'Tis the season...for craft fairs!
Almost everyone I know who has a creative business is either in the throws of doing Christmas fairs or is getting ready for their first one of the year. Craft fairs and Christmas markets can have a serious impact on your business - good and bad and although most will know the "do's" to get positive results, few have a grasp of the "don'ts" which play an even more significant role when it comes to success. I normally prefer to write from a more positive viewpoint (all the do's) but sometimes to get a positive result, all you have to do is avoid the mistakes (the don't) and that is what I have listed below. Avoid these errors at your next fair and you're bound to taste the sweet smell of success!
- don't rely on the lighting that is being offered by the venue. Lighting is so important; customers need to be able to see everything on your stall and often a venue will only have general ceiling lights which will favour some stalls but not all. Sometimes you have to pay more to have a stall with a power outlet but it is worth it if it means you can illuminate your table and shed a flattering light on your items. Be careful to ensure the lights compliment your table and look at the table from all angles to make certain it does not shine directly into the eyes of any passers by (or other stall holders close by).
- don't make customers have to ask for prices. Most customers will walk away if the pricing is not clear or if they have to ask. Additionally, if you plan to offer discounts on multi purchases, have a clear sign up to let customers know (you could print it and then place it in a frame that compliments your presentation.
- don't be unprepared. Make sure you know exactly what you're selling, how much you'll need and also don't forget to take along a repair kit on the day in case anything gets damaged in transit. Download this helpful which will help you to get ready for the fair, as well as this Market Day to-do list for the day of the fair to ensure you're ready or everything. There's a lot to think about and this will definitely help to get your ducks in a row!
- don't allow your table display to be one dimensional. Add interest by using a fabric covered box to add items to or even a small table on top of your main display table. Baskets full of smaller items or mug trees to hang a variety of items also work. Whatever you use, make sure they compliment the general "feel" and décor of your stall so that it's looks professional and not haphazard and last minute.
don't waste your stall space. Use the wall behind and to the sides of your stall (if they are available for use). A coat rack used to display items add interest, as does a small book shelf or big baskets sitting in front of your stall filled with items for sale. The space in front of your stall should be utilised as well but be careful not to cause a tripping hazard or stop people from having a closer inspection of the goods on your table.
- don't lose a sale by not having change or a credit card payment device. Make sure you get enough change and it is easily accessible with a money box or change belt. It helps if you round off your prices if they are not already to ensure you need minimal small change. Purchase a PayPal credit card device if it is available in your country and Etsy now allows payments online through the shop owners app when out at markets. Remember that any costs for taking credit card payments fall to you as the seller so ensure you price your goods accordingly to cover those costs.
- don't allow your stock or any rubbish, packing boxes etc. to be seen and ruin your display. Cover your table with (clean) cloth - either patterned or plain, depending on what would complement the rest of your display and ensure it goes to the floor on each side so that you can hide any extra stock underneath it. You may need to use 2 separate cloths to get full coverage.
- don't waste an opportunity to show off your skills. Showcasing your skill at your stall creates both interest and an appreciation for your talent - don't waste the chance to do so! Take pieces to finish while at the market but be careful not to be so engrossed you ignore customers or their questions.
- don't forget business cards, bags with logo's and website details. People may not be in a position to purchase from you on the day but be sure to offer your details so they can take them away and contact you at a later date.
- don't forget to get insurance and necessary certificates (as required for your particular business). Established fair organisers will not let you attend a fair without the proper insurance. If needed, ask the organisers what is required and if you need to provide proof. It may seem like unnecessary effort but if you want to be taken seriously, don't shirk these obligations of doing business with and supplying goods to, the general public.
- don't leave at the end of the day without thanking the organiser of the craft fair. If you have any criticism of the fair, make it constructive and useful. If it was profitable for you, let the organiser know and also that you'd be interested in doing it again. It's simply good manners and showing appreciation will maximise your chances of being accepted to the market again. Markets and fairs (however small and informal) are very complex to organise and there are a lot of people to please so make sure you show appreciation for their efforts.
- don't take rejection to heart. Not everyone will like what you do and if you have not done a craft fair before and only sold online up until now, you might not have heard criticism up close. You will probably hear "I could make that" throughout the day because craft fairs tend to attract creative types who maybe could make that. But they haven't and you have and you deserve your place there. Smile politely and move on to the next customer who does love what you do.
- don't forget to SMILE. Craft fairs are hard work. They are often preceded by a string of late nights getting products made and ready, an early start on the day, lugging around tables and props and stock and then cheek ache from the constant smiling. It can be one of the most rewarding and enjoyable experiences you'll have as a creative business owner and your customers, old and new, deserve nothing less than the best you have to offer and that includes a friendly and sincere stall owner. It's a stage - play your part with aplomb!
What tips do you have for attending craft fairs? Share them in the comments section below or pop over to the Facebook page.