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    • C J
    • By C J 30th Oct 17, 12:31 PM
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    C J
    First ever craft fair - advice please!
    • #1
    • 30th Oct 17, 12:31 PM
    First ever craft fair - advice please! 30th Oct 17 at 12:31 PM
    So I've signed up to do my first ever craft fair at the beginning of December, and I am excited and nervous in equal measure. I have product and personal liability insurance, and a good amount of stock available as I've been busy making things for months.

    I make small gifts such as silver plated jewellery, re-purposed items such as bird feeders from vintage crockery, needlework items made from Cath Kidston, Liberty and other 'designer' fabrics, a range of hand knitted bits and bobs, and handmade cards.

    Please can the more experienced craft fair sellers give me some hints and tips? How do you transport your items into the venue? How much float do you start with? Any tips for how to display items? Help! Thank you
    An ever-shifting labyrinth of chiaroscuro
Page 1
    • Ilona
    • By Ilona 2nd Nov 17, 6:14 PM
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    Ilona
    • #2
    • 2nd Nov 17, 6:14 PM
    • #2
    • 2nd Nov 17, 6:14 PM
    Hi. Pack your stock into boxes and/or bags. Not big boxes or they will be too heavy. Park close to the door to unload, should be signed which entrance to use. Carry your stock in, find your allocated table. The organizer should be there to advise.

    You will need to take a covering for your table unless they have already said the tables will be covered. Covering should reach down to the floor at the front. A throw or big tablecloth, or bedsheet should do it, plain not patterned.

    Your stock should all be priced up, a £20 - £30 float should do it, mix of loose change. Keep your money in a bum bag around your waist, or in a container hidden out of sight. There should be enough room under the table, and behind you, to store extra stock. You will probably get two chairs.

    A craft table always looks better if it is tiered. You can build height into it at the back by using upturned empty boxes under the cover, or take a smaller cloth to cover them.

    Put larger items at the back to help build height into the display. Childrens items are best near the front so little ones can see them. Put valuable items right under your nose so you can keep your eyes on them. If you are busy watch for hands picking things up.

    Make friends with your neighbour if you are alone. You might need to leave the stall to go to the toilet. Take food and drink with you, you wont be able to go off for a lunch break. Resist the temptation to buy from other stall holders, you are there to sell.

    Be friendly and chatty with the customers, but not pushy. Also, don't sit reading, it looks as if you can't be bothered. Take something to wrap purchases in. If it's not a posh do, any bags will be ok. Bubble wrap for delicate fragile items.

    Don't go with expectations of making lots of money, you might do well, or you might not. Think of it as fun, and if you sell that's a bonus.

    Good luck.
    Ilona
    I love skip diving
    • luxor4t
    • By luxor4t 5th Nov 17, 2:55 PM
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    luxor4t
    • #3
    • 5th Nov 17, 2:55 PM
    • #3
    • 5th Nov 17, 2:55 PM
    Wise advice from Ilona!

    When I was doing craft fairs I was told of the "3 P people" - they'd
    pick up an item,
    play with it and then
    push off, leaving the neatly set out stall looking like a tip.... be prepared to spend a lot of time tidying. If you have anything that will get dirty easily or otherwise be spoiled by a lot of handling think of a way to protect it.

    Sadly, some small things do 'walk' especially if there are crowds of people. I mainly did fabric items so I'd safety pin things to the table cover as a little extra precaution.

    As Ilona says, sitting reading can be off-putting - I used to take some items to hand sew or finish. It helps give people an idea of what is involved in making the item and you are using quiet times productively.

    Have fun!
    I can cook and sew, make flowers grow.
    • Ilona
    • By Ilona 6th Nov 17, 9:07 AM
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    Ilona
    • #4
    • 6th Nov 17, 9:07 AM
    • #4
    • 6th Nov 17, 9:07 AM
    Good point about the tidying. Stock can be damaged by constant handling. It always bugged me that people have to pick things up, why can't they just look with their eyes!

    I used tidying as a way to look busy, as a way to hover over people without it looking like I was watching for shop lifters. It was a way into a bit of chat, point to an item and say something like, 'these are lovely, I only got/made them last week, I'm really chuffed with them'. Never pushy, just chatty.

