It’s been a while since I have sold at craft fairs and markets, due to having a young family. But this year I plan to make a dent in my social calendar from October onwards (giving me plenty of time in theory to develop new products and make lots of party bags!). However there is lots to take into consideration, when going from online to face to face selling.
What to consider when selling at craft fairs.
- Know your consumer rights : Unlike distance selling, customers do not have the right to a cooling-off period. Ensure you have a returns policy available for people to see and a reminder on your website too.
- Public liability insurance : Some venues will include this in their fee but many won’t. It isn’t incredibly expensive and is vital to cover your business if a customer was to have an accident or incur injury in association with your business.
- How will you take payments : We are fast becoming a digital economy and customers carry less physical cash around with them. Ensure you have an adequate method to take card payments at events. A chip and pin machine is a great investment as many of them also allow you to take payment over the telephone and connect to your website system streamlining your finances.
- Location of the event : Is it a well populated area? What is the parking like? Is it expensive? Go and see these for yourself, pretend you are a potential customer, would you travel to this location? How often are these events held? Is the craft fair part of a larger event, for example locally some of our larger stately homes have craft fairs as part of their Open Days.
- Size of the venue : Have the organisers filled the venue? A half empty room can be off putting to potential customers. Where are you positioned in the room – are a table and chair provided?
- Logistics : How will you be getting your stock from a to b? This is where a recce is important. Can you park close enough to empty your car? Do you have or need a trolley to transport stock or will you be carrying boxes?
- Signage & advertising : What advertising are the organisers doing? How many leaflets are being distributed and where? Is it targeted or random? Will it be advertised in the local newspapers? Are there visible posters around the venue? But also find out if it is listed online? Can you invite your customers and friends via Facebook? This will give you insight too into the scale of the event. John from cutmysign.co.uk agreed “signage is key, especially at craft fairs, well designed and pretty signs catches peoples eye.”
- What other businesses are exhibiting : You want to be aware of what other products will be for sale and who is exhibiting. The organiser will be able to give you an exhibitor list. It’s important to determine whether is it truly craft makers or will there be sellers with mass produced goods, as this could affect your sales as they will be able to sell at a much lower premium to you. It’s also important to know how many people of the same genre are there. It might not be the right event for you if you are going to be competing with lots of people selling similar products to you.
- Tailor your stock : You want to appeal to as many people as possible make sure you have a range of products with varying prices. A couple of expensive items £20+ some medium items £10+ and then lots under £5, these will appeal to children and quick token gifts, stocking fillers etc. Think about promoting seasonal events too like Mother’s Day, Easter, Halloween etc …
- Inventory : On the day take a detailed inventory with you. What products you have and the amount of each, how much cash is in your petty cash, display items (table cloth, stands, table). This way you can tick everything off as you pack up to make sure you come home with everything. Keep a list of sold items too.
Do you sell at Craft Fairs? Would you add anything to my list?
For more information on running a craft based business check out my book – Crafting a Successful Small Business: Making, marketing and merchandising
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