149: How to Run a Successful Vendor Fair Booth on a Budget

With some planning, smart shopping, and a little help from your smartphone, you can make your first show a success without spending a lot of money. Photo via Pixabay


Guest author, Kim Thomas, shares some tips and resources to help you make your vendor fair a success. Learn more about Ms. Thomas is at the end of this post.

Craft shows and vendor fairs offer an amazing opportunity to display your wares, engage customers, and make sales. If you are selling at a vendor fair for the first time, it can be intimidating. However, with some planning, smart shopping, and a little help from your smartphone, you can make your first show a success without spending a lot of money.

Pick the right fair

Whether you are selling artwork, food, craft items, or any other products, Shopify points out that you need to pick the right show or fair to sell your goods. Do your research before shelling out the cash for a booth. Do the organizers allow duplicate booths selling the same or similar products? How many people have attended the show in previous years? What kind of advertising is being done? If possible, talk to other vendors who have been at the show in previous years and get information on how it’s managed.

Concentrate on presentation

A professional product display is essential for success. Potential buyers will walk right on by your booth space if you do not have an appealing presentation. You’ll need to showcase a wide variety of goods at various price points, and you’ll want the display to be attractive.

You don’t need to spend a small fortune to do it right. In fact, most items you need to create your display can be found at Amazon and shipped in a couple days if you’re a Prime member. By searching online, you can even find cashback offers to make necessary items even more affordable.

Use inexpensive tablecloths or flat sheets in pretty colors on your tables. Your display shelves should be unique. You can use things like wooden crates, unusual pedestals, fancy frames, and other items. Depending on what you are selling, display risers can help you show off your goods and also save space. If you are selling clothes, instead of placing them folded on a table, hang them on racks or on mannequins.

Use your phone to your advantage

Your smartphone can help you make sales in more ways than one. First of all, you won’t be able to have all your inventory with you at your booth, but you can create a photo book to allow buyers to see all you offer. A newer-model smartphone will allow you to take beautiful product photos for your book, website, and social media pages. To ensure your device is fully charged, invest in a wireless charger so your phone doesn’t run out of juice.

Your smartphone must have the capability to download and run multiple apps to help you take payments. For example, small business owners should have Square Point of Sale or another processor to complete credit card transactions. The Square app also lets you print receipts for your customers. Your business can also sign up with Venmo and other services to accept as many forms of payment as possible.

Note, if you have yet to establish yourself as a business, it’s wise to do this before the show and before you print any business cards. Registering as a business owner, particularly if you choose a limited liability company designation, legitimizes your business and makes it more simple come tax reporting time. Plus, LLC advantages like asset protection and certain tax perks will prove invaluable.

Find a hook

To get people to stop at your booth, you need to have a marketing hook. You want to be friendly but not pushy, and offer something of value to potential customers. If you are selling food, then samples are always a great draw. For other products, try to offer something free. You can offer “buy two, get one free,” “free gift with purchase,” or something along those lines. Entrepreneur.com suggests raffling one of your items. Ask visitors to leave their name, email address, and phone number to enter the raffle. Also, include a line item on the raffle entry form that asks if you can add them to your email list.

Selling at a vendor show can be challenging, especially your first time. However, with the right planning and research, smart marketing, and a thoughtful presentation, you can keep your budget in check while growing your base of customers.

Many thanks to Kim at ushealthcorps.org for contributing this article. Kim Thomas’ mission is aligned with that of US Health Corps, and that is to triumph over chronic disease. Her mission is to advocate for those suffering from chronic disease and she enjoys writing about maintaining a healthy lifestyle.


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© Laurel Hoffmann, 2021

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