What to Do when your Show is Slow

By Carolyn Edlund

Exhibiting at art or craft fairs this year? What can you do when sales are slow?


Artist Lisa Jaworski demonstrates plein air painting


All exhibitors want to have a profitable selling experience, but as we know, that’s not always the case. Try these tips to attract more customers.

Create a crowd

When a group of people gather in a booth, others are drawn, curious to know what the attraction is. Keep the energy going in conversation by planning ahead on what you will say when presenting your work. “May I help you?” won’t cut it. Share what is unusual or fascinating about your work. Start a conversation and ask questions, keep the flow going.

Scrutinize your display

Is it overly cluttered, or poorly lit? Your merchandise should be shown to its best advantage, displayed at varying heights for greater interest. Give your work some breathing space, and showcase it rather than crowding it.


Everyone loves to watch an artist at work. Share information about your technique and inspiration. If you’ve prepared ahead, you will be able to speak clearly about your art and touch on many topics that interest your audience, including becoming one of your collectors!

Adjust your attitude

Feeling negative? Does your body language say you’d rather be elsewhere?  Are you reading a book or talking on your phone? Hang up and get focused on the show. You paid the booth fee, so make the most of the opportunity.

Collect email addresses

You may not make as many sales during the show as you do afterwards. Be sure to follow up with all potential customers. Sometimes your “sales cycle” will take a little longer than a simple transaction, so don’t let those admirers who are still on the fence walk away with no further contact. When you look at your show experience as a first contact, you can plan marketing activities after the show is over.

Have a contest

No matter what is being given away, people are naturally interested in winning something. Whether the prize is given away at the show or later, you will end up with lots of names for your list.

Offer a giveaway

One fiber artist rocked her craft show by giving free temporary tattoos of her fun logo, drawing all kinds of attention. She made lots of sales in the meantime, from shoppers who browsed through her merchandise while in line to be “tattooed.”

Check your booth flow

Is anything blocking an easy entrance, or giving a psychological barrier to walking into your booth? You may be able to make adjustments at the show – or learn a tough lesson to improve your display next time.



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  1. you’re absolutely right about crowds drawing cuz they want to see what’s going on. keeping them there with a give away or art tattoo is a great idea…also i’ve noticed that demonstrating really does bring the crowd in as well! lots of good inspiration!

  2. Carolyn,
    In doing art fairs i have noticed that you have to read the body language of the people coming into your booth as well. I try to give my customers space and many do not want a conversation. They want to look with no pressure. I greet with a welcoming smile and “Hello”. Then I wait, watching to see what they are drawn to. I wait for questions or comments.

    I have done a give away that gave me a great contact list which I used to invite people to a local art show. One thing that was a people magnet was when I brought my puppy with me to the show. I brought her out of necessity (no one at home to care for her). I wouldn’t go out and buy a puppy for an art show though. 🙂

    Thanks for the pointers.


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