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  • My first craft fair - any help and advise?

    Hi,
    I have my first craft fair coming up in February and I am now beginning to panic!
    Does anyone have any advise that they can offer me, things I should take, things I need (I know I need liability insurance and I am planning on going with craftinsurance .co.uk unless anyone else can recommend a better one?).
    I was hoping to visit the January fair the same company was holding to get an idea what to expect but it was cancelled due to the weather so I have nothing to go on now!
    A huge massive thank you to anyone who can take a moment to reply.
    Maxine

  • #2
    Hi there - don't panic!! One of the members here wrote a really good blog about the subject of Your First Craft Fair so I would suggest you read this.

    You'll be fine - make sure you've got your best smile on and hopefully you'll have a nice day. Good luck.

    Deb
    Custom tribal belly dance costumes & accessories

    Unique jewellery for those who love to turn heads

    Comment


    • #3
      Breathe and smile. Have a cloth that covers all the table down to the floor, front and sides, no one wants to see your stock boxes. Float of say £50.00 starting from 10p upwards if you have anything priced £3.99 make sure you have 1p's. check your prices then you can work out the float you need, no point having loads of 5p's when all your work is round pounds. Sellotape and pins, you just never know when they come in handy. Display at difffering heights, you can use pretty boxes from garden centres or the likes of The Range, baskets if you have things like sachets etc. make sure everything is priced clearly and try to have a show piece that is yes expensive and may never be sold but is your show stopper.

      Remember your stall is your shop window for the day and you need to make an impression. Take some work with you not a book, people always love to see people at work. Order book just in case and take a 50% deposit again just in case they do not follow through with the order. If a personalised piece this deposit can be non-refundable, my named pillows could not be sold to anyone else but the client. Be comfortable but smart and make friends with your neighbours for rest room breaks.

      Good Luck you will be fine and try some small talk does not have to be much can be about the weather, a smile and good morning costs nothing.

      Comment


      • #4
        ooooh, I have my first one in march... so ages away. I'll be watching this space to find out how your went! Best of luck x

        Tracey x

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        • #5
          i remember my first craft fair, it was nerve wracking for the week leading up to it. My best advice is be ready to talk to everyone that stops by your stall, a simple hello there and a smile works wonders. As silly as it sounds i always sell more if im standing up engaging the public at eye level rather than sitting there quietly. Believe it or not i once seen a stallholder ring her partner up in tears saying customers wouldnt talk to her, as i seen it she just sat there too engrossed in her book to even acknowledge any potential customers . Luckily im a talkative person that enjoys meeting new people. But most of all enjoy it and make some great new friends with fellow stall holders.
          good luck
          rich

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          • #6
            Hi, i have never realy done a craft fair and am also considering it. Does anyone actually make any good money from them? Are they bust enough for me to earn a good days wages at one?

            Also, i don't see many advertised in the west midlands. Does anyone know of any I could start with?

            Thanks

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Anycraft-UK View Post
              Hi, i have never realy done a craft fair and am also considering it. Does anyone actually make any good money from them? Are they bust enough for me to earn a good days wages at one?

              Also, i don't see many advertised in the west midlands. Does anyone know of any I could start with?

              Thanks
              You can't really predict any of those things with any certainty - I think that until you are established at a regular event and people come to you to buy because they know you will be there as well as you getting sales from other customers it's very hit and miss in terms of income. You have to weigh up whether the cost of your stall and petrol to get there and back is worth it in terms of networking with other stall-holders, event organisers, the general public and whoever else might be there. For that part to work you have to engage with people and chat. You can give out cards to potential customers and if you make a sale always give out a card because then you might get a repeat customer.

              Lots of things determine how well you will do at an event and sometimes it can all be down to moon phases/wind direction/sun spots and ..... well, you get my drift? You might do fantastically well or you might be out of pocket. You win some you lose some.

              As for whether there are any fairs near to you, Stallfinder is a good place to start - you can look for all kinds of events throughout the year within a set radius from you. Just get in touch with a couple of organisers and see what bites.

              Some people here do very few fairs, some do them regularly - I think you just need to have a go and then work out what's best for you and your business. Good luck with whatever you decide to do.
              Custom tribal belly dance costumes & accessories

              Unique jewellery for those who love to turn heads

              Comment


              • #8
                Along with the other good advice given here, I can only emphasise that the results and rewards 'depend' - partly on what you yourself do, partly on the fair, the weather, the season, the customers and the other stallholders, and partly (in a large part!) on something that can best be described as 'whatever it is that influences 'depends'' (and no it's not TenaLady's main competitor in the incontinence pad market, although sometimes I think it should be, fairs are so random!).

