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  • Craft fair definition

    Many years ago people who wanted an unusual gift or maybe a hand made present would go to the craft fairs. The item bought was individually made by someone who had a great love of their craft, maybe it was a quilt or a painting or maybe an item of clothing. A lot of people that visit craft fairs know they are getting something that is unique, that has been well made and it is something that cannot be bought in any high street shop. Sadly craft fairs are not the same any more, there has been many changes. Many of those that have a stall at the craft fair are importing the things they display, this is especially true with jewellery. In a way the customers are being deceived into believing that everything on display has been hand made by the person behind the stall and this is often not the case.

    When I heard of a new craft fair that was taking place recently I rang the organiser and was told that only people that actually make what they sell would be allowed a table and I feel that is how all craft fairs should be, it is the true meaning of the word. If people want to import the stuff they sell thats fine, but sell it at a market stall, not at a craft fair.

    I have a regular craft fair I attend every Friday and there was a new lady there one day selling jewellery. She had earrings marked up at £2-50 a pair. It was fortunate that she only attended the one craft fair as the usual lady that hand made all her own jewellery was unwell that particular week. The lady in question was buying all her stuff from e-bay and never hasd a clue how to make jewellery.

    I am fortunate that Everything I sell at craft fairs is made from wood. I design everything I make myself and I do well. China is not exporting the sort of things I make, if they did people would be jumping on the bandwagon trying to make a quick buck. Most of the people at the craft fairs I attend are very skilled people in their own right, it has taken them years to perfect their individual craft and I feel it is being ruined by a small majority of people with no scruples.

    Another thing that is now happening is individuals setting up a business organising craft fairs. At one venue where I attend a craft fair once a month I pay £20 and have 3 tables. There is now another craft fair at the same venue but the cost is £25 for ONE table and if you want to join this new so called craft fair then it cost an additional £45 to become a member. I know how much it cost to hire the hall and the individual running the craft fair is going home at the end of the day with about £600 in their pocket, not bad for one days work. On the other side of the coin I know that craft fair organisers do a lot of hard work with advertising, getting to the venue hours beforehand to put out signs etc. I refuse to be ripped off in this way. Many of the people attending this particular craft fair would struggle to cover their expenses let alone make a bit of profit. Another craft fair I attend on a regular basis at a very good venue cost me just £10 and it is run by one of the other craft people and we all do well. I feel the way forward now is for the crafts people to get together and organise their own venues and fairs.

  • #2
    Very well said i agree whole heartedly with everything you have said x

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    • #3
      welll said!
      full time mum and very very part time crafter.

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      • #4
        Yes, I think this is the same accross the country, but we do have couple of organisers, who insist on handmade and won't accept 'traders' in. These fairs, are usually well attended and bring in people who are very appreciative of what we do.

        On another note, I have a sign on my stall (with my logo ) to say 'everything is made by the stallholder', but still people are surprised when I tell them I make everything myself. The impression I get, is that they expect 'handmade' to be badly finished, with badly chosen colour scheme and generally poor quality. But, that's another subject all together...
        Passionate about all things handmade...

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


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        • #5
          I couldn't agree more with the sentiment that craft fairs should be just that - handmade crafts with no bought in or imported goods, and there are plenty of handmade fairs around, but it takes some time looking through the rest to find the gems!

          I do have to disagree with your comment on the organiser making that amount of money 'for just one days work' - seriously, do you really, honestly think that it takes only 1 day to organise a craft fair?? A good fair can take months to organise. I've just counted up the hours I've spent this year on the fair I ran last Sunday - it was in excess of 200 hours, and that's probably being a bit stingy. If I took a profit of £600 out of the fair, divided by 250 hours, I'm taking £3.00 an hour. If you think that's a fair wage for someone who take all of the financial risk for the event, books & pays for the venue, leaflets, advertising etc upfront, finds stallholders, chases stallholders for payment when their cheques bounce, deals with abuse from some of those stallholders, spends days pushing leaflets through doors, putting posters up and more, than I'll happily give you a job!

          Why oh why do people resent craft fair organisers making any profit at all from their fairs - as an organiser I really really want all of my stallholders to have a profitable day, yet it seems entirely unacceptable to the majority of crafters that I should do anything other than just about break even on venue costs.
          Website; www.midshiresmakers.co.uk
          Facebook Pages: www.facebook.com/weedoncraftmarket
          www.facebook.com/craftshoppingexperience

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          • #6
            Hear, hear. Well said.
            Annie and Lyn
            www.rosiepink.typepad.co.uk

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            • #7
              I think Fretnot is referring not to the organisers who do exactly that 'organise' but the fly by nights. The ones who take extortionate amounts of money from stallholders, turn up 3/4 of an hour before opening time with no table plan (or any sort of plan come to that), have only 'advertised' the event on Facebook (not somewhere I would look for a craft fair to attend), with no signs at all outside the venue on the day let alone in advance, tables crammed in so tight that stallholders cannot stand or pack boxes behind the table, poor lighting etc etc etc. In short, organisers who have probably never been to a craft fair.

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              • #8
                Reading my post back, I was a bit underservedly shrp in reply to fretnot - I apologise, it certainly wasn't a rant aimed at you, more a case of me letting things get on top of me recently.

                I'm feeling quite sensitive about the 'organiser bashing' that sometimes goes on on a few forums I use, and amongst some groups of crafters generally, I do realise that frenot was probably referring to those type of organisers, there are plenty of them about, I've been unfortunate to stumble across fairs 'arranged' by them myself (I hate to use the word 'organise', because they weren't!)

