Craft Fair Tips & Advice
If you are looking to book or attend a craft fair or hold a ‘craft’ party for the first time, it can be a daunting experience. How much stock do you take? How do you display your products? How do you price them? What else do you need to take? etc etc.
These are all questions we have asked and they will always be asked and even if you are a seasoned seller sometimes it helps to review occasionally what you are doing. Below we have tried to cover everything you will have to consider if you are selling at Craft Fairs or Parties, but if anyone has anything that they think can be added please leave us a comment below.
1. Public Liability Insurance – it is important when selling your products to the public that you are insured, some Event organisers require you to have this insurance and will not allow you to sell at their events without it. (see a list of companies that provide this cover here: https://thecraftynetwork.wordpress.com/craft-fair-tips-advice/public-liability-insurance/).
2. Booking & Finding Events – Many events get booked up well in advance and if is a regular event, they tend to already have a list of their regular stall holders. If they don’t have any availability, ask if you can register with them or leave your contact details for any future events, it’s also worthwhile ringing them a day or two before the event and ask if there are any cancellations. You will find it easier to book a craft stall if you make items that are quite unique, jewellery, cards, baby items, cakes get booked up quickly so you will find it difficult to book events especially if the event organiser limits the types of stalls and to be honest this is a good thing, as you don’t want to be at an event where there are for example 5+ stalls selling jewellery. It’s not fair on the sellers or the public.
Look out for School or Club fairs, look in the local papers, ask friends and family if they know of any upcoming events, would they like to have a party, or you could hold a party in your own home and invite, friends, family and neighbours. Search the internet, www.stallfinder.com is very good, also don’t forget to have a look in our Events Calendar: https://thecraftynetwork.wordpress.com/craft-fair-tips-advice/craft-event-diary/ and visit the list of Event Organisers to see who’s in your area https://thecraftynetwork.wordpress.com/craft-fair-tips-advice/directory-of-event-organisers/ .
3. So you have booked an event – Make sure you understand what is required of you and what will be provided. Will there be tables and chairs or do you have to bring your own? (A good quality paste table is ideal if you need your own). What is the size of the table or pitch? Is it inside or outside? If it is outside you may need some cover, ie a good quality, strong, weatherproof and windproof gazebo, preferably with 3 sides and leg weights are a must if it is windy, wind can be a lot more troublesome than rain? If it is inside do you need to have a wall behind you? Will you need a socket for lighting, an extension lead? Also ask the organiser how many other stalls will be there and what type? How much will it cost and are you required to bring a raffle prize? Also, how will they be promoting the event, if they don’t have a good budget/strategy for advertising their event this may affect how many people turn up to buy?
4. Stock – Make sure you take enough stock (enough is whatever can make an attractive display), better to have too much, than not enough, unless of course you make perishable goods. In this case it might be worth speaking to the organiser to get an idea of how many people may be at the event, then you can plan accordingly.
5. Display – Think about how you would like to display your items before the event, look for interesting ways to display your products and use height to attract buyers over to your stall. Use material to cover your table that will best show up your products, use a maximum of 2/3 colours only. Also try to ensure the material is floor length, that way you can store items under the table. Don’t over clutter your stall, you can always keep replenishing it. Another idea, is to bring along a photo album (or laptop/tablet) of your products if you have too many to display. This is also a good idea if you make products to order. You may also need to decide if you need some focus lighting to help your items stand out (but check with the organiser for power supply etc. you also may need to have had your electrical item tested before you can use it)? Lastly practice your display, before the event and take some photos, it may help you remember where things went. Time yourself too, so you have an idea how long it will take you to set up on the day. (We also have a Photo Album on our Facebook page of other crafters stalls, this may help or give you some display ideas, click HERE to have a look).
6. Packaging – Don’t forget to take bags, gift boxes, tissue paper or whatever you decide you want to place your sold items in. It’s surprising what a nice bag/packaging can do! You could also offer gift wrapping for an extra price.
