A New Way of Organizing Craft Fairs

Holland Fabric House
Holland Fabric House on Flickr

Two of the craft fairs I'm doing this spring, Sensoria Saturday and CCDS Big Saturday are eliminating up front booth fees and trying out a new artist-centered way of collecting organizer fees.

If you're not familiar with the most common way to enter craft fairs, here's how it works: The artist pays a booth fee several months before the event (ranging from $30 to $400+). On the day of the event the artist keeps money from all sales. The artist assumes the risk in this model because he/she may or may not make more than was paid for the booth fee. Now let's compare the benefits and drawbacks of this new way:

Benefits of this New Way:
There is no up-front booth fee, so artists don't start the day "in the hole". On the day of the event, after all sales are made, the artist gives the show organizers an agreed upon percentage of sales (25% or 50%). In this new model, the show organizer assumes the risk, and their profits depend on how well the show goes for all artists as a whole. The artist still assumes risk because they have invested supplies and time into making products for this show, and are counting on it to be a success. This new way gives everyone involved and incentive to make the show a success.

Drawbacks of this New Way:
-This new way of doing craft fairs may not be ideal for superstar sellers, because instead of only giving away a flat fee to the festival organizers, they are giving away an amount that keeps growing as the day goes on.

-The opportunity to organize this type of craft fair is limited to people who have access to a substantial sum of money. The show organizer has to come up with all money up-front to make the show happen, and won't be reimbursed (and more?) until the show is over.

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