Tips for Indoor Craft Shows

With the Christmas craft show season upon us, preparing for a show can be an overwhelming process. Here are some practical tips, prepared by Karen Tiveron of Zippster.

Planning for the show:

1. Get all the pertinent info: show times, load-in/out times, load-in instructions, parking, what is provided (table/chairs/linens), exhibit restrictions (display height, what can’t be sold, etc.), whether access to electricity available if you need it, contact info for organizer, what is your table size. Prepare a checklist or worksheet for the day so you have all the info handy.

2. Work on your inventory: give yourself plenty of time to make sure you have enough items in a variety of styles, colours and price points. Try to get a sense of the target audience for the show so you can gear your display and items towards potential buyers.

3. Advertise: Do you own legwork to get the word out: Facebook, Twitter, forums, your own blog or website, an announcement in your Etsy store, Flickr, flyers on bulletin boards. If the craft show organizer creates a website for the show, make sure you send in some photos to be used for promotion.

Your display:

1. You will need a table covering if one is not provided; if possible, have one that goes all the way down to the floor (table cloths and bed sheets are a good option – go with a solid colour rather than a pattern). If plain linen is supplied, you may want to add your own topper or runner (if allowed) for a bit of colour and personality.

2. Create an interesting and eye-catching display for your items using a variety of heights; you needn’t spend a lot of money on display accessories, but do put some thought into what you are using to showcase your hard work. Take a look around your house to see what interesting objects can be used, but for a cohesive look, be consistent in the type of materials or colours used.

For example, this is my table set-up for Karen's Creations. I created height with bins and a shelf that comes apart for easy transport - I use the bins to carry my inventory:

3. Consider using accessories to fit a theme (colour, seasonal), but don’t over do it or buyers will be distracted by your decorations.

I really like Debra Norton's tables (Vintage Paper Parade), which have a unified colour theme and make good use of height (love the bunting!):

4. Create a banner or have a table sign identifying your business.

5. Consider bringing small lamps (if you have access to an electrical outlet during the show) or battery-operated lights to highlight your items.

6. If you’re doing a show for the very first time, practice your table set-up with a dry run, even if you just mark out the table size on your floor. Take a picture of your set-up so you’ll remember.

7. Your inventory and display should be easy to pack up and transport.

Preparing for the day:

1. Gather all your supplies ahead of time:
-put emergency items in a small toolbox: tape, scissors, marker, pens, extra price tags or stickers, any tools you may need to fix items
-keep money in a little box, out of the way yet accessible, or consider an apron (make sure you have lots of loonies, toonies, five and ten dollar bills)
-hand sanitizer, tissue, bag for garbage
-snacks, water
-business cards
-bags/packaging (do you need boxes and tissue paper for fragile items?)
-breath mints/gum
-credit card processing supplies and receipts, if needed
-inventory list to keep track of what you’ve sold
-sign-up sheet for mailing list if you have a newsletter
-lights and electrical cords if required/allowed

2. Your inventory:
-bring a variety of items in styles and colours, keep extra inventory underneath your table
-don’t overcrowd your table – if it looks too overwhelming, people won’t look
-it’s best to have your items individually priced; if appropriate, list the ingredients or materials used (if you make food or bath items, make sure you know what ingredients were used so you can answer questions about allergies. You may want to have samples or testers available).
-if the craft show is offering door prizes or a raffle for shoppers, donate one of your items nicely packaged and include your business card – it’s great for advertising!

Day of show:

1. Set-up: Allow yourself plenty of time to set up your display. Introduce yourself to the organizer and your neighbours. Find out where the washrooms are, and if there is a bank machine nearby.

2. Selling:
-keep the area around your table neat and tidy – store extra supplies and storage bins under the table
-keep your displays tidy but don’t jump up to neaten while a customer is browsing
-greet buyers, even if with just a simple “hello” or “good morning”; be friendly but not aggressive
-don’t talk on your cell phone while people are at your table
-explain the materials used or how an item is used
-if possible, wear one of your items (jewelry, knitting, clothes, etc.)
-eat only during the slow times (have a small snack before and after the lunch time or dinner rush)
-if the show is not as busy as expected, don’t complain in front of customers
-if you take custom orders, prepare a small portfolio or photo album showcasing your work and have order forms on hand
-bring something to work on
-you may have to defend your prices – don’t get defensive, just tactfully explain your process and time put into your work
-take photos of your table for future use – when applying for craft shows, some organizers like to see an example of your table set-up
-if you have a chance, visit the other vendors


For table set-up inspiration, take a look at Flickr group pools:

Packaging and display sources:

Retail Bag Company

King’s Display



Retail Depot:

Creative Bag

Progress Packaging

Also: dollar stores, home organization stores like Solutions and Kitchen Stuff Plus

Happy sales everyone! Please share your indoor craft show tips.


  1. Awesome post. Lots of great tips that would make any craft show experience more succcessful!

  2. This post made me follow your blog. I do craft fairs, but my table presentation needs help...Thanks for the great post!

  3. We're glad to hear it! Thanks Etsy Ketsy!

  4. Thank you so much for posting this! I'm getting ready for my first craft fair next month and this has helped me feel a little less anxious :) One question I have though, is what does else does the sign say on Karen's Creation table? All I can read is her name and Cash Only. Thanks so much!!

  5. I hope your sale went (or goes well). I suggest sending Karen a note to ask. Her shop is linked in the article above. Good luck!


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