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  • Craft Fairs dead?

    I posted a poll on a normal forum and most people avoid craft fairs as the costs of the products are too high and not different enough, know this does not apply to all on offer at fairs and this is only the opinion of readers of this type of magazine (a country one) but does need taking some heed to.

    Also asked on a large magazine forum what handmade meant to them again concensus too expensive, go to fairs to get ideas to make (something I have said for sometime) then make it better and cheaper themselves, layouts of stalls poor, quality not good (this was a bit ambiguous as if quality canot be cheap!) "Also craft fairs seem to be a bit outdated and National Trustish: only so many wooden light-pulls or turned bowls a person can buy in a lifetime." "until Christmas and the realisation that something unique is a gift and then after the holiday there are a lot of things appearing in charity shops that should have found a home with someone who would have appreciated something else"

    Very sad for our industry so maybe organisers do need to be stricter and vet the actual products not just photos, which was how it used to be done in the 80's can remember sending off samples of my work , you do get them back.

    Back to the drawing board thinking outside the box for selling

  • #2
    Hi Caroline,

    Your post is very interesting. I have just created my own website for my handmade cards, however at the weekend I attended a local craft/boot fair, the two combined. Edging my bets my table had a 'bit of both'; what was interesting is that the people who purely exhibited handmade items, didn't get anyone going up to their tables even looking at their items, but for me, who took a long a small selection of my work, I had many people come up study my cards and compliment me on them. I wonder if the other tables had too much displayed and people couldn't be bothered to sift through it all? Time will tell I suppose.

    Kind regards
    Couture Card Creations
    Stirlingshire
    www.couturecardcreations.co.uk

    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Couture-Card-Creations/114271528661516?

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    • #3
      The poll and the comments you got from it are interesting, Caroline.

      I think the bigger picture shows that people are shopping more online nowadays, and I don't think we can just rely on fairs for our sales any longer - just as high street shops can't just rely on their bricks and mortar shops.

      They are good for trialling out new designs, for feedback, for meeting customers and getting that face-to-face contact. They're also good for meeting other makers - but I'm pretty certain that no matter what we do, we won't get a return to the craft fairs of the 80s - which of course is sad in one way, but not necessarily all bad. We just need to embrace a new way of selling.
      digital stamps for cardmakers: http://www.handmadeharbour.co.uk
      blog: http://handmadeharbour.blogspot.com
      hand painted personalised plaques, clocks, canvases, etc: http://www.1stuniquegifts.co.uk
      blog: http://www.1stuniquegifts.co.uk/blog

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      • #4
        I think display is very important, tables need to have height and dimension just look at shop windows but I think this is where it sorts those that can and those than cannot. To 'window dress' your stall is vitally important as that is the first impression. Have been to fairs where the product is dumped down on the table in piled like a jumble sale admittedly think the organiser should have said something as reflects on them as well. I have found my income decline from fairs to the point of £0.00 yet seen items sold that will be in the bin in 2 months. Again recession always brings out people wanting to jump on the craft bandwagon thinking they can earn money, some without declaring to the tax man so can sell cheap and make cheap, they very seldom last the distance but unfortunately the professionals then have to pick up the pieces ad start re-educating the public all over again. As professionals we need to make a stand and demand quality over quantity, this is where the bigger more structured fairs could win, although expensive you tend to get genuine buyers who appreciate the concept of handmade.

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        • #5
          I agree Wendy find new ways to sell and maybe take the craft to the masses in a different format. I am going to add more useful things again such as aprons, oven mits etc, although will still be pretty and by no means utility.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Caroleecrafts View Post
            I agree Wendy find new ways to sell and maybe take the craft to the masses in a different format. I am going to add more useful things again such as aprons, oven mits etc, although will still be pretty and by no means utility.
            useful and pretty items should always sell well in a recession - a way of having a "treat" but without it being extravagant.
            digital stamps for cardmakers: http://www.handmadeharbour.co.uk
            blog: http://handmadeharbour.blogspot.com
            hand painted personalised plaques, clocks, canvases, etc: http://www.1stuniquegifts.co.uk
            blog: http://www.1stuniquegifts.co.uk/blog

            Comment


            • #7
              hmmmm, this makes interesting reading and is certainly a concern.

