I NEED A CRAFT SHOW CHECKLIST!
I got accepted to a craft show, now what?
So you’ve decided to take that next step with your handmade products and you’ve applied and have been accepted to your first show. Now the fun begins and you need a craft show checklist.
If you’re a lucky duck like I was, your first show will be well organized and you will be provided lots of support. The truth is, even with the best support, you still need to bring a few things to ensure everything flows.
After I left my full-time job, I learned quite a bit over the last few years from vending at craft shows. I feel pretty confident this year so I have set some lofty goals for shows. Lots of show, mean lots of planning. Since I am in full planning mode I decided to create a series of posts, this is the first, that I hope will help if you are just getting started or if you need a little push with getting organized.
Let’s get to it! The Craft show checklist.
The checklist format is invaluable to me because it removes some of the pressure and anxiety I feel when I am preparing for a show. It helps me remember that I have thought this through, I know what I need and I can go down a list to ensure that it is packed and actually goes with me. That’s the most important part, the things have to GO WITH YOU to the show. I’ve left a bag or two behind in the rush and it’s not the best feeling in the world, so now I take the steps to avoid it.
Here’s a list of 10 things I think you should take with you, AND a printable checklist that has lots more goodies that will help you plan and pack.
#1 Your goods!
I know you think this is soooo obvious but I have forgotten things on multiple occasions. It’s a good idea to decide on what will go with you and do an inventory so it all gets packed and gets to the show with you. What would a craft show checklist be without your goods? No goods, no money!
#2 Tent, Table, Chairs and Table Cloth
This need will vary based on the show. Some shows provide a table and chairs and some shows don’t. In my experience, most shows don’t so be prepared. Most shows have specifications on the limits to your table size and it is usually in some way related to the size of the space that you have been assigned or that you have picked. Be sure to get clarification on the details of your space (indoor/outdoor, size, tent required or not etc.) to ensure that you pick and pack the appropriate table/chair/tent combination.
#3 Cash Money!!!
This really should be on the list 5 times. DON’T forget your cash OR your card reader. It can be just a bit of a challenge receiving payment for your goods if you don’t have the change to provide someone with cash OR if you don’t have your payment reader or phone to enter payment details. It is not impossible but to avoid the headache of finding a solution, pack it and bring it with you. I like to get $100-$200 in singles/fives and sometimes tens just in case you need to provide some change. Let’s just say, if I don’t bring some change someone always needs change and I have to go scrambling. So if you can, take some change with you.
Bonus Craft show checklist Item!
Bring a fanny pack or a cash apron. Wait, are you laughing? I’m serious!!! I’ve read a lot of lists that say bring a cash box but I have found that I prefer keeping my cash/card reader close to me at all times. It is definitely safer and more convenient. Drop your cash, your card reader, some business cards, a pen, and a notebook and you have efficiency in full effect.
I use this one that I got from Amazon in black. It’s handy and doesn’t add any bulk to my cute outfits.
#4 Sign-in/up sheet
Get those emails! You can use a good old fashioned clipboard and sheet to get folks to stop by and sign-up for your mailing list. Lots of people are just browsing and may not be ready to purchase and you don’t want to lose the potential for a future sale. If you have an email list you are able to provide updates on all the happenings with your business, including new products, sales or shows you will be attending. It is a really great feeling to get a sale a few months after a show because you took the time to engage with someone and get their email address.
If you’re feeling fancy, it’s nice to have a tablet set-up. There are lots to tablet holders that are sturdy and that work really well and if you collect the email addresses digitally you save so much time on the data entry. Either way, you want to get those emails!
#5 Lights, extension cords, power strips
Yes, lights! Based on the location of the show or your booth location you may need some additional lighting to effectively display your work. There is one particular show that I do a few times a year and it is DARK. They warn you and recommend lights but a time or two I have left them when I wasn’t using my checklist and I regretted it. People could not see my prints well and I know I missed a lot of sales on those days
If you need lights or electricity be sure to bring extension cords and power strips because you never know where your power source is coming from. If you are able to get those details from the show organizer great, if not, be prepared.
It may even be worth it to invest in some battery operated lights if you are unsure of your power source.
#6 Water and snacks
Just like any other day you need to hydrate and eat. You will be there for hours, the show time plus the time for set-up. Don’t forget to add the time for set-up and break down. If you don’t have a booth buddy with you, standing on line to get food and drink is rarely an option, so having something with you will come in really handy.
You’ll be getting lots and lots of sales so you will need shopping bags. If you are able to brand your bags with a stamp or stickers and maybe add a coupon as a gift that shopper will be even more delighted when they get home and unpack.
Every state, county, city has different rules. There are some shows that will require a sellers permit of some sort so be sure to check with your show organizer and bring any appropriate permits with you or submit copies of them in advance of the show.
#9 Business Cards/Flyers
This may be even more important that your sign-up sheet. Craft show attendees, without fail, walk around and get business cards or flyers. they try to get anything they can use for your contact information so they can follow you on social media or check out your website.
In addition to selling goods, you will be doing a significant amount of networking with attendees, other vendors and maybe even retailers with wholesale inquiries. I have had wholesale discussions right at my table. Don’t miss the opportunity to share your information in some kind of free take-away.
Finally, #10 Breath Mints
Last but not least and maybe not the most important thing on a craft show checklist but no real explanation necessary. These shows tend to have long hours and you may have brought a tuna sandwich as your snack. The shows can get loud, you may need to lean in to talk to someone. Save yourself and keep your breath fresh and minty!
These 10 things are not the only things that you will need but they are things you don’t want to forget. I have put together a full checklist that I think covers most of what you will need with a few extra spaces for things that may be specific to your business or to a specific show.
Check out the list here and sign up for more great freebies and tools to help you operate and grow your business without breaking your pockets. This checklist helps you to think through the details and alleviate some of the pressure of show preparation.
If you’re a veteran handmade business owner and show vendor and know a few tips and tricks or items that should be on the list, please please please be sure to drop a comment below because we are all still learning and would appreciate the help.