With Christmas fast approaching the craft fair season is upon us. If it is your first fair you are probably feeling excited, nervous and a little bit daunted. I’ve been doing fairs for the past six years and I still feel like this! I have one coming up very soon and I’m busy trying to prepare for this. I was running through my mental list earlier when I thought it might help others if I go through this list with you dear readers. A lot of it is probably common sense and things you have already thought of, but hopefully there might be a couple of gems in there that will help you. I’m no business expert or guru, I’m just going to share with you my experiences and what I have learnt over the years.
(Picture by – Days Out Diary)
Planning and Preparation
Run through your table set up at home. This is really helpful to give an idea of how you want your products to look. My first fair I was so nervous and had no idea where to put things or how to display them. I was still faffing when the doors opened. It wasn’t a good start to the day! Have a plain tablecloth and make sure it’s ironed! I use baskets to display my items, choose things that will best represent your items. Decorate boxes and use them to create different levels. I’m selling Christmas ornaments for the first time this year and am considering getting a little tree to showcase them on. Take a picture of your set up on your phone so you can refer to it on the day.
Picture by Lockette
Price everything – How many times have you been in a shop picked up something you like and seen there is no price tag, the shop assistant is busy with another customer, if your like me you will look at it again and place it down not wanting to go up to them to ask for a price. As a rule people don’t like to ask how much something costs. The age old saying if you have to ask you probably can’t afford it right? Save your customers the potential embarrassment and even the loss of a sale where they would rather move on then ask by pricing everything. It also helps any helpers you have who don’t know your pricing system that way they don’t have to ask each time they have a customer. Have a complete price list handy just in case a label has fallen off.
Scope out the venue Look at their website, see what other stall holders will be there, write down the directions and do a test run. Check out the parking situation and see if you are able to pull up to the doors to unload, necessary if you have large heavy items! The last thing you want is to be trekking across the other side of the car park in the pouring in the rain. Consider using storage boxes that have wheels.
Promote your fair on your blog, facebook, Etsy store page Don’t rely on the venue to promote the event, you don’t know what sort of budget they have for that. Tell your customers about it! Give them a link to the venue’s website, , maybe even offer a promotion to your regular customers who come along and buy something.
Make sure you have plenty of business cards printed up I cannot stress enough how important this is. Slip a card in with each purchase, if the customer is really pleased with their buy they are likely to check out your online shop too. My last fair I hole punched my cards and attached them around the handles of my bags with some pretty twine. Have little piles of cards on your table so people can take them home. You might find you get some follow up customers from this. I know I’ve been shopping gone home and thought ‘oh I wish I’d bought that now’ if they’ve got your card they can! Moo.com and Vistaprint are two companies that print business cards, or have a go at printing your own!
Decide on packaging and bags for customers to carry their purchases home. Please avoid using supermarket carrier bags, think how you package your mail and follow that through at the fair. It’s always nice when you buy something and its wrapped in tissue paper and put in a nice bag, it feels special. Ebay have a wide range of affordable paper bags and tissue paper.
Think about your own lighting You could be put in a dark corner, something that happened to us one year the customers could not see the items properly, such a shame after all the work you have put in to it. Check with the venue if they are providing a plug outlet, some venues charge for this so maybe consider lights that are battery operated. The lights don’t have to be expensive, I’ve seen people used side lamps which looked really effective, or even use a string of fairy lights, very festive!
Lists are your friend! Write down everything you will need on the day a few days before. Chances are you will be up at the crack of dawn to get to the venue and set up. So being organised is key. The last thing you want is to get to the venue and find you have forgotten something important, especially if you have driven a long way to get there!
Stocking fillers – You might find the items that sell really well online may not do so well at the fair. What I do recommend is having more of your smaller items, I always find my buttons and coin purses sell better than my bags and ipad cases. Try and have £5 or under pocket money prices, perfect for people looking for secret Santa pressies or stocking fillers. People might love your items but can’t necessarily afford them, so having smaller more affordable items gives people a chance to treat themselves, and with the business card you have given them they may purchase something larger in the future or even put it on their Christmas list!
(Picture Credit Worldwide Chocolate)
I hope I helped some how and your not cursing me for stating the obvious. Writing it all down actually helped me to remember the things I need to do. In the next post I will talk about the day of the fair.
Please feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments below.