setting up shop

Waddup Just Lovely readers! I'm Leonora from Yellow Heart Art. I'm a graphic designer who started Yellow Heart Art back in January of 2011 as a way for me to be my own boss and be 100% creative. Unfortunately at my corporate full time job I don't get to be very creative (there is only so much one can do with slate gray…) My shop is full of quirky typography art, fun plushes and pretty rad-o necklaces.

Heather was super stoked to find out that I was going to be a vendor in Renegade Craft Fair(if you're unfamiliar with Renegade you guys can get acquainted right over hereShe asked if I could write a post about how one prepares for a craft fair. Obviously the answer is apparent here.

you panic.

No, just kidding.


Don't let the months leading up to your craft fair fool you. You might think"eh, its 2 months away, mama's got this". Well, I got news for you. Mama don't got this. The worse thing you can do is put off and procrastinate getting inventory together for your show. I found out I was accepted to Renegade back in May. That meant I had almost 2 and a 1/2 months to prep for the show, and that is exactly what I did. I dedicated at least 5 days a week to slowly prepping and building up my inventory. Which was great for when I ran into hiccups.

You know what hiccups I'm talking about. For me some of my hiccups was realizing that some of the clear protective bags that I had bought for my plushes didn't fit on some of them. Since I had started to make my inventory early enough in the game I was able to quickly order more supplies online and wait for them to show up. The sooner you start to do things the less stress out you will be when you need to quickly trouble shoot and fix a problem.

When I got to Renegade I was only given 2 hours to set up. Again 2 hours sounds like a long time but this was 2 hours to park the car, unload everything, set up my tables, tent, logo header AND all my inventory. Bub was so patient with me, our apartment looked like a scene from hoarders.

One trick I did which helped saved me a ton time wise was by arranging my table lay out ahead of time. Now maybe some of you have a perfectly clean 6' banquet table chilling in your home. I, unfortunately do not. I'm in an upstairs apartment and homegirl was not about to schlep some 6' table up and down those stairs.

Instead I got creative. I took some painters tape and made a banquet table size box on the floor. This allowed me to lay out all my products with out using an actual table. When I was happy with the set up I took some super ghetto fabulous photos of it to use as reference when it came time to setup at renegade.

(see? ghetto fab at it's finest)

I AM SO HAPPY I DID THIS. My stress level was THROUGH.THE.ROOF come the day of renegade, 2 hours to set up turned into 1 hour, then 1 hour into 15 minutes. Not having to have to THINK about where to set up everything was a LIFE SAVER.

                             (my set up the day of, not too far off from said ghetto fab photo)

Bubs has an obsession with these things called pelican cases? I dont know, they are these super weird industrial type looking luggage things and we are always those people that get "randomly picked" at the airports for a bomb search. These cases are HUGE and you can have a dance party on top of these cases and your stuff will be protected.

Anyway, I'm getting off topic here, but I have found using luggage to haul your inventory back and forth is way more efficient than just cardboard boxes. Luggage has wheels and holds A TON of stuff. I also took a piece of 8x10 paper, taped it to my luggage and labeled each luggage "A, B, C & D". I then wrote down what all my supplies were in A, in B etc so that the day of the craft fair I am not frantically going through 4 suitcases not knowing what is inside of them.

Ok, so I learned from my own mistake here. I had graphically designed all these super cute mini "plaques" describing how I made my products, I then put my price in a circle in the upper corner of the plaque. I did this for all my products (my prints, plushes and necklaces)

(I thought it was funny...)

Unfortunately somehow the day of Renegade I could not for the life of me find the wood necklace plaques. I started to freak but thankfully Renegade gave us all "vendor kits" at the start of the show. In the kit was a tiny 4" x 4" chalk board. I quickly scribbled how much the wood necklaces were on the board and plopped it down.

Let me tell you, not one single person asked me how much my wood necklaces were, but I was CONSTANTLY being asked how much my plushes, vintage keys and prints were. Turns out just having a giant "$30" sign was more noticeable than me trying to be all cutesy and fun with my description plaques. So if you can, I would just keep it simple and make one giant sign of how much your inventory is.

