Selling at craft shows can be a very profitable aspect of your business. There are many things to do when preparing for a craft fair, but there’s one thing you should consider: Should you accept credit cards?
Do you need to take cards?
First there are a couple easy questions to consider:
- What is the average price of your products? If it's mainly higher-ticket items that you are selling at craft shows, it might be a good idea to accept cards. Generally, people carry cash with them to craft fairs, but if you sell more expensive things they probably don’t have that kind of cash in hand. You don’t want to lose a sale just because they didn’t have enough.
- Think about the size of the fair. There is a difference in sales if you are selling at craft shows in your neighborhood park or a large holiday craft sale that everyone in your city tries to attend. When doing smaller fairs, you might not need to take credit cards. Larger events, like Renegade Craft Fair, lead to more sales and therefore you need to be able to take credit cards. It will lead to more sales by allowing customers to pay different ways.
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If you do decide to take cards, there are several credit card payment options that crafters can use. All of these services come with fees, so remember to read the fine print.
Online Merchant Account
One of the many credit card payment options available to crafters is an online merchant account allows you to take credit card information and plug the numbers into the computer when you get home or while selling at craft shows (if there is Wi-Fi available). You can also process the credit card over the phone using a touch-tone phone. The fees are pretty low, starting at $39.95 per year for Propay. In the past, people have used the “knucklebuster” credit card machines to take a carbon copy of the credit card information. In doing some research, it seems as though these machines aren’t going to be allowed anymore. Soon, you will have to use a credit card machine that allows you to swipe the magnetic strip of the card. You can always just write down the credit card information and plug in the numbers when you get home, though, this can be risky. Check with the craft fair organizers to see if you will have access to Wi-Fi at your location. If so, you can enter the card information right there. If not, then plugging in the numbers over the phone is your best bet.
Smart Phone Merchant Accounts
Another of the credit card payment options that crafters can use is a smart phone merchant account. There are many smart phone applications that allow you to take credit cards through your phone. There are some, like iMerchant, that don’t require a swipe. This kind of transaction usually comes with more fees because the card doesn’t have to be present to be charged, ie: someone could be giving you the information over the phone. There is a little more risk of fraud involved, thus the higher fees. SquareUp is one of the newer credit card payment options that doesn’t require you to have a merchant account. You just pay the fees that are stated in the contract. This application also comes with a little swiper that you plug into the ear jack of your Phone. It seems as though a lot of the phone applications are for iPhones only so this could be a problem if you don’t have one. If not, I would recommend Propay because you can call it in without needing a particular kind of phone.
Accepting credit cards when selling at craft shows can enable you to make more sales. Remember, though, that all of these services come with fees, so you should really evaluate whether accepting cards will help or hurt your profits when selling at craft shows There are also many ways you can go about accepting cards; research each one to determine which one works best for your business.
(Photo by Meghan Bell Wallace of Meg's Crochet Jewels)