With craft fairs rising in popularity, pitching up at one has become much more strategic, especially with the abundance of fairs and events every other weekend. How do you choose which fair to attend? And nowadays, with more crafters at fairs and online, how can your small business stand out?
We’ve put together a short guide on everything you’ll need for successful selling at craft fairs, covering choosing the right event, preparing for a fair, presenting your stall and much more.
Choosing the right fair for your business
There’s plenty of websites that have craft fair listings where you can buy a booth for a day. It’s best to do your research and choose a fair that reflects your business. For example, if you craft purses or fascinators, a fashion focused fair might be better suited than an arts show. Local newspapers, schools and clubs are also great places to look for your first craft fair opportunities. If you don’t have a website, then sticking local is probably best. You don’t want to cast the net too wide early on if you don’t have ways customers can reach you.
Some craft fairs are regular, which means slots will get booked fast, especially by repeat stallholders. They may even have a monopoly on the best spots at the fair, so it’s worth building up a relationship with event organisers. It’s always easier to book a spot at a fair if you are selling something unique. Many fairs only have one stand available for a certain type of product, for example one cake stall, knitwear, jewellery etc. Therefore, you need to stand out.
There are events that require you to have public liability insurance to sell to the public, and this insurance can be different depending on whether the event is indoors or outdoors. Also, if your business isn’t registered, this insurance may be null and void. It’s best to check through this with the fair organiser, and visit an insurer website that explains it in more detail.
When you have decided on what fair you want to sell your crafts at, it’s worth checking with the organiser what you get with your stall. For example, do you need to bring your own table and chairs, or are they provided? What is the size of the pitch, are there enough sockets for electronics and lighting, and what other stalls will be attending as well as the approximate amount of footfall they’re expecting?
Preparing for a fair
Once you’re all signed up it’s a good idea to promote that you’re attending the fair. Share the Facebook event, let existing customers know, or ask the organiser to list you on their website. Some local newspapers even get involved and give a bit of coverage.
It sounds really obvious, but having a checklist of essentials is crucial. Things like a calculator, phone charger, card machine (if you need one), notepad, money belt, sticky tape, and pens are just good to have. Then you could have a clipboard for taking customer emails to send them your newsletter, or a mirror if customers may try on your crafts. Check the weather forecast if it’s an outdoor event too so you can bring the waterproofs if needs be!
Now onto the biggie, stock control. You need to bring enough stock to keep your table topped up throughout the day, so it doesn’t look threadbare for customers later in the day. At the same time, you need pieces that complement one another, and maybe consider a theme. Right now, anything festive and Christmassy will do the trick. If the fair has a vintage twist, take this on board with stock selection. It’s also best to bring stock that has a variety of price levels, with lots of little bits and bobs and then a few more expensive items.
What marketing materials do you need?
Craft fairs are such a great way to get your name out there, so capitalise on it as much as possible. If you have a wall behind your stand, pop a Banner on it with your company name and logo to draw people over to your stand. A Display Board on an easel would look great with product information on where materials are sourced on it or an offer. For pricing, Mini Cards are just the ticket for labelling – either attach them to free-standing label holders or punch a hole in them and use them as swing tags.
Having Business Cards and/or Leaflets to give customers may lead to future sales. We have plenty of options to help yours stand out, including white ink, rounded corners, lamination and many different sizes available.
How to present your stall
It’s always good to have a practice at home firstly. This way you try lots of different layouts, angles and think about how stock looks without being on a time constraint. Consider themes, colour schemes and items that complement one another. For example, if you are selling knitted socks, consider positioning them near matching mittens. Choose a neutral coloured tablecloth if you’re using one if that’s the branding your products suit. Or you can go super bright to catch the eye of more passers-by.
On the actual day of the fair it’s best to arrive an hour early. Pop overflow stock under your table and have a centrepiece to draw customers in. It doesn’t even have to be for sale, for example jewellers use miniature trees and plants to hang items off. Think about different levels so smaller items are not engulfed by bigger products, and make sure everything is accessible for customers to pick up and enquire about.
Making sales on the day
Typically the first few hours of a craft fair are the busiest, so be prepared and have everything already priced. Don’t undervalue yourself here – you need to price your crafts with the materials, labour, overheads and profit in mind. After all, it’s easier to lower your price throughout the day if you have to, than going up.
Stand up, and be open, warm and friendly. Sitting in your chair and checking Instagram is not an option. Customer service is important, especially as customers are buying goods you’ve made, and therefore in a way are buying an extension of your personality. People who attend craft fairs tend to be really interested in how things are made or where the materials are sourced from, so use this as a conversation starter. One way to really attract potential customers is to hold a demo of how you make products. This tells customers you’re an expert and that you’re the one who makes all the crafts – a powerful message when you think of all the mass-produced products retailers try and sell to the public.
You’ll be all tired out but it’s worth in the days after a craft fair to follow up with email signups and write a blog on your website if you have one. Connect with other crafters that were also there as supporting each other’s businesses means you can leverage off one another.
Festive fairs this December
If you fancy visiting a festive fair from now until Christmas, take a look at some of the lovely listings below!
Winter Wonderland – Friday 17th November until 1st January
Get into the festive London spirit at Hyde Park’s celebration of Christmas, featuring winter markets and food, as well as grottos, ice sculptures and even a circus.
National Trust Christmas markets and winter fairs – various dates
Step into a world of festive delights during November and December up and down the country, finding handmade and vintage items, locally sourced good and a variety of arts, crafts and beautiful Christmas decorations.
Christmas at Brighton Open Market – Sunday 26th November
Organised by The Fairy Tale Fair, there will be 45 high quality, handmade stalls by local designers, with face painting, live performances and plenty of yummy homemade treat stalls too!
Let us know your craft fair tips by commenting below and where you’ll be taking your crafts next year!