Sunday, 21 February 2010

Craft Fairs 2.

Doing the First Event

Where do you start, you've booked your first event. Now what?

Find out how much space you have. Once you know that, you can start planning.

Step one, space, is to get some masking tape and a tape measure, and mark out on an empty bit of floor the space you actually have.

Step two,stock, work out how much stock you have. do you have enough stock? or too much stock. I always find I have too much stock (well, except for my last two craft fairs before Christmas 2009, when as soon as something was made, it went on display and sold).

Step three, height, when people walk past they should be able to see your stock, the best, eye catching items should be elevated and angled so that people walking past can see it.

Step four, prices, my thoughts on this, is that every item should either be priced individually or be in a group of items where the price is clear.

Step five, branding, where does this come in, well everything need to look good, have a similar theme, I use the same font, and the same paper for my stall,

Step six, table dressing, this is where knowing how high your table is can come in useful, when I'm doing indoor events i make sure that the front and sides of my table can't be seen under, why? because it look cleaner, and more professional

Step seven, practice, get some friends round and get some honest opinions as to how your stall looks. Do some mock sales, have you got packaging, bags, care instruction, tape, scissors, etc.

Step eight,spiel, while your practicing, work out what to say, the worst thing to do is just hide behind the table at a craft fair and wait. you'll come home and say your never doing one again, and that you didn't make many / any sales.

At craft fairs etc. I like to stand all day, mainly at the front of my stall, and engage the public and other sellers, to the extent that i know who will sell well each day and who won't, the biggest clue is the people who bring something to read, if your reading you can't sell, also those who bring cushions to sit on, or on outdoor events, bring their own chair. (Woody's golden rule No.1, Don't get comfortable, get selling),if you look at the table dressing picture, you'll see there is no space behind the stall.

Step nine, think again, look at everything you have laid out for your stall, where is it? That something you've missed? Do you have business cards? Do you have fliers for people to take away? Do you have a cash box and float? Do you have some way of checking if money is real? I have a pen which i can use to detect if money is fake? you should be able to pick one up for a few pounds at most good stationers.

Step ten, pack it all away, sounds simple, but years of doing craft fairs has taught me to pack away one of three ways.
Method 1, pack stock in one large box, and table dressings in another, and pack everything in reverse order. so the items you want first are at the top, not the bottom.
Method 2, used if i want to get to things, is to use loads of small boxes (raid the likes of lidl or aldi for empty boxes).
Method 3, used when my next fair is smaller, pack what i need for the next event in one set of boxes, and what i don't need in another set (after the smaller event it all need bring back together for the next one)
Now i know the above seems a bit .... well, it does, but it works

Look at the two stalls below, can you see the big difference, both in layout and presentation

As comments come in I'll start adding them to this post (and giving credit)


  1. Wow, what a difference between your first stall and your newest. The second stall looks very professional with one neutral table covering and stock which compliments eachother. The first stall looked a little bit like 2 different sellers on one table. Great blog Woody, thanks, Clare

  2. I've never sold at a craft fair but I have bought at lots and I agree from the customer's perspective everything should be priced clearly- either with it's own price tag or have it made obvious that all large are £10 and all small are £5 etc. It makes your decision to buy easier.

    I like how you have smaller things at the front- it's nice to have some things that you feel like you have 'rummaged' for. For me, it's part of the charm of shopping at markets and fairs.

  3. Great article Woody. I would agree about making sure you've got business cards available to pick up because people quite often don't want to ask.

    I always have a good supply of packaging material too.

    I've only done a few smallish craft fairs so am quite a novice but at first my things looked a bit scatty but it's amazing how a bit of continuity can really pull it all together and give it a much more professional finish.

  4. I sell at 15-20 shows a year and everything Woody says is so true. My set up, honed over the last 15 years has now cost me rather a lot but works for me. By hiding away boxes, having everything priced and everything on a variety of levels I, in the main (we all pick a duff show from time to time) sell well.

    I've had other stall holders ask me for advice, which I'm happy to give my opinion on, and so many turn up with a crumpled sheet which doesn't cover all the table, lay jewellery flat on the table and have no lighting in a dark hall, then wonder why people pass them by.

    I also shop at fairs, even for jewellery, but poor layout, no pricing and crumpled sheets don't encourage me to buy. Oh and, stand, smile, don't read the paper, don't munch your lunch, don't chat over the garden fence. Take a mate if you want time out, no body likes to interrupt you mid-chat, mid-paper or mid-munch. But if things don't according to plan, don't get disgruntled, just evaluate why, what you could have done better, what you'd do differently another time (including not come back to 'this' fair).

    Woody, thanks for your time and effort, these are great informative reads for us all.

  5. Being able to 'sell' your items at a stall is really important and as you say the person reading a book can't really be eying up the customers best to approach. If you handmake your items that makes you an 'expert' on your items, you know how they are made, the materials and process involved. When someone touches or has a good look at an item I'll offer it to them to hold and let them know the quality of the material and why it's special, the reason it's padded or made that way and why, generally be chatty - it works, and of course you have to smile at everybody.