Preparing For A Fair

With Christmas fast approaching, I've booked myself a table at a couple of events coming up in my local area and it occurred to me that some people have never done a craft fair before so I thought I would fill you in on how I prepare myself for mine. My first fair was around 6 years ago now and I used to do quite a few. I had lots of motivation especially since my first one was booming but I've never had another like it. The past few I've done have been an epic waste of time and I haven't even made money back to cover the cost of my table space. I don't take this personally because having learnt the nature of craft fairs and stalls now, each day could go either way and you usually get a feel for it along with the other people around you who may have stalls. This years Christmas fairs will be my first under the name Pastel Elixir and the very first time I'll be selling my artwork on gift ware and prints. My past experience has all been with selling handmade jewellery that I used to make under the name Ellis in Wonderland so I thought it would be fun to share some old photos of past stalls throughout this post.

A jewellery stall I did from a few years ago!

1. Get A Cash Box
You don't necessarily have to have a proper lock and key cash box (although it is considered safer, just don't leave it unattended!) for a craft fair but it certainly helps to have somewhere to keep the money you take and give out. My cash box is in the loft somewhere and I really need to dig it out but whilst we're talking money, have a bit of a float ready before you open up because you can't guarantee people will have the right change on them. If a customer only has a note and you can't give them change, you may end up missing out on a sale.

2. Variety
Obviously if you stick to one kind of craft then this one doesn't matter too much, but even still say you're a crafter of greeting cards, have an example of all the different themes you can cater for. Just because the fairs I'll be doing later this year are 'Christmas' fairs, it doesn't mean I'll stick to just Christmas cards. I plan to have a bit of everything out on my tables just to demonstrate what can be expected from my shop as sometimes people won't be out shopping for a specific thing but may feel inspired by your overall brand.

3. Try Not To Be Too Shy
Whilst I prefer to be left alone when I'm shopping anywhere, I also like a little greeting if I enter a shop and it shouldn't be much different when approaching a stall. I always slip a polite hello in there and offer help if they need it, but never go to the extent of 'Lush' staff and pester people non stop. I tend to be super shy with people especially at the start of the day but you may find you open up a little more as time goes on and you never know who you might meet!

4. Interact With Other Sellers
If you've done stalls and fairs before, you may be familiar with the sense of being assessed and watched constantly by other sellers at their tables, especially as you set up for the day. In the past I've felt competitive eyes on me but I've always found the best way to combat this is to be friendly, say hello and show an interest in the other sellers crafts. Ask them how their day is going, what has been their most popular product, when did they start their business? Network and interact, you may make a friend!

5. Wrap Up Warm
I'm not so sure about summer fairs because all of the ones I've ever done have been indoors or outside in the middle of winter, but always make sure you wrap up warm with layers, take a flask if thats your thing and a few snacks. You'll find standing behind a table all day is super knackering and also you get quite chilly. I like to take gloves and my hand warmers because of my hand injury I tend to get quite stiff and sore. If you have a little chair, take one of those too so you're not constantly on your feet.

6. Run Through Your Display Beforehand
To help make the setting up of your table a bit easier and smoother, you could have a run through of the display you'd like to achieve before the fair itself. Take a photo of what you build so you can recreate it on the day with very few hiccups. It saves potential embarrassment and stress if you discover something doesn't go as you expected and it'll make setting up on the day much quicker too. Charity shops are also a great place to find some quirky bits and pieces like small wooden crates or display boxes that you can up-cycle to use on your table for standing things on, leaning bits up against etc etc... 

7. Take A Notebook
I always take a notebook with me to events so I can keep track of exactly what I sell and also if I end up taking someone's details for a custom order. It's also a great idea to have some business cards on the table so if people like what you do, they've got your information handy!

8. Have Fun!
From speaking to other people who attend craft fairs and have stalls, it's pretty much one of those things where you love it or you hate it. I fall into the 'hate it' category as I'm such a huge introvert, socially anxious and hate dealing with money, but what I do try is to have a bit of fun, soak up the experience and if possible take a friend or family member for support.

These are just a handful of tips I've gathered together from experience with stalls over the past few years and something else I'll add is do a bit of research into the fair you'll be attending before you go and don't pay silly money for a table because some places will try and rip you off big time. As I mentioned at the start of this post, there have been times when I've not made back what I've paid for a table space so make sure it's within your budget and that it's not too much of a loss if you go home having not made very much. It happens, it's not all a huge money making gig every single time but when you have a successful day it's a brilliant feeling, especially since stalls are an awesome place for on-the-spot feedback from your customers. I'm super excited to see the outcome of the fairs I've got lined up because they'll be the first time Pastel Elixir has been unleashed to the public!

Let me know if you've ever had a stall before and how was the experience for you?

Thanks for reading!


4 comments

  1. These are some great points you've mentioned

    Candice | Beauty Candy Loves

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  2. This is such a great post!
    I make handmade cards and would love to take part in a craft fair one day!
    Charlotte | charlotteshares.co.uk

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  3. That is pretty exciting. Crafting is always great for the mind and hands too!

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  4. Great post. In time for the up coming Holidays. I'm also planning to make a DIY gift boxes and greeting cards.

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