How to Sell Embroidered Items at a Craft Fair

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Mall shops have their appeal and discount stores draw bargain hunters. However, craft fairs, including bazaars, shows and festivals, are beloved by people who would rather purchase a handcrafted item than something that’s mass-produced. Figuring out how to get your embroidered crafts into a show isn't hard, so make plenty of hand-embroidered products to stock your booth and enjoy the experience of meeting shoppers seeking quality over quantity.

Start small. Research local fairs you’re considering attending. Craft fair planners can supply you with their expected demographics to help you decide if it’s worth your while to participate in specific events. If, for example, a fair attracts seniors and you make embroidered picture frames, glasses cases with monograms and tea towels featuring clever sayings that appeal to the over-65 crowd, you’ll fit in nicely.

Complete a fair participation form and obtain the best booth positioning possible, such as those near the entrance, bathrooms and food stalls, when you peruse the floor plan supplied by show organizers. Request a display table, chairs, signage and other items if you don’t own them. Some fairs rent out these items while others supply them free of charge.

Embroider a variety of merchandise in a range of colors, fabrics and styles. Create one-of-a-kind pieces that shoppers won’t find elsewhere. If you know that a certain type of your embroidered merchandise, such as baby bonnets, sells out, bring 100 pieces in white, pink, blue and yellow. You can always take orders for more if you run out.

Advertise your involvement in the fair. If your fair publishes a directory of exhibitors, submit an ad that will direct people to your booth. Use a discount offer, contest or promotion to encourage them to drop by.

Price your items according to your market. Embroidered garments, scarves, linens, bookmarks and other merchandise are labor-intensive, so using a standard formula that calculates a supply and material markup isn’t necessarily the best route to take. Further, the price you set for a craft show in New York may be considered exorbitant at an Atlanta fair. Know your market well enough to set prices. You can always change them on the fly.

Come to the fair prepared to take cash and cards. You’ll sell more embroidered merchandise if you take debit and credit cards. Decide whether accepting personal checks is worth the risk of having to deal with bounced checks. Craft fair pros avoid taking checks for exactly that reason. Hand-held credit card machines are worth the expense. Get one if your aim is to focus your energy year-round on craft fairs.

Capitalize on your persona as an artisan. Bring your embroidery machine to the fair so that you can personalize items or work on projects. Encourage shoppers to ask questions about your methods or to watch you work.

Artfully display your wares. Secure a huge tree branch in a cement-filled pot and hang embroidered scarves from small branches or use a small bureau to show off bookmarks, handkerchiefs and baby bonnets.

Avoid behaving in ways that discourage shoppers. Don’t read books, converse with other exhibitors, text, chat on the phone and otherwise ignore shoppers if you want to move your embroidered merchandise. Poorly made products are one thing. Poor behavior is another.

Bring supplies galore: brochures showing your embroidered goods, price lists, pens, a calculator, cash box, business cards and order forms for customized pieces to be made and shipped after the fair ends. Importantly, capture client names to build a mailing list so you can stay in touch with shoppers long after you tear down your booth and count your profits.

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About the Author

Based in Chicago, Gail Cohen has been a professional writer for more than 30 years. She has authored and co-authored 14 books and penned hundreds of articles in consumer and trade publications, including the Illinois-based "Daily Herald" newspaper. Her newest book, "The Christmas Quilt," was published in December 2011.

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