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Hiring a hall to set up craft fairs

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  • Hiring a hall to set up craft fairs

    Unsure what anyone thinks but my sis and I were discussing whether it would be beneficial for us to hire a hall and offer trade stand places to crafters. Obviously we'd have to charge to cover the hall costs. We'd like to sell our craft items and help others too. It would be in a town ...

    Has anyone started there own? Lots to look into. We only discussed it at the weekend as we sat in the pouring rain at a school fete.

    Any advice and just a question, but if you saw this advertised in your area what questions would you ask the organiser etc? Or would it raise your interest? Just wondering what anyone thought ...


  • #2
    Hi Lesley,

    A lot of crafters have the same thoughts, especially after a poor event - it's how I got into organising myself!!!

    As a crafter, I'd be asking the organiser what type of stalls will they accept, what advertising & marketing would they be doing, how were they planning on bringing people in on the day, will there be a good mix of stalls, what target customer market will the event appeal to etc etc I also like to 'suss out' an organiser, and look at previous events they may have been involved in, what sort of work do they make themselves, to get a 'gut feel' as to whether I think the event might be worth it for me.

    With my organiser head on, I'd say it's worth running your own event as it's very satisfying, but go into it with your eyes wide open. You'll need organisers event insurance, your crafters insurance won't cover you. Don't underestimate what you may need to spend (in £ and time) on advertising & promotion, and grow a thick skin. You'll have to turn some crafters away if their work is over subscribed, if you're going for handmade only, you'll still be inundated with enquiries from people who sell party plan/mass produced, no matter how much advertising effort you put in and no matter how many through the door, someone will have a bad day for sales, and someone will blame you!!!

    You probably won't make a profit (or maybe not break even) on your first event after taking insurance & advertising into account but if you manage to put on a good event, the satisfaction from crafters coming to you at the end of the day and saying they had a good time will carry you on a high for weeks!!!

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    • #3
      If you want to know how NOT to do it - read my latest blog post... (and this was run by a company that organises events full time!) Obviously this looks at the front-end side of things but organising events is definitely like the proverbial 'swan' - calm and easy on the surface and frantic and manic underneath. There is a lot more involved than anyone who only sees the end result but if you get it right it can be the biggest buzz. As it is on both sides, many lessons will be learnt from mistakes and errors in judgement but that it how we can move forward and improve so this should be expected at a first event (if you have stallholders who can think logically anyway!).

      If you do go ahead, it never hurts to ask your stallholders to complete a quick feedback questionnaire to get their opinions on how it was for them, what worked and what didn't. It is amazing how people see things differently and you may get some great ideas to take you forward.

      As a stallholder, I agree with Claire regarding needing to know the type of show and your advertising/marketing plans. As well as this the queries I usually have are related to size of pitch, are there spaces between the pitches for access or do you need to allow for this in your stall size - this can make a big difference as I have to have a minimum width for my display and if I find when I get to a show that the width I have booked needs to be reduced to allow me access to behind the stall, I couldn't set up! What is included in the fee? Tables? (size) Chairs? Electricity? All this adds up and needs to be clear before you have stallholders arriving on site assuming. If you include tables and chairs, give full details so that everyone is clear beforehand. If you don't, this is almost more important to point out as you will have people arriving wondering where their table is and not bringing one of their own (assuming - see!) There isn't a set pattern so it can be confusing and it can be easy to forget that just because you know how everything is planned out, everyone else does too. I always assume that everyone else knows nothing and it is best to spell everything out clearly.

      Sorry this is turning into a rant but after the weekend I have had, it is a sore subject!!

      If things are planned out properly from the start, it is a great thing to do, especially if you are in an area where you as a crafter is already struggling to find a good fair to attend. And, if you have done a few fairs already, I am sure you already have a long list of what has been done well and what has been done badly by other organisers at the fairs you have had a stall at. Some of the best fairs I do are organised by people who for years was on 'our' side of the table and could see how things could be improved. As a result, they run some fantastic shows and understand very well both sides of the equation. Always helpful to learn from others' mistakes and triumphs!!

      Good luck.
      Ali x

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      • #4
        I did it in Scotland when I lived there with bunch of other Crafters. We selected a nice area and church hall. And as well as all the tradtional advertising we did a local leaflet drop. It was quite fun. We did an eve sale event so that trade was concentrated.


        • #5
          What is the organisers insurance for and from where would you get it?
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          • #6
            If you google event insurance there are several companies some offer for just one event if you want to test the water.

            Having just completed our first event on Saturday I can concur very, very hard work, you need help on the day we had 4 and could probably done with 8 and it was not a busy day, so imagine if it had been. Catering, I did this but never again get someone else in to do even if the WI one less thing to worry about. Don't expect to make money and yes you have to have a thick skin. I would suggest starting small or even getting a few crafters together as a co-op to give it a go. Most crafters who start fairs wnat to do this not for the money but like us fed up with going to fairs and finding bought in goods, on the other hand we really struggled to fill, the hall with handmade, could have filled 4 times over with Phoenix trading, Jo Magdalene jewellery etc. and at times they did not understand why they were declined.


            • #7
              Hi Claire
              Your advice is much appreciated ... hadn't thought of ins, eek! have passed on to sis to read too...


              • #8
                Thanks for leaving a message - we'd like to have real crafters like us, rather than big expensive products massed produced ... lots to think about...


                • #9
                  Hi I would like to just add to previous posts check with your local council re a market rights licence this is law!, we were very shocked when we did our first one and it was pointed out to by the hall owner adding a hugh £300.00 onto our costs, now you might be lucky some councils are a lot more reasonable with costs or wave them altogether, sadly not were we live [ Manchester/bury ] . Also get a large list of possible stallholders at first you will be snowed under with people wanting stalls then you spend hours chasing them up not knowing if you have filled those stalls or not, our first couple of events we were kind and said pay on the day only to have people not turn up when we could have filled those stalls and on two occasions refused to pay on the day!!!! get the money up front to secure the stall. Do not under estimate the time it will take you to set up and clear up on the day . Bunting outside the venue always gets people interested and a banner a few days before on the fence or wall or where ever you can fix so anyone passing can see it, A boards with balloons are another good eye chatcher , also it does not matter how much footfall on the day you can not make people buy so don't take it to heart when stallholders complain they have not had a good day because for every one more will break even or do well, steel yourself get feedback, and try to balance makers i.e not to many of one craft a good mix is always better for the public. Can I also add check with the hall re tables how many do they have ? will you have to spend hours finding them and dragging downstairs from other areas etc. we once had to take the van to another church were the tables had been taken and not returned and bring them all back this takes valuable time on the day and saves your blood pressure , also check plug sockets lots of stallholders like to use their own lights and you will have to place them near by . Sorry to go on it sounds negative I don't mean to we actually enjoy it but do not expect to make money see it as a way to promote handmade and showcase your and other makers talents good luck !!