Things You'll Need For a Craft Show

I haven't seen many blogs about how to get yourself set up as a small business as a crafter, and start going to craft shows, so I am going to write a short blog about the basics, and things you will need. This might seem like a no-brainer to some, but for newbies like myself, I think this will be extremely helpful.

Each state is slightly different, however, since I am a sole propietor, which is compromised of a very small business run just by one person, my work is done through the state of Missouri.
First, to legally sell in Missouri at craft shows or to vend out of another place of business, I needed to register a fictitious name. The name of my store is "Ivory Isis" and I am selling as a sole propietor, so all I had to do was register at There is also a FAQ available at that explains the process, etc. Your fictitious name needs to be unique, which can be kind of a problem - unless you're me, and you happened to once go by a rather unique name online, and you decided to use that name for your business.

Once you have your fictitious name, you need to register for a tax ID so that you may legally collect taxes at craft shows and then remit them to the state later.
You can register online at
Complete information on business tax for the state of Missouri can be found at online.

You will also be expected to correctly calculate sales tax for each purchase from your customers, collect it, fill out a form and send it back to them. You can find the sales tax rates for the city that you are selling in on Google. Most craft events will already have the tax forms available for you, but if you need to find them, I've been pretty successful with Google lately.

Other items you will need if you are at an indoor craft show will be fairly simple.

For an outdoor craft fair, you will need at least a 10' by 10' outdoor craft tent. These can be fairly expensive - I purchased one for $90.00 off of eBay, only to find that I don't have anywhere to store it, so I had to return it. I've seen some for upwards of $250.00, and you can find ones that come with side panels, which can help with the wind. The problem is that, if you purchase a tent, you may also need weights, and weights can be expensive. I have seen professional weights for tents online for $50.00 or more for each weight. You can make your own weights out of concrete and PVC tubing from a hardware store, however, this may be too time-consuming or you may not have an area where you can properly put together the concrete. If you can, your best bet may be to find an indoor craft fair. The easiest and cheapest weights are sand bags, or sand in milk jugs. If you purchase an outdoor craft tent, you may also have to come up with some decorations for it to draw people into your tent, and that is more money being spent that's not on your items. You will also need a table that you can sit at, and at least one or two folding chairs.

Tables - You'll need at least one or two tables - I recommend long ones. You may want to get table cloths as well. Some indoor craft shows will supply you with tables, which can help save money and time for set-up.

Banner - You will want to have a banner to identify you and a business card holder. You can get a fairly decently priced one, using your graphics and logo, from - alternatively, you could make a banner out of fabric scraps with your name on it in felt lettering. I have seen this done at a lot of craft booths, and it's a cute alternative, although it will take some time to make.

Business cards and business card holder or flyers - You will need a logo for your business, so that you can properly be identified, and business cards. You can make your own business cards, but I recommend hiring a graphic designer. Being a graphic designer myself, you could always hire me. My email is and I do great work! However, you may also try to design a business card yourself. is good for printing and they run a lot of specials, so watch out for those. For business card holders, I have seen plenty of nice ones on eBay and Etsy.

Holders and Displays - You will want holders for your items - I use jewelry racks as well as earring racks myself, but you can make holders or use some creativity in this process. I have also made some jewelry holders out of painted cardboard trays from soda (from Costco) and using some tissue paper and scrapbook paper for the background, then adding clear tacks to place the necklaces or bracelets on. This was pretty easy and cheap to make, and it still looks nice, but rather rustic, which is fine for my product. You'll want to pick things that match what you're selling - if you're selling something refined-looking, you'll need something just as refined to match your product. I also picked up a few jewelry mannequins from a seller on Etsy that were fairly inexpensive.

Cash Box and Card Reader - I also purchased a cash box (you can find cheap ones on eBay, no need to spend $50.00 or more retail) and a Square Reader to take purchases from credit cards from my phone. There is more information about the Square Reader at but basically, you sign up, download an app for your smartphone, and they send you a card reader so that you can swipe transactions. You can also use an apron to hold your money in, or a larger size type of wallet. The card reader is free, but you Square 2% per transaction every time the card is swiped, so make sure that the person buying knows that they will be paying sales tax, plus the 2% for using the card reader. You don't want this to hurt your sales, and if you're like me, you've already priced your items at quite reasonable prices, so you'll want to pass that cost on to your customer. There are other card reader apps out there, but Square is my personal favorite because it's simple and it does what I need it to do. If a credit card is declined for any reason, try again, but do not try more than a second time. Explain that they will have to find an ATM if they would like to make a purchase if the card is declined again.
For the cash box, it is recommended that you start out with $100.00 to 200.00 in various denominations of paper cash and coins. If you are doing a smaller show, you may be fine with starting out with around $100.00. A little tip with cash box transactions - a customer may hand you a $10.00 bill, for example, and then say they handed you a $20.00 bill. It can be a good practice to place the bill under the cash box for a moment until the customer has gone and made their transaction and walked away. This keeps you from getting scammed by a customer.
If you decide to take checks, ask to see their driver's license. Write down the driver's license number at the top of the check and verify their name and address. This is what I used to do when I worked retail, and it helps dissuade people who might bounce a check.

Receipt book - You will want to have a receipt book on you, with double sided receipt tape. Keep all of the receipts and mark down all of the sales made so that you can easily put together a write-up of the sales from your event later. You may want to hand out carbon copies of receipts to customers as well.

Gift bags - I have a surplus of small gift bags myself, or you may want to buy small organza bags or other plastic bags for your items. If you have items that may break easily, you will want to have newspaper on hand to wrap them in.
For the most part, this will be what you will need if you want to start doing craft shows. It's quite a bit, but if you can get organized, it won't be nearly as hard as you think.


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