Artisans and crafters often sell their goods at art festivals and craft shows, some of which can attract a significant number of patrons and generate a sizable profit. Many high-end shows are juried, and require an entry process to be selected as a vendor. A bit of prep work can help you establish yourself as a business entity, showcase your work in a favorable light, and position you with a setup that’s easy to install at any number of venues.
Many art shows require vendors to have a business license and a tax ID number. Artists are considered entrepreneurs or small business owners, so many of the same business startup functions are required before you can start selling. Having a website in place, business cards for visitors, and professional branded packaging can give you a professional image and serve as a marketing tool.
Setting yourself up as a limited liability company, like an LLC, is also a wise move. It will protect you from some liability, including protecting personal assets, and help you at tax time. You can hire a pricey attorney, do the work yourself, or hire a formation service to handle it on your behalf. Regulations and rules on forming as an LLC varies by state, so be sure to check what your state requires before moving forward.
Different shows have different requirements for vendors, but most have a standard size booth ranging from 8x8 to 12x12. They may provide white tents for outside use and tables for indoor use, but ultimately, you might find it is in your best interest to create your own portable display that sets you apart from your competition. Creating an easy-to-transport “kit” can make set-up and tear-down easy, and you’ll be ready to go at a moment’s notice. Depending on what you're selling, you may want peg board for hanging products or pictures, and lighting to showcase your wares. You’ll want a design that allows for a smooth flow of traffic through your booth, while simultaneously ensuring you can keep eyes on products and customers.
Utilizing locked plexiglass display units can ensure your products are safely enclosed and protect against theft, but it can make it challenging for interested browsers to pick things up and examine them. Some artists opt to extend their creativity through their displays. This might include draping necklaces over backlit driftwood, displaying clothing on vintage mannequins, or placing jars of honey in large baskets supported by multicolored raffia. You'll want easy-to-transport materials, so consider the weight and dimensions of your materials.
Once you do your inaugural setup, take high-quality photos of the display and your products. This will come in handy if you apply to juried shows that require a photographic submission. According to Artist’s Network, your setup will also come to be part of your brand, so your style should be reflected throughout.
According to Fairs and Festivals, having a credit-card processing system in place is crucial at art shows, as is having a cash box. Tracking your sales will be important when it comes time to file your taxes, so good record-keeping is important as well. If you have an extra set of hands in the booth, it can be easier to work with customers, check them out, wrap their purchases, and spell one another when you need a break. If these are paid employees, you may need to classify them as independent contractors and issue them 1099s at tax time. A good accountant can also be an asset, especially when your business really takes off.
Selling your arts and crafts at fairs, festivals, and markets can be both rewarding and profitable. Having a ready-to-go setup can help ensure a professional look, an easy prep, and simple storage when you're attending multiple shows.
About the Author:
Derek loves rockhounding and writing about his experiences on Hobby Jr. He hopes to encourage young people to find a hobby they love.
Derek is not connected nor affiliated with any of the links included in his article above.
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