You nervously applied to your first craft fair, danced with joy when you got your acceptance email, and spent the last month preparing beautiful work to sell. Now it’s almost show time.
But before those wonderful customers step into your shiny new pop-up tent, it’s important to learn to be a good craft show neighbor. Craft show artists are among the world’s friendliest folks, and now you‘re one of them. This is not a business for grumpy people. A craft show is a small, temporary town, and like any small town, you’ll enjoy your first craft fair more if you form friendships with your neighbors right from the start. These craft fair tips don’t just apply to first-timers; even you seasoned crafters will have a more pleasant day if you make the effort to be a good neighbor.
Follow the Rules
Read the rules on your show application or acceptance letter, and follow the guidelines. Most show organizers have been in business for years and know how to keep hundreds of artists, tents, and customers organized and happy. If everyone agrees to follow the rules, it makes the show more enjoyable for all.
Be an Early Bird
Arrive early for set-up so you have plenty of time to display your work, and introduce yourself to your neighbors before opening. Arriving early also means you get a good parking space, and you don’t have to sit in your car waiting for everyone to navigate their vans through the crowded streets. If you have a very big vehicle, don’t block the street. Either arrive extra early or park at a distance and use a hand trolley to bring in your display. Many shows require this, so be prepared with your own sturdy trolley.
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Be Helpful and Share
Pack extra clamps, bungee cords, and lights in case your neighbors have forgotten something. Labeling your things with your name and cell phone number will help ensure that they make it back to you. If your neighbor needs a quick break, offer to watch her booth. Bring healthy snacks and cold drinks to share, too.
Be Friendly, but Not Annoying
While it’s important to be friendly at your first craft fair and all others that follow, don’t be intrusive. If you’re visiting your neighbor’s booth when a customer approaches her, stop telling the story about your mother’s bunion surgery and quietly step back to your booth. If customers sense they’re interrupting, they’ll hesitate, and your neighbor could lose a sale. Don’t engage someone else’s customer in conversation. If you’re away from your booth for too long, you might miss out on your own friendly customer who wants to buy your work.
What if There Is a Problem?
Once in a while, artists will have a difference of opinion over booth location or some other small issue. If you do happen to have a disagreement with your neighbor, be courteous and professional. If you really can’t resolve things like two creative adults ,ask the show organizer to help, and be gracious when you make the request. If you’re willing to compromise, the organizer will be sure to invite you back next year.
Don’t Pack Up Early
You sold out of everything, had a great time, made new friends, and lots of people signed your mailing list. Now you’re tired, and you want to go home. Don’t be tempted to start packing up early. Show organizers really frown on this. It makes customers feel rushed when they see artists putting things away, and you may miss out on a last-minute sale. I once sold a big piece ten minutes after a show closed!
Keep in Touch
A few hours before the end of your first craft show, remember to exchange cards with the new friends you’ve enjoyed getting to know, and be sure to follow up with an e-mail the following week. Many lifelong friendships have been formed between artists who have never even seen each other outside of a show venue. They just reconnect and catch up every year on the same street corner.
Good luck with your first show, and have fun!