This past weekend was the first craft fair I have attended as a seller in over four years. I have been selling my hand made embroidery items online so far, but I really wanted to get out of the house and talk to some real life people!
I used to have a checklist of things before I attended each event, but because it had been so long, I completely forgot! So I though it would be helpful to pass on my knowledge and experience to you lovely people.
If you are a crafter and have been pondering the idea of selling your goodies at the next local craft fair, these tips will hopefully come in handy. It’s amazing what you forget after four years away from the business.
This was my first major mistake. I was so excited about being accepted to join a craft fair that I didn’t take the time to actually research the venue. My advice is to always visit the fair before you sell. All it takes is an hour of your time to drive to the venue and have a wander around. Look at the items being sold. Talk to the stall holders and ask them questions about the market and their crafts. If you craft hand made baby clothes, but all they sell at the market are garden decorations, then perhaps this isn’t the market for you. There are so many craft fairs popping up everywhere each weekend that you will quickly find your perfect niche.
This is a big one. If you want people to buy your goodies, you have to let them know where you will be selling. As soon as you have confirmed your place at your perfect market, the organiser will most likely send you posters and links to the event so you can spread the word. Take this opportunity to start socialising. Make the poster your header image, tag the event in your posts, bring flyers with you to work and chat to friends and family about it. The organiser has a duty to promote the event, but so do you. Do this as soon as possible, no point telling everyone on a Friday night that you will be there on Sunday morning, they will probably already have made plans for the weekend and can’t come.
As I mentioned before, the craft community is a wonderful little world to be a part of. Once you find your perfect craft fair and sign up, get in touch with other crafters who will be selling too. You can find out who else will be there by asking the organiser, or by adding yourself to the markets group page on Facebook, Instagram or their website. Most well organised markets have these groups set up and are very friendly and helpful. Another great tip is to promote other crafters on social media. This is again a great way to spread the word, and other crafters will normally promote your goodies in return.
I used my wicker basket from home to display a few of my items at the craft fair.
This may sound a bit silly but it’s definitely worth doing. If you have been told what size your display unit or area will be, practice setting up your goodies on an area the same size at home, wether it be a table, or even placing masking tape on the floor to the correct dimensions. Looks are everything at a craft fair, if your display doesn’t pop or bring people in, you will find it very hard to start conversations and sell your goodies. Practicing at home also gives you the opportunity to decide on your colour scheme, pricing, logo placement and other things you might not have even thought about yet. Using items around the house for your display is a thrifty and unique way of making your stall stand out.
I have always found this topic to be the hardest to figure out. There have been endless discussions on how to price your goodies at fairs. The first issue is with the dreaded penny! Some people argue that seeing a price tag at 99p is more appealing that one that has been rounded off to the nearest pound. This does make sense, you are saving an entire penny, but from my experience the penny issue is more hassle than it’s worth. You have to drag around bags of pennies to give as change, and in my experience, most people reply ” it’s ok just keep the penny”. As a buyer I am more than happy to let the stall holder keep their extra penny, they have worked long and hard to make their goodies, they deserve it.
The second issue is changing prices per market. When I used to sell my home baking a few years back, I noticed the vast difference in prices at different fairs. I priced my muffins at £2.50 in the City centre and sold out in 3 hours. I then sold the same size muffins in a village hall and was shouted at by the old ladies for charging £1 for them, they told me they wouldn’t pay a penny over 50p! This is something to consider when you are researching your future craft fair. Most of the time the price charged by the organiser for the table reflects the price people are willing to pay on the day.
THE DAY BEFORE
This is usually the most exciting and stressful time, my advice is to make a list of what you will need to bring with you, and what should be packed up the day before so your morning will run smoothly. Here the list I made up the day before my craft fair:
- Pricing tickets
- Business cards
- Shop Sign
- Display Units
- Extra Fabric
- A Friend
- Custom order form (if customers wish to order a unique item)
- Pack Lunch
- Paper, Pens, Blu Tac, Sellotape, Scissors
- Embroidery (To do while sitting at stall)
ON THE DAY
It’s here, your first craft fair day! You haven’t slept, you are repeating your check list over and over again, in your excitement you have completely forgotten how to get there! Stop! I know it feels like Christmas, but for today, you are SANTA! You must be organised, professional and friendly. Now firstly, go have a shower, freshen up and make yourself presentable. Have a healthy breakfast, not a super quick coffee on the way out of the door. You will be on your feet for most of the day so eating right is a must! Keep your checklist on you at all times, so when you think you may be missing something, you can check your handy list and stay calm.
