This is the year penguins will fly.

How not to sell at a craft fair

Welcome to the new launch of my blog!

It even comes with some fancy new banners on mondays, thursdays and Saturdays!

Monday is now the ‘Back to work’section of my blog and will be here to help you and I learn how to do well in our careers. From finding a job, to promotions and even running your own business!

This first instalment will cover an aspect of the crafting business, that I am obviously interested in, craft fairs.

Craft fairs are essential to any maker as they seem to be the best way to make money and are able to reach a wide and local customer circle.

Yesterday was my first real craft fair and, although not a complete failure, there are definitely a lot of improvements needed to be made.

This instalment will take examples from the fair I attended yesterday and give you tips on how not to run your stall.

1. Get everything ready before hand

By everything I mean everything. Have all of it packed up and ready to go the night before at the latest. In my defence I was pretty ill and worked a 14hr shift the night before, but I ended forgetting to take a few important things (such as my info poster, carrier bags and even half my stock!).

Save yourself the panic of trying to get everything together that morning because you will definitely forget something.

2. Think about the little details.

Everything from decorations to levels and even packaging. You need to make it look and feel professional.

A large sheet to cover the table is a must! Also play with arranging boxes under the sheets to create different levels and to add a bit of interest. Try and think of exciting ways to display your products, little bowls, stands or anything you can hang your items from. As you can tell from my images I forgot to pack those kinds of things and so had trouble really arranging my stall. It didn’t look the neatest it could have done but I don’t think it looked terrible. I will definitely think more about how I can really show off my items.

You also need to think about what you’re going to do if you make a sale. Customers will expect a bag at the very least. If you want to think about wrapping you products as well that’s also a good idea.

3. Take someone else with you

Craft fairs usually last a few hours and there’s not really a point when you can leave your stall unattended.  You will most likely need the toilet and/or food whilst there and so will need to leave your stall at some point. Plus it’s always fun to go have a look around at the other stalls and spend too much money see what they have for sale, maybe swap a few business cards.

If you can’t get anyone to keep you company you should definitely pack yourself some drinks and snacks. Usually you will be able to ask the stall next door to just keep an eye on your table whilst you nip to the loo at least.

Unfortunately I couldn’t take anyone with me and forgot food and so was feeling pretty rough by the end of the day, especially as I was ill as well.

4. Have a varied stock

Don’t just cater to one price bracket. Have smaller, cheaper objects as well as the larger/more expensive ones. It’s always good to have something kids can spend their pocket money on, or adults can buy without worrying about how much money they will have left. With smaller objects it will be a lot easier to make more sales, how ever you should still have some more expensive items as then one or two sales could cover the cost of the table. The table next to me had lots of little items and sold a lot of products, I had forgotten all my smaller products and didn’t make my first sale until a couple of hours before closing.

5. Be polite and engaging 

If work in sales and retail has taught me anything, it’s that if you’re smiley and engage the customer in conversation they will ultimately feel welcomed and be much more open to spending money. Think about it, would you buy from a grumpy stall holder who didn’t really seem interested in your custom?  Of course not! Engage the customer in conversation, ask them how their day is, if they’re enjoying the fair, talk about yourself and explain your products and what makes them special. Take an interest in the customer and they will take an interest in you.

6. Business Cards

A lot of people might not buy on the day but might want something later on. Take business cards and hand them out as often as possible. I was a little slow on the up take with mine, I just kept forgetting about them. But there were a couple of potential customers who seemed really interested in commission pieces. If they do get back to me it’s possible I can make back all the money I spent on my stall!

Plus business cards are useful to swap with other crafters. You can keep in the loop together letting each other know of  upcoming craft fairs, advertising each others wares and generally giving each other support.

7. Change

Always always always have a float. People will be paying money for things, if you don’t have enough change to give them you may well lose a sale. Deciding how much money to take is hard and really depends on the event and your prices. I took £30. £10 in pound coins and the rest in £5 notes.

8. Multi-buy Deals

Everyone loves a deal and, if it doesn’t mean you’re under selling yourself, there is no reason why you can’t have one on your stall. Maybe you have some little hair grips that are £3 each. Why don’t you sell 2 for £5? It shouldn’t affect your price so much that you will lose out and more people are likely to end up buying a second hair grip that they wouldn’t have necessarily have bought before! Of course these deals aren’t for every shop, but it’s a good way to get a few more sales under your belt.

9. Offer Solutions

If someone wants one of your items but isn’t sure, why don’t you offer your services to create one that suits them perfectly? I had one woman want my cupcake apron but it was too small for the child. She almost bought my pink and brown striped apron but wasn’t sure if the child would like it as much. I said I could make her the cupcake apron in a larger size if she wanted and gave her my email. I  missed out on doing this with a few other people which could have resulted in more sales, if not on the day then at least in future.

10. Enjoy yourself

I was a bit mopey all day due to my insides trying to fight to get out, but sitting there and looking bored is not going to attract customers. Sure you’re sat there for a long time and it can get boring, but at least don’t let everyone else know you’re bored. Maybe take some work to do with you. The table next to me were busy sewing little ornaments whilst running their stall and got quite a few good comments about it. People like to see the artist at work and it means you can add even more stock to your table.  Of course not every craft will allow you to do this in which case you’ll have to find some other way to keep yourself amused.

I have a lot to do before my next craft fair and a lot more stock to make. I did manage two sales though and handed quite a few business cards so hopefully I will see interest in my products picking up in the next few weeks.

For now though it’s time to keep sewing and planning for my next craft fair!

‘Till Next Time!

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3 responses

  1. I’ve done 3 craft shows so far and I can’t really figure out if I am personally doing something wrong, or if I am just picking the wrong fairs/shows I’d say the first 2 were a waste, but this last one was at a grade school- my items are geared at younger girls. I was expecting more! Oh well!

    November 20, 2012 at 4:16 pm

  2. Sounds just like my first attempt! I was on my own and forgot food and something to do so I was hungry and bored all day! And I didn’t have enough stock so my table looked a bit bare. I’m going to some school fetes this weekend and I’m hoping they will go much better!

    November 20, 2012 at 10:49 pm

    • haha yes. I think craft fairs are one of those things where you need to do a few before you really get the hang of them

      Ohh good luck!! 🙂

      November 21, 2012 at 9:49 am

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