Over the last few years, I have been organising craft fairs in Blarney, near where I live. We are short in Blarney of places with space so I tend to go to the same hotel all the time although support from that hotel is minimal in promoting the craft fairs. The job falls on me anyway as the organiser.
I am always blown away by the sheer talent and creativity the crafters and artists bring to these fairs. Not only their products but also the way they decorate their stalls. When going from stall to stall, I find so much inspiration myself and I am in utter awe on what people are able to make. I also noticed that talent and creativity don’t always translate into sales and that can be heartbreaking if you have to pay for the stall and spend a whole day trying to make a living. So, I looked a bit deeper into the situation and compared crafters who seem to sell at every fair and crafters who don’t and here is what I learned:
- No matter how beautiful your stall is, if you can’t be seen, people will pass by. They might look at your offerings but if they can’t ask questions or see who made the items, they will leave. A lot of crafters are building their stalls high to present their products – and there is nothing wrong with that – but make sure you stand beside your stall and not behind if you are covered by the display. At one of my fairs, a girl had beautiful handmade accessories but she sat on a chair behind the tall stall and made hardly any sales.
- You don’t believe how shy some of the crafters and artists are. No matter how introvert you are, you are the ambassador of your brand. Think how you feel when you go into a shop and no one looks at you. The same applies to fairs. People want to know about your product, want to ask questions. A smile also opens up, invites people to stop by and have a look at your offerings.
Know your prices
- If you don’t display your prices (and I recommend that you do), know your prices. Don’t hesitate and make sure you quote the same price for an item (you never know if two friends compare notes). The best is to have prices on your products as some people might hesitate to ask. You will get people commenting that the price is too high – no matter what you will answer, these people will not buy as they are going for price point rather than quality. So don’t fret over it.
- Not everyone will buy straight away. A lot of people are searching for a special gift but might be hesitant to buy straight away (maybe the husbands stands next to her etc.). Make sure to hand out business cards or leaflets with your contact details. I have seen cards and leaflets with just a Facebook page mentioned. Make it easy for potential customers to get in touch with you by adding at least your email address.
- Handling money is always akward but needs to be done (that’s the reason you are at a craft fair after all). I have seen people using a little plastic bag for their money – that looks unprofessional and takes away from your business. How can someone take you serious with a plastic bag of coins? Having to look for change costs time and you might loose an inpatient potential customer while searching for the right change. Money boxes are quite inexpensive and worth the investment. Make sure it has a tray with sections where you can sort your money, making it easy and quick to return proper change.
- I mentioned already that some people use high displays for their stalls and that is great as it draws the eye up (making sure you are still visible). As storage space is always limited at these fairs, crafters tend to pile their products up high as well and get as much products on the table as possible. Now imagine yourself looking for a certain person on a crowd – difficult, isn’t it? Look from a customer’s point and decide how much should be on the table, keeping in mind that an overcrowded table can also invite thieves as you might only notice later that something is missing from your table.
- That goes hand in hand with smile. At a lot of fairs, I can see crafters chatting away to each other and almost ignoring their customers to the point that they are leaving. We are all attached to our phones these days – you head down will prevent you from smiling at potential buyers. We are all programmed so that we don’t disturb people who look busy. You look busy when you talk to your neighbouring crafter or browse the phone. Yes, sometimes it can be boring waiting for your customers but you will miss them when you don’t pay attention.
Showcase your skills
- You spent so much time creating these amazing items – don’t think that people know that (many times stallholders are selling things they bought themselves). While having downtime, why not do something with your hands? If you are a knitter- knit. If you are a painter – paint. It doesn’t have to be the next masterpiece but showcase your skills to others. People will stop to watch you, giving you the perfect opportunity to start a conversation. Some crafts are not suitable to be done at craft fairs, that is fair enough but if you can – do.
I will be posting more on the subject, so watch this space. If you like to take part in any upcoming craft fair I am organising, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org