Think about it, when you step into Macy's do you like hearing "DO YOU NEED HELP WITH ANYTHING?!?!"  the SECOND you walk in the store? No, you don't, because you didn't even LOOK around Macy's yet to see if you even need any help.

Whenever someone came into my booth I just did a simple "hey how ya doing?" with a smile. If someone wanted to take it further and ask a question they did, if they just wanted to look around they did a "Im good thank you" back and continued looking.

I was never pushy and never once tried to "sell" my product to people. People know what they like, they dont need YOU telling them your stuff rocks. Let your product speak for itself. Let the customers feel like people and not just like "dollar signs" in your eyes.

Ok, I totally effed this one up. I had never done a craft show before, and I knew Renegade gets a TON of foot traffic. So I had asked other people who had done craft fairs before about how much inventory to bring. I got the same answer from everyone "bring more than you think you need".

Ok, so I took that to be "awesome i'll take what I think I need and then double it"


The problem was, I offered SO many different products. I had prints, plushes and necklaces. All of them ranging in a ton of styles, colors and sizes. So I went completely nutso and brought with me about 200 plushes, 100 necklaces and 100 prints.

Umm, yeah don't do that.

When doing a craft show just bring SOME of your products. You don't need to show the world ALL you have to offer (oops). Let me put it to you this way, if I do this again I will only bring 50 of each product as opposed to 200 and 100. I have about 30 prints for sale in my shop but only brought with me 11 designs to the show.

If you happen to run out of items its ok! On Renegade's website they have links to all the vendors going before hand so people can check out whose going. Some people saw my shop online and found my booth that way. They had found a print of mine online that they liked but noticed I wasn't selling it in person at my booth.  I gave them my card and said for them to etsy convo me what print they wanted, and as an apology for not having it here in person I'll offer a discount.

People were more than happy with that and every single one of them pulled through and contacted me via email. I even had one guy ask me if I made retro TV plushes, I told him I didn't but for him I would. We exchanged cards and I hooked him up. It's all about thinking on your feet.

here is a small list of things that tend to get overlooked 
when you are prepping for a craft show 

• Bring a cooler full of food and water. I was out in the sun at Renegade Craft Fair from 9am - 7pm. I brought with me 3 sandwiches and about 5 bottles of water. There is nothing worse than taking your hard earned craft fair money and spending it on a 6 dollar bottle of water.

• Have someone come with you. Think about it, nature is going to call eventually, you're going to NEED someone to watch your booth for you!

• Bring a ridiculous amount of business cards. I placed mine in piles at the corners of all my tables. I must have given away at least 500 cards

• If its outside bring an umbrella. Not for rain, but to protect you from the sun! Unfortunately for about 4 hours I was in DIRECT sunlight and got the worse dehydration ever. I wish I had brought an umbrella with  me

• Prepare for rain or wind: My craft fair was outside and this huge gust of wind came by and took out about 1/2 the booths. Anchor everything down and have a back up to prevent your items from getting ruined.

• Bring "handy wipes". Unsure if your craft shows is indoors or outdoors? Mine was outdoors so the only thing they had for us to use were porta potties. I am so happy I had sanitary wipes with me so I can touch the door handles with that and not my bare hands. *also handsanitizer since you will be shaking hands & handling moola!

• Protect all your products with "clear bags". I had put all of my plushes in clear bags so that if anyone wanted to touch them they wouldn't accidentally get any of my plushes dirty with their hands. Nothing worse than not being able to sell something since it got damaged at the craft show.

• Pre-package your products before hand. All my necklaces were all nicely tucked away in clear bags with a fun "graphic" stapled up top and a business card tucked into it. I left out one of each necklace on the display table for people to touch and try on. Once they purchased a necklace I put back the "display model" and handed them a pre-packaged necklace instead.

