On Saturday I did my first ever craft fair.
I’m not sure I would describe it as a roaring success. I didn’t lose money, but I didn’t make much either. It certainly didn’t feel particularly successful considering I was up until 1am the night before. But I know it’s about playing a long game; success doesn’t happen overnight. Or at 1am.
Do a Mock-up
You can never over-prepare. Do a mock-up of your stall layout, so you know how your products look best displayed. Also mock packing up and unpacking your goods, so you know a) how long this takes and b) how well they’ll transport. You’ll probably need far more bubble wrap than you could ever imagine.
Card Readers? Totally Worth It.
I spent a lot of time deliberating over whether to purchase a card reader or not, weighing up the various pros and cons. I bought the iZettle one, and have found it cost effective and efficient. I bought it mostly under the assumption that it would up-sell products and most people would carry cash to craft fairs. This assumption was proven wrong by our first customer — who had only £4 in cash for a £7 product.
I asked family and friends for feedback on my prices and I’m glad I did — they massively increased the prices on some, and gave me a sharp reality does on others. And you know what? I sold three of the items at the far higher price. Hoorah!
Get There Early
I arrived as soon as it opened to traders, and I’m glad I did — customers were allowed in fifteen minutes early (the fair was meant to open at 11) and some traders were still unpacking! And the first sale went through at 10.55.
Pack Food, Drink and Snacks
Depending on the event, you might be given drinks’ vouchers — but you also might not. Pack enough for lunch and something to keep you going when the adrenaline of set-up and selling starts to subside.
Packaging is Super Important
I had recognised the importance of protective packaging, but hadn’t necessarily thought about how practical it would be to transport, unwrap and then rewrap after the event. If you’re going to be transporting your products in the same packaging you’ll be selling it in, you want your packaging material to be durable, easy to store (or stack) and easy to pull apart and put back together.
…as is ‘The Brand’
I’ll be totally honest, I hadn’t considered my ‘brand’ much. After all, it was just me selling a few homemade bits on a stall in a town hall. But actually, the brand is crucial. People buy from people. You are your brand. Have a theme, buy a font, get some personalised packaging. Get on social media. Have business cards. It shows effort and commitment; and no-one is going to judge you badly for it.
You’ll only be given a table, so you’ll have to get creative with layering your product. Flat stalls = dull stalls. I used crate boxes and chopped logs to stack products, but will definitely be attempting to hang some products next time to get some additional height. You want your stall to stand out — and I think this time it’s meant literally.
I was prepared for any and every eventuality; I used everything I took, from scissors to sellotape to bubble wrap and batteries. With a list well in advance so you can add things to it as they spring to mind. And after a few fairs you can revise it down (or up) based on what you didn’t use (or wished you had).
Know Your Market
This is probably the most important point; it’s absolutely critical to know your market. By that I mean both a) your market (as in your customers) and b) your literal market (as in the fair). If your target customer is twenty-somethings who shop in big cities, you probably won’t find them at a sleepy village craft fair on a Sunday morning. For fairs, you need to work out why people are shopping there; is it Christmas themed? Is it Mother’s Day or Father’s Day soon? Identify people’s wants, and change your product range accordingly.
Quality not Quantity
I’m a bit worried this is a mistake I’ve already made; I’ve got five different fairs booked in across November/December and I’ve definitely gone for quantity. The stalls are cheap individually, but still cost around £90 overall (possibly more; I’m debating attending a larger Christmas market too). But would it have been better to spend that £90 on two larger fairs but with higher footfall and more relevant customers? Probably. We will see. If so, there’s always next year. And Etsy.
What I do know, is that this year will be a fantastic practice run. I now know exactly what I want to sell, and to whom. I know that craft fairs in early November aren’t great for Christmas decorations. I know that I should target bigger fairs in better locations. I know I need a website.
And if that’s not good progress, I don’t know what is.