Monday, 16 May 2011

Craft fairs - all the fun of the fair!

I've been doing craft fairs for nearly a year now and I have seen and learnt so much in that time. The way I set out my stall has evolved and changed over the year. I have bought props to help make my stall stand out from the rest. My favourite have got to be the vintage French apple crates bought on t'internet. They provide storage for stock between fairs and also for transporting to the events. Once I'm there they also provide much needed height and interest for the table. Although, some people do not seem to appreciate their rustic charm as I was once asked why I had fruit boxes on my table and that she had some back home on her farm and wouldn't dream of using them for decoration. Takes all sorts I suppose, she could give them to me!

My display layout is still evolving and think it will always continue to do so. I haven't cracked how to display bags to their best advantage but I have some ideas to try out at the next event I go to. And I definitely need to tie my lengths of bunting differently so that I don't have to refold them each time a customer rifles through the pile!

I have found that you cannot predict how the fair or event will go. The ones where you think you'll do a roaring trade, you find yourself totally doubting yourself and wondering why you haven't done as well as you'd hope. Then there's the small event where you do really well and equally wonder why. Like the one on I did last year: a winter's evening too close to Christmas for comfort, icy roads, hardly advertised, small room, hardly any tables but everyone that came in seemed to buy something. That's the kind of event I like!

The comments you receive and the direct feedback can be amazing. You feel that all the time and effort that has gone into your work is appreciated when people tell you how nice your products are. Although you do have to develop a thick skin for the odd comment that may sting a little! Some people cannot help being a little too loud when talking to their friends, don't they realise you can hear them! Older ladies love looking at my stall  with the bunting and vintage tea cups. They often start to reminisc about sewing in their younger days and are pleased that people are still sewing as so many people don't do it these days.

It is always nice to see which traders you are next to at each event. Most traders are lovely people and all out to help each other out and support each other. I have had chairs lent to me, my stall looked after while I have a quick trip to the loo or a sneaky look around the event and help to redo my stall when it blew over many times at an outdoor event recently. The networking possibilities are great at each event, there is always someone new to meet.

I have seen some sights over the last year too.  Like a small, excitable child grabbing a delicate item off a table and running across the room to show her mum. My heart was in my mouth as I rushed over to suggest I took it off her and put it back before the stall holder came back!  And let's not talk about the stallholder sipping from a vodka bottle throughout an event!

So, I have another new event for me this weekend. It's a vintage fair so I need to make the stand look vintagey if I possibly can. Maybe I'll take my old Bakelite rotary dial telephone as a display item. I'll have to put a 'not for sale' sign on it though!

I'd love to hear comments from people about their craft show tales. Have you cracked out to display your products? If you have please spill the beans, new tips are always welcome!


  1. I have been doing craft fairs for a few years now and its always strange how you can do so well at one and havn't taken enough stock then the next one, you barely make your table money back!

  2. Im a newbie to the world of selling on stalls too & if mine looks half as good as yours I will be happy. I wish you every success with your blog & site. Yours work is beautiful.

  3. I have just started with craft fairs - and like you am surprised with which go well and which do not! It is lovely looking at other people's stalls, and finding new ways to display items. One of my products is cotton bags - and no matter how hard try I can't find a way to display these!!

    Sam x

  4. Invisible squirrel I'm glad you agree!
    Anonymous thanks for your comments, so kind.
    Sconch Textiles I looked at photos of other stalls for tips too. I'm going to get a child size coat stand to hang bags on. Let's hope that looks OK!

  5. Thanks for this post, I am a bit scared to try a fair but I am always intrigued to see other peoples stalls. I look at yours and know I would make a beline for it from the other side of the room, I thing that's a good sign :) Its good to hear that they can be hit and miss too, it must be tempting just to give up if your first one is rubbish. If I do do ever do one I will keep this in mind.
    Kandi x

  6. I dipped my toe into craft fairs very recently so it is lovely to read of your experiences, I am still very much at the bottom of the learning curve!

    I discovered your lovely blog via the UK Handmade forum and am very happy to add you to my reader list, your work is lovely.

  7. I have just started doing craft fairs and I like you I have found them valuable for feedback, great confirmation of my work. Crafters are great people and ever so friendly and helpful.

  8. Thanks for all the comments! I'm a teeny bit relieved that someone is actually reading my ramblings, lol.

  9. It's interesting that it's so hit and miss for others as well as me ... I've been doing fairs for about a year now, and there seems to be no way of predicting how I'll do. I remember one fair I went to I sold a lot to other stallholders, but nothing to the people visiting the fair! I wondered if established fairs were more reliable for sales than smaller one-offs, but your experiences suggest that's not the case. Not that it'll stop me! I enjoy the whole experience too much :)

  10. What a fantastic description of craft fairs from your perspective. I am tinkering with the idea of doing some craft fairs over the summer. I would love some 'up close and personal' feedback, which I sorely miss over the web. I hope to do so soon,thank you for sharing your experiences.

  11. I just came across your blog whilst googling ideas for craft stalls and your image came up. I have to say I love they way you set your stalls out! I'm currently getting back into sewing again and am thinking about doing a craft fair or two later in the year when I've built up lots of things to sell. Keep up the good work! Feel free to follow my blog too :) eat sew love

  12. fantastic description of craft fairs from your perspective. I am tinkering with the idea of doing some craft fairs over the summer.


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