Many artists and crafters with Etsy shops enjoy the occasional benefits of selling in person at craft fairs. However, there can be a conflict when selling online and at shows, especially if you mostly sell one-of-a-kind items. A common dilemma is what to do with your Etsy shop during that time, and whether or not it makes sense to put it in vacation mode.
If the craft fair you are attending is only 2 or 3 days, as most typical shows last, I do not recommend putting your shop into vacation mode. Why disappear from searches when you will only be gone for a couple of days? However, I do not recommend leaving all of your items up in your shop, especially if some of them are one-offs. You cannot count on having access to the internet to deactivate as they sell. For one thing, your smart phone or laptop may loose service from time to time, your battery may die sooner than you plan, or you may simply be too busy helping your customers to get to it soon enough. Avoid the hassle of selling the same item both online and at a show by temporarily removing your OOAK pieces ahead of time.
When I have a craft fair coming up, I try to give my online customers fair warning before I start the deactivation process. I’ll write up a blog post a week before the items start to disappear, and post announcements on Facebook, Twitter, and where ever else appropriate. It’s not only a good way to keep people from being surprised when they see a nearly empty shop, but it’s also a great sales tactic. People will buy based on scarcity and deadlines. Giving them “three more days” until their favorite item vanishes will put the pressure on. Don’t be surprised if your announcements give you a rush of sales before a show – so be prepared to have some extra craft fair inventory on hand to make up for it!
Finally, after you deactivate all of your OOAK pieces, leave a few items that you can easily make again even if the ones you have on hand sell out at your show. This will leave your shop with an online search presence while you are absent, and won’t take customers to an empty shop after they pick up your business card at the craft fair. Just make sure you leave a clear announcement that you will respond to all convos and be shipping all orders on a specified date. Also, let first-time browsers know that they can expect many more items when you return from your show – so they know to check back!