I’ve got my table, planned my stock and paid my pitch fees. I still have stock to make, a display to create, business cards and bags to order.
I went to check out the competition at Market at the Moon last Saturday. Stall holders were a little thin on the ground due to the crazy windy weather earlier in the day and we got more than we bargained for when the participants of Bristol’s naked bike ride showed up, that was a whole lot of nakedness right there. We also took ourselves off to the Festival of Nature at the harbourside for a little more market research.
Not one to do things by halves I’ve also been on line to check out what others think are the essential tips for having a successful craft market stall. Here’s what I found...
Know your venue
If you can, go to the venue before the day of your craft fair and check out the space and parking. Will your stall be inside or outside? Are there walls you can make use of? Is there parking close by?
Display is everything
With so much to see at craft fairs, creating a bold, cohesive and eye catching display is essential for attracting customers. With this in mind it’s a good idea to practice your stall at home, play around with the display, discover what looks best and when you’re happy take some pictures to remind you on the day. To achieve a great display there are a few key things to keep in mind.
Use your space
Flat displays are most visible to people standing close to your stall, to catch the eye of people passing by and draw them to your pitch use shelving, wall hangings and boxes to give height and add interest. It’s also a good idea to use props to give context to your items but make sure you don’t end up with more props than items to sell! Think also about access, can people reach your stall and move easily around all areas? Are there delicate or more expensive items you want to keep away from sticky fingers?
Who are ya?
Craft fairs are not all about what you sell, they’re also a really good marketing opportunity to get your name and products known so make sure they know who you are. Use a big clear banner with your name, create a coherent theme appropriate to your display and chose 2 or 3 colours at most to tie everything together. Also don’t forget to take business cards with all your details on for people to take away.
Price your items before you go to market and have everything clearly priced so that people can see at a glance. Work out your wholesale prices as well so that you are confident to offer discounts for bulk buys. There are many ways to price your items which I won’t go into here but it is really important not to undersell your products. Some people make products as a hobby and are not too bothered about making a profit and therefore don’t price their items realistically. However, when they do this, they devalue the craft, undercut those that do want to make a profit and make it more difficult to make a living out of crafting. Remember you are selling something handcrafted, that has provenance and is locally produced – it’s worth paying that bit extra for so take pride in your work and ask for what it’s worth.
List of things to take.
Props / shelving / baskets for display
Bags / boxes / packaging
Weights / bungees / ties / bluetac / tape to secure props
If people are to try things on – bring a mirror.
Extra layers for the unpredictable English weather
Food and drink
Calculator, pen, notebook (for orders and feedback)
Float money (Around £50) and a money belt.
Something you’re currently working on for when things get quiet.
On the day
Get there early and make friends with the other stall holders. Record any feedback you get from customers, starting out on this journey is a learning curve and your customers will provide a great many lessons. Remember to have fun and smile!!
After the event
It’s a good idea to take time to do a bit of reflection after the event, what went well, what do you need to improve for next time? How much money did you make? Work out your profit taking into account cost of stock, pitch fees, petrol, parking etc.
Ok, I hope that’s helpful to any craft fair newbies out there, it’s certainly focussed my mind on what I need to do over the coming weeks! If you have any tips you'd like to share I'd love to hear them!