Whether you’re brand new to participating in the Craft Lake City DIY Festival or a seasoned exhibitor, here are a few things you’ll want to think about in the days, weeks, & months leading up to the big event!

Talk to Your Customers

This is arguably the biggest contributor to financial success in a market or festival environment. If you’re on your phone or doing other downtime activities during public hours, you’re missing out on the opportunity to engage with local arts-enthusiasts, build friend relationships, make sales, & encourage contact post-fest for custom work. If you’re generally a shy person, try to push yourself outside of your comfort zone by talking to every customer who enters your booth space. Talking about yourself can be uncomfortable for some people, but remember that festival-goers are there with the intention to learn about you & your unique story, and they want to support our local artisan base! If they make a purchase from you, that item becomes that much more special, having been imbued not only with the meaning of your story as a small local maker but also with the positive experience of a great (even if brief) connection. It’s always helpful to book a friend or family member to help you at your booth; consider who can be there with you who is excited to hype up your work & might be on the chattier side!

  • Practice an elevator pitch for your brand or product. DIY Fest attendees tend to be passionate about local makers and small businesses, so buyers will feel more compelled to support you if they know your backstory or mission. What sets you apart?
  • Tip: Try to be cognizant of not saying the very same thing to every customer, since you might come across as robotic to those within earshot as you engage other visitors. Merely acknowledging your customers with a “hello” usually isn’t enough to convert a sale. Relax & keep your engagement authentic. Ask open-ended, progressing questions! Take an active interest in having a conversation!

Meet Your Neighbors

Leverage your downtime at the festival by getting to know fellow CLC DIY Fest makers. This is an incredible networking opportunity as well as a way to make friends & share your passion! Each festival day there is a window of time between exhibitor arrival & public hours (during which Craft Lake City does a security sweep). Beyond being a great chance to refresh your display or restock products, this is prime time to mingle (& shop!) from the hundreds of talented local makers who are making this wonderful event happen.

  • Similarly, plan on padding your DIY Fest schedule with a helper (or helpers) to ensure you have time to shop & experience the festival at large! Note that, due to liability issues, Craft Lake City & our volunteers cannot booth-sit.
Be a good neighbor

Be friendly, say hi! Your booth neighbors can become great friends if you are proactive about getting to know them during your time together at the event.

Click on the boxes below to learn more about each topic!

Don't ask your neighbor to booth sit

DON’T ASK YOUR NEIGHBOR TO BOOTH-SIT FOR YOU SO THAT YOU CAN SHOP! It’s one thing to ask them to watch your stuff very briefly while you run to the bathroom if you have a lapse in friend/family assistance, but it is NOT cool to ask someone to watch your spot while you spend a prolonged period walking around the festival & shopping. This obligation prevents your neighbor from fully running their own business, making sales, & establishing relationships with festival patrons. Similarly, consider that asking a neighbor to watch your stuff while you run to grab food will likely entail an uncomfortably long time commitment, as there will surely be a significant wait time at any given food vendor. Reminder: CLC & its volunteers CANNOT booth-sit for you, so plan on bringing helpers throughout the event!

Consider that some people have fragrance sensitivities

Please be mindful about any strong fragrances you might want to bring into your space, like incense, smudge sticks, or strong perfume. It’s always good to ask the folks immediately around your booth if they’re OK with you using fragrances. If your making process itself involves strong smells (such as photo-processing chemicals), please contact the Craft Lake City team in advance so that we can help map you strategically to minimize disruption to booth neighbors & ensure adequate ventilation!

Stay in your designated space

Don’t spill outside of your designated space and into other people’s spots. Stay within the dimensions taped down on the floor for your exhibitor space. Space poaching is a big no-no! Relatedly, spilling into the aisleways can pose a safety hazard for festival goers while impeding wheelchair access.

Take Care of Your Body

Being in a market setting can be emotionally taxing. You’re putting your heart on your sleeve as you display/sell work that you have poured your soul into & so tirelessly created. It’s been a lot of long days (weeks, months) preparing inventory & perfecting all the preparations for your booth & branding. Here are a few tips to consider in prioritizing your physical, mental, & emotional wellbeing amid all the hustle, bustle, & excitement!