7. Pricing & Labelling – When pricing your items, DO NOT undersell yourselves. We know it is difficult to set a realistic price, remember it’s much easier to lower your price if people think it’s too high, but very difficult to raise the price if it’s too low. You can always offer a discount to encourage people to buy if they show some interest. There are several ways to calculate your prices, here is just one. Materials + Labour + Overheads + Profit = Price. The price you come up with may shock you, but ask yourself what would you pay? Also ask friends and family for their advice, do some market research by looking at similar items in shops, remember they are mass-produced items and yours is more likely to be a one-off unique item and that is what they should be paying for.
Make sure you label all your items so the buyers know how much your items cost. This can be done with bought tags, little signs or with your own unique handmade cards etc.
Lastly, this is very important. Many people say they make what they do, as a hobby, in their spare time, because they enjoy it and are not that interested about making a profit as long as they cover their costs. BUT, please remember that many people do do this to make a living and need to make a profit to survive. If one day you decide to make your hobby into a business you may understand. Also when you do take the plunge you might find it difficult to suddenly raise your prices and earn a living yourself, so even if you only add a little bit extra, please start doing it now, it helps everyone.
8. Marketing/Promoting – Think about buying or making some business cards and leaflets to hand out on the day, this may lead to some future sales and will also help with promoting your business on-line. There are a few sites on the internet that offer free business cards if you use their standard layouts. Also consider making/designing your own or buying a sign to tell people who you are, some people come up with some great ideas for signs, (ie. bunting, printing table cloth etc). Also, even if the organiser is promoting the event, it will help if you also promote the event on your Facebook page, website and to all your friends and family. If the event organiser has leaftlets help by giving them out before and during the event.
9. Essential Items to take – Calculator, pen, notebook (to write down orders and comments, positive and negative this will help you learn your strengths and weaknesses over time), bluetack (to help stick things up or down if it’s windy), pins, sellotape, mirror if people need to try things on. Float money, take plenty of change and enough to pay for your stall, a money belt or somewhere to keep your money safe. An up to date Sales list. Some food and drink, you may not get chance to leave your stall if you are on your own. Lastly take something you are already working on or already making, handy if it’s quiet and people do like to see you making things.
10. At the event – Make sure you arrive in plenty time to set up your stall, this can take up to 1 hour depending on your display, especially if you are new to this. Once the stall is ready take a photo, this will be useful to help you decide if your layout worked or not and how you can improve it for a later date.
It’s always good to start a conversation with people, but don’t be too pushy (or appear desperate for a sale, it can be a long day sometimes!). Some customers love to hear about where the materials have been sourced, how pieces are made and where you gained your inspiration, some like watching you make things while you are there and proves the items are indeed ‘handmade’. Encourage them to try things on, smell or taste your products, this could lead to a sale. Also talk to the other stall holders, you can meet some lovely like-minded people and very often they will tell you about other events or give you advice.
We advise you not to pack up and leave the event before the finish time, unless obviously there is an emergency. It is very tempting to leave early especially if you are not doing very well and the event is quiet. We suggest you take your lead from the other sellers, sometimes you will get a feel when it is time to pack up.
11. Parties in the Home – If you have been asked to do a party in someone’s home or even if you are holding a party in your own home, you need to consider some of the above as well as agreeing with the host a number of things ie. time, date, number of people coming? Will they need to send out invitations? Will you have to provide them? Will you be offering a gift or discount to the host? Do you want to make the party more interesting or fun by doing a demonstration, holding a raffle or by playing a game? If you are arranging the party in your own home, you will also need to provide refreshments and if you can, try to get someone to help you, you don’t want to try being the perfect host as well as sales person!
12. After the Event – We know you will be tempted to just throw everything in the car, and drive home and then do nothing for the rest of the day or week! But when you are ready, it’s worthwhile working out how much profit you made on the day. Don’t forget to take account of the cost price of the items sold, the fee for the event, petrol/mileage costs and lastly the other miscellaneous expenses you might have had, ie for food and drink. Also check your stock for any damages or loss. You may find that after working out everything you might have made a loss, just learn from this, if you made a profit. WELL DONE.
Remember whatever event you are doing, always go with a positive attitude, learn from it and SMILE at all times. Oh and the very best of luck.