The HiP way to survive craft fairs...

Although we now have the likes of Etsy, Folksy, as well as some independent shops, Craft Fairs are where many of us make our bread and better…. Or try to.
Everyone has had a day where they sat for hours and didn’t make a penny, or had people be rude and upsetting.
So is there a secret formula for success? Or is it just luck?
Well, as I say, EVERYONE has those bad days but there are things you can do to improve your chances.
Here are a few I’ve discovered as well as some great advice I’ve picked up from other veterans.

Before You Go:

What kind of fair are you going to? Every fair is different. Every month has a different audience. Spring and summer can be hit and miss so do your research and think… Is this event going to attract people? Be selective with your events and ask around. A huge pitch fee does not mean they’re going to get YOUR kind of customers to you.

Christmas is the BEST time to sell, so use summer as the time to find out what your best products are and then make lots of them. Use pointers and make a feature out of certain items.

“Perfect for Dad!”

What will your stall look like? Have a little practice session at home, and work out what looks good. Don’t overcrowd your stall. Many jewellery stalls look better with less rather than more. Otherwise you just walk past and see a mass of sparkle rather than individual pieces. If you have several things that are similar then keep some in a box underneath and make a little sign saying “other colours / more available”
Have something eye catching to draw people over. Some people say dogs are good. Other people hate dogs and have one ENORMOUS feature piece to draw the eye. Others make a great use of their table cloth by decorating the front.

Be creative, use stands (a lunch box under some fabric is just as good as an expensive unit) use the walls around you. Get some wood and glue padding and fabric over the top so you can pin smaller items to it.
Make sure everything is priced up and the prices are simple and easy to add together in a hurry. Take a calculator if you worry about your maths.

Make sure you have: notebook and pen, enough change, something to throw over everything if it starts to rain.
Take a warm coat, something to nibble on, and something to do. You will be sat still for several hours and even in summer you will get cold, bored, and hungry. Take a chocolate bar. I don’t care if you’re on a diet, you will be near a cake stall, just accept that it’s going to happen.

“How to do well? Be the couple selling greasy burger & chips” @AndyWoodturner

While You Are There:

 “Take a range of unique items with a variety of prices, very reasonably priced, mid range and a few expensive items” @yarnsandfabrics

We all hope and pray that a nice person will just happen to be passing on her birthday, with a pocket full of disposable income and buy your entire range. I’m not going to say it will never happen, because, heck, that’s what keeps me going too. BUT the chances are small. There is a MUCH higher chance that a nice person will be passing with no real intention of doing anything but browsing and just notice that really pretty item at the front that’s just cheap enough not to resist.

Use each fair as a marketing opportunity. Give out cards, but don’t waste them, give them out to people who show interest or have a pile at the front so they don’t have to ask. Pop them in the bag with a purchase so when they get a compliment from a friend, they can pass your details on.

“Listen to what other stall holders are saying and discussing- giving advice on which are busy months, customers” - @JasmineandCoco
There is ALWAYS gossip to be had at fairs, and 98% of crafters are super friendly so get chatting, swap horror stories, get some feedback on your stall, ask questions, make friends!

“Look interested! Nothing worse than seeing someone reading a book / playing a computer game instead of selling.” @PICSL8

“Don't hide behind your stall - be available to chat to if the shoppers want to ask about your work!” @BirdHousePress

“Smile be friendly but not over the top” Mad Moo Crafts

It’s a tough line to tread this one. My hubbie once explained why he hates craft fairs and said “I love handmade things, but when you go up to a stall and know that person has put their heart into everything they’ve made, and they’re there, staring at you beaming…. It’s just so much pressure to say something nice, or buy something. You feel like you’re being horrible if you don’t.”

You will find your own style in time. But think of it from their point of view, how do you want to be treated as a customer?

“Old ladies are HORRIBLE.” Geekery By Emily

Don’t let people get to you if they laugh, tut at your prices, engage you in half an hour of chat about how they can make things too, or are generally negative. Smile sweetly and try not to tell them where they can stick it. You know, unless they completely deserve it.

Things To Think About Afterwards:

What did you learn? Were there things that people loved, but need to be cheaper? Do you have an item that sold out? Do you just need to restock? Or change a few pence more for it next time?
Did you hand out cards with your Facebook page or website on there? If so make sure that you UPDATE them afterwards so new visitors have something to see. Track down and like the pages of the people you met if they gave good advice. You’ll forget their name soon so do it quickly.

Don’t get despondent if you didn’t make your fortune. Take any feedback you got on the chin and work out how you can do better next time. Did you go to the wrong kind of fair? Do you need a wider range of products? Do you need to work on some new designs?

If you did well then get in touch and thank the organiser. It’ll encourage them to do more, and if you miss out on a table they’re more likely to think of you when they get a last minute cancellation.

As always I want to hear your feedback and tips as well. By helping each other we are helping our whole industry. The better we can all make Handmade Events, the better sales we can all get a share of.

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