This year I had an amazing time at several local art and craft fairs selling my products and stationery. They were really successful (to my surprise!) and I learned a LOT. I wrote a cheeky round up of tips and tricks for any fellow makers who are attending their first craft fairs, or if you fancied a behind the scenes look at what it's like as a seller at a gift market!
1) Make Make Make!
It’s important that you bring enough stock to replenish your stall throughout the day. You might underestimate the amount of sales you‘ll make (I know I did due to underconfidence), but it’s always better to take too much than too little and lose out on potential sales.
2) Essential Items
If like me you’re selling smaller products like greeting cards, bookmarks etc, you should bring an option of carrier bag for your customers to take their new purchases home without damaging or losing the items. I had brown paper bags for the smaller bits and bigger bags with handles for the colouring books. If you’re selling prints I would take a bunch of hardback envelopes. A money tin with a cash book I found was essential; we jotted down each item we sold, the cost and the method of payment. This makes it easy to add up your income and note which products sold for your stock count. A card reader is a good investment as you can capture impulse buys or if the customer doesn't have enough change for your lovely products. Check out PayPal, iZettle and SumUp card readers online; they connect via Bluetooth to an app on your phone and its really simple to use. I took emergency kraft paper, pens and a pritt stick for writing up extra price points and a table cloth will be a necessity (unless you like the look of those fold down tables you get in school!).
3) Bring a Buddy!
I don’t know what I would have done without my glamorous assistants! I needed help loading the cars, setting up the tables, second opinions on how the day is going, handling money, fetching food and covering the table for toilet trips! The company is great too, and you feel less like a lemon if you’re new to the fair game. I had Martin and my Mum come for a few hours at the beginning for the rush and when things quietened down they went about their day before picking me up at the end. My Mum loved it because it was "like playing shopkeepers!"
For the love of god, BRING WATER AND SNACKS! If you’re at a busy fair from 10-4 you probably wont have time to jump out for food (unless you have a brilliant buddy who will go out and get you some) and talking to customers is very thirsty work! I felt hungover after every fair due to dehydration.
5) Treat Your Feet
Wear the comfiest shoes you have in your wardrobe. Your arches need all the cradling they can get as you’ll probably be on your feet conversing with customers (I’ve found it’s much more engaging and approachable to stand than sit). Get yourself a bath bomb and a face mask for later because you will need the soaking of your life in the tub when the day is over.
6) Smile and Wave!
Years of waitressing and working in retail has me trained me well to chat with customers, but it’s really daunting and almost embarrassing at first when it’s your own work that you’re selling! I found that it's best to say hello and engage with the people who are lingering and having a proper look at your work rather than every passer by. If they’re looking at a print, describe your technique. If they’re browsing your collection of witty greeting cards, explain your thought process. For example, my christmas dinosaurs were the most popular cards because they had character to them, and talking about them gave my work a brand story. When they flicked through my colouring books I would explain that it was a collaboration and it was myself who illustrated the inside pages. If customers cooed at the ‘dog’ I painted, I would correct them by saying that it was actually my very fluffy rabbit Charlie and then we'd get into conversation about pet portraits.
7) All of the Flyers
I had three types of printed promo materials with me: my business cards (with two patterns to choose from), thank you vouchers with an offer code for my website and a flyer for my pet portraits, which also came with a voucher. I wanted to promote loyalty for supporting my business and hopefully they will encourage further sales in the future. The pet portrait flyer had all the info about the process on the back to answer any questions the customers may have, and the business cards had all my socials and contact info for brand awareness.
8) Be Your Brand
It’s a nice touch to dress to match your table! If you have brand colours or a theme, consider how your outfit could compliment your work - I wore printed tops with leaves and flowers on to match my nature inspired designs. I have a dinosaur dress which I will get out for any summer fairs I do! If you make jewellery or accessories make sure you’re covered in them. Your table decorations could be thought about in the same way.
So that was my 2017 Christmas fair adventure summed up! I hope this has helped you if you're starting out at gift fairs. Make sure to check out Pinterest and Instagram for table decoration inspiration and visit fairs for research. It's well worth applying for fairs, it's really rewarding to talk about your work and seeing which products sell and which areas to develop or leave out for next year. Stay tuned for a round up post about my product range and where I'm heading in 2018!
If you have any questions about selling at fairs, don't hesitate to comment below or pop over an email to firstname.lastname@example.org :)