety of food, drink, jugglers, jousters, knights, and fair maidens abound at these festivals.

Mall shows are listed in craft show guides and periodicals. They are usually produced by the mall management, a show promoter, or a local organization. These shows are usually part of a tour sponsored by a producer putting on events in one or several nearby states. Many exhibitors follow the circuit for several weeks, especially in the fall and pre-Christmas months. Mall shows may be an option for otherwise empty weekends. Mall shows might help, too, in slow months like January and February.

Other special interest shows

Some possibilities for special interest markets for how to sell crafts include, but aren’t limited to:

Local fashion shows. Women’s groups and charity organizations often produce fashion shows for original work. Call your chamber of commerce and check the library for listings of associations in your area. Visit the large hotels and convention centers and speak with their public relations person. They have schedules of upcoming shows and producers to get in touch with.

Home shows and boat shows. Many major cities have a crafts show and a boat show at least once a year. Look for announcements in your newspaper.

Gift shows. Gift shows exist for both consumers and store buyers, usually held in large convention centers.

Flea markets. In some cities, flea markets have grown to include smaller, inexpensive craftwork. Booth rental is not as high as craft shows and they draw big crowds. Check them out, though, before you sign up, because almost all flea markets are full of garage sale items. Around Christmas time, however, smaller priced craft pieces like ornaments and toys may do well.

Applying for craft shows

Applications for craft shows will be mailed upon request from the show producers. Once you are on their mailing list, you will probably continue to receive applications for a few years. Many applications are due three to six months before the actual show date.

Better shows are juried. This means that the artist must submit slides or photos of their recent work and possibly a photo of their booth display to the show producer, along with a jury fee.

There is no guarantee that you will be accepted into a show with your first application. Craft shows will often give preference for reentry to previous exhibitors.

Hope this helps you learn how to sell crafts at craft shows.

The above article is copyrighted and excerpted from the book The Basic Guide to Selling Arts & Crafts by James Dillehay, member of the advisory boards to the National Craft Association and Visit

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