Thursday, October 11, 2007

Craft show checklist

Craft show season is upon us and I've noticed lots of posts requesting information about what to bring in the Etsy forums. Although I am no expert, I have done a fair amount of shows during the last year or so and thought I would share my list with everyone - I hope it helps a bit.

Keep in mind that most of the supply items can be packed into a small (shoebox size) plastic bin - you don't need all you own - just a couple of tags, a small roll of tape, a couple of pens, travel-size tissues - you get the idea. When I do a craft show I only make 3 trips in and out. The first is to carry in my table and chair, the second trip is for 1 large tote with inventory and most of the display materials, and the 3rd trip is another (much lighter) tote containing my tablecloths and more display, along with my cooler (or insulated lunch bag in my case) on top.


  • Inventory - whatever you plan on displaying, along with extra items to fill in as your inventory sells down.
  • Money, receipt book, and calculator
  • Credit card imprinter and slips if accepting credit cards
  • Cell phone and 800# for credit card order (I have mine on a speed-dial so I always have it with me when needed)
  • Table/chair and tablecloths/coverings
  • Bags, packing materials and gift boxes
  • Pens and a notebook for ideas, suggestions, mailing list, etc.
  • Business cards with holder
  • Camera with spare batteries - I like to take pictures of my booth before the show starts. It allows me to make notes about space constraints, what displays worked, how items are positioned, etc.
  • Polishing cloth or lint brush - something to clean your inventory if it gets marked or dirty
  • Garbage bag
  • Directions, show application and acceptance, confirmation and copy of cancelled check
  • Cooler with snacks and drinks
  • Display materials
  • Mirrors, if applicable
  • Banner, if using one
  • Lighting and extension cords - mark your name on them, if possible
  • Credit card signage
Supply Kit
  • Scissors
  • Tissues
  • Price tags/stickers
  • Tape - include packing, duct tape and scotch tape for all emergencies
  • Safety pins
  • Paper towels
  • Baggies containing paper towel spritzed with window cleaner or damp paper towels for cleaning up fingerprints, spills, etc.
  • First aid kit - Advil, band-aids, antibiotic, hand sanitizer or baby wipes
  • Dolly, handcart, or rolling suitcase is nice to have for all of the transporting of goods

Outdoor shows

  • Tent with weights (filled water jugs or bricks will work if you can't use your tent posts)
  • Sunscreen
  • Display weights or something to make sure your displays don't fly off on you if a wind blows through the show

I'm sure there is more to add to this list, depending on what you sell - but this will get your personal list started down the right path!

Other "nice to haves" include a friend to help pass the time and watch your booth if you need to make a bathroom run, something to do during quiet periods, and an inventory list for a quick look to see what is selling and to check everything back in when you return home.

More helpful tips:

  • Pack the car the night before. The morning of the show is stressful enough without worrying about forgetting items or trying to get there on time for set-up.
  • Stay positive during the show, even it the show is slow. Nothing is more of a turn-off than to hear other vendors complaining while there is a customer nearby. You never know who is listening.
  • Make notes about the show - which items were noticed, comments on prices and displays, which items/styles sold the best, which colors appeared to be noticed the most, etc. While this won't be a hard and fast rule as to what to bring to the next show, it will give you an indication of what works in that area if you sign up for the show again.
  • Accept credit cards, if at all possible. Most people only carry a finite amount of cash and when it's gone - it's gone. It is unlikely they will make a trip to the ATM to pull out more money and drive back to the show to get your item (not impossible - just unlikely).

And finally, if you would like some display ideas, there is a flickr group with lots of pictures - check them out for great ideas!


marsha said...

Thanks for all the tips Bonny! I'll be attending a show shortly and this definitely helped!!!

knitsteel said...

This is a great post. Thanks for sharing it. I accepted credit cards at my last show and doubled my sales from the previous year. It cut down on the "I've got to get the money from my wife/husband" be-backs.

knitsteel said...

I'd add duct tape to the list too. That comes in handy for all sorts of things.

Bonny said...

Good thinking knitsteel - added duct tape to the list - thanks!

Feltland said...

OMG - you need to take your house with you ... Wish you luck with all your shows ...


Thanks bonny. This is very helpful

Happy House Quilts said...

I need to print this out!!! Thanks and soneone posted a link at etsymom street team so you might be getting some extra hits on this topic! whoo go girl!

This is such an appropirate topic this time of year...thanks so much for sharing! Jodi (fellow nh street team etsy junkie!)

Vintage Blue Studio said...

Thanks for posting this! I wont be ready for this season but I'm taking notes so that next season I can be prepared.


Rain's End said...

This list is great! Thank you for sharing this.