              I have only been exhibiting a few years so I don't really know what to compare things to as regards to the 'good old days' that I often hear people talking about. I think there is still a market for handmade goods, the question is where to find the right type of customer that appreciates the work and effort that goes into not only producing a quality, unique, handmade item but coming up with the inspiration and the idea in the first place.

              I think there are several issues at hand here that are affecting our success at craft fairs :

              a) as Wendy rightly said, people are more often doing their shopping on the internet now and attend fairs as a 'day out' often with very little intention of spending money there and then. At every fair I attend I look around to see how many people are walking around with shopping bags etc and more often than not, not many people are actually spending...and if they are, then they are spending small amounts.

              b) the quality of craft fairs
              This one is a biggie for me......there are very few fairs that I attend that are genuinely handmade only. I think that until organisers properly vet the quality of the items and the display of items at their fairs, craft fairs will be on the decline. There are just too many events now that are more like 'indoor markets' than craft fairs with stalls selling all sorts of cheap, nasty, mass produced tat that can be found on any market in the UK. Not only does bought in ****e make the fair look crap but it also puts off genuine crafters who cannot compete with the prices and therefore don't book the fair again and so a negative circle starts....etc etc.
              Another problem is the amount of jewellery stalls at fairs. This is unfair on the stall holders and the public who expect to see a range of crafts, not just jewellery stall after jewellery stall - some of which are incredibly poorly made jewellery or priced so cheaply that the stall holder cannot possibly make any money. Again, this has a negative effect on everybody and the image of the fair.

              c) the image of craft fairs
              I have discussed this before on here with regards to the perception of what a 'craft fair' means to the general public. I am not sure 'craft fair' is the right word to call our events anymore as it conjures up the images of old ladies selling knitted tea cosies in a church hall. I have had a reasonable degree of success at 'handmade markets' and 'Live Crafts' events which I think sound more modern and contemporary and perhaps attract a 'better' type of customer.

              d) recession
              Of course this has an impact. People are keeping their money in their pockets and only spending what they have to.....and let's face it, most of our items are luxury items rather than essential.

              I could go on but I think these are the main points.

              I have done reasonably well so far this year given the way things are economically and I think partly that is because I have been really picky about the type of fairs I attend. I have made so many mistakes over the last couple of years - booking any fair I could get into rather than thinking about whether or not an event was suitable for me. I now (with the exception of one event I do at Duncombe Park because I like the venue! lol!) only book strictly handmade fairs only and fairs where the organiser wants to see photos etc of my work and has a sensible limit on the amount of jewellery stalls. My most successful fairs have been the bigger events (I do the occasional £20 fair and do 'alright')...I think people come with more intention of spending money at a bigger event, they spend the day there and look around more (rather than one speedy circuit round the village hall). Again, big fairs work for me (I am selling jewellery ranging from £8 - £80) but they may not work for everyone. If you are selling items ranging from £2-£10 you are going to have to sell a lot to make back the £300 stall fee, let alone make a profit...having said that you do have the footfall at the bigger events though.

              Anyway, I have rambled on (quite inarticulately I am sure) and am in danger of descending into a rant! lol!

              I do hope we manage to find a way to get through these tough times as professional crafters as I would hate to see craft fairs disappear completely. We need to work together with organisers and each other to create good quality, properly priced items and fairs and educate the public about quality and handmade.....I am sure out of the 60million people in this country, not everyone wants Primark and Ikea style mass produced tat. We just have to find our niche and the right type of fair/customer for us, price our work properly (ie a decent, fair price for a unique handmade item with a proper profit margin).

