First and foremost I would just like to apologise for the gap in between this post and the Part 3 post – I never intended for it to follow this late on, but things got in the way ! Hopefully there are still some of you out there still interested!?
This is my fourth and final post in my “makings of a craft stall” series in which I hope I will help those setting off to go about having their own craft stall by sharing my experience of my first proper craft stall. The fair I was attending was at the Adlephi Hotel, Liverpool. Luckily I know where this is and where the nearest parking is located (a multi-story, across the street from the same side entrance the fair organisers had told us to use).
Upon arriving I was directed to where my table for the day would be and had about an hour to set up before the event started. It took me three trips to the car and back to grab all my stuff, with a little help on the last trip from a lovely lady who was also at the fair. I hadn’t actually done a trial run of how my stall would look as i didn’t have a table big enough at home, so I went about setting up in a reasonably organised way but with no real idea of how I wanted it all. I think it turned out quite well though, what do you think?!
Just as the fair started, a lovely jolly gentlemen came up to my stall and I made my first sale! He had been away on business for the weekend and was looking for a little something for his wife, but didn’t have much money (only the small amount of change in his pocket), so my sale sign caught his eye and he bought the little grey purse you can see in the picture below there! A sign of good things to come I thought! Shortly following this, my beautiful assistant for the day turned up and the tai chi lessons started – I convinced her to get up (the only one at first hehe! How brave of her!).
As the day went by I had a little chat with the lady on the table behind me, the stall to the side of my promoting the fishy foot spa things that seem to be cropping up in every town centre at the moment, and had a look around the fair myself. Plenty of people came by and had a look, some tried things on, some (ok, a LOT!) reminisced about the old days when they used to knit, some took flyers, some walked straight on by. My mum and dad came to pay a little visit (thanks mum and dad!), so my dad got to see his handy work put into action, and my mum got to buy photos for the house from the lovely photographer that was there.
Hours went by, and still no more sales, not a bean. Eight cups of tea, plenty of cake, fudge, pineapple and sandwiches later, and the day had drawn to an end. My dreams of kicking ass at my first craft fair were in tatters. Not one to be defeated or wallow in self-pity I put it down to a good experience (perhaps one not to be repeated, at least in this location), and looked at the good points, such as all the new stock I had made in preparation for the fair could now be put on my online stores, I had got my arse into gear about getting PLI sorted, and I discovered peanut butter and chocolate fudge (Oh my!)
When I spoke to others at the event the lack of sales seem to be a common theme, so whilst I was sad most of us were going home out-of-pocket (except perhaps the fudge man who had almost cleared out selling to us lot haha!), I was kinda glad it wasn’t just me. So, what have a learned from my first experience of a craft stall? Turns out, quite a bit, here are some of the key points I would like to share with you that I think may be of use:
- You will need PLI (Public Liability Insurance). This can be found cheaply through AIR if you subscribe to their magazine
- You will need to fill in a risk assessment form – this isn’t as scary as it might seem at first (see Part 1)
- Write a list of everything you will need for your craft stall
- Consider how you can use height on the design of your table – it’s valuable space when you only have a small table and can have paid quite a lot for it
- Use a selection of only two or three colours as your background or table-cloth, meaning your items have more chance of standing out
- Have fun with inventive ways of displaying your items – I was really happy to see nobody else had anything like my tree!
- If your stall sells handmade items why not try making your display pieces by hand?! It keeps costs down and adds to the handmade appearance of your shop
- Don’t try to do too much or spend too much for your first craft stall, you’re just trying to get a feel for it after all, and if it turns out you don’t enjoy it, then you may have wasted a lot of money
- If you sell things you can put labels on, then do label them. That way, if the item is bought as a gift, the recipient can find you again should they want another, or someone else wants to buy the item
- Don’t forget you will need a float of change on the day, a lot of craft fairs are on a Sunday so you probably won’t find a shop open to help you out first thing. This is something best remembered to do during the week
- Take a flask of tea (or juice, or whatever your drink of choice is) and a packed lunch. If you are running your craft stall on your own chances are you won’t be able to leave it (someone next to you is usually ok for minding your table whilst on a trip to the loo!)
- If you have a friend who doesn’t mind coming along to help then why not take the offer? Perhaps you could give them something from your stall in return for the favour?
- Do be friendly, smile, chatty, but don’t push any sales on anyone, make them feel comfortable to try things on and not feel pressure to buy
- Be prepared for getting no sales – if you can’t afford to fork out the table fee and not recoup it, then don’t do it
- If the event you are thinking of attending is a regular event it may well be worth attending it as a buyer before you cough up your cash. This way you can get a feel for the fair, see how many attend, how it all works etc.
- It would be well worth your while to find out if there is a seller at the event you’re thinking of attending selling similar things to you. If the event is regular, pay it a visit, see what’s on offer. If not, or if you can’t attend one before you sell, do ask the event organiser what their policy is regarding selling stalls to people with similar offerings. If they are going to let more than one stall selling similar things in, may be best to steer clear
- Try and find fairs that are in a location that will do well with passing trade as well as the people who may have seen the event advertised and come especially. One of the problems with this particular location is that there seemed to be no passing trade whatsoever, and whilst in the run up to the event I had seen them do quite a bit of promotion, it didn’t seem to pay off and footfall was low
So! That’s the end of my Makings of a Craft Stall series, I do hope I have helped you through my experiences, please do feel free to ask any question in the comments! And what is it I hear you ask that has been taking up my time so much these last few weeks?! Well! My next endeavor! I will be running a stall at Eden Festival in Scotland along with another lady who sells handmade feathered jewelery so as you can imagine, there has been quite a lot of preparation for that! The festival starts June 10th, do check out the website. More on that soon, it’s all very exciting and I’m sure it will be another great learning experience, with hopefully a damn site more sales!
Good luck to all of you about to take part in your first craft fair! Do come share your thoughts xxx