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September 6, 2012

What Do Food Businesses Need To Know About Selling At Craft Shows

urban craft uprising exhibitLest you think crafts are something better belonging to your grandmother’s generation then you haven’t stepped foot inside a craft show recently.  As the artisan food movement has exploded so too has the crafting movement but this generation is bringing along its own quirky humor and slant on things.  This means you can find everything from the beautifully exquisite to the tongue-in-cheek funny all made by hand.  While many of these craft shows used to only feature non edible items, more and more of them are opening up space for food vendors to sell their products to the craft-show-going customer.  To find out what you need to know about exhibiting at a craft show we had a chance to talk with Kristen Rask, President of Urban Craft Uprising which is the not-to-miss craft show in Seattle. 

Craft shows like Urban Craft Uprising traditionally only dealt with non edible items.  Do you think that the local/handmade food movement help shift the mindset that food can be crafty?

I think a lot of people who are into craft, art and design are also excited about the food movement.  I know I am!  They seem to go hand in hand so it was great when we were allowed to start adding food into our event.

Similarly, food vendors don’t typically think about applying for craft shows.  What makes craft shows a great venue for artisan food producers?

Urban Craft Uprising gets thousands of shoppers in two days so you are exposed to so many new customers.  We also get folks who own their own shops, etc. so you never know when some wholesale deals may come!

Since Urban Craft Uprising is a juried show, how do you go about making decisions on which food vendors to bring into the event?  Or to put it another way, anything food vendors can do to up their chances of being accepted?

We do get a lot of sweet applicants and we can only have so much sugar so anyone doing other types of food is awesome.  We do also look at packaging and good design.

Photographs of the products are part of the required application.  Would you say that photos – depending on how they’re done – can make or break a food vendor’s application?

For all categories, photos is always very important

For those lucky folks who are accepted, what recommendations do you have on what they can do to maximize their sales during the event?

Being friendly is key.  It’s not cool to sit and read a book or look on your cellphone all day.  It makes you seem unapproachable.  If you are selling food, have samples.  So many people get sucked in that way.  Be prepared with lot’s of change, be able to accept credit cards now.  It’s so easy with stuff like Square.  But have a backup plan if you server isn’t working.  Have a fun and inviting booth.  Have fun!

People who attend craft shows tend to be very visual.  As such, do you believe booth setup and exquisite packaging play a large roll in how someone’s products sell?

I do.  Booth displays that are warm and inviting are so attractive, you gotta go see what the deal is.  I think our customers are expecting good design and packaging so if you can blow their socks off, that’s awesome.

Having vended at Urban Craft Uprising personally, I know that the customers who attend the show are very interested in hearing the “story” – how the vendor came up with the idea, what ingredients are used, where those ingredients are sourced, etc – behind the products.  Do you recommend that vendors bring printed marketing collateral with them, have e-newsletter sign up sheets, etc?  Any other tips?

A mailing list sign up sheet is awesome.  Any signs that help sell your product are key.  Anything they can take away, they will dig out and remember you and your awesome product.  I get a lot of emails asking about a vendor they really liked so make them do less leg work.

If you’re interested, Urban Craft Uprising is currently accepting applications for their Winter show but you have to hurry as applications are due September 7th (yep – tomorrow!).  If you’re not yet ready to exhibit at the event and happen to be in the Seattle area the first weekend of December I highly recommend you check out this show.  You will undoubtably walk away with a lot of new creative ideas not to mention find something for everyone on your holiday shopping list.  Best of all – show admittance is free (a donation is requested to help offset show costs).*

*Disclaimer – I am not involved with Urban Craft Uprising nor will I be exhibiting there this year.  I will however be one of the thousands of shoppers to stop by the event that weekend.

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One comment on “What Do Food Businesses Need To Know About Selling At Craft Shows

  • Chris on said:

    Craft shows are great venues for food producers. Often times, there’s not a single thing under $20 at a show, so food products are much more reasonable as purchases – especially for the holiday season.