Posted by Joanne Dewberry on June 18, 2013
I recently took a stall at a local craft fair for the first time; I merrily booked myself in and then thought oh my goodness I’ve got so much to do! I’d been selling my handbags online but not face to face and soon realised there were whole lot of other issues to consider.
These top tips are based on my personal experience and assume that you have already researched the fair and have booked in. There is a plethora of information on this subject on the internet but I hope you will find something useful here.
I’ve split the tips into three areas; preparation, on the day and after the event, however as with many things in life….it’s all in the preparation!
- Venue – Make sure that you know where the fair will be held and how long it will take to get there. If it’s practical for you to do so make a ‘dummy’ run, this will help you assess the facilities, especially parking and where you are likely be unloading. The fair I recently attended changed from being indoors to outdoors at the last minute (it was a glorious day, which was becoming rare here). This actually meant my car could be next to my stall to unload. Great, no carting boxes about.
- Stock – The amount of stock that you’ll need to take will depend on what it is that you’re selling. You’ll need to ensure that you have enough to fill the stall comfortably, so it is not over-crowded or too sparse. Extra stock can be stored under the stall. Practice a layout at home on a similar sized table, including your table coverings and props. I then took photos of my practice layout on my phone at home and had them to hand when setting up. My layout only then needed a few tweaks. This saved quite a bit of time, giving me time to meet the other sellers and check out their lovely items.
- Inventory – Once you have decided what stock you’re taking to the craft fair take an inventory of it all and have this to hand on the stall. As you sell items tick them off, it’ll help you keep track of stock and work out how much money has been taken at the end of the day. Also have a notebook and pen to hand to take down any notes.
- Pricing – Potential customers will not all be comfortable asking how much an item is so make sure that all items are individually and clearly priced. I use my business cards to make swing tags for each of my bags and display the prices on the back. This serves two purposes, displaying the price and also providing each customer with a business card. I also put business cards into my carrier bags so each customer then receives a card for themselves and a card to give away.
- Have someone with you – If at all possible take somebody with you to help ‘man’ the stall. They can help you with the unloading and setting up and also looking after the stall when you need to take a short break. If sales are brisk it means there is another person to talk to customers or if it’s a bit slow they can provide you with moral support.
- Promotion – Generally any good events organiser will have advertised the event amongst their own networks, local media and such like, however I would suggest creating a bit of a buzz about the event yourself via social media, word of mouth and personal invitation. In the lead up to my last craft fair I used Facebook in particular, as this is where I have the majority of followers who live locally and are most likely attend. As the date gets closer, send out reminder posts to keep the event at the forefront of your followers minds.
Finally a few housekeeping things….
- Take your own refreshments – this saves you ‘eating’ quite literally into your profits.
- Packaging – ensure you have suitable packaging for your customers to take their purchases away in. I sell handbags, so I have carrier bags; large ones for the bags and smaller ones for purses.
- Money tin or money belt – you will need some way of keeping your money safe. Also ensure that you have sufficient change. I price my items in whole pounds and therefore only need to take £1 coins and £5 notes. This won’t apply to all craft items but as much as possible keep prices in simple multiples to keep change simple.
On the Day
So you are all prepared and now set up and in my case anxiously awaiting the potential customers to arrive. Here are a few tips….
- Engage with the Customers – As people approach your stall smile and say hello. I would say leave them to look themselves for a few moments before engaging any further. Personally I hate being pounced on before I’ve had a chance to look, but that might just be me? Offer them a business card; I have them available to hand at the front of my stall. Goes without saying but try not to look bored, this can be hard if it’s a long day with not much footfall.
- Engage with the other Sellers - During the day take the opportunity to talk to the other sellers. I’m a bit of an introvert but I found this easier than I thought. As fellow sellers you already have some common ground. Also swap details with each other, by asking for another seller’s business card, whether they are online, on Facebook and such like they are likely to reciprocate. I’ve met some lovely people who I’ve now connected with online.
- Promotion – During the quieter moments try updating your status on Facebook and Twitter (if you use them) and continue to create the buzz you did before the event. You never know someone who had forgotten about the fair might just pop down. Also post pictures, if possible. Be careful not to be paying too much attention to your phone that you’re ignoring potential customers though.
After the Craft Fair
- Connect – Now the fair is over remember to connect with those people that you met and took details from. Update Facebook, Twitter etc and if you write a blog, you’ve now got the subject for a future blog post!
- Review – Also take some time to review how the day went; is there anything you would do differently? Think about the conversations you had with potential customers, is there any feedback you could take on board for future fairs? During the day I got some feedback about the other types of bags customers might like to see. This has helped me to plan what I’m going to making in the near future.
I’m now looking forward to my next craft fair and putting into practice some of the things I’ve learnt.
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