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Not sure if I'll do another...

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  • Not sure if I'll do another...

    Just got back from exhibiting at a craft fair in ******** and I've come to the conclusion that maybe they're not for me. There were plenty of people there, and it was organised with military precision but there were so many bought in goods, some nice, some not bad, some downright tat that I just felt like I was wasting my time making my own stuff to sell. There were stalls selling similar products for less than I could buy the materials for, and I got the feeling I'd be better off taking stuff out of a plastic bag and sticking a price tag on it. There was a lot of interest in my stall and I gave a lot of leaflets out but no one bought a thing, even the cheaper stuff I do such as initialed key rings for £3.50 that I thought would make nice stocking fillers didn't go. People couldn't believe I actually made it myself. What didn't help was that I was made to feel like an inconvenience to the organiser right from the off, I'd set up without pulling my table cover all the way down so shockingly you could see the table legs, and instead of just asking me to pull it down a little as it looked better that way I was told exasperatedly that it should be all the way down to the floor, and that "People never read the rules I send out" which elicited comments of "I see you've encountered *********" from the neighbouring stall holders. At about 4:45pm, having been up since 7am I was a bit knackered and rather disheartened by it all so I decided to call it a day. There weren't many people about and a lot of other stall holders had already started packing up. I should have heard alarm bells ringing when on the way out I heard another stall holder asking nervously "Are we allowed to go then?", and sure enough at the exit ******** accosted us with "Oh, you're leaving, that's all right isn't it, there's still ages to go yet" When I explained I hadn't sold anything I was told rather unnecessarily defensively "Well there's been plenty of people here". I wasn't disputing that but it just wasn't the right place for me.

    Mod Edit: to remove offensive terms... please read the rules
    Last edited by beadsbydesign; 01-11-2011, 06:33 PM.

  • #2
    That craft fair wasn't far from me and I remember saying to my husband as we passed the sign on the entrance to the M61 that it was a craft and gift fair. The gift part of the fair is the problem as you discovered as this type allows people to sell non handmade stuff that they have bought somewhere else. Those who have gone to the trouble of making handmade items aren't able to compete on price and this is what the majority of people are looking for when they attend these things.

    If you do consider doing it again, make sure that it's just a craft fair and doesn't allow the sale on non handmade goods. At least that way you'll have fair competition.

    I'm sorry it's been a wasted day but at least you have got your name out there and you might get a few sales from the leaflets you handed out.
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    • #3
      Sounds delightful! That's exactly what I was talking about when I started a thread about 'real' craft fairs recently. So disappointing to wade through all the tat to get to the real crafts, which are unfortunately devalued by the whole set up.
      Good advice about finding the organisers who take on real crafters. I'm going to be planning a pilgrimage to a Cuckoo's Nest fair when I can. A bit of a journey, but it really sounds like it will be worth it!
      Last edited by beadsbydesign; 01-11-2011, 03:42 PM.
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      • #4
        I would be on the look-out for Handmade Only events.....they'll be right up your street...don't give on fairs as they are a great way of getting your name 'out there'
        by the way your work is beautiful
        Sarah x

        ~ The Lilac Dragonfly- Handmade Jewellery ~

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        • #5
          Really sorry you had a bad day, but I feel I want to play Devil's advocate here on behalf of the organiser (who is unknown to me).

          1) As the second post points out, it was advertised as a craft and gift fair, so no-one can really claim to be misled.

          2) An organiser's job is to create and monitor the whole environment of the event. The quality of the fair has to be dependent on the quality of each individual stall. If stalls just have a cloth thrown over with packing materials on show beneath the table, then it will look more like a bring-and-buy sale, or a car boot.

          3) Organisers who don't have 'rules' come in for a lot of criticism on this forum. Now we're reading criticism of an organiser who does have rules being rather unfairly (in my opinion) being called an unpleasant name. We have to make up our minds whether we want well organised fairs or a free-for-all.

          4) Anyone who packed up and left early at one of our fairs would never exhibit with us again. It's not only unfair on the organiser, but on your fellow stallholders and the public who may have paid to come in.

          5) I agree with Sarah - look for handmade only events and quiz the organiser before booking. You'll find it's a whole different experience.

          (and by the way Secret Sheep - we'd love to say hello if you do get to make your pilgrimage!)


          • #6
            Sorry to hear your day was not good but do agree that most good quality fairs do have rules such as tables must be covered to the floor, does not look good to see boxes a bit like walking into a shop and seeing all the empty boxes around the floor. Packing up early is also another standard ruling and however bad we have done is part of the business rules of the day again if working in a shop you don't suddenly go home because you have had no sales you have to remain open for the hours on the door.

            I agree with Kate organisers get bad press but sometimes the stallholders have to also look at themselves and it was advertised as a craft and gift fair that always means bought in. Perhaps the organiser should have ben a bit more careful who she sold space to and vetted the goods on display, suggest you look for a handmade only fair but you will find the rules for this will be stricter as they vet your items made more thoroughly and and that stalls are dressed to a certain standard.


