About the only thing I enjoy more than creating my bead jewelry at home is selling my bead jewelry at local craft shows and fairs! I’ve attended hundreds of craft shows and partipated in fair number myself. I am always dismayed, however, to see beautiful jewelry and pieces that don’t sell at shows simply because the artisan forgot some very basic rules of working at craft shows.

Here are some of the helpful pieces of advice and tips I can offer to the beginner bead jewelry artist and anyone else who is just starting out selling to craft shows:

1. Know Your Audience: Try to get a sense of what sort of crowd you are going to encounter at your upcoming craft show and cater your inventory to that crowd. While visiting the show each year is the best way to learn this, there are other methods you can use. Is the town where the craft show being held largely upper class or middle class? You might want to adjust your pricing accordingly. Are the customers going to be children or older people? If the craft show is near or in a school I almost always bring along a few “Kid Displays” where I place all my small plastic bead jewelry. I’ve had more than one child drag her parents over to my table to see the pieces I put out especially for them. If you’re going to be showing in or around a nursing home you might want to consider changing your inventory. Older customers love beaded eyeglass chains, bracelets with large, easy clasps and “smoother” beads that aren’t sharp on when laying against bare skin.

2. Use Business Cards: Every time I sell a piece of jewelry at a craft show I package it in a neat little bag with my business card inside. I do this because even though I already sold a piece of jewelry, I often have people contacting me weeks, months and even years later to see if they can order the same or similar pieces for friends and relatives. I also list my website on the cards to people can browse and by my items in the comfort of their own home!

3. Be Flexible with Pricing: This also goes back to knowing your audience. I generally do not put price tags on any of my pieces. This way people need to ask about pricing and I can adjust my price up and down a few dollars on the fly, based on the type of audience, the size of the crowd and whether or not I really want to sell the piece. And, yes, my prices sometimes change throughout the day. Some people come to craft shows expecting to haggle, so it’s sometimes wise to quote a price a few dollars more than you might normally ask so you have some bargaining room. Though you may be uncomfortable with this at first, I find it to be very helpful. I can’t tell how you many pieces I’ve sold only after talking with the customer and chatting about the price. One of my favorite methods is to sell a pair of earrings with a beaded bracelet for only a few dollars more. The customer likes getting a “bundled” deal and I like selling two pieces and making a little extra profit.

4. Accept Checks and Credit Cards: Cash is obviously preferred, but checks are easy to accept. In all my years of going to craft shows I’ve never been cheated by someone bouncing checks. Many people bring cash to craft shows, but sometimes there are just so many great things that by the time the person gets to your booth she might not have anything left! Credit Cards are a little trickier. If you’re going to verify the credit card then you’ll need an electric source and a telephone connection of some sort. A lot of people, myself included, will often just use a manual credit card swiper with carbon paper. No electricity is needed, you just enter the numbers into your computer or electronic machine when you get home. To accept credit cards you’ll probably need a merchants account and I’ve found that most local banks can help you out or point you in the right direction. It really isn’t very expensive to do. I set up my first account and bought my manual swiper and carbons for less than $50.

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