19 Nov 2014

Craft Fair Season is here!

Craft Fair Season, top stall tips and some great craft fairs of the North.

It's Craft Fair Season, got to love it! All those beautiful handmade pieces, jewellery, socks and wacky house clutter! I love this season, not just because of the mulled wine often on sale too. But this post is not for the average shopper, instead I have decided to give you my top tips for running a stall, a Seller's guide.

In Kenya when I worked at Kenana Knitters, I used to turn up with heaps of stock and stationery and just wing it. Everyone knows everyone in Kenya and people stop and chat. But when I started my own business in the UK, Wildly Woolly (the sister company selling Kenana products to the UK market), I thought I better get serious as I wanted to share the story as best I could, and a messy stall does nothing for attracting customers. People don't often hang around at stalls long enough to see everything, so things need to pop out at them and catch their eye to make them stop and really look and listen! So below, as well as a list of the stall essentials, I have some tips on Do's and Don'ts for a stall holder which I have found work. 

So the essentials, I know some are obvious but it covers the lot, so don't forget to pack:
  • CHANGE! The most important, as people won't be bringing you the exact amount! I usually take around £50. To decide what to make this up of, look at your products and see what prices you have, Eg. if you are charging 3.95 then you will definitely need 5ps. But if someone is paying with a £20 then you will need £10, £5, £1 and the 5p. NB, you will need more of the smaller denominations.
  • You will need something to carry all that change in, and yes I know the bumbag (fannypack, waiste pack, belt bag - however you label it) is not the height of fashion, but trust me it's less stress than a money box, it's safer on you that sat on your table or under it. It's sad yes but theft does happen. I found a great plain black one in my local charity shop for £1, front zip for my money and back zip for everything else, business cards, pens etc)
  • Carry bags are essential as not many people will have somewhere to put it even if you have decided to wrap it up (jewellery etc). You can go as posh or simple as you like with this, I always think it's nice to have a slightly branded bag so people are reminded of you. I also like the thought that the bag will be recycled, so instead of plastic bags (the world is already filling up with them but I wont go on a rant) I go for paper bags which can be recycled. I like to put a personal touch on it so I bought a gorgeous stamp to brand my bags
  • You will need some sort of business cards or fliers, as a lot of people will ask you, and you may find you get lots of sales after the day from people getting in touch. So imperative to get something official. It's always a bit of putting when someone writes their email down on a piece of paper for me. I have to admit I don't think I've ever contacted anyone who did that - the paper gets lost or I forget what they did anyway. This leads on to the imperative facebook page, website etc as a way for people to see what you do.
  • A Table cloth, a must as you never know what the table you're given will be like, or the colour. Choose something plain, I think white is the best as it creates a nice clean background for your products to pop out from. If you have a busy background your products will just get swallowed up in the patterns.
  • Sign - Print out a picture of your Logo or name (just call yourself something - Emma's Homemade Jams?) and have it stuck on the front of the table or behind you on the wall. This helps you look professional and also adds to the attractiveness I think. I also like to have a framed A4 paper with a list of what makes my items special and different from the rest.
     Wildly Woolly's tag lines

  • There are lots of little bits and bobs that make the day easier, and the most important is Stationary. I take 2 pens (in case one runs out), a notebook for anything that I may need to note down or spare paper in case I need to scribble, scissors, bluetack, pins, string, receipt book, newsletter sign up book, price stickers/signs. The list could be endless but those I find are the main ones.
  • Some people like to set out a mock up of their stall in their living room the week before and have a play with lay out. That's one option, but I like to imagine it and draw it, so I spend time scribbling a few pictures of the table.The most important thing to bare in mind is to have some different levels, some higher and some lower. So for this you need:
  • Props, these don't have to be expensive, they can be anything you have in the house, although you may need more specific things like jewellery hangers (have a look on ebay). I like to use the basket drawers I salvaged from someone's skip, I asked permission before taking them! But they make a great prop as I have some of the drawers slightly open with things hanging out and also place things on top to add some height to the stall. At Christmas if you are selling decorations I think it's important to have a tree, as this shows off you products in situ! Have a brainstorm of what you have in your house, things you may not have thought of - wander round and imagine them on the table, you will be surprised what you already have.
  • And finally, STOCK, don't go over board. Think about the size of your stall, and the sort of customers that will be coming. If it's a small one in a local village hall then your cheaper items are going to sell better as most people won't be carrying around loads of cash. Take a good range but keep a box of back ups under the table in case you find something sells really well. I usually take one or two of each of Wildly Woolly's bigger toys, and a few of each of the small ones like glove puppets.

Attracting Customers
There are a million ways you can attract customers, getting them to stop at your stall is half the battle, be creative in your ideas and make up your own. But here are some ideas to get the creative juices flowing. Have a bowl of sweets and get people to guess how many are in the bowl to win an item. Choose a number between 1-100. Drop your business card or email address in the bowl to win. If you just want subscribers to your newsletter then just ask for a sign up to win something. Whatever you decide remember that most people won't be there until the end so get them to pop down their emails or telephone so you can contact the winner, and remember you will probably have to post the item to don't choose something too large or you will be out of pocket!

Do's & Don'ts as a Craft Holder.
Lots of people set up their stall and then just sit and hope the customers will come and buy. But there's more psychology in it than that if you really want to do a great day of selling. There are a few things I have found that are Do's and Don't of Craft fair Selling:
  • DON'T just sit behind the table busily knitting or making and ignore people coming by. 
  • DON'T just continue the conversation with your assistant and ignore the customer, my sister says she hates it when people just carry on their conversation behind the table as she browses. Maybe it makes her feel like she's listening in and intruding?
  • DO stand up, preferably next to the stall and not behind, although sometimes that's the only option.
  • DO smile (even if your cheeks ache at the end of the day, you will have done more sales than if you don't), and say hello, make eye contact.
  • DO hand out business cards/fliers to those who show interest in your items.
  • Most importantly DO ENJOY YOURSELF. Chat, meet people, it's a great networking opportunity too so make the most of it.
Craft fairs in the North of England
Finally here are some of the great Craft Fairs in the North. Worth checking out and making a day or weekend of, or even signing up as a stall holder!
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