You’ve decided to have a go at doing a craft fair. Awesome! You can have a lot of fun at craft fairs and there’s money to be made, whether you’re just trying to support your
addiction hobby or you want to earn a regular income from your artistic talents. BUT. Craft fairs can be hellish. Seriously.
First, you’ll spend weeks handcrafting a beautiful range of products, individually pricing everything with handmade labels, buying props and a new tablecloth for your stall. You’ll wake up at dawn on a Saturday morning, find your way to a chilly church hall, nervously set up, drink down a cup of coffee, before the doors open and….noone comes! You stand there all day as just a handful of people turn up for a mooch, you sell nothing, all the other stall holders spend the day moaning, and you eventually go home drained and despondent and down the cost of a stall, swearing never to do a craft fair again.
And this isn’t even the worst that can happen. You could end up at a great fair, well attended by people with money to spend and still not make any sales! A disaster for your purse and your self-esteem.
Want to make sure neither of the above scenarios happen to you? In this post, I want to share some of my tips for success at craft fairs with a list of things to consider before you even hand over any stall fees. And even if you have parted with your cash and have a few fairs already booked, there’s still some useful stuff here for you – especially if you’re a newbie.
- Know your goals
First of all it’s worth thinking about your reasons for doing a fair. Is your goal chiefly to makes sales, or are you looking for feedback on products? Are you just hoping to use your first fair to gain experience or are you trying to make a name for yourself and keen to make lots of new contacts? Knowing your reasons for doing the fair will make choosing the right one a lot easier.
- Choose the right fair
This is probably the most important piece of advice I can give. Do your research. Go on, make a database! Attend some potential events first. Are they busy? Are people buying? What sort of crafts are represented? Will you have lots of competition or is there a gap that you can fill? What is the standard like and do the prices compare to yours? You also need to think about how much a stall costs, the application process and the logistics. If you can’t get to a fair in advance ask as many people as you can for recommendations. Join social networks relating to craft fairs. Research is key. It will save you money and time in the long-run.
- Plan, plan, plan
When you plan anything you need to think about logistics, right? Once you’ve found your perfect fair check your diary – do the dates fit in with your schedule? Make a note of the application deadline. Make sure you have time to make enough stock. Do the organisers require proof of insurance cover or a license? Will you need help on the day? Transport available? Is someone going to help you with setting up? Who will carry the heavy stuff? What happens when you need the toilet? What about the kids or the dog – do you have someone to mind them while you’re out all day? Remember pulling out or not turning up at the last minute will only give you a bad reputation. So check everything before you apply.
- Consider sharing a stall
Sharing a stall can be great, You split the stall fee, you don’t need as much stock, you have someone to chat to throughout the day, help with setting up, you can cover each other at lunchtime or when you need the loo. I’d advise finding someone you get on well with. And ideally someone with a product range and style that compliments your own. This will make designing your stall display a lot easier.
- Get your application right
Just like a job application, take this seriously. Not all fairs are juried, but however the fair is organised you need to read the instructions for applying and make sure you meet deadlines. Include photos if requested, descriptions of your work, and full contact details. Some organisers work on a first come basis, so it’s worth contacting them in advance to find out when they will be calling for submissions. For over-subscribed events or high-profile design lead fairs there will be a lot of competition. Spend time getting really great photos. Provide links to your website or facebook page. Explain why you’re keen on this particular fair. And please be nice. As an organiser of an over-subscribed fair, believe me, it makes a difference. Suggest you can help with promotion, say that you’ve attended previous fairs and give some positive feedback. And don’t miss the deadline!
- Think about stock
What will you sell and at what price? It’s a good idea to have some lower priced items within your range. That way, someone who loves your work but isn’t able to spend on a pricier item might just buy a small token as a way of buying into your ‘brand’ and supporting you. Have you tested your products on family and friends? Be aware these people love you and they might not always be truthful. Try and garner honest opinions from people you trust before committing to expensive materials or tools. How much stock to take to a fair can be tricky. As a general rule I take three times the amount I expect to sell. Pricing is the hardest job for many craft sellers. I’ll post separately on that in the future.
- Create a great display
It is really important to create a style, a mini world that represents you and your product. Think about your shopping experience. Where do you like to shop? Can you borrow anything from those environments? Lighting can play a big role. Try and get the feel right, matching your products to your display, be it modern, fresh, minimal, homely, warm or funky. Do you want people to touch your work? It might be an idea to place your most precious or delicate items at the back of your stall beyond the reach of sticky fingers! Or keep small, expensive items behind glass. Also consider whether you’ll be sitting or standing. You’ll need space for your stock book, cash, wrapping materials and extra stock. Can you make uses of wall space? The biggest tip I can give here though is, practise. Find out the measurements of the stall and practise setting up your display.
That’s all for now. Good luck!