Why I am Saying No to Fairs, Shows and Marketplaces

It’s easy to feel flattered when those emails hit your inbox “We just love Darling Betty and would like you to be a vendor at XXXXX event. Everyone will be flocking to this event and it’s a great opportunity to expand your business.”

The potential for sales is certainly intoxicating and the possibility of LOTS of sales at an event can really throw a veil over sense and sensibility.

But, the reality at these events can be quite sobering. Now I read between the lines.

No more…for the sake of Darling Betty I am saying no! No more craft shows or art fairs or marketplaces.*

Here’s why…

  • These events are not free. Whoever is hosting the event charges hundreds of dollars for a table or booth. Sometimes they charge a booth fee AND a percentage of your sales. They see Darling Betty as their customer and they get their money in full upfront. But if the crowds don’t come or the RIGHT crowds don’t come your sales potentials go down the tubes and you’ll be lucky to make your booth fee back.
  • Schlepping racks, tubs, inventory, banners and everything else in your booth/ table set up needs to an event is exhausting. If you forget something, you’re screwed.
  • Sitting at an event for 5- 8 hours (or sometimes more!) is a total time suck and a poor use of time. Most events I just sit, greet customers, hand out business cards and engage in a little chit chat. If I’m lucky, throw in a sale or two.
  • People in charge of such events market or advertise the event poorly. See point #1. You are at the organisers mercy and if they drop the ball you can kiss your time and money goodbye. They get their money and you don’t make anywhere near the sales you expect.
  • People running such events don’t understand buyer behavior. Just because you put me next to Santa doesn’t mean I am going to rake in sales. If anything, it’s the complete opposite. Moms with children at events do not shop. They want to do that in peace not when they are trying to get hysterical children to sit on Santa’s lap.


Darling Betty is a business and the goal at the end of the day is to make money. I love what I do, but craft shows, art fairs and marketplaces are just not a good fit for Darling Betty. They have proven to be an unwise use of time and money just to participate. Organisers do have good intentions and sometimes they are fundraisers for a community groups. Just like you put on your oxygen mask first on an airplane before helping others, you need to prioritise building a healthy and sustainable business before you support charitable causes. Flattery will get you nowhere so don’t make me help you with your oxygen mask before mine is on.

*saying no to PAID fairs, shows and marketplaces. Trade shows are an exception.