Selling at craft fairs

Ever thought of branching out and setting up a stall? It sounds scary, but with the right preparation it’s easier than it sounds. To keep you on track, here’s our top tips for selling at craft fairs.

Before the fair

Do your research

Before signing up for a fair take some time to do your research so you know whether you are getting a good deal and what to expect on the day. Here’s some questions you can ask

  • What are the expected visitor numbers, and how do they know?
  • What are the demographics of the expected visitors?
  • Will they restrict certain types of stall?
  • What other kinds of business usually attend the fair?
  • Do you need your own insurance?
  • What facilities will there in on the day such as heating, rain cover, toilets and refreshments etc.
  • Will they be actively marketing the fair, and how?
  • Are you expected to be at the market all day regardless of numbers?
  • What happens if the market is cancelled or visitor numbers are low – can you get a refund?
  • Will there be restrictions on the day such as loading and unloading restrictions, will you be allowed to attach things to the walls, can you free stand things beside your stall. Are there rules about opening/closing early,
  • Is it indoors or outdoors and are you allowed a heater?
  • Can you choose where your stall is positioned? If not, look out for a drafty doors, location of the toilets, blind spots and high/low footfall areas.
  • What happens if it rains or is windy, will you need to reconsider that floaty paper tablecloth or bring a gazebo?

If it’s a regular fair pay it a visit and be nosey! You should be able to answer many of these questions for yourself. While you are there, take some time to speak to the stall holders so you can see how the fair is working for them. Selling at craft fairs is hard enough, so the more research you can do in advance, the better the chance of you finding one that will work perfectly for you and your business.

Know your audience

Find out as much as you can about the fairs expected visitors, including their age, their spending power, family status, their preferences, and where they are travelling from. The more you can learn about them the better, as this will help you tailor your offering on the day. If you haven’t, take a moment to remind yourself about your own golden customer and see where the fairs customers cross-over with yours. If the fair doesn’t attract your ideal customer then don’t go. Trying to sell handmade shawls at a fair frequented by single mums won’t work!

Plan ahead

Once you know how many visitors the fair expects you can start to think about preparing stock. You’ll need to make a profit so make sure your’ll have enough stock to cover your costs (including wages) and still make a profit. If you’re ot sure, consider whether you could take orders and deliver later.

You’ll need to organise decent insurance. At a minimum this should cover your stall, stock, public liability and cancelation. The fair may have their own requirements so check with them to make sure you have covered everything, and to a high enough amount.

If this is the first time you’ve attended a fair then don’t forget to plan how you will lay out your stall. Consider display items, table coverings, business card holders and other decorative items.

Start marketing early

Start marketing as soon as you sign on the line. Make sure all your customers know you are attending a fair. Plan for your best customers to hear about it as much as possible before the big day!

If it feels like you are going on about it, don’t forget that most of your fans won’t see all your social media posts. But, if still won’t hurt to find different ways to spread your news, ie email marketing, different social channels, on your website, in your blogs, and on other social media groups and pages.

It will also help to mix up your content. For example, you can talk about showcasing products you’ll have on the day, a pre-sale selfie, share the organisers/other stall holders social media, pictures of piles of boxes being delivered full of stock, talk about car parking/bus stops nearby, a secret product launch or a box openings of new stuff!

people buying and selling at a craft fair at Christmas
Buying and Selling at a Craft Fair in New York

During the fair

Speak to people

It sounds obvious, but I often walk past stall holders at fairs that are looking down at their phone, chatting to another stall holder, or sitting at the back looking bored. This is really off putting to anyone passing by, and does nothing to draw them in. If you can make eye contact and engage with them, they’ll be drawn over to your stall. It’s amazing what a different it makes to actually talk to people at craft fairs. I can’t tell you the things I’ve discovered after engaging with the vender and actually taking time to see what they had.

Stand up, don’t sit! If you are sitting you can come across as bored or like you don’t wish to be disturbed. If you must sit, at least do it in front of your stall so you can easily engage with your customer. Also, don’t get too engrossed in conversation with the other stall holders, or your helper. Having a chat is fine, but be prepared to cut them off to say hello to a passer-by.

Selling at craft fairs is hard, but here’s some ideas to get the conversation started:

  • Ask them about the fair
  • Who are they shopping for
  • Talk about the weather
  • Compliment their coat or scarf
  • Ask what have they bought already
  • Have they seen anything interesting already
  • What are they looking for?

Help them spend their money

People go to fairs to spend money! They are specifically looking for things to buy, they want to make impulse purchases, and they want to be sold to. Your job is to help them find things to buy, your things!

If they mention gift buying, why not help match your items to some of the people on their list. And don’t forget to make up deals and bundles so you can recommend complementary items to cross sell.

People like to buy matching items so put together bundles so people can easily make a set.

Did you know… People will spend around £33 on a gift for a friend, £27 on a pet, and as much as £60 on a mum. Why not make up some awesome gift bundles in these prince ranges?

Do demonstrations

If you can create your stuff on site, then show people what you are working on. People love to see the process, it adds so much value to the item your selling. Tell them all about it, how you make it, where it comes from, how you source the ingredients, and how long it takes to finish. If you are a crafter, bring a project along that you are working on to show people and talk about.

Take card – and tell people that!

Fewer and fewer people are carrying cash these days, and people will be always be glad to see a stall that takes card. If you do accept card, then make sure you put a sign up. People browse longer if they know the stall takes card payments! If you want to take cash then make sure to know where the nearest cash machine is so you direct people. Remember though, that once they are gone the momentum of the sale is lost and they might not come back. Credit cards allow for a spontaneous purchase. They do add a cost to your business, but it’s ok to add the fees to your prices, don’t be out of pocket.

sole trader at his home decoration stall selling at craft fair
Home decorations for sale and at craft fair

Get a helper

Selling at craft fairs is hard work if you try to do it alone so make a plan for comfort breaks and busy moments. Having a helper along to take the money while you talk to customers can also be a life saver.

Present it well

Make your stall Instagrammable! Beautiful, stylish presentation will add a touch of luxury and draw people in. Make sure to decorate within your values though. If you are reusing materials in your products, make sure your display is constructed from reusable materials too. And, don’t forget to iron table cloths! This is often forgotten. Don’t crowd the stall, just place one of each design on the table at one time, with cheaper items at the front and more expensive pieces at the back.

Be prepared

Have a think about what else you might need on the day. Everyone is different, but here are some ideas of things you might want to consider.

  • Bring change. For those that don’t use card, make sure you have plenty of change, or price in even numbers so you don’t need it.
  • Have a mirror
  • Be prepared to take orders
  • Offer customisation
  • Know delivery costs
  • Know your prices well and display them in an obvious place
  • Bring carrier bags that fit with your brand and values
  • Hot coffee!

After the fair

Stay in touch with your customers

It’s not over yet. Not everyone will be ready to buy from you, but they might be interested. Why not offer to stay in touch with them after the fair? You could have a QR code printed that people can scan to get to your newsletter sign up, or that links to your social media. An email address is really valuable, so why not offer a prize draw in exchange for newsletter sign ups. And at the very least have a stock of business cards to give out to everyone, whether they bought from you or not.

What are your top tips for surviving craft fairs?

How would your business benefit from a 1-1 with an experienced business adviser/coach?

Book a consultation with us now and we’ll help you figure this stuff out and make a strategy that is perfect for you!