Who Put The Rusty Nail In My Craft Show Cheerios?

I ran my end of the year craft show numbers for 2013 and I’ve got to say I’m discouraged.  I take the $ I made, subtract the registration fees and yes, I made some nice money.  But then factor in time, gas, lunch, a helper if I need one, tent, tables, displays alllll that stuff (not even including what the materials for my products cost) and was it really worth it?  I don’t know what my answer is.  Well, I know what my answer SHOULD be, but I’m still trying.

I’ve done 2-day art shows, I’ve done vendor nights at vineyards and country clubs, I’ve done shopping days in middle schools, I’ve done town festivals, church bazaars, and flea markets, all of these both near and far.  I have my opinions on what works for me, a few have been incredible successes – but a FREE show at a country club where in past years I’ve made $300-$400 in 3 hours, I made 13 bucks at this past year.  I can relax myself by knowing that my stuff isn’t crap, the sellers around me did poorly that night too, but come ON.

One resolution I have made is no more “craft” shows where there’s an Alex and Ani booth, 31, Tastefully Simple, Tupperware, etc etc etc.  My handmade items cannot compete with the sales tactics of businesses like that.

In addition to that declaration, when someone asks me to sign up for their “craft” fair – I understand it’s usually a fund raiser for an organization.  Once they get my 50 smackers (or whatever the registration fee is), what are they doing for me?  Where do they advertise?  What’s past attendance been like?  What’s their signage look like and where will it be?  Can they give me the email or two of crafters who have sold there before?  Even getting the answers I want for these questions, I know that no show is a guaranteed success.  Although where I feel it’s great to make a donation to a church or preschool, I can do that without schlepping out all my stuff to be disappointed.

*Bah* I sound so negative, but after doing this for a few years I’m ready for some more pay off.  I do some great shows and will continue to do them.  I’ve learned with those shows that the more I have, the more I sell, so that inspires me to keep making.  I work really hard and I will keep it up, but that night I made $13 – I could’ve probably made more on etsy from my couch in my jammies.

Anyone else been doing this for a few years?  I’m interested in your general opinions on shows.  On one hand, the money that I made is money I might not have made another way, but is that money worth the schlep?  Are shows changing?  I think I need to adjust my focus.


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