    Ilona
    I love skip diving
    • C J
    • By C J 6th Nov 17, 12:11 PM
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    C J
    • #5
    • 6th Nov 17, 12:11 PM
    • #5
    • 6th Nov 17, 12:11 PM
    Ladies thank you! This is incredibly helpful.

    I visited a Christmas Craft Fair at a local garden centre last weekend, to get a feel for what was being sold, the price ranges and the displays people used. It was quite an eye opener, especially with regard to the pricing - I have a machine which makes those handbag mirrors and I've made some which I planned to sell at about £2.50 each, but another lady was at this fair at the weekend selling hers for £6.50 each. I suppose you have to pitch the sales for the demographic. My first fair is at a primary school so I expect only to sell things which are cheap'n'cheerful; my second one is a Christmas craft fair at work (a University campus, where most of the customers will be staff) and I expect that I will be able to sell some of my more expensive items there.

    Does anyone use a card reader? Or use Paypal? I am expecting everyone will be paying in cash but I wondered whether it is possible to get more sales if you can take an electronic payment. Does anyone do this?
    An ever-shifting labyrinth of chiaroscuro
    • Ilona
    • By Ilona 6th Nov 17, 2:26 PM
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    Ilona
    • #6
    • 6th Nov 17, 2:26 PM
    • #6
    • 6th Nov 17, 2:26 PM
    I took my stall to events/markets, craft fairs, shows, for three years and I didn't take card payments. Mind you that was a long time ago and things change, people like to pay with a card now. You have to weigh up how often you are going to do fairs, I suspect it will die down after Christmas, and won't get going again until the spring. Would it be worth it to go to the expense of getting yourself set up with a reader.

    If your price range is quite low I doubt it would be worth it. People still carry cash, or if the event is close to a cash machine they can always go and withdraw some if they need to. Or if they are with a friend they can ask them to lend them a few quid. If you have expensive items £30 or more, you might miss out on the odd sale, but try and take the price range you think might be appropriate for the venue and area. Small local cheap event, cheap prices. Big posh hotel, more expensive prices.

    You could have a look at this site. The National Federation of Market Traders have info on card readers.
    http://www.chipandpinsolutions.co.uk/accept-card-payment/

    Ilona
    I love skip diving
    • C J
    • By C J 6th Nov 17, 2:30 PM
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    C J
    • #7
    • 6th Nov 17, 2:30 PM
    • #7
    • 6th Nov 17, 2:30 PM
    Ilona, you are a star. Thank you very much
    An ever-shifting labyrinth of chiaroscuro
    • Ilona
    • By Ilona 6th Nov 17, 5:42 PM
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    Ilona
    • #8
    • 6th Nov 17, 5:42 PM
    • #8
    • 6th Nov 17, 5:42 PM
    Hi. I've just remembered, I wrote a blog post about selling at craft fairs, in August. You might be able to pick up a few more tips from it.

    https://meanqueen-lifeaftermoney.blogspot.co.uk/2017/08/selling-your-crafts-at-fair.html
    Mods please note, this is not spam, I make no money from my blog.

    Ilona
    I love skip diving
    • C J
    • By C J 7th Nov 17, 8:39 AM
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    C J
    • #9
    • 7th Nov 17, 8:39 AM
    • #9
    • 7th Nov 17, 8:39 AM
    That is fantastic, thank you for sharing.

    My craft fair is at a local primary school, and they expect between 600 and 1000 people through the doors so I am hopeful (if I get the pricing right) I should do quite well. Thank you for that excellent advice about tiered staging to give some height to the table, I will see if Mister CJ (a very competent woodworker) can make me something lightweight and foldable to take with me.

    I'm spending every spare moment finishing off the items I have for sale, getting them nicely packaged, labelled, priced and boxed up. I'm going to print some mini leaflets about my craft business with contact details on, to put on the stall in case anyone wants to email me after the show to order any custom made items. I think I might order a job lot of medium sized plain paper bags to put things in when (if!) people buy something, depends how expensive they'll be.
    An ever-shifting labyrinth of chiaroscuro
    • Ilona
    • By Ilona 7th Nov 17, 12:50 PM
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    Ilona
    I used tong and groove cladding to make steps, cut step shapes into the two sides, to support them. Had two cross members and held it all together with 'D' clamps. Covered it in red velvet.