              Good luck to everyone with their fairs for the rest of the year xxxx
              https://www.facebook.com/GreekPoppy
              http://poppykittendesigns.blogspot.co.uk/
              https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/PoppyKittenDesigns

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              • #8
                We did shows for many years and the main problem is the proliferation of stalls selling bought in goods that you can find in many shops and market stalls and therefore taking away the special quility that craft shows used to have. Also the smart craft professionals such as myself have have pulled out of the craft show circuit because we have enough work coming in through the internet so the ones going out to shows are the second division crafters newcomers and not the premier league stars..
                I was that person selling the lightpulls and bowls and masses of other wooden products and people love wood and we did very well on the whole. No way were we National Trustish and twee , we were contemporary, cutting edge, traditional, very popular and took craft to new levels.. I get the feeling a lot of people running craft stalls are not that business minded and see it almost as a hobby rather than a way of generating a serious income.
                We took craft to the people who wouldn't normally go to craft shows such as the events in the high street or at the big agricultural shows and people were amazed at our, and work sales were astoishing good with this philosophy.
                The typical craft shows such as a marquee at a stately home is loosing out because of the cost of fuel to get to them, reail parks and carboot sales and the cost of having a stall at these shows is very expensive.
                Craft keeps reinventing itself like many other things and you have to be positive and optimistic and craft shows will always be around in one shape or another.

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                • #9
                  Can I just clarify Turn That the comments I posted were not by me but members of the public who read this particular magazine and in answer to a thread re craft fairs and handmade.

                  I have not done fairs per se for some years as like you find sales come from other avenues and think this is where the craft fairs are suffering because a lot of the professional craftspeople are either attending the large events or online.
                  Last edited by Caroleecrafts; 23-06-2011, 06:23 AM.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Turn That View Post
                    Also the smart craft professionals such as myself have have pulled out of the craft show circuit because we have enough work coming in through the internet so the ones going out to shows are the second division crafters newcomers and not the premier league stars..
                    I find your post highly offensive. How dare you refer to people like me, my friends and our CF colleagues as 'the second division crafters newcomers not the premier league stars..". You express a very high opinion of your own work and a very low opinion of everyone else - without ever seeing the quality of our work or knowing anything about us.

                    Incidentally, given the activities of some 'premier league stars' I'm not sure that's the sort of thing I would want to aspire to - but hey, each to her own.
                    Heather
                    Pretty Things Handmade Jewellery

                    Website - www.prettythingsjewellery.co.uk


                    Destash bead and papercrafting shop - http://www.misi.co.uk/handmade/BlackCatBeads.html

                    New blog - www.prettythingsandwitterings.blogspot.com

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                    • #11
                      Well said Heather! (pretty things).
                      Annie and Lyn
                      www.rosiepink.typepad.co.uk

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Pretty things View Post
                        I find your post highly offensive. How dare you refer to people like me, my friends and our CF colleagues as 'the second division crafters newcomers not the premier league stars..". You express a very high opinion of your own work and a very low opinion of everyone else - without ever seeing the quality of our work or knowing anything about us.

                        Incidentally, given the activities of some 'premier league stars' I'm not sure that's the sort of thing I would want to aspire to - but hey, each to her own.

                        I'm with Heather on this one. I do not consider myself or anyone else on this forum to be "second division crafters", I have been crafting for many a year but only selling for 3 years and consider myself to be quite skilled at my trade. I'm not going to get into a slanging match with anyone but I would think more about how I want to say something before I open my mouth.
                        Handmade jewellery, to buy gifts or just to treat yourself visit my website, commissions welcome or join me on facebook for a chat

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                        • #13
                          well said Heather - Pretty Things , am a relative newcomer but wouldnt dream of putting any one elses work in a "lower" division - without knowing what I was talking about !

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                          • #14
                            Heather is completly right. You should be ashamed of your comments. I don't know how anyone can dare say things loike that about their fellow crafters.
                            Stephen
                            Website - Soy of the North
                            Blog - If Soy Candles Could Talk
                            Twitter - random thoughts
                            Facebook - more random thoughts

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                            • #15
                              Well said Heather, and I totally agree with what you have said. I really do not know how anyone can put other crafters down - that is terrible. Plus who gives anyone the right to imply who is 'the second division crafters" or "premier league stars".
                              Angie

                              My Blog - Angie's Crafting Palace

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