  • Pace yourself! Think carefully about pacing your preparations in the weeks/months leading up to the event. Leave yourself plenty of time to prepare. If you procrastinate, you risk experiencing some serious burnout! 
  • Get a good night’s sleep in between each day, especially the night before load-in. You’ll be tempted to stretch yourself thin to get a ton of inventory prepped, but sleep is such a crucial investment, especially before Day 1 (which sets the tone for the entire event).
  • Fuel your body! Pack plenty of snacks, water, etc. to tide you over as needed, & to anticipate long stretches of time when you cannot leave your booth (think load-in/set-up, peak hours, etc.), or when lines at food trucks are super long. 
  • Pack SPF! If you’re an outdoor vendor, we strongly encourage that you wear sunscreen during the entirety of the festival. If you’re an indoor vendor, consider that you will likely be spending some time outdoors for breaks, to get food, loading in/out, etc., so we recommend packing a bottle of sunscreen. The August sun is no joke!
  • Try to get as much sleep as possible leading up to the event.
  • For ideas on navigating the emotional aspects of managing a small business, check out this blog post!

Focus on the Qualitative Experience

Focus on developing relationships with life-long, returning customers over making one-time sales. Make your mission clear and visible to engage customers

  • Offer incentives for customers to keep shopping from you after the festival is over
  • Hand out business cards or have a QR code to promote your social channels
  • Consider, too, that many shoppers prefer to reach out after an event wraps up to request custom work!
Factors that play into your success

Consider that there are innumerable factors that play into your financial success (as well as emotional fulfillment) at an event like this: Many of these are within your control, although certainly not all of them. Here are a few areas in which you, the exhibitor, can set yourself up for success!

Click on the boxes below to learn more about each topic!
Compelling merchandising/eye-catching display

This makes you stand out from the crowd, encouraging traffic to your booth! Your mandatory “back wall” is a great way to put this into practice (more on this below).

Strong branding

A snazzy business card, consistency in packaging/signage, & overall great branding is highly appealing to buyers, especially those who might be purchasing items at DIY Fest to give as gifts!

Variety of price points

Whenever possible, plan on bringing products in a range of price points so that you are not immediately excluding shoppers with lower budgets while also providing opportunities to shoot for the stars if you encounter a big-spender.

Variety of products
  • Variety IS the spice of life! Find that sweet spot of providing a range of product options for your customers that doesn’t verge on “too much” (think analysis paralysis).
  • NOTE: There are many exhibitors within each given category, so keep in mind that you’re not going to be the only one selling XYZ. Having unique designs or branding will set you apart! 
Attitude/demeanor/willingness to engage customers
  • The golden rule: converse with your customers!!!
  • If customers have a fun, positive experience talking to you, it makes them all the more likely to support your business endeavors. Not only that, but being friendly & open while selling your merchandise makes attendees way more likely to tell their friends & loved ones about you/your business!
Pre-festival marketing
  • Let everyone know you’ll be at the event beforehand! Share the news with friends, family, & loved ones, as well as your social media followings. If you let people know in advance (& give them reminders), you’re sure to get many visitors specifically to your booth!
  • Beyond just asking friends & family to show up for DIY Fest, consider asking them to cross-promote that you’ll be at the event to reach even broader audiences!
  • For more ideas on pre-festival promotion, check out this blog post!
Come prepared with an adequate volume of merchandise

Don’t burn yourself out, but remember that this is a huge festival with over 20K attendees each year! Don’t set yourself up for failure by under-preparing inventory. It’s impossible to know how much to bring or what to plan for, but trust your gut. For those who sell non-perishable items, be ambitious with your inventory prep but don’t burn yourself out–you could always accumulate your extras as backstock!

Price your items, or provide a pricing sheet!

As a shopper, it can feel uncomfortable, annoying, or downright rude to have to ask a vendor how expensive something is, & some shoppers might be afraid to ask (especially if inquiring about MULTIPLE products)! This is a personal decision, of course, but consider that you can avoid a major pain point for shoppers by making your prices easily identifiable on your merchandise or somewhere in your display.

