Sunday, 25 October 2015

My first Craft Fair in the 80's

As some of you know I am not making atm but having a sale, even bought new sign and thought could use every year.

So what can I blog about this week? don't want to loose blogging momentum. Had a thought about my first ever craft fair in the early 80's and comparing with how things have changed now after all those years. I booked my first craft fair at Charterhouse School in Surrey, a marquee event and very large, so all a bit daunting. Probably should have booked a local village one first but a bit more gung-ho in those days plus had the money to pay the higher rent as working. 

Being in my 20's I thought I knew it all, walked tall with confidence and set up my shop, those were the days when my Mum used to come with me so had company. Had taken a course in how to dress a shop window at art college so knew certain rules and regs. My stall did look good and got a lot of praise from the organisers and some other stallholders. 

I mention the word 'some' as one thing I soon discovered was how clicky it was. I went round the stalls in my marquee armed with a box of quality street (always been taught when somewhere new take a gift) and said hello and introduced myself, the responses? well about half were very welcoming but the other half? you would think I was invisible and they never even acknowledged me. This was not mid set up but moments before the gates opened. In those days did not worry what others thought and moved on.

Now I find events friendly and chatty so events now are better. The downside not as much money spent by the customers. Back in the 80's craft events were vetted and you had to submit samples (juried in the US), now a lot of them take anyone just to fill up the spaces. Taking little time to check if bought in or the standard of the workmanship. Also now like the late 80's (recessions times)  find a lot of new crafters who really do not have a clue how to make but thing and easy way to earn money. Fling together cushion covers with no finishing inside, pile up the tables like a market stall, sell cheap, fall's to bits in a couple of months then the rest of us get bad press. I think part of the blame lies with the organisers they need to take pride in their events and check and check traders again. 

I had an invitation recently for an event in Southampton (a bit too far for me) where you had to quote your tax reference along with a copy of your pli and samples. Very efficient and the rents reflected this as £200 for the day. Broadly advertised and looked well organised.

Also as sellers we should do our research, with the internet at our finger tips so easy to search for reviews of events from sellers and buyers alike. Most post pic's of stalls after the event so you can have a look what is for sale. The best way is to visit before you book. Now I appreciate this is not always possible particularly if a long distance and not on that often but so worth the effort if you can. 

Next year I am looking for Vintage and Artisan fairs, perhaps Steampunk if I can find one locally. Next Saturday there is a Vintage and Artisan fair in a small village not far from us, plan to visit and see what is on offer, what the stalls look like, volume of visitors etc. Or do the sellers have a hungry look every time someone walks through the door. Fresh meat to be dragged to the stall and forced to buy! only joking never been that bad but think most will understand what I mean. Quality of the handcrafted on offer and how many textile stalls that may be competition for me. Not to mention the prices of the stock on display.

These events seem to be run about 4 times a year and although had planned not to do early in the year, may consider 1 to give it a go and the October date.

Now that I have written war and peace should really start to do what I said I was going to do and that is sort my workroom, have been finding excuses all week not to start. Fills me with dread and whilst have done one drawer so far the thought of sorting card bags, envelopes, card blanks, bits and pieces. Now what can I do instead?

Check out the other blogs at Lucy Blossom Crafts

Have a great week and take care x


  1. I'm glad I'm not the only queen of procrastination! I think that's great advice about craft fairs and I'm much happier being in a regular handmade fair. I hope your visit to the fair is a positive one.

  2. I didn't sell at craft fairs in the 80's but I did take (drag) my children along to lots of events, craft fairs and 'table top sales' that were held at most local church halls on a monthly basis. I haven't done any craft fairs for more than a year, I must admit that I'd rather be a visitor than a seller.
    My first job when I left school was as a window dresser, I loved it. (I love anyone that offers me chocolates too )

  3. Gosh, you have a lot of experience with fairs. What an interesting read.

  4. You know, knitting needles make for great chopsticks when selling at Foo.. I mean CRAFT FAIRS...

  5. My mum had the same experience with the little craft fairs cliques but this is only in the last 5 years here in Oz. Funny how people think it benefits them to be so closed off when it just feeds negativity!

  6. Interesting how things have changed! I have been to a few craft fairs, but never sold. I am considering making an on-line shop and/or selling at a fair. But I cringe at paying $25+ just to have a small table at a local fair! Who knows if I would even sell that much to make up the fair fee...or enough to cover costs. Yet, I have a basket full of creations ready for "the world"...

  7. such great advice honey! I havn't done a fair in years now. Not sure how I could do them now with the types of products I make. xx

  8. An interesting read about the 80's - I have to admit I use the excuse of weekends being family time to hardly do any craft fairs!! I hope the research pays off and you find suitable venues to book mark for next year:)


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