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Starting Up Organising Craft Fairs

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  • Starting Up Organising Craft Fairs

    Good Afternoon lovely craft people.

    I have a bit of a bee in my bonnet over Christmas I done a lot of craft fairs, tables pricing from £10 - £100 all the fairs I done seem to lack Va Va Voom. There seems to be some organisers out there that seemed happy to take crafters money but deliver nothing no marketing and poor planning. I understand that in the world of craft fairs there are good and bad days but I find it heart breaking to see a whole room of crafters struggle to make their tables back as people struggle to find the event.

    With all of this playing on me I am highly considering having a go at organising some events. This is where I am begging out for any advice? Where do I start?? What should I be looking for in a location?? Help, Please, I would hate to organise a fair and have any crafters feeling like I didn't do my upmost to support them.

    Thanks Em

  • #2
    Hi Em.

    You are contemplating a mammoth task and certainly not an easy one these days. I could go on for pages about it but here are a few of my thoughts anyway.

    There is general apathy for craft fairs especially the average one on the night street, local church hall etc etc. They are often still associated with hobby crafters and little old ladies selling knitted toilet roll covers for which people will only pay a pittance. I am generalising here and I'm sure there a established events that are well supported.

    We only do larger mostly multiday well organised events now as we found, as you have, you just don't get the footfall or type of customer we need to make a living at small local events, our craft is our living. Even these have taken a dive this year on the returns. You are not talking £10 a day tables here though. The biggest bugbear is the inclusion of cheap bought in goods to what is billed as a Hand Made event. People often use the excuse, 'I design the goods and get them made' yes in a sweatshop for a pittance.

    Your initial considerations are:-
    Venue, a good site, easy to find, pleasant to work in, good facilities and a hire charge per hour that you can cover. You need to hire for enough time before and after for vendors to set up and break down. Is it big enough for the number of stalls you will need to cover costs and make money.
    Insurance. You will need an operators insurance and you must be certain that your sellers are insured and insist they provide a copy of their policy with the booking. Usually the minimum cover is 2million but many require 5million these days. Food sellers have to have official vetting to produce food for sale a copy of which should also be provided.
    Advertising. How much is your budget for leaflets, local papers, local radio etc. Have you the time and inclination to do leaflet drops, badger local businesses, schools, church halls, library etc to put up posters and have leaflets on their counters for you. You will spend hours and hours on social media promoting.
    Manpower. Do you have enough to plan and set up the tables and break down afterwards. Does the venue have tables and chairs you can use if not you need to hire some as not everyone will have their own. You may need to charge them and get them to pre order.
    Balance. How to get the number of sellers you require against the variation in the type of crafts. No one, seller or buyer wants to go to an event with 20 stalls of which 10 are jewellery or cards. It's a hard decision for you when you may have 6 tables left with a week to go and your waiting list are all card makers, what do you do ?

    I could rabbit on and on but I won't. Sorry it all sounds so negative but its a huge undertaking to run a successful event where sellers and buyers are all happy and you make a profit. No point in doing it if you don't. If you run a stall as well to make your profit you can't be taking proper care of your sellers at the same time. You may have to go outside, walk the pavements and invite people in unless you employ someone else to do that, which all eats into your takings.

    Generally are you prepared for the cancellations, the whinging from sellers that they are not happy with their placing, the allocated space, the number of other makers that do the same as they do, the tea making faciity, they don't like the person next to them etc etc. If you don't get the number of bookings do you cancel and risk losing the remaining sellers as you are not reliable or run at a loss.

    I do wish you well and I'm sure there are loads of important things I haven't even touched on. Maybe someone else will chip in. This is not a busy forum but often people 'lurk' and only post when they have something useful to say, unlike some of us who just rabbit on LOL
    Last edited by MornieG Jewellery; 07-03-2017, 09:55 AM.
    Mo. Bodrighy Wood.
    Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage..Lao Tzu.!/AuntieMornie


    • #3
      Couldn't agree more with everything Mo has said.

      The most difficult/annoying thing to deal with is the lack of appreciation of accurate and timely admin and finance by the stallholders - be prepared to remind people umpteen times and to have to chase for money. Make sure full payment is received well in advance of the date of the event and make it clear that deposits/payments are not refundable after certain dates.

      Another thing you need to be aware of is that for the last few years many local councils have been invoking an ancient law about holding markets (as a legal term this covers ANY event where 5 or more stalls are selling - anything!) and requiring organisers to have permission to hold the event - our council calls it Market Consent. Charges are made for this, but with exemptions for certain types of orgainsers (charities, not for profit). Ours is governed by the Tourism and Leisure department at the council. Bureaucratic PITA

      A friend and I have organised a few large artisan craft events over the last few years (we've had to give up because of family situations). If you decide to go ahead with your plans I would be more than happy to pass on more specific advice and hints if it would help you - just let me know.

      Good luck!



      • #4
        Hi all

        We have only recently started selling at wares at craft fairs and we struggle to find fairs in our area ( Worcestershire) but I must say the ones we do attend are well organised.
        Talking to other stall holders there seems to be a a lack of footfall this year and all are complaining about quiet it has been, is this a national thing?