            • #7
              I would say do lots of different events and get our name known. Councils often run well managed arts and craft events, there is farmers markets, country fairs, little village and small town markets held in town halls and so on and markets are often very cheap and will provide stalls and you can turn up as a casual. For us we weren't succesful at first but then after a few years when we had built a reputation and knew the products to make we could occasionally have taking of £1000 and day and more. There are some very good craft show organisers that won't accept bought in wares and vet there stallholders and you need to find find out who the good ones are. The gift thing is a bit of a give away in terms of a loop hole for accepting bought in stuff that is the bain of the craft sector.


              • #8
                Hi sorry you had a bad experience. I did a fair yesterday, started at 10 am it was 2pm before I made a sale, billed as hand only but I know some of the stallholders had bought inbits aswell. the rolls of gift wrap was a giveaway to that. anyway once I had started to knit one of the scarfs from can can wool I got so much interest I sold 4 on the spot and also sold 2 as I was knitting them along with a few bits of jewellery. All in all a better result than expected. From comments made by customers I was the first stall so they wanted to look round before they spent their money. then they either forgot or found something else.

                oh well cant win them all.
                Handmade jewellery, to buy gifts or just to treat yourself visit my website, commissions welcome or join me on facebook for a chat


                • #9
                  Thanks for the replies, I have no problem with rules at craft fairs, but it was more the attitude of the organiser and the way she enforced them, with all the tact and diplomacy of your average sledge hammer. As mentioned it was very late in the day when I started to pack away, I wasn't the first, and the people that were milling about had either been in for some time, or were other stall holders who were just killing time. The way I see it I work for myself, have done for the past 10 years or so and actually I do own a shop, and on occasion I have left early because I felt my time was better spent elsewhere, and that's exactly how I felt yesterday. I'd got tired of hearing that my products were cheaper "over there", on the market, on holiday etc. and there was about 15 minutes to go (10 by the time I'd finished packing away) and I thought it highly unlikely I'd sell anything last minute so who'd miss me?

                  I think I'm going to try another but one that's solely handmade, there was about a mix of 70% bought in at this event, the most popular stall seemed to be one selling remote control helicopters, but even he had a hard time selling anything judging by the comments he made. The thing I've found though on emailing organisers is that they're particularly evasive when declaring they have bought in goods, using phrases such as "Not to my knowledge", or "Not yet". I'd welcome an organiser who actually looks at the goods and vets them, this is exactly what I do want, and I have no problem with someone telling me how to dress my stall, this was only the second fair I'd ever done so I'm rather new to all this, I just didn't appreciate being made to feel about as welcome as a fart in a wetsuit.

                  Can anyone recommend handmade only fairs in the Lancashire area?
                  Last edited by Mojo_77; 31-10-2011, 03:16 PM.


                  • #10
                    I see craft fairs now as an advertising opportunity rather than a place to sell my products...if I make a profit it's a bonus!! But I make jewellery so it's not something people are likely to buy online without seeing in person first as it's hard to judge proportions fair I done recently has led to me being invited to a shopping/charity event at a local law firm in December, where there are only going to be half a dozen stalls so could be quite lucrative

                    I suppose I'm quite lucky in the fact that I can take things with me to make, so if I don't sell anything then I don't feel like my time is completely wasted!

                    If there are any regular craft events near you maybe you could pop along as a customer first and see what it's like, the organiser may even be able to spare 5 minutes to talk to you so you know what they're like before you pay out money for a pitch?


                    • #11
                      Hi, that's the way I've been looking at them lately too, as a way of getting my name out, but I can't help thinking that there may be better uses I could put the stall fee towards, though it does seem to be a rather sad state of affairs to attend such fairs not expecting to sell anything! I usually do take something with me to do while I'm there, but I could sit at home and make something and it doesn't cost me £46! I do attend a few fairs first before I book a stall, but tbh I'm finding it a real problem to find quality handmade fairs in this area, I've been Googling for the last 2 hours or so and they all seem to be craft and gift fairs, or the websites are so hard to navigate and find any information of interest or relevance I've given up on many of them!


                      • #12
                        Have you tried searching on ? they are a free site, you can also register for £10 a year you get 3 photos, and space to write some blrb. best money I ever spent, I get invites from it on a regular basis.
                        Handmade jewellery, to buy gifts or just to treat yourself visit my website, commissions welcome or join me on facebook for a chat


                        • #13
                          Hi, yes I regularly look on Stallfinder, that's how I find out about most fairs, haven't registered though, so you think it's worth doing then?


                          • #14
                            Mojo looking at the great work on your website it's obvious your craft is high end stuff so you really need to find events that are pitched to the more affluent clientele. This doesn't necessarily exclude craft & gift fairs as long as the brought in gifts are comparable in price to your handmade items - no cheap Chinese tat etc. There's a few events near to me (no use to you I know) that have a mix of handmade and bought in but the average price of a lot of the stall items are in the three figure mark and tickets to get in as a visitor are over a fiver. I'm thinking these kind of events would suit you better than ones where the average price of other stall items are £10-£20.
                            Visit Natty Netty for a huge selection of Iris Folding supplies


                            • #15
                              Thanks for your kind comments on my work, I think you could be right about higher end fairs, however I don't seem to have found any around here, can I ask roughly what sort of stall fee these fairs charge? It's getting to the time of year when I really need to be booking a few! There's a farmer's market on in Clitheroe and a craft fair on in Bacup next Sunday, I might pop along and have a look as they're reasonably close to each other and both have another event planned in December.