                I think I'm a bit overly sensitive generally at the mo, I've had a few comments recently from crafters who have attended my fairs who have said things along the lines of, crikey, I bet you make a packet out of doing this, not bad for a days work. It's hard to bite my tongue, especially when, at a recent fair I'd spent the previous week not only getting the final plans done and loads of promotion, but dealing with a serious family emergency too so I'm afraid sometimes, when it gets a bit much for me, I do tend to 'take it out a bit' on the forum here.

                Apologies to anyone if I was a bit 'sharp' - I'm usually far more 'gentle'. Time to let my hair down at the work party tonight and blow off some much needed steam!!!

                Claire
                Website; www.midshiresmakers.co.uk
                Facebook Pages: www.facebook.com/weedoncraftmarket
                www.facebook.com/craftshoppingexperience

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                • #9
                  I hope you have a great party Claire. I think you sound like a fantastic organiser unfortunately as you said yourself there are many who "arrange" craft fairs and run with the money. I think it is easy for us crafters to forget how much work a good organiser puts into running an event so thank you for reminding us. I am sure that no one would begrudge the good organisers of earning a living from their events after all without the organisers many crafters would have no where to sell. The frustration is being able to find the good organisers and that is incredibly hard when you are first starting out. Fretnot I think you are extremely lucky to have so many regular events near to you and around this area £25 for a table is seen as a cheap stall but I do agree that craft fairs should be for handmade items that can not be found in the high street. Cocoa and heart people are also suprised when I tell them that I make all my jewellery and that I know what all the gemstones are and their properties.
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                  • #10
                    Craftyknotter. Many thanks for coming to my rescue. Maybe I should have explained a bit better and I apologise to Claire if I offended you. My comments were not aimed at the genuine organisers like yourself. I was referring to the situation Craftyknotter outlined in her reply, that people are jumping in on the band wagon and organising craft fairs with no idea what is involved, there is no organisation and it is a shambles. I have visited a few of these just to see what went on and it was a bit of an eye opener.

                    The organisers of the craft fairs I attend are lovely people and I hope they make a good profit for all the hard work they do. The day before the craft fair they are out at strategic points putting up signs and posters. They spend hours on the phone, get to the venue way before anyone else to organise the tables etc and then after the event they have to go and collect all the signs etc and overall it is very hard work. The organisers i refer to are fellow crafters like myself and we are like one big family, always helping each other. What makes it bad for the organisers is when people fail to turn up who have said they would be there. It only takes a phone call or an e-mail to say they wont be able to make it and the space can then be given to someone else.

                    There are also genuine craft fairs that are expensive and I know the organisers try to keep the prices as reasonable as they can. In the city a fellow crafter has paid £100 for the day and that is for a supplied stall in the pedestrianised part of the high street but she ended the day with almost £1000. She was confident her stuff would sell well. Another friend of mine attended a 3 day event at a very popular spot, it was very well advertised. It cost £140 for the 3 days but he took just over £2000. At out weekly craft fairs there are a few ladies who are lucky to break even each week and I try to help them by suggesting they increase their range of items or maybe get something different that would compliment what they are already selling but these ladies more or less just come for the company, its a day out for them and they love every moment and say it is well worth the money they spend. I had a less than average day today. My total outlay was £20 and I was just short of making £100 at the end of the day so it wasn't that bad.

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                    • #11
                      I do not think that craft fairs are the same as they used to be and there are to many people selling there "handmade" goods that they have no way made and are in fact mass produced. It is hard enough when you make everything you sell trying to make a living but when you have to try and compete with these cheap products it is nearly impossible and because of the lack of quality at some craft fairs they are becoming less popular
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                      • #12
                        Every time there is a recession you get people jumping on the crafting band wagon both making and organising, hence with the former why craft fairs have now got a bad name because of shoddy items made or bought in, making as a hobby (sadly still have those around). The latter people who think it is easy to organise, have seen the comment on here 'How hard can it be' well it is hard and hours of work, as Claire said stroppy stallholders moaning and ignoring the rules. This happened in the 80's/90's the bad ones drop by the wayside and the good continue to survive, only problem is 'Craft' has been damaged by these sort of people and as genuine handmade business we now have to stick together to rebuild the reputation and perhaps point out to organisers where 'handmade only' anyone who is breaking the rules and shop those illegally trading as 'Just a hobby' not a business. Here is the HMRC link to do just that called reporting Fraud and that is what it is fraud.

                        Sorry slightly off track
                        Last edited by Caroleecrafts; 08-12-2012, 05:54 AM.

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                        • #13
                          Its the same with antiques fair. They are now antiques and 'collectables' fairs and a collectable can mean just about anything. I don't do craft fairs due to all the imported stuff and rogues that you are surrounded by these days. Been discussed may times on here and their is nothing anyone can do it seems. The tide may be turning with programmes that Kirsty Allsop does for example which promote genuine artisan crafts and is slowly educating people. With the cost ofmanufacturing rising in places like China and the far east due the rising oil, raw materials and oil a revolution in British handmade may be just around the corner.

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                          • #14
                            Amen! l went an "crafting" event Brighton and the people there are buying charms and putting them on a string and selling them or buying commercial beads and Swarovski beads and calling it "handmade". l make polymer clay jewellery so l actually make my jewellery by hand and l felt very disappointed when l saw so many things factory bought, lacking in imagination on sale. l would never go back to that organization again - there is nothing crafty about it. l am new to all of this and finding it difficult to sell, but hopefully in the future l will have better skills. My best experience was at an outdoor market - l made a good profit despite standing in the freezing cold for a day. The so called crafting experiences have been awful money wise so far.
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