• Don't waste money on "cutesy marketing". I came reeeeeeally close to blowing a couple of hundred bucks on some custom made "Yellow Heart Art" plastic shopping bags. I originally thought to myself "Wouldn't it be cute if people walked around with Yellow Heart Art bags? Its like free advertising! And plus I'll feel super legit like bloomingdales!" Since I was already spending so much on the craft fair I opted to not do that. Instead I went to my local grocery store and hijacked some shopping bags. In the end only about 10% of the people buying products from me actually wanted a shopping bag. Save your money for more important things.

• If you have a giant banner for your shop do NOT hang it on the front table. People are always standing in front of tables. Instead try to hang it up top of your tent or hang it up high behind you. You want people to be able to read your shop name clearly.

• Bring a ton of change and get a Square account. Square is a service that allows you to take credit card payments on your phone. Do not get suckered into buying a square its 100% free. *paypal also offers a version based of squares idea, however there are fees.

• Bring sunscreen if its outside!

• Bring extra "supplies". I brought extra chain, claps and jewelry pliers so I can fix any necklaces issues. I also brought with me a needled and thread in case my plushes needed any repairing. You never know when something might come up!

• Know your audience. Sometimes things that sell well online will not sell well in person. My "I make pretty things all day" print is a HUGE seller of mine on Etsy and I think its because other handmade shop owners who also have an etsy account are purchasing it. That doesn't necessarily mean that my customers at Renegade craft fair all have a shop of themselves, most of the shop owners were there selling their own stuff! So I opted to not sell that print at the fair.

I hope I was able to help a little bit! I guarantee I missed some stuff, but this should hold you over for now :)

If you wanna be in touch you can reach me over yonder (side note: yonder is a word not used often enough, lets make the word of the day "yonder". use it, love it, be it)

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  1. Fantastic points covered in your article!! The necessities like water, shade and a sewing kit are so easily forgotten in the mad panic. The only other thing I would suggest is a chair for yourself and a book for those quiet times :) Thanks for writing such an informative post.

  2. I wish I was there. Your booth, display, is all so beautiful. Good job!

    ~Jocelyn (Nail Artist @ Polishpedia)

  3. Awesome post!! Thanks for all the great tips. I like your humor! :)

  4. Fabulous post - i love the list of things you never think about. I would have never thought to bring my own food and water but that is smart! :)

  5. Wow, this was an amazing post! I'm just getting started with my own Etsy business and took so much away from this! That is the cutest little setup at the show and I just adore the necklaces :)

  6. I love and second all your tips. My first show I brought SO much inventory because I was afraid I would "sell out." Selling out is a good thing! It's a good problem to have :). Now I just bring enough and drive traffic to my website if something sells out.

  7. Thanks for the tips!


  8. Great post! Thanks for all the info :)

  9. Great post! Thanks for all the info :)

  10. ok, quite possibly THE BEST post i've read in a loooong time! love her writing style and the tips are on point!! I'm scribbling notes for myself. :) THANK YOU!! loved it. :)

  11. I don't think you need a book for a Renegade show! Or a Stitch Rock show!

    The pushy sellers: I randomly came across an indie market in Chelsea last May. I stopped at a booth with well done jewelry and was considering buying something but the chick got all pushy and would not shut up. She also started spouting off about her supplies and how she has to travel the world to get these items to make her necklace. Really? I've seen the beads in both Indianapolis and Miami, not to mention at Michael's! That lost me....she just assumed that I would know nothing about supplies or how to make jewelry. SO yeah...I never do that.

  12. Such good tips Leonora!! You are amazing- seriously. I am so impressed with your booth!! (not that I wouldn't expect it to be fabulous) :)

  13. Loved this post! Thanks so much for sharing. I have several craft shows coming up and these tips are so helpful!
    Thanks <3

  14. great tips! i only go to a couple craft sale type events a year... and always stress out! the last one was so windy, our canopy just about took flight! i've decided, i'll stick to the indoor ones. :) would LOVE to be closer so i could check our Renegade... but Canada is a bit far away.