It is advisable to get to the venue early, this will ensure you won’t be caught fighting to squeeze through the single door, humphing all of your boxes with the other crafters who decided to sleep in an extra half hour as well. Being early and prepared will do wonders for your stress level. Once you have introduced yourself to the organiser and set up your fabulous display, take a break. Once those doors open it will hopefully be non stop for the next few hours.
BRING A FRIEND
Unless you have a super sized bladder and don’t want to take breaks, I suggest you ask a friend to come along with you. They can be your stall assistant, helping you set up, chat to customers, keep you company and of course watch your stall while you pop to the loo or talk to other crafters. You can thank them by donating one of your crafty gifts, or by taking them out to dinner afterwards.
If you are like me and have a ridiculous fear of approaching people, this will be a hard step, but totally worth it once you start. Long standing craft fairs usually have their regulars, and they will spot a newbie from across the room, but don’t be alarmed, I have never met a nasty fellow crafter. They will most likely come over and introduce themselves, let you know how great the market is and will offer help in endless amounts! It’s even better if there is a cake stall at the market, you always get a free little cupcake or treat during the day, it’s smashing! Before the market opens, take the time to walk around the venue, say hello to the stall holders, if you have any questions about the market or their stall always ask, crafters love to chat about their work, and it starts a lovely friendship.
I love business cards. If I see cards on a table I must take one home, I usually spend my evening afterwards looking through everyones websites, adding them to my friends lists and commenting on the day.
You can easily create and print a few business cards from your computer. If you are expecting to hand out a lot, you can sign up for online business card printing services.
Now we come to the reason you came all this way, the customer. You have spent hours creating your goodies, promoting, communicating, organising and setting up. Your first impression to the customer is the most important. Number one, don’t hide behind your stall with your head tucked into your phone (trust me, I have seen so many stall holders ignore walkers by because they are too busy tweeting). Engage with the people right in front of you. Put your phone away and make eye contact, smile and just say hello. You don’t need to push your goodies in their face, your super layout will draw them in. Let the customer have a look, and if they ask any questions or give you a compliment, thats your opportunity to start a conversation. It’s easier than you think once they start asking questions.
If you make items to order, remember to let the customer know, offer them the option if they seem interested. A good tip is to try and make sure every customer you talk to walks away with at least a business card. Most customers don’t intend to spend too much money while they are at craft fairs, unless they are coming to buy something specific. You will most likely sell smaller items on the day, and if they are interested in your goodies and take a business card home, there is a much higher chance that they will buy your product online or at another craft fair at a later date.
Sometimes, through the chaos of stress and excitement, you may forget that craft fairs are fun places to be. Of course your initial reason to be there is to sell your goodies, but the fantastic bonus to these events is that you will leave at the end of the day with a long list of new friends, even more craft ideas buzzing around in your head, and a sense of achievement that you have worked hard and earned a pat on the back. Gaining a whole bunch of new customers who will be looking up your website in the coming days is a great thing to go home to.
Remember to reward yourself as soon as you get home. Get a takeaway, run a nice hot bubble bath, or order that little dress you have been eyeing up online for weeks. You deserve a treat.
I know a number of fellow crafters who have been attending craft fairs all over the country for many years, and have only begun to make a full time income from their sales in the past year. Selling at craft fairs can be an enjoyable pastime, but you must remember that it takes many months, or years, to build up regular customers and develop a good reputation within the craft community if you want to make it into a career. My advice is to have fun, enjoy each event, and if you find crafting and selling to be more than just a bit of fun, then you can use your own knowledge and experience to take your mini business to the next level.
If you are attending a craft fair or market in the future, please share here. I would love to hear about your first experience, and if you have any tips of your own to pass on.