how to sell at craft shows, flea markets, etc

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Forum topic by shelly_b posted 07-14-2013 04:10 PM 2975 views 4 times favorited 40 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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850 posts in 2082 days

07-14-2013 04:10 PM

There is a big Backwoods Fest coming up near me. They have hundreds of vendors that come. A man that is from there saw some of my projects and told me that if I brought my stuff to this festival I would sell more than I can make. So, I got an application and it asked for my vendors license #...well I don’t have one, I am not a business. So, I got online to see how to get your license and it seems you have to be a business and have a federal employer identification number. I am not a business and don’t want to be one anytime soon. I don’t want to share my hard earned money with the government yet. Is there anyway for me to get around this? I would also like to be able to sell at other shows, fleas markets, etc…

40 replies so far

View Bogeyguy's profile


548 posts in 2032 days

#1 posted 07-14-2013 04:18 PM

You can’t get around it if your going to sell it yourself. The operator has to have licensed vendors or the tax collectors will shut his show down. Perhaps your friend can sell your goods for you for a fee+taxes.

-- Art, Pittsburgh.

View Blackie_'s profile


4883 posts in 2477 days

#2 posted 07-14-2013 04:21 PM

Shelly here is a great video that will help you.

I think you are talking about is a state Tax Number, most shows require the number on the applications no way getting around that but you can use your own discretion on what you want to submit to the tax office. I’m not sure about your state but in Texas you don’t have to have a federal employer number to get a tax number, they are different.

Arts and Crafts Shows

-- Randy - If I'm not on LJ's then I'm making Saw Dust. Please feel free to visit my store location at

View Loren's profile (online now)


10260 posts in 3612 days

#3 posted 07-14-2013 04:24 PM

Terms may vary, but in the states I’ve vended at the only
thing I needed was a state resale tax number. They
aren’t hard to get, but don’t say you’re doing business
from your home unless you want to get attention from
local agencies with their hands out.

Instead, say you vend at shows or out of your vehicle.

View coachmancuso's profile


259 posts in 1896 days

#4 posted 07-14-2013 04:27 PM

If you have some 55 + communities , they all have craft shows around November. The small ones do not ask for a business license. Also check with some of the local church and schools to see if they have any. The big shows are good but also the booth rental is very high. We have a big show locally that the rental is 250.00 for 2 days. You would have to sell a lot of items to make your booth rental back. In times that we are in with the economy the best is to start small. Small shows small item. 15.00 – 25.00 booth rent per day. People will like to spend 10.00 – 25.00 rather then spend 250.00 for a item. We do small shows and we sell pens, bottle stoppers, key chain, band saw boxes , shelving, candle holders , bowls, trinket boxes , magic wine bottle holde4rs, earrings ,picture frames, ect. Also the big shows charge for admission and parking so the people putting on the show make out and they do not care for the vendors at all. Hope this helps some and if you have any other specific questions let me know. Good luck

-- Coach Mancuso

View Don W's profile

Don W

18685 posts in 2532 days

#5 posted 07-14-2013 04:38 PM

I believe in some states you can just use your social security number as a tax ID. Ask a local accountant or lawyer.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View shelly_b's profile


850 posts in 2082 days

#6 posted 07-14-2013 04:41 PM

Thanks everyone. I would like to get my vendors license, but I don’t see how you can do it without being a business. Its it possible to get a license without being a businesses? The fee to be a vendor at this festival is 300, but it its a big town by a lake withpeople attending from 25 states so I think I could sell some high priced items. I don’t mind paying tax on the items i sell at the shows. I’m just not ready to go through with making myself a business.

View shelly_b's profile


850 posts in 2082 days

#7 posted 07-14-2013 04:50 PM

You may be right Don. The form had a spot for my soc and to other numbers but it doesn’t clarify if it just needs one our all 3. I am going to call the auditor tomorrow and check. If I do get it the festival wants pics of stuff I will be selling….so I will have to get busy soon! Lol I know what I wantto sell but its not made yet, I still have 2 months!

View MyWayChipCarving's profile


49 posts in 1842 days

#8 posted 07-14-2013 04:51 PM

I agree with Don W, it’s worth checking out.

-- Please recycle. Save the trees.......for woodcarvers!

View shelly_b's profile


850 posts in 2082 days

#9 posted 07-14-2013 04:54 PM

I am from a small town and the chance of making money around here is very low. I would have to pretty much give my stuff away. We have a very high unemployment/poverty rate. I see it A LOT in the er.

