Make Your Search Easier for Local Arts and Crafts Shows

Ways for Merchants to Find the Best Arts and Crafts Shows

Arts Fair Festival in Bellevue, Washington
John & Lisa Merrill/ Photodisc/ Getty Images

If you are a crafty artisan (or plan to be one) who does not have a brick-and-mortar shop, then you probably need to know where all the local arts and crafts shows are. You may depend on these dates and times as a big way for you to make your bread-and-butter.

The No. 1 question is how, when, and where are the next shows for your specific locations? How do you compile this information for yourself?

Sell Local, Search Local

It makes the most sense to look into which arts and crafts shows are within driving distance first. Not all shows and markets are created equal. Some are worth your time. Others might not be. Ask around. Scour online news sources for articles about arts and crafts shows that had a lot of people. A thousand? Several thousand? These are good numbers for a start. Most shows have an entrance fee, so weigh the cost of that against your potential to sell. 

Many artists and crafters enjoy and find it profitable to exhibit at shows, but would prefer to do it locally. There is sound rational in this decision if you are a new artist or crafter or if you are just doing this part-time.

One of the keys to being successful is to do some advance marketing. Do you have fans of your work? Then let them all know that you will be on display. Spread the word in advance of the show. Be your own best promoter.

Have a Name, But Need More Exposure?

So, let's say you have been doing this awhile now. Let's say that you have done your local circuit quite a bit. You have a little following. You think it's time to expand your horizons, but you can't be everywhere at once (especially during May and June, when arts and crafts shows hit peak times). So, consider hiring a trusted representative or salesperson to attend a craft shows outside of your local driving area.

This may feel like the next, huge step to take. And, maybe the time is right for you. You can divide the U.S. into geographic regions and if you hire a rep for each area, you can gauge the profitability of certain shows without attending them. Of course, there is always the issue that a representative can't sell your arts and crafts as well as you can, but with some good training and some good vetting, maybe the representative can.

Trade Publications

Organizers of shows soliciting your type of arts or crafts will advertise in trade publications. The shows more than likely won't be listed geographically but it's quick work to scan the listings or call for entries finding those within a reasonable distance from your business location. Most trade publications aren't only available in print, but online as well. For example, The "Handmade Business" magazine has a print version. But, the digital version is more versatile and easy to access.

Online Resources

Festival Network Online lists crafts shows by U.S. state or Canadian province and you can further sort by month. You can get a free basic membership or other memberships types with business tools from $49 to $89 per year.

"Sunshine Artist" is another informative website. It is a print and online magazine for artisans and crafters. It provides a comprehensive list of arts and crafts shows in the U.S. and Canada. You are able to search by category of art or craft, date, and U.S. state or Canadian region (or all three if you really want to tailor your search). While you can search for free, subscribing to "Sunshine Artist" gives you the additional benefit of finding out more detailed info ranging from show fees to application deadlines. Yearly cost for a printed subscription is $34.95, meanwhile, a digital subscription is $19.99.

The "Handmade Business" print and digital magazine have listings in print, and they have a good online search option too. It's updated weekly. And, you can search by numerous criteria such as show name, date, location, promoter, and type of craft sold. The cost for an annual digital subscription is $11.95 and $19.95 for a print subscription.

For more than 25 years, the Art and Craft Show Yellow Pages has been in operation. It allows you to organize craft shows by state without a subscription. That is about all you can do, which actually in many cases, will give you enough information to find the details yourself with more online research. To subscribe to the "Art and Craft Show Yellow Pages" starts at $40 per year. A big benefit to having this subscription is that it lists events up to a year in advance, which helps you plan your craft show circuit and lets you know about any early-bird registration perks.