How to Sell at Shows

About, Design


If you’ve stood next to your products watching people walk past you as you “hello” then you know the torture that can come from having a booth at a craft fair. You’ve worked hard on your product, decided to do a show, and have your booth set up just the way you’d like. Now you just have to wait and let the customers roll in, right?

What happened? Where are the customers? Where are the wods of cash you were hoping to bring home with you? We’ve all been there. Here’s a few tips we’ve learned that will hopefully stop this from happening to anyone else.

  • PUMP IT UP -Most list you’ll read will start off by talking about your booth. Don’t start with your booth. Start with the event. Start with building it up on your platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat. If you’ve got followers that live in the area let them know where you’ll be. People like connecting. That’s why social media works. If they have a chance to check out your product in person or meet you face-to-face they’ll likely make an effort to do so.


  • DRESS IT UP – Nobody walks onto a car lot and asks to see the ugliest car there. People go to what catches their eye.  Put as much effort in your booth as you do for your product. Make it stand out. DO NOT use one of those neon plastic table cloths you picked up from the dollar store on your way to the show. Those are ugly. It’s like going to the prom in your pajamas.


  • ASK YOURSELF – With most small businesses, you are your customer demographic. Meaning the type of people that will buy your products probably have a lot in common with you. It’s unlikely you’re a Northwestern lumberjack selling pink crochet doilies (if you are, contact me because you are awesome). So what would you like to see at a booth? What would draw your attention? Do that.


  • USE WHAT YOU HAVE – Once you decided that your booth is a priority and you have ideas swirling in your head, you’ll probably do a Google search or check out Pinterest to see tons of ideas. Unless you just have gobs of money to throw at a booth, don’t waste your money on purchasing a lot of decorations. Use what you have. Make some stands from leftover wood. Grab some furniture from the thrift store and dress it up. Use that same resourcefulness that made you a maker and focus it on your booth.


  • DON’T BE LATE – Just don’t do it. Don’t be late setting up. MAKE yourself be there early. Be the first one setting up. It will give you more time to get comfortable and get those confidence-juices flowing. Being late is very inconsiderate to the people hosting the show. Show up early and stay the entire length of the show. It’s just good manners and should go without saying.


  •  GET OUT THERE – Do not sit behind a table. You’re not giving out raffle tickets. You’re not selling something at a concession stand. You’re selling something you work hard at and believe in. Don’t hide behind a fold-up table! Stand up and get out there. Meet people. Enjoy yourself and make sure other people do too.


  •  YOUR STOCK WILL NOT SELL ITSELF – We all have this sort of internal scenario where we just put out our stuff and flocks of people gather around to “ooh & ahh” at what we’ve done. Guess what – that’s not how it works. People walk around a craft show and slow down at booths that catch their eye. They’ll pick up something that looks appealing. They’ll buy it if they feel it’s worth the price. Do anything you can to help that process. Help customers look at your items as something of value. If they perceive the value of your item is greater than the price, then you’ve got a sale on the way. This won’t happen by itself though. You’ve got to work for it. Don’t be pushy, but don’t let your customers walk away without an interaction from you.


  • DO NOT GIVE OUT YOUR BUSINESS CARD – I know this sounds insane, but hear me out. If you are speaking to a customer who is interested in your business, DO NOT GIVE THEM A CARD. Giving someone a card signifies that the transaction is finished and they are free to move away from your booth, like telling them they’ve got what they came for. You are effectively killing the conversation and the opportunity of a sale. Don’t close by giving a card, close with a sale. If they ask for a card of course give them one or if there is a particular reason like to do a custom order in the future. Overall goal should not be to hand out cards. Your goal is to make a sale.


  •  DON’T SEE COMPETITION – If selling just doesn’t come natural for you, holding your own at your booth can really be a challenge. Here’s a tip – do not compare yourself to others. You are not competing against anyone there. You should only be competing with yourself. Focus on doing a better job at this show than you did at the last.


  • EMBRACE THE COMMUNITY – You’ll meet some of the friendliest people at shows. Every other maker there is going through the same thing as you. Make an effort to talk to the folks there. If you like something, give a compliment. Gather ideas for your next display. Ask them about their products. It won’t take long for you to realize that sometimes the best customers you’ll have are other crafters. They’ve spent the whole day looking at your booth and as soon as they get a little cash for themselves, they tend to shop.


  • DON’T PANIC – There you are – the show is wrapping up and you’re left with a ton of stock you didn’t sell. It happens every time and every time you’ll be tempted to start slashing prices just to get a sale. DON’T. Don’t start selling things from a scarcity mindset. When you reduce the price of your products you de-value your own work. Just because you still have it at your booth doesn’t mean it’s any less valuable or has any lower quality. If you really want to get rid of something then give it away. Free goes so much further than discounted.


  • LEARN FROM IT ALL – After the day is over and you’re all packed up make sure to take a moments and write down the experience.
    • What worked?
    • What didn’t?
    • What did you feel good about?
    • What do you think you struggled with?
    • What do you think you need to work on?
    • What caught customer’s eye?
    • What items sold the best?
    • Are my prices too high or too low?

Take a moment while the events are still fresh and make some notes for next time. Learn each time and you’ll get better and better.

These are a few tips I hope other makers will find helpful. If you’ve got a great product you owe it to people to put it in their hands. Don’t let a few simple mistakes at a booth keep that from happening.



The Unspoken Value of Handmade

About, Design

SawHorse tag

Handmade things are just better.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a butcher block or the weird looking coffee mug your kid made you in art class. There’s a value that goes past the quality materials or the maker’s detailed craftsmanship.

recent article suggested value can be broken into categories of functional, emotional, life-changing, and social impact. FitBits are a good example. FitBits aren’t just wearable technology. They’re motivation and a signal to everyone else that you’re taking your fitness seriously. That’s life-changing.

