Pricing for Profit at Craft Shows

Selling your handmade items at a local craft show can be oh so rewarding albeit a lot of work and research. I often get asked the question, how do you know what to price your items? That is a difficult question to answer. There is so much work that goes into handmade items, but I believe the most conflicting pricing obstacle is your heart. As creators, we are often tied emotionally to our handmade item, this is both a blessing and a curse. Our heart makes us great creators, but also can blind us to the fair market value. 

You can scour the internet for “pricing calculators” but ultimately, you are the only one who can set a price for your handmade items. Hopefully this guide will give you some food for thought, and help you think differently about your pricing structure. It is worth mentioning that this is written from a small business point of view, and not from a hobbyist. 

Consider the cost of the craft show. The one constant about craft shows is that the cost can vary widely from one show to the next. You will need to do your due diligence in vetting the craft show before sending in your vendor application. Consider the following when applying to craft shows: 

  • Many art associations and craft guilds have a craft show directory for your local region and is a reliable source of information to discover local shows. A simple google search will help you find this information. 
  • Is it a true craft, handmade show, or do they allow multi-marketing businesses? I am ambiguous about multi-marketing vendors as they DO bring in customers, but if the show administrators don’t carefully monitor how many, the show could get a bad reputation for not being a craft show. 
  • Do they vet the vendors? This is critical for a successful show. If they don’t vet the vendors, then the show runs the risk of having too many of the same type of handmade crafts. Possibly even having them placed beside you. Now, you should expect some overlap, but a vetted application that is filled out completely and accurately will better your chances of having a space that is distanced from another vendor of similar items. 
  • If you can, visit the show the year before, and check out the spaces, the hours, traffic, etc. to get a feel for the show and its viability for you. 
  • Consider the date of the show. I’ve seen show days where the Buckeyes are playing Michigan and the show was packed with football widows and I’ve seen shows in the same scenario that was a bust. 
  • Look for shows that have “shopping hours” of at least 6-7 hours. This shouldn’t include your set up or tear down time. 
  • Look for shows that advertise the actual “SHOW” to the public via Facebook, road signs, etc. I generally stay away from shows that are advertising for vendors, this is usually a newer show that will have lower traffic, but certainly a show to keep an eye on for the future. 
  • Here’s a little secret. For every craft show I set up at, I figure on 4 items paying for the cost of the show. So, if the show cost $60, then the bulk of the items I bring is in the $15 price range and under. 4 x $15 = $60. Generally speaking, the higher the cost of the craft show, the higher prices you can get for your handmade items. 

Consider The Cost of Goods. Keep an accurate inventory of your cost of goods sold. I think this part can be confusing and can unintentionally inflate the cost of your items. 

  • I do not calculate into the selling price the cost of glue, sandpaper, paint, reusable stencils, SVGs, packaging, branding etc. These are all consumables and are difficult to calculate a price per item and they are NOT the “goods” that are sold.
  • For example, a shelf sitting wood sign. The “cost of goods” sold is a piece of wood. A lot of us use vinyl in our handmade crafts and this can be tricky to figure. Technically if you are using vinyl as a stencil, it is not sold as part of the product, it is a consumable. But if you are adding the vinyl to the wood sign as the lettering, or you are making a t-shirt with HTV, then it is considered a “Cost of good” sold. Confusing, eh? 
  • Since vinyl is easily calculated by the square inch or square foot, I include it in my cost of goods, even if I’m using it as a stencil. Rules are made to be broken, right? 
  • Let’s go back to that shelf sitting wood sign. The cost of goods is a piece of wood 1” x 6” x 12” from a 1” x 6” 8’ board that cost $8.61. The cost of that 6” x 12” wood sign is approximately $1.00. Small business or hobbyist, you most likely will want to throw in a cost for the paint and vinyl etc, so add $3. Your cost of goods is now $4. 

The cost of time is variable. Time is valuable, underappreciated, and always underpaid. It can’t easily be calculated, even if you try and figure an hourly rate. What might take you an hour to create one sign, might take another person who has their husband cut, sand and their teenage daughter base coat all the signs only 15 minutes of her time. See what I mean? Right or wrong, this is the reason for the wide discrepancy in the selling prices. So how DO you figure your time? 

  • Let’s say minimum wage is $10 an hour and I can make 4 of those shelf sitting signs in an hour. I add $2.50 to each sign. If I make more than that in an hour, then I make more profit, if I make less, I don’t stress, because I’m sure that another item I have at the show will make up for the cost of time. Remember, time is variable. 
  • With the cost of goods being $4 and the cost of time being $2.50, the sign is at $6.50. Then, I would double the price for selling making it $13.00. This leaves me a little wiggle room to adjust the selling price if I need to go up or go down. I could easily double the cost of goods and use 1x the cost of time and sell the design for $10.50. If the show market value is at $15, then I’m making an even better profit. 

With all of this said, trust your gut instinct. Sometimes the “cost of goods” and the “cost of time” price just doesn’t feel right. Look at the item from the buyer’s perspective. Is it easily replicated? Have you seen the same saying on other signs at the show? Are their signs bigger or smaller than yours, do they have embellishments? Ultimately pricing is your decision.  

I hope you found this blog post useful. I have it created as a free PDF "Pricing for profit" that you can download here.

This Week, I have all of the SVGs I use for my Craft Show Best Sellers priced at $0 - $1 here. 

The Craft Show Series

  1. The Ultimate Craft Show Organizer
  2. Craft Show Display Set Up Tips
  3. Pricing for Profit 
  4. Craft Show Branding
  5. Craft Show Seller's Etiquette
  6. Craft Show Marketing Resources

Other Helpful Resources: The Ultimate Craft Show Organizer Mood Board Template for Branding 


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