    Suggestion for wrapping. Have you any offcuts from colourful wallpaper? Cut squares of different sizes, have a roll of sellotape handy and wrap small items, stick them down. Might be a bit time consuming if you are super busy.

    Ilona
    I love skip diving
    • CapricornLass
    • By CapricornLass 9th Nov 17, 3:06 PM
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    CapricornLass
    If this takes off, and you decide to do more craft fairs, its worth investing in battery lamps that you can shine down on your work. People don't visit a stall that looks gloomy, or if the light is poor, and if you have your own battery lamps ( ours are clip on), it makes you independent of the plug sockets - which you often have to pay extra to use.

    We do have a card machine as some of my husbands work is perhaps more than most people will be carrying, it helps with the impulse buy and many people prefer to pay that way. Make sure that you have charged both the card machine and your mobile/tablet the day before the show, as this can take some time to do. Many events will have a free wi-fi that you will be able to tap into you, otherwise you are on 3/4G. We carry phones with 2 different carriers as sometimes the reception is better for one than the other. Float wise, we usually carry £50-£60 in change, and the same again in small value notes. We also keep a record of all the sales we make at each event. You won't make a kings ransom unless you are really fortunate, but so long as you cover your costs it doesn't matter and it can be real good fun.

    Echo the bit about carrying your own food and even your own flask of coffee/tea too. Although occasionally an event is kind and do come round with a tray of mugs half way through! Some will give a voucher giving a discount (usually 10%) off any food and drink you buy at the event, but this eats into your profits. I'm afraid that I do look round the other stalls before the show starts proper - I've picked up some good Christmas presents that way

    I've used fleabay and the internet for getting paper bags at reasonable prices - got some nice Christmas tree ones this year which I just couldn't resist!

    Good luck with the event.
    Sealed Pot Challenge no 265.
    • C J
    • By C J 10th Nov 17, 1:01 PM
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    C J
    Thank you! There is so much really good advice on this thread, I'm very grateful. A colleague suggested packing my stock into two suitcases with wheels on to get it from the car to the table, which seemed like a sensible idea. I'm worried about how safe my items will be if I leave a few boxes in the venue and have to return to the car for more, but at least with suitcases I can lock them and place them under my table if I need to get more thing brought in before I start unpacking.

    I like the idea of battery powered lights. I agree that a well lit stand is much more attractive than a gloomy one, so that will be something I look into for the future.

    I'm worried now that I won't have enough stock for two craft fairs so have been working on the sewing machine late into the night to make extra. I probably won't sell a single thing now I have done that This is such a learning curve.
    An ever-shifting labyrinth of chiaroscuro
    • Ilona
    • By Ilona 10th Nov 17, 2:13 PM
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    Ilona
    Lamps are a good idea, it makes your stall more noticeable. Sometimes power is provided, but that will be on the form at the time of booking. There is usually a charge for it, but as yours is a small event they may provide electricity free. Ask the organiser. If you are on a wall side, you may find a socket close to you, so plug in there. Take a desk lamp and extension cable, also adapter if other people are using the socket. If no electricity a battery lamp might do the job but it will be an extra expense.

    You need to bring in all your stock before you set up. Suitcases are ok, under your table should be safe. On arrival locate your table put your covering on it straight away to claim your spot. You will probably have to go backwards and forwards a few times until you have everything inside the hall. There may be loading restrictions at the outside door so you will have to move your car to the car park to let other traders unload. Go to the toilet before you start setting up, then you might last until it finishes.

    If you are on a side wall and there is plenty of depth, a trick I used to do was take my own paste table and put it behind the one I was given, so doubling the depth. It was a bit squashed at the back, but the more display area you can get the better. Watch for your neighbours spreading sideways, they add a small table beside the big one. You need to get to the front and back of your table so to narrow the gangway between you is not fair. Make a point of fussing and re arranging your stock at the side, so they know you need access. Don't fall out with them about it.

    Practice laying out a table at home. Group similar items together.

    If you are lucky, the person next to you might not turn up, yippeee, then you have extra space. If it is obvious that they are not coming, the event has started and there's no sign of them, speak with the person on the other side of the empty table and ask if they'd like to put a few of their items out, and you will do the same on your side. Better that the table is full. I always took an extra cloth in case this happened.

    Anything else, just ask. I think you'll be alright. Think of it as a fun thing to do.

