Craft Sales: How Much Do I Need?

A seller on Etsy posted that she was looking at doing craft fairs. Her product is unusual and attractive and she was wondering how many she’d need for a show. Other Etsians chimed in with their opinions and I snuck mine in as well. It’s a question I hear a LOT – and one I ask myself every show. One method to work it is this:

Use the 10x the booth fee rule of thumb. I use 10x the booth fee as my guideline for a good show. I usually aim for closer to 15x now but 10x is still ‘good’. So let’s assume this show will cost $40 for the table. That means, we’d like to make $400 from the show. Sounds great.

Make more than twice as much stock as the amount you hope to sell. I have never sold out at a show. I have sold out of specific items but never of everything I brought. At my most profitable shows I sell 20% of what I bring. So in this case, at least $800 (and really, probably closer to $1200) in stock, to make that $400 in sales.

Have your stock reflect a variety of price points. Yes $1000 in stock is easier to make up if you bring 20 $50 items. Most of the shows I do are small community ones. People shop for gifts. Most of my sales are in the $10-20 range. I just don’t sell that many items in the $40+ range. My stock reflects this – I have a lot of impulse items in the $1-$5 category. I have half or more of my stock in the $10-20 range. Then I have a few items in each price point after that – 20 to 30, 30 to 40 and 40+.

There are problems with this method. If you only plan to do one sale a year, you will be left with a lot of stock, even if your show does well. This method works best if you plan on doing sales regularly, for a while, because you can use it flexibly that way – as items sell, you can update your stock, move pieces into other venues and plan for larger shows or smaller ones.

For your purposes a ‘good show’ might only be 8x. Or it may have to be 20x. $40 a table is actually the higher end of the little community and school shows I do here but in some areas it may be the bare minimum. And while I’ve been told that the same 10x (or more) rule applies when your booth fees get into the 100’s or 1000’s of dollars my mind boggles at the amount of my stock that represents.

3 Responses

  1. Thanks Elaine for the numbers! I haven’t done too many shows recently but the ones I’ve done have been small community ones as well. I hadn’t really thought of a 10x the booth fee but it is a great way to judge your success!

  2. I think 10x is the basic amount for people who are seriously doing shows. Jenny Patterson of Quilted in Clay uses 12x. I have friends who do similar to mine who are happy with 5x.

    Depends what your goals are in the end!