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9 outdoor craft fair tips I wish I had known!

I did it! I successfully completed my first craft fair / art show. Arts in the Park in Richmond, VA is a long running, prestigious, juried art show with 400+ vendors from all over the country. The show this past weekend was the 51st show and the first show after skipping the last two years due to the pandemic.

I applied and did not expect to be accepted, but was quite honored and pleasantly surprised to be included. I spent the last two months building inventory and a creative, catchy display. I'm really pleased with how it turned out and received lots of compliments on it. I also got a lot of great ideas from shoppers for future crafts!

In the months leading up to the show, I scoured the web to find any and all tips I could for a successful show, and I found a lot of great tips! It's time I shared my own that I didn't see listed anywhere in hopes that the next neurotic, type A planner is out there looking for tips for their first show.

1. If you're selling small stuff, make your table counter-height

This is a tip I found only on one site and found it super valuable - buy some table risers, or a table that rises up to counter height, for easier shopping. I can't imagine my shoppers having to lean over a table to see all my miniatures. I bought these table risers on Amazon, but also found this adjustable height table at Home Depot that can be set to 3 different levels - it worked perfectly and would definitely recommend! In addition to this, I purchased a comfortable foldable counter-height chair so I could sit down periodically and not be hiding behind the counter-height table.

2. DUST!

I saw a tip somewhere about using a rug to cut down on dust in your booth. I thought this was so strange - surely a two-day event wouldn't generate that much dust? Oh, how WRONG I was! I grabbed a $15 area rug at a yard sale the weekend before and I am glad I did, but it wasn't enough. It ended up looking quite nice, and perhaps did help with the dust a bit, but oh my goodness - All of my items, tables, tubs, cash box, shoes, purse, everything is totally covered in a fine brown dust. This is likely because of being in a park and underneath a large shady tree, so we'll see how this compares to vending in a parking lot in a few weeks, but I found myself dusting off my inventory multiple times throughout the day and it still wasn't enough. I had no idea how bad it would be. I did not bring a swiffer or broom or anything, just a tiny paintbrush, that first day. Day 2 I brought the broom and swiffer which helped quite a bit, but it was still a constant chore. (Bring wet wipes and paper towels, too!)

3. BUGS!

Another downside to being in a park was the bugs. At one point, there was a large ant crawling on my miniature church box, which was amusing. I will be adding some bug spray and possibly a citronella candle to my packing list (venue permitting).

4. Bring a notebook

I got so many ideas from shoppers! I wrote down a number of suggestions on things people want to see or things that were asked for. One of the items I make is miniature polymer clay cakes - one shopper suggested putting them on magnets. So I brought some button magnets I had at home the next day and put a few on backs of a couple of cakes and offered free magnets with a purchase. A few people really appreciated this idea and it looked super cute on the tent poles!

5. Get a portable power bank

You can buy large power banks for USB and AC adapters - I purchased this one which has two AC adapter outlets and 4 USB outlets. I only used it when necessary to charge things getting low on power, but it lasted me all day (9am-6pm) and charged up quickly overnight. You can use it to plug in a fan for hot days.

6. Book lights

I spent quite some time researching lighting options. Even though we were selling in a tent outside, I found that a little extra direct light on my items really made them pop, especially the sparkly stickers on some of my cakes. These book lights come in a 2 pack, are quite cheap, and are battery operated / rechargeable via USB. These also charge quickly. I plugged a few in midday to give them some extra power, but one was left without charging all day. While it stayed illuminated, the light did dim once the battery was getting really low. These also clip onto a variety of surfaces and have 6 different settings (and are really bright!)

7. Lint Roller

Being setup under a big tree, even with the tent overhead, meant lots of little bits of debris on my pretty pink and white tablecloths. I packed a lint roller and this ended up being a valuable part of my toolkit.

8. Paperweights

Paperweights were useful for weighing down tissue paper, order forms, and any other light things that may blow away. I used two damaged miniatures for paperweights.

Side tip - if you don't have or don't want to buy tablecloths, you can do what I did and wrap one of my tables in cute wrapping paper (this was my table behind the "counter" to keep my cash box on and wrap up purchases and put into bags.

9. Put a special item outside or where people walking by will be likely to see (with a stack of business cards!)

This was a last minute idea, but I put my most unique and special item (A miniature movie shop diorama) right at the end of my table. Nearly everyone stopped to look, and it brought in some people who likely otherwise would not have come inside the tent! A lot more people picked up business cards, too.

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