Making money with crafts can be a rewarding pursuit, and selling at smaller local craft shows can be a good way to get started.
Selling crafts at small local craft shows such as church or school sales or small community organization shows has its pros and cons, you'll want to consider all sides before you decide to commit your time to selling at a smaller local show.
You receive direct feedback about your products
If your crafting business is new, a show like this may provide you with your first opportunity to get unbiased feedback about your items. The more opportunities you find for total strangers (i.e. people who don't tell you your work is amazing simply because they love you) to see and comment on your work, the more you'll be able to develop a sense a who falls into your target market, and how your work is perceived by those people.
You'll get to network with other crafters and show organizers
You'll have the opportunity to meet some like-minded people and perhaps you'll meet people who will help your crafting business grow.
At one small show I did, I met a fantastic carpenter. I was in the process of making some changes to my craft display, but what I wanted was well beyond my capabilities. This person ended up making my craft display for me for a very reasonable price. It was a win-win; I got a new craft display at a price I could afford, and he got some more business.
The booth fees are low
Normally booth or table fees for these shows are fairly low. You won't need to risk a lot financially to enter the show. If you're not ready to commit to shows with higher booth fees, smaller shows can be a way to dip your toes into the craft selling waters without a huge amount of financial risk.
The shows are usually easy to get into
If you are new to the process of applying to craft shows, the applications for juried art shows may feel a bit daunting. Attending a few smaller, non juried shows can help you to develop your displays and your products so you'll be ready with great photos, products and displays for applying to more competitive craft shows.
Making money with crafts
Of course I didn't forget, you're selling crafts to make money. While crafts that sell at smaller shows are typically lower-priced items, if you have the right items, making money with crafts can be easy at these shows because your booth fees will be quite low. Assuming you stick to small shows that are local, you won't have to factor travel or accommodations into your expenses before you can say you've had a profitable show.
The crowds are often not huge
Often smaller shows have limited crowds, so while they can easily be profitable because your expenses are limited, they are often not lucrative (that is, your profits may not be huge). You'd be hard pressed to make a living selling only at these small shows.
The shows are often easy to get into
This benefit can also pose challenges. If people selling at these shows are not really screened, you may find yourself at a show with a lot of low quality items. You might think that your gorgeous items would really stand out amid a room full of lower quality items, but that's not necessarily the case.
I was recently talking with another crafter who I met at a show I did a while back. He was at a show that I chose not to do and said he was not doing well because all of the booths around him were, as he put it, "junky". He said no one was in a buying mood and people were zipping past his booth (this is someone who normally does well at shows). After seeing booth after booth of "junk" people assumed none of the booths had quality items, and they walked through as quickly as possible.
Pricing can be tricky
Often shoppers at these kinds of shows are looking for lower priced items; the kinds of things you'd buy as an impulse purchase. If you make items that fit this category, you could do quite well at a smaller show. If, however, you make higher end items that must carry a higher price tag in order for you to make a reasonable profit, this type of venue may not be a good fit for you.
Making money with crafts at smaller shows is possible, and with the right product and expectations, can be a good starting point for building your crafting business. Be sure to weigh the pros and cons, and you'll make a smart decision for your own home crafting business.