Hello. Thanks to Angela for the idea for this post. She has booked a stall at a Christmas Craft Fair and as it's her first one she asked me for advice. As I had three years of doing craft fairs, agricultural shows, cat shows, and markets, I know a bit about it. There may be others who are contemplating selling their crafts, so I thought, now is the time to start preparing for the busy Christmas selling season. This is my guide.
Right, for anyone who is considering this type of selling. Choose your venue, it's location, how far away is it. How much will it cost in time and petrol to get there? Is it an established fair? How many stands will there be, how much competition. They often limit the amount of jewelry and card stands, there are too many sellers in these fields. Is the event well advertised? Posters. flyers, newspaper advertising etc.
You have decided on which fair and booked it. Small events should be about £10 - £15 a day, larger events can be anything from £50 upwards. I did a Truck show once, it was £200 for two days trading. I took £1,000. Hard work but worth doing. Now the thing is, don't get carried away by a good result, year on year, the same fair or show will bring in vastly different amounts of money. I did the truck show the following year and took less than £500. Very disappointing, I didn't do it again. The reason was that in one year the climate had changed, people no longer had spare cash to splash.
So. You arrive at the venue, there will be a plan of where to set up your stall. If you are a newby your allocated plot may not be in a good selling position, you may be shoved at the bottom of a dead end, tucked away in a corner. You can ask to be moved, but they may say you have to stick with what you have. As you do more shows and watch how people move through, you will learn the best places to stand, you want lots of passing traffic, ideally in the middle of a busy thoroughfare.
The amount of visitors passing through is no indication of how much you can expect to sell. Obviously only a handful of people will not bring lots of sales, but on the other hand, too many visitors packed like sardines who move en mass through, will not give people a chance to stop and look.
Setting up your stall. Most will provide a 6ft wide table. If the show is fully booked you will not be able to expand sideways on that, they have to leave big enough gaps between tables for safety reasons. You can't get much on a 6ft table, so you have to make the most of what you have got. You can build height into your display, as I have done on the photo. I constructed a wooden step type of assembly covered in red velvet. It dismantled for transportation. What you can do is pack your stock into collapsible plastic crates, empty them, turn them upside down and put them at the back of your table after you have put the main cover on. If you don't have crates you can use cardboard boxes. Then cover them with smaller pieces of fabric and tuck in the loose bits. A word about drapes, use tablecloths, throws, bed sheets, or whatever you have, but they must be plain, not patterned.
To build further height into it, you need to be able to hang things. Bags and clothing are better hung. I had two long lengths of wood and fixed them upright to the back of the table with heavy duty metal clips. Then I added two bars across the width with smaller plastic clips. You need to use every bit of your 6 foot space.
If the aisles are wide enough you could take your own small fold up table and set it up at the front of your display, put a cover on it. Some may not allow this, but try it anyway. Watch what other people are doing.
It is important to try and get on with your neighbours, you have to work closely with them, sometimes squashed in together. They may try and encroach on your space, do not let them push you out. Smile and ask that they leave room for you to get out to the front.
If there is a very wide aisle in front of you, I used to take my own 6 foot table and add it to the one already there, giving me double the depth. It meant that I had to reduce my working space at the back, but the more selling space you can get the better.
Best to keep your money on you in a bum bag, or pouch around your waist. Take a float of loose change. It goes without saying not to pounce on potential customers, they won't like it. Best not to sit on a chair reading a magazine either. That shows you are not interested in selling something. I always stood up, looked as if I was busy, re arranging stuff, titivating the stock, pricing it up etc. I would look up at the person, sometimes pick up an item and say something like, 'I only got these last week, I think they are lovely'. Or if they pick something up for a closer look I tell them a little story about it, even if it is made up. I might say, 'someone's just bought one of those'. Basically it's all about chatting, smiling, and looking as if you are enjoying the experience of having a stall. Ask if they have come far, ask about the weather, if you can't see it through a window, anything.
Don't be in a rush to pack up and go home, even if you have had enough. Sometimes stragglers buy something. They may have seen it earlier and come back for it. Leave your pitch tidy and take your rubbish home with you.
That's all I can think of at the moment, any questions please ask. Thanks for popping in, we'll catch up soon.