When I read this I  thought of the value associated with handmade items like ours at ScrapMills.  While we can’t promise much in the side of weight loss, our items carry an emotional value that can’t be found in other products. Handmade items have greater value.

You won’t find emotional value in something you picked up from Target. After you’re gone, no one will hope you left them that clock you got on clearance from TJ Maxx.

No matter how much you paid for it, products picked online or pulled off a shelf will never have the emotional value that clings to  a handmade piece.  After something passes through the first set of hands it starts to lose value. Your grandparent’s may have paid good money for some candlestick holders, but unless it fits your décor, you’re going to stick it in storage or sell it online. Regardless of how much is spent, mass production pieces don’t have a long journey before they end up in someone’s yard sale.

Functional items tend to depreciate faster than anything else. It doesn’t matter how good they look or how expensive they originally were. If you can’t use them, you’ll get rid of them. It’s because there’s no emotional value.

That’s where handmade makes a difference. These things may be functional, but the also serve an aesthetic and emotional purpose. They remind you of something or someone. They’ll remind you of your wedding day or that Bible verse your grandfather always said. They can motivate you to be adventurous or to take equal doses of coffee and Jesus.

They speak to you every time you walk past them. Before long they grow a voice of their own. It’s unspoken, but it lingers and it lasts.

One Thing



“I just haven’t decided what I want yet.”

It’s the thing we hear the most from potential customers. They’ve decided they’d like to order something, have a place picked out in their home, and they’re ready to put something there, they just can’t decide what it will be.

It’s a tough decision. There are several factors to consider. What will it say? What color? What size? What font? Not to mention the variety of items that can be made. In a little over a year, we alone have made over 400 signs. That’s not even taking into consideration the thousands of designs available on Pinterest and Instagram.

We’ve seen these factors and others hold potential customers back. The thing is, this isn’t just a small issue, it’s a documented occurrence in our culture. It’s called The Paradox of Choice. It’s a phenomenon studied by psychologist Barry Schwartz and it basically is summed up by the following:

We assume that more choice means better options and greater satisfaction. But beware of choice overload: it can make you question the decisions you make before you even make them, it can set you up for unrealistically high expectations, and it can make you blame yourself for any and all failures. In the long run it can lead to decision-making paralysis.

It’s the difference of walking into a store trying to find a pair of jeans you’ll be happy with by going through a rack of 100 pairs or three pairs. It’s easier to find the one you like the best in a smaller rack.

The good news is that you can easily avoid this dilemma with one quick thought.

What are the most important things to me?

It may sound cliché, but it works. Is if your family? Is it your faith? Is it the fact that before you do anything else you really need coffee? Think of those things then let us do the rest.

If it’s your faith, tell us your favorite verse or the one you know you need to see everyday. If it’s your family, just think of what you want them to know. You can commemorate the day your family started with a sign and your wedding date.

And trust us, if there were a Bible verse about faith, family, and a cup of coffee, we would have made that one a long time ago.

The main thing is just think about what’s important to you. We’ll  walk you through different colors and sizes and fonts. That’s what we enjoy the most. We love helping our customers create something that’s just for them.

Think of one thing and let us find a way to say it.

Halfway There


“Show up every day for two years.”  | Sean McCabe


When my wife and I launched ScrapMills Signs & More we really didn’t have an idea of where it would take us. We had goals that we wanted to reach and only knew of one way to get there; By continuing to work hard on each order we received.

Growing this type of business was something neither of us had ever done before so we sought out as much information as we could find. A great resources we came across was I read all his blog posts and started listening to his podcasts.

Out of all the advice we found the piece that resonated with me most was show up every day for two years.

So that’s what we’ve been doing. We show up.

It started out slow for us but by the end of last year we couldn’t believe how many signs we had made in our first nine months.

It’s now been a little over one year since we started. In that short time our business has thrived. At only three months into this year, we had already received half of the orders we had in 2015.

We’ve now reached one year but we think of it more like getting halfway. We are looking ahead to the two-year mark now. We aren’t seeing it as a finish line. Just checkpoint on the road, reminding us to keep showing up, every day.



The Tagline



Since our launch, our tagline as been “hand-painted custom signs” and it’s worked. It’s short and to the point. But while it’s been accurate, it’s been uninspired.

Sure we make hand-painted custom signs, but I think we do more than that. We want to be more than that. It was time for a change.

We wanted to change it not because we wanted to separate ourselves from everyone else who makes things from reclaimed wood. We wanted to share what makes us who we are, why we do what we do, and why we like doing it for others. We came up with this:

“Making who you are, a part of where you are”

You can buy things from any store and hang it on your wall or put it on your shelf, but we want to offer something more than that for our customers. We want to take a little piece of your individuality and allow it to make wherever you are, reflect who you are.


On Simplicity

About, Design

“In character, in manner, in style, in all things, the supreme excellence is simplicity.”  | Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

As our business has grown, so have our tastes and preference for the work we do. There are a ton of websites and online stores where you can purchase reclaimed wood signs. We want our work to be different. We have discovered that when given the option we would most always lean towards the feeling of simplicity in our projects.

And there’s a reason for that.

Our goal is to allow our work to occupy a space, not take it over.

We enjoy letting our signs be discovered, rather than be something that jumps out for attention as soon as you walk into a room. We hope anything you get from us becomes apart of your home and feels organic, like something you’ve owned for years. We work hard every day to make this evident in each thing we create.

The greatest thing about this work is that we enjoy the process as much as the finished product. Thank you for supporting us along the way!