View huff's profile


2828 posts in 3249 days

#10 posted 07-14-2013 05:02 PM


I believe Blackie and Loren pretty well covered it. They are more interested in a Sales Tax number. If you look on line, you should be able to find out the info you need through your State Dept. of Revenue.

Like the others have stated; the shows are just covering their own butts.

Your State Dept. of Revenue and the IRS have this belief that if you sell your work, you’re a business. If you’re a business, you need a business liscense and collect and pay taxes.

There’s some grey area between being a hobbyiest and a business, but the Dept. of Revenue and the IRS looks at a business as a business and doesn’t have much of a sense of humor when and if they ever audit someone.

Not to scare you, but that’s why so many hobbyiest don’t want to sell their work. You’ve probably noticed in my book, I talk very serious about acting like a business if you’re selling your work.

The Coach may have the best advise for you and that is to stay away from the big shows for now and stay below the radar.

Good luck

-- John @

View Blackie_'s profile


4883 posts in 2477 days

#11 posted 07-14-2013 07:03 PM

Shelly, you do have to create a business name for an Tax ID number but you can just make one up, you don’t have to have a DBA (Doing Business as) for this but you prob should check with your local County Clerk’s office to make sure you aren’t infringing on someone else that might already be using that name inside of your county, they should have an online data base that you can check, now if you find a name that’s not being used and you don’t register it and later on down the road someone comes along and registers that very same name with the county clerk, then they can go after you to stop using it and here’s another kicker if you are selling items under a registered name that belongs to someone else then they can get all of your profits.

-- Randy - If I'm not on LJ's then I'm making Saw Dust. Please feel free to visit my store location at

View Wildwood's profile


2298 posts in 2099 days

#12 posted 07-14-2013 08:52 PM

Backwoods Fest cost is $300, goes to the promoter for your booth space and promoting the event.

Your vendors license is extra and comes from the town where event is held. Normally all towns have a vendors ordinance and charge a fee and it is good for a year. Some do offer special event licenses for one time events at reduce fee but, do not count on it.

Your tax ID # comes from the state, some charge an annual fee some do not. All states will come after you if do not collect and send in sales tax. With tax ID#, do not pay sales taxes on things needed for tools, equipment, or supplies for your craft if buy in state.

Federal government wants you to pay taxes on any income you generate from your craft. You have to show a profit for x number of years before they consider you a business, if not just income from a hobby.

Hobby selling can become a paperwork and up-front expense nightmare if you let it. Many of those expenses also deductable, from any income generated from the hobby.

Many Jr. colleges offer adult courses and seminars for entrepreneurs & craft people which will keep you out of trouble. I would look at doing a course or seminar before selling at any venue even though will cost some money up front will save you more than time & money later on.

Lots of crafts people have stopped doing shows because not even making expenses!

-- Bill

View Blackie_'s profile


4883 posts in 2477 days

#13 posted 07-14-2013 09:02 PM

Wildwood you are correct when buying items for your business under a tax ID number you don’t have to pay taxes on anything at that time but during the quarter when you have to turn in a profit you do have to play taxes on those items that are not resalable, for instance saw blades, sandpaper, router and drill bits, etc…. when purchase at store you don’t have to pay taxes but when that quarter ends you have to pay taxes on those items then but items like glue, hinges, finishes, wood etc… anything that’s going to be sold then you don’t, it can get complicated it took me a bit to learn and figure things out.

-- Randy - If I'm not on LJ's then I'm making Saw Dust. Please feel free to visit my store location at

View Blackie_'s profile


4883 posts in 2477 days

#14 posted 07-14-2013 09:09 PM

Shelly once you obtain a Tax ID you are able to write a lot of things off come tax time, all of your utilities including your cable bill, equipment, equipment purchased, office supplies, storage such as rooms in your house used for storing your items, shop depreciation, mileage when going to pick up items for your business even vacations in moderation can be written off as a retreat, business trips, seminars, books, software, etc…..

-- Randy - If I'm not on LJ's then I'm making Saw Dust. Please feel free to visit my store location at

View Roger's profile


20923 posts in 2768 days

#15 posted 07-15-2013 12:39 AM

Uncle Sam gets too much o our money as it is… Good luck with it all.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed.

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