Offer a variety of payment options

You won’t miss out on a sale if you’re able to anticipate many different payment methods! Some folks only bring cash with them, others will rely solely on Venmo. Many will opt for credit card payments, sometimes using a service like Apple Pay. If you have a plan to accommodate myriad payment methods, you will be able to secure more sales!

Providing sales/promo incentives
  • To further entice potential customers, you can consider offering special rewards like giveaways, promos, bundle deals especially for the event, or other engaging pricing strategies. This could also be a great way to promote your participation in the event leading up–incentivizing buyers who visit you at DIY Fest!
  • Consider offering bounceback incentives for people who either visit or purchase from you at DIY Fest. How can you convert them into lifelong or returning customers?
Consider lighting for your display to catch the eye

This is ESPECIALLY important for outdoor vendors in the later hours of the event (it’ll get dark, therefore difficult to see your products with street lamps alone)! For indoor vendors, you will not know in advance what the lighting situation will be for your specific placement. Some areas of the venue are more dim than others, but regardless, smart lighting can really draw attention to your merch.

General Tips

Don’t leave the event early! It’s really important that you stay for the entirety of public hours, while being mindful to stay on time for when you have been asked to be at your booth before security sweep at the beginning of each day. Barring an emergency (in which case, reach out to CLC staff or volunteers as soon as possible for assistance & permission to leave), exhibitors found leaving their spot outside of the designated schedule jeopardizes your ability to participate in future events with Craft Lake City. Note that festival-goers (read: customers) might be counting on your business being there at the event, & you’d be letting the customer down if you leave early or just don’t show (plus, you lose out on the sale)

  • Leaving early looks really unprofessional & could threaten your relationship with CLC. Our organization makes a commitment to providing a full festival experience for attendees, & having gaping holes on the exhibitor maps or empty booths makes for a sub-par event.
  • Make sure you have a plan for if you happen to run out of product. Even if you have nothing left to sell at the actual event, you’d be doing yourself a disservice by leaving & abandoning a golden marketing opportunity. Back-up ideas for selling out of merch: bring a clipboard to take down custom order requests or capture newsletter subscribers, host a social media giveaway or incentive for people to follow your account, bring sample items to represent your work even if you don’t have anything to sell (making a compelling display), pass out LOTS of business cards!
  • If there’s an emergency or a problem, let us know — we will do everything we can to help you!

Loading in

  • Keep your schedule free THE ENTIRE designated load-in day! You will be assigned a specific load-in time approx. 1 week leading up to the event, & it is very important you stick to it. With a huge number of exhibitors to load-in during a very narrow time window, Craft Lake City’s production team puts in dozens of hours of careful timetable/map planning to ensure smooth logistical flow. Being inflexible or late for your load-in time is a significant pain point and as we try to get hundreds of other exhibitors set up to sell! 
  • Bring a dolly & a friend for load-in day! Knowing that CLC has many hundreds of vendors & exhibitors at DIY Fest (with a limited number of volunteers on hand), we cannot guarantee any volunteer help will be available with your load-in. We love to do what we can to assist with the heavy lifting & set-up, but CLC only has so many dollies & representatives!
  • Plan ahead and get a good night’s sleep before your load-in day. You’ll feel great, refreshed and ready to tackle the fun weekend ahead. 
  • During load-in, you will have a very short time frame during which you are physically able to pull your vehicle right up to where you’ll be mapped. It is important that you & your helper(s) are prepared to unload your display/merchandise very quickly onto the drop spot to then move your car & accommodate the next person. 
  • Consider your parking plan in advance. There are free (street) & paid (lot) parking options, because of the volume of this festival we don’t receive free parking passes from the event venue for our exhibitors OR volunteers. If you plan on utilizing street parking, be mindful of street signage & neighborhood restrictions. Note that the parking lot may not be set up to charge when you arrive on Saturday and Sunday. If that is the case, you’ll need to pay for your spot once the parking lots opens (generally around 11 a.m.) and put the parking validation on the dash of your vehicle. Otherwise, The Fairpark will ticket your car. Unfortunately, we have no control over the parking rules.

