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Hi! I’m Lucy.
Chardonnay and vintage finds lover, founder of the handmade jewelry brand bel monili *and* your new guide to making your handmade business WORK online.
The spring craft fair season is coming up quickly! This may be your first year selling your creations in person. Today we’re going to talk about one of the most important parts of selling at craft fairs – accepting payments.
First time craft fair sellers are in for a treat. It’s super exciting to be face-to-face with your customers. After selling online for a while, it can be a rush to hear people gushing over your handmade products in real time!
It can also be overwhelming. There are so many moving parts! Inventory, your booth, displays, packaging, and of course – accepting payments.
Even if you’re a seasoned professional, you may feel stuck when it comes to accepting payment in person. These days there are a variety of options, and customers may prefer one over the other.
So let’s talk about the different types of payment processing and which ones might be the best for you.
Disclosure: some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
If you are a brand new business owner, the first thing you need to do is set up a business bank account.
Yes even though you’re a very small business, you need a business checking account! Keeping your business finances separated from your personal account is the right thing to do.
Many banks have free business checking – do some digging and find a bank that will work for you. Some even have online banking so you never have to enter a bank building!
Believe me, separating your business and personal transactions NOW will make things a lot easier and smoother down the road!
While you don’t hear that fun “cha-ching!” sound when selling in person, the thrill of someone purchasing one of your handmade items is still just as fun!
When it comes time to accept the payment, you have several options.
Cash is still King, at least when it comes to craft fairs and shows. Many people still prefer to pay with cash. All sellers need to have change and a cash box to keep your money secure.
Depending on the size of the anticipated crowd, you should have about $200 in your box to get started. Make sure you have coins and lots of lower denominations to give change to your customers.
Remember, sales tax needs to be added to your total price. That’s why you need to be sure to bring coins!
Some people are wary of taking checks as payment, so you’ll have to decide if you’d like to accept them.
Feel out your customer as they complete the transaction. Any sort of nervousness or unease may indicate they’re up to no good. You can always tell them you accept cash or credit cards only.
If you do accept checks, make sure you see their identification. Write down their driver’s license number and phone number. You should probably refuse to accept the check if they refuse to give this information.
Most people are trustworthy, but again – this is up to you. I would say these days few people actually pay with checks, anyway.
While credit card payments can be convenient, it really does depend on where the craft fair is located. If you’re in a remote location, there might not be any WiFi or cellular connection.
In these instances, you would have to write down the customer’s credit card information and process the payment after the fair is over.
This can backfire for you as a seller. Many people use credit cards that are expired, over their limit, or worse – not theirs!
I think overall this risk is small, but it is there, so I want you to be aware of it. Luckily, today’s online payment processors have a way to curtail this type of transaction.
Websites such as PayPal and Square allow you to accept payments virtually. Your customer can pay you through their account, or you can accept credit cards and process them through your PayPal or Square account.
To deal with the no WiFi issue, Square has the ability to accept offline payments. You can process payments with credit cards just as you would with WiFi, but the information and actual charge will not occur until you are connected.
This is enough to dissuade anyone from knowingly using a maxed out card, or a card that’s not theirs.
PayPal has been around since 1998 and is now its own standalone publicly traded company. It is widely used and accepted, is fairly secure, and even has a point of sale system option.
You can set up a free business account to send and receive payments, you can send professional invoices for products and services, and if you follow their selling parameters, you can offer both buyer and seller protections.
The option I personally recommend is Square. Square has been in the mobile payment business since 2009 and made mobile payments an easy and affordable option for handmade business and small businesses alike.
You can set up a free business account through Square, which will allow you to accept payments and send invoices for products and services.
Square has a highly customizable, user-friendly app that allows you to create a product grid so that you can track and monitor your product sales: a feature that is extremely useful when you are preparing for shows and events.
When I am getting ready for a show that I have done in the past, I will often look back at the Square report from that show the year before so that I can get an idea of what items sold best (so I know what to make), how many transactions I had (so I can estimate how much packaging to bring), what my sales were (so I can make sales goals/predictions).
Square offers a wide variety of reports that give you a deep dive into your sales performance, which I have found to be extremely helpful for assessing the success of my art and craft fairs.
A nice extra benefit to Square is the free website builder they offer.
In 2018, Square acquired Weebly and began to offer their subscribers a very basic free platform on which they could build an e-commerce website.
There are paid versions which offer more customization options, but the free version gives you a clean and easily accessible place to sell on your own platform without the extra fees of sites like Etsy or Amazon.
We’ve talked about payment options I recommend, and in the same vein, it’s important to note the payment options that you CANNOT use for business.
I have seen many handmade sellers try to accept payment through personal payment methods such as PayPal friends and family, Venmo (the personal version), Facebook Messages Payments, etc to avoid the sellers fees.
I cannot emphasize this strongly enough:
Using the personal version of those services for business purposes are directly in violation of PayPal//Venmo/Facebook/etc Terms of Service.
Doing that can and will result in the suspension of your account. In many cases, funds you receive can be frozen, meaning you won’t get the money, and your buyer won’t get their money back either.
If the fees from the legitimate payment processing sites are not already included in your pricing, take the time to adjust your prices for your shows to cover the fees. This way you can use the proper payment options while covering your costs.
As you can see, you have a wide range of options when it comes to accepting payments in person.
I suggest having a range of options available to your customers, including some way of accepting credit cards.
Taking the time and planning to accept these payments will result in increased sales for you. Adjust your pricing to cover the costs associated with the electronic payment systems and you will see how many more sales you can achieve when you can answer “yes!” when a customer asks, “can I pay with…?”
Need a “road map” to navigate the confusing world of craft markets and shows? I’ve got you, friend! Download my free guide, Market Must-Haves for Makers, and you’ll have a clear plan to getting your creations in front of 100’s of people this craft show season. Download the free guide here.
After running bel monili (my handmade jewelry business) for 10 years, I launched Bloom in 2019 to create a community where handmade business owners could learn, grow, and support each other in this wild venture of small business ownership. Welcome to Bloom!