Maximizing Your Craft Sale ROI

Have you decided to take the plunge into the craft sale scene? Tracy Parker and Kristen Himsl Hunter, crafters and co-organizers of No Coast Craft-o-rama, help you get the most bang for your buck by getting prepared and making the most of your time during the event.

By Tracy Parker and Kristen Himsl Hunter

Whether it’s your first time out on the craft sale circuit, or it’s old hat to you, there’s always room to make more of the limited time leading up to and during the event itself. Knowing how to get prepared efficiently and how to squeeze more value out of your day can make a huge difference to your bottom line. It’s essential to remember that shoppers want to buy from you, not a big box retailer. The more approachable, organized and welcoming you are, the more business you will get.


In the months and weeks leading up to the event, it’s important to plan wisely and anticipate obstacles that might prevent you from having things ready by your deadline. Keeping a detailed task plan can really help minimize stress and ensure that if something unexpected comes up, you can adjust as needed.

When you’re creating your inventory, determine ahead of time how many of each item you plan to make for the sale and use the assembly line method whenever possible. For example, if you plan to make 40 aprons, cut out the pattern pieces to make 40, then sew all the red aprons, then sew all the blue aprons, etc. until you have 40 aprons ready to go. Then affix price tags to all 40 aprons, add them to your inventory sheet with the prices, and move to the next product you plan to make.

Think about also making some samples or testers so that during the event you can lure people to your space with the offer of freebies. Some simple ideas like a button with your logo, to/from gift tags or a bookmark with your logo and web site are low-cost trinkets that people love and that will entice them to spend time looking at what you have to offer. You may even want to offer a special for customers who spend a certain dollar amount or buy two of a certain product. Rewarding them for being good customers makes them happy and can bump what might have been a pretty small purchase into something a bit more profitable for you.

Take the time to carefully consider pricing your work appropriately, because it’s one of the keys to success at a craft sale. Offering products in a wide range of prices helps boost sales. Many vendors at No Coast Craft-o-rama talk about the “20-dollar sweet spot;” however, each sale probably has its own sweet spot. Talk to people who have participated in the sale before and find out which products sold best for them. If customers can’t afford your $400 quilt, they may be able to pick up a set of your $25 quilted coasters. Make it easy for all kinds of customers to buy from you.

Another great way to reduce the stress of getting ready for a sale is to find out as much about the event as you can prior to the big day. What are the demographics of the shoppers? How long will you have to set up and tear down? How big is your space? Will you have wireless access? Are there food and beverage options nearby? If it’s a multiple day sale, can you leave your booth set up? Knowing these things will help you visualize and get mentally ready for what can be a very draining day.

It also doesn’t hurt to do a walkthrough of the venue and a dry run of setting up your space (at home where you can tweak it if necessary). Make sure when you’re planning out how you will display your products, you consider your vertical space as well as the table itself. Using eye-catching displays and shelving make your product stand out as much or more than your product itself. For table coverings, it’s best to use a solid color so that your product stands out, not the wacky fabric. Also plan to create a banner or cloth sign with your business name to hang prominently in your space. It should be very easy to read from a distance. If it might not be obvious what it is you’re selling or how it looks when worn, either set up a demonstration or model, or wear the item yourself. Web sites like are a great resource for photos and ideas you can use on how to set up a really visually appealing space, and may even turn you on to a great way to model your product!

At the event

The day of the sale, you should try to be well rested and as cheerful as you can manage. In surveys we’ve conducted after No Coast Craft-o-rama, customers have complained about certain vendors scowling at them or who don’t appear to be having any fun. As tired as you may be, the worst thing you can do is scowl at potential buyers. Ask your helper to give you a pinch if they see you looking glum! Or plan to bring some snacks and drinks to help keep you perked up. Even having a sketchbook, embroidery or some other activity to do during slow times will help you stay alert. No matter how great your product might be, shoppers are buying an experience-if they wanted a generic anonymous buying experience they’d go to or Target.

Another great life saver to your sanity is to get to know your neighbors, especially if you don’t have a helper to give you breaks. Offer to give them breaks in return. Consider your neighbors an opportunity – they may become a resource for you to find out about other sales or even refer customers to you. And it will be a very long day if you don’t establish a good relationship with them right from the start.

During your free time, there are several things you should plan to do. Always keep your area neat and organized. Replenish any depleted products. Make sure that you can find change when you need it. Remove any large bills from your cash box or apron and stash them somewhere safer. It’s also a great idea to stand out in front of your space and offer testers, freebies or samples of your product. Alternately, demonstrating your craft helps shoppers see the skill and time that goes into making your product. Either way, it’s a great way to bring traffic in and establish a rapport with customers. And getting out from behind your table helps you interact with your shoppers and answer any questions they might have.

Keep a lot of business cards on hand. Make sure that your business cards and any other materials you hand out have your email address and web site in a prominent place. A shopper should be able to look at your business card and remember who you are, what product you make, and how to get in touch with you. To make your life really easy, put the business cards in each one of your bags before the sale even begins. As a craft sale planner, I can tell you that customers do try to find you after the event. Having a simple, well designed business card or flyer makes it that much easier for them to contact you.

More Resources:

Flickr Group “Arts & Crafts Fairs & Shows:
Uline (Packaging Supplies):
Overnight Prints Business Card Printing: Business Cards and Other fun promos:
Indie Craft Sales:

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