Planning Your Exhibitor Space

Consult your acceptance email for the size specs for your exhibitor space. You must adhere to the dimensions designated in your email!

  • Craft Lake City is on a very tight timeline for the festival production and is only able to provide exhibitors with a short window to set up and tear down. 
  • Practice setting up your display in advance. Do a test run of your set up at home and make sure there aren’t any improvements that can be made. It can be really helpful to photograph your booth all set up so that you have a merchandising map at the ready!
  • Consider what type of merchandise you’re selling and how easy it’ll be to load-in/out and set up. 
  • You want your display to be completely set up by the time customers arrive. Having a messy/unfinished booth looks unprofessional and can deter customers from coming over, so having a set up that you can easily complete in the allotted time is important
  • Relatedly, if you tear down your display before public hours because you need a lot of time in order to accomplish this, that looks really unprofessional & will deter people from shopping from you. This also threatens your ability to participate in future CLC events (we notice!)

You can consult this webpage to see examples of the different types of exhibitor space sizes & ways to construct your required “back wall.” Generally speaking, a 5’x10’ space will accommodate a table & backdrop, whereas a 10’x10’ will serve as more of a mini-shop. Remember that the “back wall” is mandatory for all exhibitors, regardless of category, space size, or whether you’re indoors or outdoors!

Why do I need to bring a “back wall”? This serves as a great way for you to implement plenty of branding, signage, & even possible merchandise display (if you’re able to hang your merchandise)! 

  • Having all exhibitors use a “back wall” makes for a nice event design. This makes for a consistent merchandising experience for festival-goers. A market, especially one as large-scale as DIY Fest, looks very strange & fractured if only some people bring a back wall & others don’t. 
  • A “back wall” creates a focused interaction with the customer, making visitors feel like they’re really inside a mini pop-up shop. It helps to decrease the sense of overwhelm, allowing folks to immerse themselves into each individual branded space. Side walls are not required, but this can further help to accomplish this feeling.

Why don’t I learn about my location before the festival?

  • The short answer is: last minute changes ALWAYS happen! When we say “last minute”, we really mean it! In order to accommodate these shifts, exhibitor location are kept confidential. 
  • If you DO want to know your space in advance & choose where you get located on the map, we have a premium Special Placement option for that. Read more about it on our FAQ page.
  • Outdoor exhibitors, check out our blog post about preparing for inclement weather when planning your setup & packing list!

Special Notes for Craft Food Vendors

Be sure to research and secure your required food vendor permits well in advance. It takes significant time to prepare these materials, and failing to secure them before the event means that you WILL get shut down on-site by the health department. Craft Lake City provides vendor information to the health department in advance so that they know who will be at the event & who to cross-check for permits. Be sure to read your acceptance email for more information about required permitting for food vendors so that you know these expectations before committing to paying you exhibitor fees! Don’t do yourself a disservice by putting off this crucial step of your participation! Please note that Craft Lake City cannot provide refunds to any food exhibitors who are shut down by the health department due to a lack of permitting, not adhering to proper food handling protocol, or otherwise.

Use your best judgment in deciding how much product to prep: There are innumerable factors that play into one’s financial success & sales in a festival environment such as DIY Fest, & it is impossible for Craft Lake City to provide estimates on how much product we suggest that you bake/make. The best thing we can suggest is to research the market & scope out the other vendors in your category. You can preview all DIY Fest exhibitors on the event page of our website, sorting by “festival food” to see how many others we have in this category, as well as getting a sense for how many are in direct competition to your specific type of food product. Past DIY Fests have consistently seen over 20,000 attendees over the course of the 3-day weekend, but we cannot predict consumer patterns or appetites! You know your product & your business best, so use your best judgment in developing a gameplan for food prep/volume. When in doubt, you can always try getting in touch with other vendors (especially seasoned DIY Fest participants) to see if they have any specific guidance to impart!

For more information about required craft food permitting, click here.

Want to learn more about Craft Lake City? Check out our programming here!