Craft Show Credit Card Processing

Boost Sales: Accept Credit Cards at Craft Shows

shoppers at arts and crafts fair looking at craft booth

We know that many of the festival and fair attendees walk among our booths with limited cash in their pockets. We also know they often scout the venue location and other vendors before returning to our booth for a purchase.

And how many of these people do you think spend their cash on food items while they explored the event? So now you have a family of four at your booth, each juggling a four-dollar soda and seven-dollar hotdog, and you are presented with a Visa card… what do you say?

If you have a product that you sell for cash only, and your sales don’t suffer as a result of not accepting credit cards, you are in the lucky minority. For the rest of us, we may like to accept credit cards, but there may be a number of things standing in our way:

  • We don’t understand the process
  • The portable nature of our business & the related expense of complex equipment
  • The seasonal nature of our business vs. yearly contracts and maintenance fees
  • High transaction fees digging into our profits
  • The variety of credit card processing options available & determining which is appropriate.

What does it take to get a Merchant Account and accept credit cards at craft shows?

Accepting credit cards is easier today that it every has been. In general, the following is all you’ll need to get going with a Merchant Account:

  • 18 years of age or older
  • Have a US checking account
  • Good credit sure helps when you need low rates, but there are programs available to those with less than stellar credit.

Generally, this process takes anywhere from one to three days. It’s quick, easy, and frankly, qualifying should be the least worrisome detail. Be more concerned with picking the right company, payment solution, and account structure.

Portable Credit Card Payment Solutions

The advantages and disadvantages of Credit Card Processor solutions and equipment vary widely. The options listed below are common solutions for Arts & Craft show vendors:

  • Wireless Credit Card Machines
  • Portable Store & Forward devices
  • Manual imprinters and slips, aka “Knuckle Busters”
  • Mobile Phone Processing

We are Seasonal Merchants!

Many of us consider the monthly fees associated with accepting credit cards just part of our overhead. But as with any responsible business owner, we have to juggle the cost of these fees with the benefit in extra sales as a result of being able to accept credit cards at craft shows. We can do this two ways:

  • Sign a yearly contract, with low monthly fees, and low transaction fees. The discount associated has to compensate you for the months that your business isn’t active.
  • Opt for a seasonal merchant account, with perhaps a higher transaction cost. The premium, if any, must be offset by the benefit of accepting credit cards.

Both approaches are entirely valid, however, this is where many of us end up getting into a little trouble choosing an appropriate Merchant Processor. Here are some tips that might save you a good deal of money and frustration.

Understand the marketing practices the Credit Card Processing industry uses, how rate structures are manipulated, etc. A good place to start is by reviewing the material at Credit Card Processing Practices

Talk to your booth neighbors and ask them about their success, or horror stories with their Merchant Processor.

Consult with a Credit Card Processor who actually supports our seasonal and mobile processing needs. You’ll know pretty quickly if the rep on the other end of the line knows our business or not.

Do your research! If you do this right, it should feel like a partnership that enhances your business. If you do it wrong, it could be a long term, money sucking, and aggravating lesson.

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