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The StickyTiger Introductory Guide to Craft Fairs

Tuesday, 4 November 2014  |  Vicky

Running a handmade business might be enjoyable, but it’s certainly not easy; as well as the fun element of making your products, there’s also the practical side of things to consider such as administration, finances and sales. Choosing to sell online is a great starting point; there are few (if any) of the overheads associated with a bricks-and-mortar space, and you can reach people all over the globe incredibly easily – but from time to time it’s a good idea to take your products out into the big wide world, so you can meet your customers face-to-face. If you’ve never sold at a craft fair before, and don’t have a clue where to start or feel completely intimidated by the idea, don’t panic – we’ve put together a short guide with some of our favourite tips to help you get the most from the day, and we’ve even organised a PDF list with details of everything you could possibly need to make sure it all goes smoothly.

Displays and Organisation

Organise your displays so that they’re a good representation of your style; if you produce big and bold colourful jewellery, make sure your stall reflects this, while if you’re more reserved, try for muted colours or even monochrome.

When it comes to storage and displays, think outside the box; rather than just throwing things on bog-standard shelves and hooks, look at more interesting ways of showing off your products. We love how accessories company I Am Acrylic display their items on giant sewn objects; at the Renegade Craft Market they strung their pendants from a line between two giant soft trees, and at the Crafty Fox Market in Brixton they featured a huge fabric mountain.

When setting up, try to utilise all the space you have; display items on the wall behind you, on the front of your table and even in boxes in front of your stall. Build your display up and out, and you’ll find you get noticed far more easily. 

Pack plenty of props and different options, as you never know how the space will be organised; what worked on your kitchen table at home might not work on the actual day, and the last thing you want is to be left struggling to organise your stall. Include plenty of clothes, fabric, wooden blocks, boxes and stands and you’ll have more than enough to make your stock look fabulous.

Don’t overcrowd the space – nothing puts customers off more than having to try to untangle things or move items to get to what might be at the back. Make everything accessible and easy to see, and you’ll have much better success; although you obviously want to show off as many of your products as possible, an overcrowded table just means that the eye can’t focus on any one thing, and people will be overwhelmed and wander off.

It almost goes without saying, but make sure that everything on display is priced; customers often feel uncomfortable if they have to ask and something is out of their price range, so they often simply leave without finding out first.

Customer Interaction

Although you might be terrified and screaming on the inside, it’s important to appear calm and friendly on the outside; a lot of people will want to chat to you about your items and how they’re made, so smile and be as welcoming as possible, even if you’re stomach-churningly nervous!

There’s nothing worse than feeling like you’re being watched by a bored stall-holder, so after greeting your customers, don’t sit and stare so hard they’re afraid to pick anything up. It’s a great idea to take some of your work-in-progress along if you can, that way you’ll have something to keep you occupied, and it can provide a great talking point as customers love to know how things are made.

Sales and Service

When it comes to sales, some of the best tips are the most simple ones – and the ones that get forgotten most frequently! Making sure you have enough change to give out to customers throughout the whole day is a great place to start – if you’re on your own, you’re not going to be able to pop out to change notes halfway through the day, so make sure you’re well equipped with a decent cash tin.

Not many customers head off to craft fairs with carrier bags in their pockets, so make sure you have plenty – we love the thick paper ones the best, as not only are they completely recyclable, they’re also incredibly easy to stamp your logo or details onto.

When it comes to stock levels, there’s no question at all that you should overcater – start by working out what you’re hoping to sell and then trebling it. It only takes one happy customer to spread the word, and then you could find yourself with a queue of people all clamouring for the same item - and the last thing you want is to have to turn people away.

Make sure you have a healthy stack of business cards or leaflets to hand out and pop into the bags – you want your customers to remember your name once they leave!

All images of the Renegade Craft Fair 2013, used with kind permission from the marvelously talented I Am Acrylic.