Sunday, 20 November 2016

Craft Fairs and Expectations

I have been doing fairs for more years than I care to remember, stopped doing them then started again. We all have expectations as to what our craft fairs should produce and the rule of thumb is 10 times the rent. So if the rent is £30 you hope to make £300. Now in reality that has never happened to me or to others I have talked to. 

On a positive note you also have to factor in advertising, a fair is your form of advertising and by handing out business cards you may get repeat or new business via your website.

I use postcards with product images not just small business cards, as these can be lost in bags, thrown away when they get home or if not enough info the customer may not remember what it was you did. The secret is to make it as easy as possible for a customer to look at your card and have a memory jog.

Advertise the event yourself on Facebook and your site, newsletters, notice in your car etc. I do not expect the organiser to do it all for me as I may live in a different area and can reach a wider audience.

Your stall should also be well laid out, worth practising first at home, pricing clear (though you will still get asked 'how much is this'). Be ready in case someone asks for a special order, have an order book with you and explain clearly what you expect from them ie, full payment up front, postage costs etc. Sometimes with fair orders I waive the postage fee but that is up to you. I just feel they have made the effort to visit, pay to come in and place an order, all part of my customer service.

Make your stall as enticing as possible, adding props, lights etc. This is your one chance to make a lasting memory to the visitors. Remember your 1 or 2 or 3 day event is your shop front for that time. Customers may not visit that event again but make sure they remember you and your products.

At my last event, Brocante at the Cathedral, a lady rushed up to my stall, so pleased I was there as she had bought from me at the Grayswood Brocante. She spent some more money with me and said she would come again to Grayswood in December. This made me feel happy as to have a customer that follows you is brilliant, that they love what you do. She even brought her Mum with her and she bought as well.

I was told that my stall was memorable as so pretty and pink. I do tend to make in pink, white and ivory, some say this is limiting my customer base but remember reading some time ago to make your website cohesive. Not too many random colours try to keep to a uniform palette. This way you build a customer base round the colours you use and the products on the website mix and match.
These are mine with an occasional hint of duck egg and grey

I have used random colours before but since following this rule have had far more compliments and at Guildford had an elderly gentleman, whose wife had bought from me, said 'Do you make this all yourself' my reply was yes and he said 'it is all wonderful such pretty colours, I could stand here for hours just looking'. These type of comments mean a lot to me as so good to be appreciated.

So are fairs worth it? well they are a cheap form of advertising, as we all know that can be a horrendous bill. Customers get to meet you the maker and feel the cloth, so to speak. Weigh that up and then decide was the event worth it or not. Some are not as I think all down to the customers. I love meeting up with other business women, have a chat, swap ideas, hear about good fairs and those to avoid.

Best practise smile and look as if you want to be there, talk about what you make with passion.

A new venue this week for Handmade Monday Sum of Their Stories

Until next week, have fun


  1. I used to do fairs, and although I haven't for the last few years, funnily enough my daughter said that she missed it a bit. Maybe I will try again. I always found it a bit disheartening, but probably my knits weren't quite the right products. I am also a bit shy, so not very good at the selling.

  2. some really great advice :D - Chris #handmademonday

  3. A really interesting read:) I have to admit I have given up on craft fairs, having never quite managed to create a visually pleasing stall layout or design lower end value items which are more affordable. I think your tips about picking your colour range are thought provoking.

  4. Valuable advice, Carolee. It makes perfect sense to practise the stall layout before hand, but perhaps not always thought about. #handmademonday

  5. I have a friend who has just started out with craft fairs and pop up shops. It's hard work! Love your colour palette.
    #Handmade Monday

    Angela - Garden Tea Cakes and Me

  6. You have some great advice Carolee, I've not done fairs for ages. They were always amazing or dreadful for me, never anything in between! The postcard size business card is a good idea, much more likely to be kept.


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