To Craft Fair or not to Craft Fair?

Or maybe a better question might be ‘To sell or not to sell?’

There will reach a point in your card making, jewellery making or whatever it is that you are creating, when you have so many made up items, that your other half says, “Now you’ve made all of these what are you going to do with them? We only have so many family members.” And they have a point.

You now have to decide if you are happy to sell your work and if so where and how? From personal experience with cards, I started at work first with a small basket of cards. I know other people who have also done this. You may only sell one or two to begin with but if you leave your basket in a prominent place with a small tin for money, then people will soon start to think, “Ah! I need a card for…”, because they see your basket. You might then find that people ask if you could make them a card for a specific person or event. Two things to remember here check the tin regularly for money and keep the basket topped up.

The next step is probably trying your hand at the local school or church fair. These can be very hit and miss. I have had really good days at these where I have sold lots of stock and equally I have had very poor days where I have sold only 1card all day! You will also find that you have to start paying a fee for your table. This will be either a donation at the end of the day or a set fee. Set fees will range from £5 per table to up to £20 for a table. The trouble with the more expensive tables is selling enough stock to cover the cost of the table! Sometimes you will and sometimes you won’t.

After the local school and church fairs, you will need to start looking into either joining a local crafters association to get access to bigger Craft Fairs or trying to keep your eyes open in the local press for Craft Fairs that are advertised. You can then contact them and arrange to have a table. Once you get to a Craft fair, if you chat to the people around you, you will find out about more fairs.

Joining a Craft association or group is good (although there will be fees) because they will organise events throughout the year for their members to attend. The down side is that they may only put on a few events through the year and if you join mid- year (as I did) all of the events will be booked up and you will have to wait until the following year to get anything. Also, most places will run a percentage system. By this, I mean that they will only have a certain number of each craft represented. Other wise you could end up with a Craft Fair full of only Jewellery tables…Very boring!

Ah! Now the Craft Fair…BE PREPARED!!! In all seriousness, be prepared. If it is an all day event, it is tiring. You will be asked to arrive up to hour or two before the doors open to set up. You will be allocated a 6 to 7 foot long table. At some point you will possibly have been asked if you need power (some people use lights on their stalls). Always have a clean table cover with you. It should cover the whole table and if possible reach down to the floor at the front. That way you can stick your boxes under the table and people can’t see them. Give some thought before hand about how you want to organise your stock on the table. Making your table look attractive with your goods arranged well draws people to you. Try to make sure everything is priced. The customers seem to happier when they can see a price without asking. Have bags to put sold items into and it is always a good idea to put a business card in as well. Take plenty of change in your float because you will always get someone who will give you a £20 note to buy something for £1.65!

Other things to remember… it’s a good idea to take some food, a bottle of water and a flask of something hot like tea or coffee. More often than not there will be someone selling tea and coffee but you can never guarantee it. Also, before the doors open to the public check out where the toilets are. I find it useful to take something with me to do, e.g. colouring in some stamped images or cutting out images. Other people take books to read as sometimes things can be quite quiet. Always introduce yourself to the people around you. You will find that it is a long day if you have no one to talk to. And if you make friends with the people around you they will happily look after your table if you need to attend to the call of nature.

Most importantly though… smile! no-one wants to buy from someone looking miserable!

A word of warning. Bigger Craft Fairs/ Highland Games events etc can be expensive. This time I am talking about £30 to £70 per table. If you are only selling cards as I do, then you have to sell a lot of cards to cover the cost of the table and the cost of your fuel to get there. So, you have to be selective and only do one or two big events to begin with. For the first year or two you will find, as I have, that some are better than others. Chatting to other stall holders at events will give you a good idea of which events are worthwhile and which are not. But to be honest a lot of it is trail and error.

One last thing before I go… insurance. You will need to have public liability insurance to attend Craft fairs. Some places will offer to cover you for the one event on their insurance at a small fee of about£5. However, it is worth getting your own cover.

Well whatever you decide to do with your craft goods have fun!

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