                However, the chances are that you'll have a good day even if it's only getting to know other stall holders, you'll get out there and see what other people are making, you'll have the opportunity for feedback from real live customers (not friends, relatives, colleagues etc) who will - trust me! - be honest in the extreme, and that's what you really need especially as you're starting out, and see the sort of prices that similar items can be sold for at fairs which attract a similar demographic.

                TBH one of the things I enjoy about fairs most is the people-watching and trying to understand a prospective customer's body language.

                Depending on what you make, and the demographics of the attendees at the fair, you might have to take precautions against damage by uncontrollable and uncontrolled little fingers. I do some fairs in areas where a large % of the children are considered to be 'speshul snoflaykes' and the word 'no' must never ever be used ... I wouldn't want to be selling blown-glass butterflies.

                Which brings me neatly on to stock maintenance. Again depending on what you make, think how it will travel. Will you need to take an iron and suitable pad with you after your fabric goodies have been squashed inside a suitcase, or do you have space for hanging racks if you asked a friend with a van to help? If you make something with 'innards' such as cushions or doorstops, despite the weight and bulk you need to take innards with you. A few people may be happy to put the cover on their own innards, but you need innards to display them properly to sell in the first place. Cushions are bulky - can you use vacuum bags to transport them more easily - and if they don't sell, can you use vacuum bags at the venue to get them home again - ie will you need to take your own vac? And iron! And ironing board!
                And something non-messy, non-smelly to eat, and to drink. Some tissues or loo roll in case the loos are disgusting.

                Practice your display on a suitably-sized table at home; you can often use the containers you transport items in to add height and interest to the display.

                Take as much stock with you as you can manage (as long as it's not perishable or very clearly seasonal) but keep the boxes neatly out of sight, so you can 'top up' your display as necessary, and if a customer says 'have you got that in sky-blue pink with a yellow border?' you can say 'Yes I have!' and produce it from under the table.

                As for the question about 'earning a good day's wages' at one - well, if that is essential to you right from your very first fair, I have to say you would be far better off getting a PAYE job for the day ... you might, and you might not. It is certainly possible, but it depends ...


                Comment


                • #9
                  This is probably a total newb question - but what does stall holders insurance cover? and is it absolutely necessary to have when working stalls?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by DaiyLou View Post
                    This is probably a total newb question - but what does stall holders insurance cover? and is it absolutely necessary to have when working stalls?
                    Most good organisers will ask the stall holders, who should be registered self employed with the HMRC, for a copy of their pli. This is a must as though you may think your products are safe it will also cover if your stand collapses on to a customer or other stall holder and not worth losing your home over.

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                    • #11
                      Be realistic about your expectations but stay positive you never know whats out there even with all the preparation in the world. Our worst ever fair actually produced the biggest single order after the event.
                      Pat Murphy


                      http://www.gladturnings.co.uk
                      https://www.facebook.com/GladTurnings.Woodturning

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                      • #12
                        I did my first 2 craft fairs last December and I was so horribly nervous it was unreal!

                        My top tips (as well as echoing what has been said above!)
                        - Take something to eat/drink! You might not have the opportunity to go and actually get something to eat.
                        - Take a notepad and pen/pencil - for customers details, lists, notes etc
                        - Take a rubbish bag - every fair etc I've been to requires you to remove your own rubbish (whatever that is for your craft)
                        - Do your items need bags/wrapping? Start saving decent carrier bags etc if you don't want to buy new ones.
                        - Have some business cards/flyers etc - maybe someone will want your details for later!
                        - Know your product - be prepared for random, odd questions!

                        My main tip is - TALK to customers! Engage them - providing it's ok tell them to touch/pick up/smell/taste your items (as appropriate). At my first fair, there was another preserve maker - had a much flashier stall than I did - had spent quite a bit on a lit up stand for his jars (looked cool!). I was quite worried. I sent my sister (who was helping me) to check him out. We were both surprised that he didn't engage with his potential customers at all - in fact, he was engrossed with his phone most of the time. When she hung around near his tasters, he never even looked up.

                        Later on a FB group - the rival stall holder was bemoaning the fact that he'd had a rubbish fair and had barely sold anything. He said he wasn't sure if he would do the repeat fairs in this location as it wasn't worth his time. Funny how I sold over 100 jars and actually sold out of 3 flavours completely at the same "rubbish fair"!

