Tracking sales at craft fairs

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Tracking sales at craft fairs can be totally overwhelming – especially if you’re trying to do EVERYTHING by yourself! Here’s a tip for something I do, that helps me when tracking sales at craft fairs and makes my bookkeeping easier!

With craft fair season quickly approaching in many areas of the country many of us are looking forward to the opportunity to get out into the public again and sell some of that inventory that we’ve been making while being housebound due to the pandemic.

At the same time, we may be feeling a little anxious as well. After all, we’re sorely out of practice at being at public events.

Are you thinking about your upcoming craft fairs + tracking sales?

If you’re like many handmade business owners, myself included, you spend HOURS make up an inventory list with pricing to take to the craft fair with you.

You have the best of intentions about checking off each item, as you sell it, and perhaps make a little note about how it was paid for – especially those items that were paid for with cash.

But reality quickly sets in on the day of the craft fair!

You had thought that you were good to go and ready to deal with:

  • ALL the people
  • the little kids with sticky fingers (who absolutely have to touch EVERYTHING)
  • parents who don’t keep any eye on their kids
  • the constant questions of “how much is this” (when everything is clearly marked with a price)
  • the impatient shoppers
  • and that shifty looking browser who keeps coming back to your table, that doesn’t talk to you and avoids eye contact

But, then reality STRIKES!

  • You’re there ALONE!
  • There’s so many people!
  • So much to do
  • and, so many things to keep track of!

And, that inventory list that you spent hours creating ONLY works if someone buys a single item!!!!! It’s totally worthless at tracking sales at a craft fair when people buy multiple items 🙁

Tracking sales at craft fairs with an iPad and an inventory list

It’s like someone punched you in the gut!

You feel frustrated and think “why didn’t I think of that? What a rookie mistake! HOW am I going to match my sales to the PayPal transactions?”

Don’t panic!

And don’t spend precious time beating yourself up! You’re only human and we all make mistakes.

Try this tip for keeping track of sales

I’ve made the exact same mistake! Yes, I have!!!

Last fall I exhibited at a small, local vendor event and I decided I’d experiment with a different way of keeping track of sales. Yes, I still had my paper inventory list – BUT I tried something new.

I put two tags on every item that I had for sale!

The main tag was just slightly larger than a business card. It had my business name, logo, and website on the front with plenty of space to handwrite the item name and price and care instructions on the back. I created them using a Microsoft Word business card template and printed them on heavier letter sized paper – we all know that handing out business cards is pretty much useless at craft fairs. They usually end up in the trash.

The second tag, is just an inexpensive hang tag that I picked up in the stationary section of my local drug store. On that, I simply handwrite the item name and the price (including sales tax) – that one is ultimately just for me!

Tracking craft fair sales by double-tagging your items

Why two tags you ask…….

Well, it’s like this:

When I sell an item or multiple items, I just rip off those inexpensive little tags – staple them together and add a note as to how the customer paid for them.

Bam, I’m done and can easily match up my sales.

I have this kind of shorthand code for keeping track of how people paid for the items:

  • “PP” for PayPal
  • “S” for Stripe
  • “C” for Cash

It literally takes seconds to rip of the tags, staple them together and write down my little code and best of all I can easily match up the money I receive through PayPal, Stripe, Venmo, and cash sales.

If I’m super busy, I skip stapling the tags together until things slow down a bit – but I’ll stack them together (if a customer buys multiple items) and I always use my little shorthand codes for how those items were paid for.

This worked so well, that now I’ve gotten into the habit of double-tagging all my items before they get put away in the closet with my finished items inventory. It only takes a couple of minutes and it makes my bookkeeping so much easier!

What did you think of this tip? Leave a comment below and let me know.

Your in yarn & numbers, Nancy

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