How to: Prepare for a Craft fair

I feel only now, after two years of hitting craft fairs pretty hard that I have some sort of system that I can share with all you lovely folks who are starting out.

toadstool leaf keyrings

how to do a craft fairSo lets assume you’ve found a fair you fancy doing….you think it fits your target audience, your budget and it isn’t going to take you two hours to get there….

First things first, have a look at the events social media pages, see what people are saying about the event, does there seem to be a lot of coverage? If they aren’t working hard to get people in the door for you on the run up to the day by promoting the arse out of it, what on earth are they charging you for?

Event organisers have a duty to their stallholders and if they are charging you £30 upwards then you want to make sure that you are getting a good coverage. Of course some fairs will struggle to get the footfall despite all attempts by a lovely event organiser… they can’t control things like the weather, train strikes etc.

Be cheeky… email some of the previous stall holders and see how they found it. Small business owners are on the whole really supportive of each other and I have found out about some amazing fairs by asking other stallholders. It’s your cold hard cash you have to part with…make sure you can at least make your pitch back.

make a stock listSo you are at your super busy fair and you are selling heaps and heaps! Fantastic! So tell me, do you know what your best selling item was? What percentage of your overall take was those thingummybobs? Did you make your pitch back? What was your profit? What do you have to make more of over the next week?

Now…if you have a stock list you will be able to answer me ALL those questions.

A stock list can range from an izzy whizzy spreadsheet to a handwritten list on the back of an envelope in a cute little notebook. I run both. I keep a master stock list in Excel that is updated before & after a fair and I keep a running list of everything I sell in a notebok as I sell it. I admit I have never been so snowed under that I cannot jot down the items I have just sold to a customer. The main rule of thumb is if you know what you take you can compare that to what you bring home.

photo(6)TravellingI drive…do you? Do you need to? I met a lovely lady at my last fair who took the train because all her goods fit in a large wheelie suitcase! GENIUS!
Make sure you find out exactly where you are going before you leave and pop it into the sat Nav/your smartphone the night before. Also find out about parking from your event organiser and if there is cheap parking…I have far too many times, had to leave my stall and go and move my bloody car because my ticket has run out!

I have also decided not to travel any further than 45 minutes from home for fairs…mainly because it adds an extra hour and half to my day out, which is normally already pretty long. This is purely personal and is up to you.

ManpowerDo you have a lackey? A spouse, sibling, child or friend who you can drag along to help you out?

I don’t. My husband, whilst endlessly supportive and a silent partner in my business (he has to put up with all the mess, stress and gore of my creativity), doesn’t come to craft fairs with me. It isn’t his scene, he’d be endlessly bored and I don’t really want him in my way. This does mean however I have sacrificed all lackey privelages, like having someone to guard your stall whilst you pee/move your car AGAIN/go for a wander round and spend all your profits on other people’s gorgeous stuff.

This also does mean that I need to be able to set-up and shut-down my stall by myself. I have seen solo stallholders do many ‘trips to the car’, but I have my stall down to a one carry trip (even if I do pull faces like that man in the Yorkie advert).

Also as a solo stallholder is is important to say hello and chat to your fellow stall holders. They may help you out when you finally dive into the loo and a customer starts purusing.

streamliningOk…this is where my love of packing comes into its own…especially as I have to make it portable for my weakly girl arms to carry.

Pack up all your stuff the night before…make yourself a little tidy non-whiffy lunch…load your car the night before if you have somewhere safe to park it…

Also…plan your stall. I know this sounds mental, but lay it all out a few days before and take pictures or do yourself a little diagram. Once you have learnt works well for your products you won’t need those pictures but they are great for when the first tme fair nerves kick in. It is also helpful to do a stall plan when you get a new piece of display furniture.

Prep your float too. I take £20 in £1 and 50p pieces, as that is generally what I need to give. If your items are more expensive you may need to take more.

stall interestingThis means how you display your products. There are a million and one ways to skin this particular cat and I have collated lots of my favourite idea using the god of all websites…Pinterest. Here is my craft stall inspiration board.

My two big piece of advice are ‘height’ and ‘make it work for you’. You are a creative person…you make awesome stuff…make sure you display it in a way that shows it off.

My stall has gone through many different changes as I have managed to buy & freebie bits and bobs to display my items on, but I am currently head over heels for my display.

Craft fair set up display how to photo 3(2)

Interesting also includes YOU. Don’t sit and tweet about what a shit time you are having. Don’t make phone calls. If you are really bored take some pictures of your stall and upload them to your Facebook or Twitter. Chat to your stall neighbours. Make something whilst you sit there. I always take items to make as a lot of people don’t actually believe that I MAKE the things I sell….like I have a granny sweatshop in my loft cracking out bunnies and foxes.

I hope this has been helpful! If you have any questions please please please ask them below and I will try to answer them as best I can!

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3 responses to “How to: Prepare for a Craft fair

  1. I know its not totally relevant to your post, but wanted to say I LOVE your mushroom keyrings! 🙂

  2. Excellent little words of wisdom pidgey, thanks for sharing. :o)

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