6 Tips for Becoming a Traveling Crafts Merchant

Although the internet has done a lot to bolster business in the crafts market, you can generate even more sales by displaying your wares at trade shows, festivals, and fairs. There’s just something about talking directly with customers that helps them truly appreciate your work. So, why not join the increasing number of artisans who are taking their efforts on the road? Here are six tips for becoming a traveling crafts seller.

  1. Create a production schedule. If you’re accustomed to being in your studio or workshop most of the time, you’ll have a big adjustment to make. Once you hit the show circuit, you’ll spend much of your time selling and traveling, so you’ll need to rethink how and when you create new work. Some artisans dedicate themselves to their craft for a few months and then hit the road. Others produce wares while they travel. Remember to include your production methods in your show display, because people tend to take greater interest in a product when they can see how it was made.
  2. Make sure you’re legal. In order to collectcrafting tax on sales of your wares, many states ask you to apply for a sales-tax permit. Some cities also require additional permits. Be sure to check with show organizers or local officials and know the rules before you put up a display.
  3. Stick to a travel budget. Travel options abound, and it’s important to remember that your expenses will eat into your profits. Some crafts sellers reduce costs by using a travel trailer to go from fair to fair, which gives them a place to sleep and store inventory. Others prefer to rent hotel rooms, or stay with friends and family, and transport their wares in the car, or if more space is needed, hitch a trailer to it.  Some sellers ship their goods ahead of time to the the shows, although depending on the weight of the packages, this can be expensive.
  4. Do your homework. Figure out which events draw the most visitors who spend top dollar. Festival Network Online maintains a database of more than 23,000 events, and Crafts Fair Online can help you plan and organize your schedule. It’s also wise to talk with artisans who have traveled the circuit for a while: Ask them which shows are best — and which ones they avoid.
  5. Develop an eye-catching display. Selling wares at a craft show is like selling goods in a retail store: You want to wow people to draw them in. Attract passersby by using fabric skirts, hand-painted signs, and tabletop displays that call attention to your wares. Be prepared to put up and tear down your customized booth at every show.
  6. Be prepared to accept credit cards. Customers often want to pay for purchases with a credit or debit card, so you’ll need to find a way to accept these payments. GoPayment offers a perfect mobile app solution for vendors who are on the go.

About Suzanne Kearns

Suzanne has been a full-time freelance writer for 20 years. She’s written for numerous business and financial publications, such as Entrepreneur, Reason, and Home Business Magazine. She blogs regularly for Money Crashers and Feefighers, and ghost blogs for a few well known CEOs. Her goal is to eventually work from a remote island equipped with Wi-Fi.
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