Juried VS Non-Juried Arts and Crafts Shows
I get a lot of questions about the difference between Juried vs. Non-Juried shows. My first recommendation is: If you are just starting out, go to non-juried shows to gain your confidence and to learn about how to present your product and displays. Once you've done that, you are ready to move on to juried shows.
Non-Juried Craft Shows
A non-juried show is one that you can apply to without having to present your work in advance. You basically pay the fee and get your spot or booth at the show. It's great for first timers and newbie craft show participants as the costs are typically reasonable and the hours aren't too bad. You'll typically pay $100 or less to exhibit at non-juried shows. The shows are usually smaller community shows, like Christmas bazaars at churches, community parks, schools etc.
I started by showing at a non-juried Christmas bazaar at a local elementary school. I had a blast! For my first show, it was perfect, I had a small table and could experiment with presentation ideas and it only cost me $35 for the table. The show was also an annual one so it had a good following in the community. I made $600 on that show (which is very good for a small local show). But don't expect to make a ton at these, they are kind of a needle in a haystack approach, try them out if they work great if not try a different one.
If the show has a history and has been done successfully in the past, you should have a good experience. If it's a first year show, it's a gamble, and you basically will be the vendor trying it out to see if it works. Some great questions to ask the organizers:
- How many exhibitor spaces do you have and how many are filled (with what types of products)
- How are you marketing your show.
- How many years have you done the show and what is your typical attendance.
- In addition to the space fee do I need to pay a percentage of sales (some shows have this and it's always good to ask!)
- If it is a first year show, It can be extra challenging for a first year show to promote, find out what extra steps they are taking.
- What is included in the fee? (table, drape, chairs, electrical etc.)
Ultimately, non-juried shows are a great way to start your business, learn what works and what doesn't and gains confidence at shows. Once you have this basis move onto Juried shows! You can always keep going to the non-juried shows that have been successful for you as they cost significantly less than juried.
Juried Shows require that you apply in advance and send a portfolio of your work, including pictures, a resume, shows attended, and a fee to apply. You will get the specifics for each shows requirements after contacting them and getting the application kit, but typically you will have one or more of the above components. The reason shows have them juried is to make sure there is a good mix of vendors for the attendees and they get more applications then they have spots.
Once your application is submitted a committee will look over your portfolio and will then make their choice based on originality, creativity, marketability, general appeal, comparable to other submissions and quality of craft and booth design. (this is where your non-juried experience will help you). It's a great feeling when you are selected for your first juried show, or for that matter selected for any juried show!
Things to keep in mind for juried shows (make sure to ask the same questions as you would with non-juried shows):
- You pay a lot more but have access to 10-15 times the attendees at the non-juried shows.
- Your sales will be significantly higher that at the smaller non-juried shows. (if they aren't then don't do the show again!)
- You will in-turn need a significant amount more product than you would at smaller shows.
- A great way to see if the show would be worth applying to, is to attend the show this year to get a feel for the show.
Which type should you attend?
You can do just as well at both non-juried and juried shows (relative to the attendee numbers) However, the most important thing is to research the shows:
- Make sure you are fully aware of how many attendees to expect?
- How many exhibitors are there?
- Are there any exhibitors selling similar products or competing products?
- Make sure you pricing matches the attendees. If you have high end products, it's probably not a great idea to go to a small community show (unless that community is quite wealthy)
- If possible attend the show, then decide if you want to sell the next year, the best way to see if a show fits is by going to it.