    Ilona
    I love skip diving
    • C J
    • By C J 27th Nov 17, 9:52 AM
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    C J
    One more quick question before my first craft fair on Saturday (Dec 2) :

    The fair is at a local primary school, and I think I may be able to choose the location of my table within the main hall. From your experience, is there a space which is better to have? Near the entrance? Further in? I assume that one against a wall rather than in the middle of a room is good, and therefore would a corner spot be even better?

    Or am I over-thinking this?
    An ever-shifting labyrinth of chiaroscuro
    • luxor4t
    • By luxor4t 27th Nov 17, 10:44 AM
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    luxor4t
    Against a wall is best I think, try and get where you won't be boxed in a corner as, in my experience, school based events tend to be busy but people stop and chat ... usually in front of your stall!

    I once had a stall right in front of the school stage - think front row of the audience - and when the choir and then the orchestra came onstage to perform, the parents stood with their backs to me to watch. An hour's selling time gone - and a lot of squeaky recorders to listen to. On the plus side, we all had a good sing.

    I am trying to word this carefully, but in my experience of primary schools, small children love to pick things up, might be sticky from the refreshments and like to explore... it was startling to find a small child hiding under the cloth covered table!

    The worst that ever happened at a school was one darling ran across a handsewn quilt displayed on a low table as he was "playing"! On the plus side, parents turn out to support the school, so there is a busy atmosphere.

    Good luck and I hope you enjoy it!
    I can cook and sew, make flowers grow.
    • C J
    • By C J 27th Nov 17, 11:28 AM
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    C J
    Thank you luxor4t, that's really helpful! I have packaged most of what I sell into those crystal clear cellophane bags to try and make everything look smarter (and keep it cleaner). I have been working on the theory that when I visit a craft fair as a customer, I like things to look well presented!

    I was hoping my daughter was going to come along and help but now something has come up and she can't make it so I will be running the stall alone. Primary school children with mucky hands did make me smile - it's been so long since my children were that age that's I'd forgotten how grubby they get I must admit that I am more worried about 'sticky fingers' of a different type as it will be impossible to keep my eyes on everything, and I guess it is inevitable that I will lose a few things. Maybe I should keep the silver jewellery near the back of the table and put the less expensive items at the front.
    An ever-shifting labyrinth of chiaroscuro
    • luxor4t
    • By luxor4t 27th Nov 17, 4:02 PM
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    luxor4t
    That sounds a sensible precaution.

    I did fabrics, so any muck and it was unsaleable - a school summer craft fair where they were selling candyfloss reduced me to a quivering wreck!
    I can cook and sew, make flowers grow.
    • Ilona
    • By Ilona 28th Nov 17, 5:50 PM
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    Ilona
    Hi CJ. I would say against a wall on a long straight stretch is the best place. Steady flow of traffic passing by. If you are in a corner and it gets busy some people won't want to push through the bodies to see your table. Notice where the speakers are if they have entertainment, try not to get too close to them because you want to be able to chat to your customers.

    Expensive items central on the table, nearer to the back, right under your nose. Should be alright.

    I am looking after our Chat and Craft stall at our Village Hall on Saturday. I've made a few things to sell. Lets hope we both have a good day.

    Ilona
    I love skip diving
    • C J
    • By C J 29th Nov 17, 11:50 AM
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    C J
    Thank you Ilona - I hope you have a very good day on Saturday.

    Because my first fair on Saturday is at a primary school, I have hit upon the idea to have a 50p lucky dip bucket for the children as a way to entice people over to my stall. I'll only make a few pence on each one sold but I'm hoping that if I can encourage the little ones to bring their parents over to have a look at my other things, I might get greater footfall and interest.

    I've been working hard to get things made - I work full time so have only got evenings and weekends - but I think at last I have sufficent stock. It's mostly stocking filler type things at around the £2-£5 mark so hopefully that's about right for this demographic. The second fair I have in another week's time is on the business park where I work so it should attract people willing to spend a little more, perhaps.

    I've stopped being terrified, and am just excited now

    Thank you all for your advice, it's been so helpful.
    An ever-shifting labyrinth of chiaroscuro
    • luxor4t
    • By luxor4t 2nd Dec 17, 8:12 PM
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    luxor4t
    I hope it went well, C J. I'd love to hear your adventures today.
    I can cook and sew, make flowers grow.
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