Planning your next art or craft fair? Buying display items and merchandise adds up fast! Save money by picking up a handful of essentials at your local dollar store. With inflation, U.S. dollar stores are now $1.25-$1.99 USD, but it still beats paying $5 or more per item at your nearest grocery or hardware store! 

Lint Roller

Probably the most unexpected item on my list is the lint roller. I’ve used a lint roller in every event since I purchased them in 2018. If you have display tables and tablecloths you need a lint roller.

Dog hair? Lint roller.

Tree pollen? Lint roller.

Dust/dirt? Lint roller!

I chose to decorate my tables with black tablecloths. Unfortunately, they show every speck of dust or debris. Many outdoor events are dog-friendly so it’s common for me to use the lint roller several times a day to clean up after the trail the furry visitors leave behind.

Utility Knife

A utility knife is absolutely essential for breaking down boxes and anything else that might come up. I recommend a retractable blade over a scalpel knife because there’s less risk for injury. While you’re at it, pick up a few replacement blades too!

Rolls of Tape

I am a big advocate of stocking up on all types of tape. I’ll probably make a dedicated post all about tape, but the top two varieties I believe everyone should have on hand are packing tape and duct tape.

Packing tape is for the end of the show when you’re sealing boxes. I collapse most of my cardboard boxes after setup to make it easier to transport back to my vehicle before the event starts. As soon as the event is over, I reassemble the boxes to pack my artwork. I stand by Scotch Heavy Duty packing tape over the flimsy alternatives.

Duct tape is exclusively for repairs. With wind gusts, I’m always worried about the grommets on my posters and tarps tearing. Most people don’t think about duct tape, but you’ll be glad you have it when you need it.

Level

The purpose of a level is in the name. Levels are very handy for outdoor fairs. Many streets have an incline for drainage and grassy areas are notorious for uneven ground. Finding the right amount of wood blocks to make your tent and tables level will result in easier setup for everything else.

If you are displaying artwork, a level is a quick way to check that your art looks professional and tidy.

Measuring Tape

For larger events, vendors are usually placed back to back. In the U.S., the standard booth size is 10×10 feet. Most times there will be markers with the name of the vendor or assigned number on the ground. If you don’t want to start drama with your neighbors first thing in the morning stay in your allocated space.

Having a measuring tape on you will let you double-check the perimeter of your allowed footprint. During the load-in in the morning, do your best to keep everything within your space to stay out of the way of vehicles and other vendors unloading.

Multi-Tool

A multi-tool is essential. I use it to assemble the awning in front of my booth. You may not think you need a multi tool, but I promise it’ll come in handy when you least expect it.

A multi-tool should have a flat head screwdriver, a Phillips head screwdriver, and pliers. If you can’t find an affordable multi-tool, starter tool kits often have these items bundled together for a low price.

Poster Supplies

Sold out of an item? Need to take a break? Make a poster to let your customers know!

I always have permanent markers and paper on hand. The general rule of thumb is to make your text 1 inch tall for every 10 feet of visibility. A chisel tip permanent marker is perfect for quick signs that are easy to read.

Travel Bottles and Containers

My goal is to always make things lighter and compact. Travel bottles fit this need perfectly. I use several travel bottles (1-2 fluid oz.) for sunscreen, lotion, and hand sanitizer.

Sturdy travel containers are also great for assembling a compact first aid kit. More on this topic in a future blog post.

Disinfectant Wipes

Wipes will become your best friend after you’ve encountered crowds. Disinfectant wipes can be used to clean up spills or to wipe your own hands before eating snacks. If you see a customer holding funnel cake or chili fries – be proactive and offer a wipe so they don’t make your merchandise oily or sticky.

I’ll regularly wipe down all the hard surfaces in my booth throughout an event. I think routine cleaning shows your customers that you care about their health when they see you maintain your booth.

Snacks!

Arguably, one of the most important items are the bite-sized snacks you’ll need to keep your energy up throughout long event days. I’ve already covered my favorite sweet and savory snacks in a previous blog post.


The variety of dollar store snacks are amazing. If you already have your favorite snacks at home, repackage them into single serving portions in zip top bags. Avoid snacks that melt or crumble easily, but go crazy on anything else!

Remember that every minute away from your booth is a minute less you have to make a sale or future contact. I highly recommend bringing more snacks than you think you’ll need to avoid spending 20+ minutes waiting for food at food stands/trucks.


Keep in mind that dollar stores usually carry the same name-brand items you’re familiar with but the quantity of the item is usually less (which is how their price is lower). When I plan for events, I’m always thinking about how to save space and make my setup lighter. The compact version of items from my local dollar stores check both boxes for me!


Bonus Dollar Store Recommendations

Depending on your art booth or craft table setup, you may also find these items useful.

Whiteboard & Dry Erase Markers

8×10 inch whiteboards are perfect for small signs advertising a special sale or giveaway.

Small Picture Frames

Think of picture frames as display items! Picture frames can hold your price list or artist/maker bio. Dollar store frames are usually made of plastic so they’re lightweight.

Trash Can

A small trash can (1-2 gallon capacity) is a necessity in outdoor events. Wind will blow leaves and snack wrappers in or around your booth area. And while most events will stage extra trash and recycling bins to accommodate the extra foot traffic, you don’t want to leave your booth just to toss an empty soda can.

Office Supplies

Paper clips, staplers, rubber bands, pens, etc. are all part of the miscellaneous office supplies category. While you’re at the dollar store, pick up the basic essentials you might be running low on. (I personally carry rubber bands with me everywhere.)


Do you have a dollar store favorite that you bring with you to fairs that I didn’t mention here? Leave a comment with your ‘must-haves’ below!
-Lauren

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