Thursday, 23 February 2012

FAQs: Seven essentials first-time craft fair survival

Craft fairs, markets and shopping events are a great way of promoting your brand on a budget, getting feedback from your customers and, of course, selling your product face to face.  But getting ready to do it for the first time can be nerve-wracking, worrying if you've forgotten something. Here are my essentials for a day that runs smoothly.

Knitting and Stitching Show, 2010 (not my first!).

 ♥ An internet presence
If you don't have some sort of internet presence in advance of the fair you'll really regret it. Shoppers are very savvy and although there's a great impulse buying aspect to short events, some people will go away and want to buy later.  There's lots of cheap ways to get a presence online, using a platform like Etsy or Folksy your customers can buy later too without the massive price tag of having a website designed.

♥ Drink!
Water, water, water!! If you're anything like me you'll be chatting away all day, if not to customers then to other traders.  You'll have a mouth as dry as a camel's flip flop in no time.  I also like to take a flask of tea because I love it, and at many events even with a traders discount you can end up paying ££ for just hot drinks!

♥ Snacks
Treats and nibbles are also good, as you won't want to leave your stall to go find food once you're on a roll and you will need to eat to keep your energy up!

♥ A notepad
Make a note of all your sales.  The boring bit: you should do to make sure that you're declaring your takings to the tax man. Less boring bit: It is interesting to see what sells well, at what time of year, at what sorts of events, etc. Fun bit: people love to give you tips! I have found out about the best stockists from customers telling me my work would suit particular shops I would never know about - make sure you make a note!

♥ Plenty of stock
This is the trickiest thing when first starting out.  How much is enough? How much is too much?  You need enough to fill your table - using various props to make it visually interesting.  I've seen people go for a minimalist look when it comes to their work and it really doesn't work.  It's an event for buying and selling, to an exhibition for looking and thinking.  And if you walked into a shop on the high street that was half full you'd wonder what was going on. Don't make that mistake.  How much surplus stock depends on how much you can transport - as long as it's not perishable, anything unsold will go to your next market!

♥ Business cards, fliers or both?
Who attends craft fairs and markets? Shoppers. Stockists. Other arty types looking to network.  I started out with just business cards that had my logo and web address on, and used them for everything.  The size works as they can slip into a wallet and I recommend them over something more A6 size.  But if you want something to give to another maker or a stockist, maybe something with your name, number and email address would be a good idea too.

♥ Change
Make sure you have plenty of change and somewhere safe to keep it.  I find having something to tie round my waist really convenient.

♥ Layers
If you have ever met me at a fair you notice I always have a hoody or cardigan.  You just never know if the venue is going to be freezing or red hot, so best to wear clothes you can peel off or pile on! 

So there's seven of my essentials for market survival.  I'd love to know how your first market went - or if you have any market essentials you can't live without.

Next week: Tips for craft fair success!


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trickywoo said...

That is very helpful advice thank you so much. I am starting out going to craft fairs this year, have got one next month locally and will be at Reetsweet in Leeds on 7th April, am really looking forward to seeing how my handmade items go down.

Heather D said...

Can I also add, wear comfy/warm footwear. hopefully you will be on your feet a lot of the time engaging with your customers. if the venue is cold then your feet will freeze!

SusanF said...

Make sure your business name is well displayed preferably as a banner, if you can get one up somewhere. Always stick your business card in bags with purchases, maybe add a flyer with details of your next events? I went to a Farmers market and I would love to know who the veg man was that I bought off but I missed getting his name and where he was from.

di @icefloe said...

Great tips! I ay as I'm sat on the floor putting together stock for my next market!

Purrfect Ceramics said...

Thanks for great tips! I'm getting ready for my first Christmas fayre next week in Exeter and am getting a bit stressed :-) Although I don't make the handmade pottery I am selling, it's still going to be nerve wracking. I mustn't forget a flask with tea - that's something I wouldn't have even thought of as there's so much other stuff to think about!!!