                        I always make a point of encouraging tasters (I have jars etc open) - if someone is hanging around I'll say "Oh, go on - have a taste!". Sometimes they say "No thanks" and that's fine. Sometimes they taste every single option (and still don't buy!) - but that's fine too! I'm open to questions about what to use my preserves with (e.g. sweet/savoury etc) and will try and help people decide what to buy.
                        Website: www.preesallpreserves.co.uk

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by JamLady View Post

                          My main tip is - TALK to customers! Engage them - providing it's ok tell them to touch/pick up/smell/taste your items (as appropriate). At my first fair, there was another preserve maker - had a much flashier stall than I did - had spent quite a bit on a lit up stand for his jars (looked cool!). I was quite worried. I sent my sister (who was helping me) to check him out. We were both surprised that he didn't engage with his potential customers at all - in fact, he was engrossed with his phone most of the time. When she hung around near his tasters, he never even looked up.

                          Later on a FB group - the rival stall holder was bemoaning the fact that he'd had a rubbish fair and had barely sold anything. He said he wasn't sure if he would do the repeat fairs in this location as it wasn't worth his time. Funny how I sold over 100 jars and actually sold out of 3 flavours completely at the same "rubbish fair"!
                          .
                          Absolutely spot on ! Not much to add to the overall thread, but just wondered 'Jam Lady' whether this particual stallholder knew, that your sister was a 'stall holder' too.

                          I always make the point of walking around the fair and have a look at other people's stalls (One needs to check one's competition, you know...), but it amazes me when people know I'm a stall holder they don't always talk to you !!! As if they thought - 'She is only checking us out and not buying anything, why should I bother talking to her' ! This is so short sighted ! I always make the point of talking to everyone who comes to the table even if I know that they are stall holders. Who is to say, that somebody who makes candles might not like mine decorations.
                          Passionate about all things handmade...

                          Proud owner of WowThankYou - stylish and affordable way of selling your crafts and makes


                          Friendly advice and coaching for small businesses

                          Cocoa & Heart Website

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                          • #14
                            If I'm at your fair it's worth talking to me . There's one on the Isle of Wight where they'd get quite upset if I didn't turn up. One lady collects a boxful of old brooches specially for me (she know's the style I'm after - psuedo C16th), another one ditches all her left over lavender wands on me (she makes them for her charity then I shift them onto the mainland, sell them in London and some of my proceeds go to another charity) and then there's the weavers. We just stand there chatting about how fine Marion can get her thread. So, back at my local fairs, apart from buying a year's worth of birthday and Xmas cards and presents, I've bought dried flowers and turned wood during my Anna business to give to my Annie business.

                            The sticky fingers thing. The good thing about unruly children is they are quite small so put anything you don't want them to touch high up or at the back of your stall .

                            Eena - I know it's traditionally grim up north but what's with your toilets? All the venues I've sold at - schools, village halls, clubs and pubs have immaculate toilets

                            Check out your venue either for real or on Streetview before you go. I've had scary moments not being able to find entrances or room to park. If you are not expecting it you get wound up and flustered when you should be calm and in control.

                            Think how you are going to get your stuff from your car into the hall. Give yourself a big tick if you only have two laundry bags filled with feather light stuff. Put your thinking cap on if you have two trollyfuls of heavy boxes and and the carpark is 1/3rd of a mile down a gravel path or at the bottom of a 1 in 4 hill or you have to go up 3 flights of stairs.

                            Insurance - public liability covers you for things like something falling off your table and breaking a customer's toe. Or your tablecloth tripping someone up. Those are trivial examples. (There's a thread on this forum where we listed horrific accidents.) Have you thought about product liability? That covers you if anything you make injures someone. Babies do choke on things. I left a pin in a codpiece. Fortunately we were laughing so much at the victim's antics trying to get it out that he forgot to sue me. (He was a friend in need and I'd made his costume for free so he wouldn't have sued me anyway but.......)

                            It's not a bad idea to view fairs as both a selling and an advertising opportunity, then you don't feel too sad if you don't sell much.

                            Can you make selling at craft fairs your day job? I think you have to be cunning to acheive that. If you just want to earn money you'd do better buying sacks of pet food and splitting them up small to sell at an outdoor market or the same idea with sweets.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Cocoa & Heart View Post
                              Absolutely spot on ! Not much to add to the overall thread, but just wondered 'Jam Lady' whether this particual stallholder knew, that your sister was a 'stall holder' too.
                              Good point, but no - he didn't know she was anything other than an interested party (it was the first time she had been with me to a fair). We also heard from customers who had been to his stall and walked off after he ignored them!
                              Website: www.preesallpreserves.co.uk

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