A craft fair is a great way to sell your handmade items, get some exposure, and test the market.
A CRAFT FAIR GUIDE
This article is based on my experience of craft fairs. It is a step by step guide which includes:
Finding a Craft Fair
Craft Fair questions
Applying for a Craft Fair stall
Making a Craft Fair Stall display
Planning for a Craft Fair (a check list)
The day of the Craft Fair
Our Craft Fair guide is written with the first time craft fair exhibitor in mind. If you have tips, tricks or other useful information please feel free to add a comment!
FINDING A CRAFT FAIR
Beyond basic internet searches, you can find details of craft fairs from a number of sources. Local councils or town halls may be able to provide details of upcoming craft fairs within their area. Local newsletters will also normally carry details of upcoming events.
It may be worth enquiring with local schools. Some schools hold Summer Fates, Christmas Fairs and alike. You may be able to apply to have a stall at such an event.
No matter where you find your craft fair, remember your target audience. Are they likely to attend that fair?
Make a shortlist of the events you like the look of.
CRAFT FAIR QUESTIONS
Now you have your shortlist, it’s time to do a little research. Beyond the obvious (date/time), I would like to know:
How much will the stall cost me?
I have seen prices range from £5 up to £200+.
The lower end would be more community orientated local fairs, maybe in a local school or church hall. They tend not to have much in way of a marketing budget, but could have a good following from the community if they hold regular events. The higher end may be a more publicised annual craft focused event. The mid ranges could be events held at public venues, drawing in crowds from further afield.
You will need to decide which would suit you and your business best. If you are just starting out and want to test the market, you probably want to start local and ease into things. If you already have an established online business and want to take things out on the road, you may want something larger to proudly display your brand.
You would want to take into consideration your target audience, the amount of stock you will have available, and how much you would need to sell to make up the stall fee. Also consider the cost of transport to the venue/car parking, food, and drinks.
Now you know how much they are charging you, ask what you’ll be getting for your money!
What advertising, if any, are the event organisers doing?
This, for me, is an important question. If nobody knows about the craft fair, how can they attend?
You can do your part and advertise the event on your own social media, however, I would also expect some advertising from the event organisers.
(An exception would be that consider they need not advertise due to the event being held at a popular marketplace/venue. Or, they need not advertise as it is a well established event.)
How many people are expected to attend (foot-flow)?
Generally, the event organisers will have data concerning foot-flow. They may, for example, have figures from previous events. They may have details of their advertising campaign, E.g. leaflets they have printed and distributed, which can be an indicator of possible foot-flow.
Check the event organiser’s website for information or get in contact with them.
How much space will I be given?
Is it enough space for what you want to display?
Also, does the space include a table or will you need to bring your own?
If you need to take a hanging rail or other such display item, check with the event organisers. You may need their permission.
You will need the table/plot size information to plan your display.
Can you use the space behind your stall? Maybe for a banner, or to place products. Ask the event organisers who may be able to tell you.
You may not know the location of your stall until the morning of the event – when you arrive. Event organisers tend to spread out exhibitors with similar items. So hopefully, you will not be selling the same things and competing with the stall right next to you.
APPLYING FOR A CRAFT FAIR STALL
There is usually some sort of application process, E.g. a form to fill in. Payment, or at least a deposit, normally occurs before the event.
Event organisers will likely require some information from you, such as, what items you intend to sell. Some may require you to have public liability insurance.
There are a number of legal considerations when selling goods to the public, depending on your product and location. As these guidelines are intended as general information for any location, I will not cover them here.
MAKING A CRAFT FAIR STALL DISPLAY
By this stage you should have an idea of what you’re working with. You should know if you will be given a table, or if you need to bring your own. You should also know how much space you will have to work with.
If it is your first craft fair, it would be a good idea to set up a practice display table at home. This will give you a clear image of how you want it to look, see what display equipment you may need, and save you time on the day.
Find a tablecloth that is large enough to cover the table and reach the floor. Something that would cover the space under the table. This will make the stall appear tidier while providing a place to store boxes, extra stock, or other bits and bobs.
Choose a colour that will compliment your stock items. If your items are light coloured, choose a darker colour to show them off better, and vice versa. Stick with plain colours, as apposed to multi-coloured printed fabrics, so as not to distract the viewer from the product.
Add different heights to your display for more interest.
You can buy purpose built table top displays, like little shelves/mini bookcases or you can make your own displays. You can make shelves by simply placing boxes under your tablecloth.
Use different sized boxes to create different levels, like steps.
If you have items that would benefit from being hung, you can make an interesting hanging display using a tree branch in a vase. You could even paint the branch to match your display.
Another option is to make hooks from thick wires or coat hangers. Like this:
First, place some modelling clay inside a jar or any heavy container, as seen in the image above. Next, bend the wires to make hooks, ensuring that any sharp ends are curled under. Finally, push them into the clay to hold them up.
Make a few with differing heights by using different wire lengths. You can then hang your items without them bumping into each other.
Back to your stall. If you sell more than one type of craft item (E.g. jewellery and book folds), group them together in types, so that the table doesn’t look jumbled. It will also show all you have to offer of each type at a glance, and help you find suitable items quickly when asked.
You may want to consider having a banner or sign displaying your business name. You can purchase professionally made banners or make your own.
Price your items clearly. If you are dealing with another customer, they are less likely to wait for your attention just to find out the price. They would be much more likely to pick up an item that is clearly priced and happily wait to pay. It can also be intimidating for some, to have to ask for prices. You can find free printable price tags and labels from our website here.
If you have bespoke items with varying prices, display a price guide chart with ‘Starting From’ prices (the lowest priced option).
PLANNING FOR A CRAFT FAIR ( A CHECK LIST)
1. Make enough stock for the day!
Ensure you have enough stock or have enough time to make stock before booking your stall. A sparse table will be unlikely to attract visitors.
2. Have display equipment ready to go
Don’t forget your tablecloth! Make sure you pack everything you need to create a splendid display.
3. Change float
Have money, in relevant denominations, so that you can give change to your customers. You may also want to consider getting a card reader machine to take card payments, although you would need to check if they would work on location.
4. Pack a lunch
You may not be able to leave your stall to get food if you are busy, or there may not be anything at the venue.
5. Create business cards and/or flyers
Use the craft fair as a marketing opportunity as well. Leave cards or flyers on your table for visitors to take. They may not buy something now, but give them something to take away and think of you in future. You can also pop these in the bag with each purchase, so your customer can find you again.
THE DAY OF THE CRAFT FAIR
It is clear that you will want to arrive early in order to set up.
The event organisers will give you a time when you can arrive and get going. This may also be a time that you must arrive for.
Once the doors are open:
Try and position yourself in front of your table/display so that you can easily engage with customers. Don’t hide behind the table. Be welcoming.
Finally, try and stay upbeat throughout the day. Even if it is not going as well as you had hoped. A passing customer may not stop if they see your frown!
If you have experience of craft fairs and want to add something to help others, please leave a comment below.
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