Building A Successful Craft Show Booth

If you attend craft shows as a vendor, you’ve probably experienced this: people walk by your booth, take a peek inside, and then walk on. Even if you do your best to greet them and invite them to browse, they smile politely and keep moving. How frustrating! I know that I’ve been there myself. I know I have great products, if people would just take a moment to come in, I know I could make a sale!

There are a few basic principles that you can use to make your booth more appealing and attractive to those “browsers.” After all, once you get them in the booth, you can find out what they need and if you can meet that need. Plus, you have a chance to talk with them and make them feel welcome!

Craft show booths are notoriously small retail spaces that have a lot of competition. Even if there are no other crafters in your specialty, there are many other vendors who all want to attract buyers. You have about 2-4 seconds to attract a buyer’s attention before they walk past your booth. That’s a big demand in such a small time. The best way to do that is to create a single focal point item that will draw them in, or at least slow them down. This could be a featured item, or a large photo, or even a demonstration. Whatever best shows your products is what you want to choose.

Now, take that featured item and create some emotion around it. Show a photo of someone using or wearing it and having fun. Show the item as it could be used – with seasonal or even household items. Set this display in the front of your booth and put it at eye level, about five feet high. No one will want to look up or down to see your featured item. It has to grab their attention as they glance around the room.

Once you have their attention, it’s important to keep it! You have to stop their glance from moving to the next booth. One great way to do this is with booth dividers. These are solid walls of color between your booth and the next one. If your craft show doesn’t have dividers between the booths, make your own. It’s easy to do with some PVC pipe and rod-pocket curtains. At a minimum, make one for the back of your booth. Use a solid color that complements your products or uses the colors from your logo. Hang your sign on this divider and maybe some large photos of your products or you making them. If your focal point display doesn’t catch their attention, large photos are a great way to show what you do.

OK, so now you have piqued their attention. What next? Chances are, they will have made eye contact with you. Invite them into the booth by asking them if they are looking for anything special. If they are, great! Point them in the right direction. If not, then ask if they have ever seen something like your focal point item before. Whatever you can do to keep their attention on you! Show them your favorite item, or the most popular item. Whatever you do, don’t just ask them to take a look around. Point them to something specific. If you are general and vague, they will keep browsing. If you are specific, they can see your handwork and expertise in products they might not have considered.

I’d like to add a word about booth layouts. Most booths are 10’x10′. This is pretty small, and crafters with many products are tempted to lay them all out and crowd in as many different things as they can. I’d really encourage you to not do that. Show a few products in a grouping and then leave some space. Show another grouping, then leave some space. Your mind will remember things if there is a gap between items. If you have piles and racks of items, the browser will keep on looking. Keep some items in storage under the table or in the back of the booth so you can meet a variety of needs.

Once your “browser” has decided to become a “buyer,” then it’s time to make sure they have everything they need. Point out another item you have in a similar color or style. Identify any accessories that go along with their selection. Ask them if you can contact them to follow up and see how they like it. Get a way to contact them and then you can let them know when you have new products, a new idea, or are going to be at another show. Your existing customers are more likely to buy from you again!

If, after all your efforts, the person keeps walking, try to ask them why they are leaving. Say, “Is there something I can do to help you find something today?” This makes you sound helpful and opens the door to talking about your product. When they respond, you can answer their question (if you know the answer) and then say, “Is there something about my products that I could do better?” This gives them a chance to be helpful back to you! Everyone likes to help. This will give you valuable marketing information for future events.

One last bit of advice. Find someone who can sit in your booth for a moment while you walk around the show. Notice which booths catch your attention and make a mental note as to why. Notice which ones are busy and see if they have an idea you can adapt to your own display. Most of all, make contacts with your fellow crafters. We’re all in the business of creating, and it’s nice to know there are others who share your passion and zeal!

Article by:

Lisa Akers is a craft show marketer and a knitting instructor. She knits to bring a sense of inner peace and stillness to her life, and encourages her knitting and crochet students to do the same – even while knitting socks. Life’s too short to wear bad socks! Visit her website at and sign up for her newsletter to find out how handwork can improve all aspects of your life!

Last 5 Articles Added By Lisa Akers

About Lisa Akers

I'm a wife, mother of two, and a fiber artist. I have enjoyed knitting and crocheting items for my family for nearly three decades. I now use my experience to teach classes, design knitwear, and create unique clothing for families in the Denver area and worldwide.

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