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Craft Fair Secrets – How much stock do I need to bring?

How much stock should I bring to a craft fair?

In our series of craft fair tips, we hope to cover everything you need to know about selling at craft fairs – including how to pick the right craft fair for you, how much to pay for a craft market, how to make a great craft fair display, and what to do if you don’t sell anything selling anything. In this post we’re looking at stock – how much stock do you need to make and bring to a craft fair.

Posts like this pop up on the Folksy forums all the time…

Ok, so I now have 24 bracelets, 15 pairs of earrings, two keyrings and one necklace… Do you reckon this is enough stock, or do I need lots more (bearing in mind it isn’t going to be a huge event)? I’ve never done anything like this before, so have no idea! Aargh!

There is no definitive answer but we’ve put together some points to consider when making stock and deciding what to take to a craft fair.

Featured image: Marna Lunt’s stall at the Weekend of the Maker

craft fair secrets, how much stock do you need to bring?

1. Think through to the end of the day…

The answer is not as simple as just lots or “enough to make your display look good”, although of course that’s also a key factor. Most craft fair organisers will ask you not to pack up before the end of the fair, so you need to have enough stock to replenish sold items and keep your display looking good right until the end of the day. You don’t want to be left with an empty-looking display.

It’s important to have plenty of stock under the table to replace sold items. Although it’s quite tricky for me because each of my ceramic pieces are one-offs. So I display as many as I can without my stall looking overcrowded. After all, if I had a piece under the table that a customer really liked, but they didn’t know about it because it was under the table, I could be missing out on a sale. – Charlotte Hupfield Ceramics

2. Set a timescale and budget for making new stock

Most craft fairs will be booked well in advance, so you should have plenty of time to think about the products you need to make. Set yourself a goal and deadline for producing your stock. Set your deadline as far in advance of the fair as possible, so you’re not frantically making extra pieces the night before, but be realistic about how long each piece takes to make so you don’t push yourself too hard.

Consider your budget too. Craft fairs can be expensive (the cost of the stall, props for your display, business cards, possibly a banner, bags for happy customers to take their purchases home in…) and if you’re making lots of new products that probably means you’ll need to buy more materials. It all adds up! So set yourself a budget, keep a record of your spending and stick to it. The more products you can make, the more you’ll have to sell, and potentially the more money you’ll make. But if you spend too much getting ready for the fair, you’ll put extra pressure on yourself to sell on the day and that could lead to a very stressful event.

3. Don’t forget to budget for craft fair essentials

You also need to leave plenty of time and money to consider all the other details you need at a fair, such as price labels, banners and your display, so your items are well presented and you have the best chance of selling more on the day. Take a quick look at Zoe Bateman’s Craft Fair Survival Kit – a great list of all the little things that are easy to forget when you’re focused on being creative!

4. Consider which products will work best at which fair

Just as different craft fairs are right for different sellers, different products sell better at different craft fairs. A lot of knowing which products sell best where is down to experience, so keep a record of what you have sold at which fair, and then use that as a reference next time you have a stall at the same market or in the same area.

Visit the craft fair beforehand if you can to see what the customers are like, how busy the fair is, which stalls seem to be the most popular and what the other stallholders are selling. The organiser should also have figures about their demographic, and you can also follow them on their social media channels – a look through their posts to see which have gained the most attention should give you an idea about the kind of customers they attract and which products they are most drawn to.

5. Cover different points

As well as your own past experience, there are other factors that can help you determine what kind of products you should bring. The average age and income bracket of the people attending the craft fair will help to determine what range of stock you should be making. Try to bring a mix of stock to suit people’s various budgets.

Making more of your smaller, more inexpensive items may pay off at smaller events where people are unlikely to be carrying a lot of cash but may impulse buy with what they have. Even at larger fairs where people may bring more money, your less costly items can be used as ‘add ons’ to sell on top of your mid-price or more expensive pieces.

6. Consider the season

When deciding what products to bring to a craft fair, think about what people will be looking for from your product range at this time of year. Do you make any products that could be tailored or displayed to target the season and any special occasions coming up at the time of your fair? Make extra if you do. But be careful, will these products still be desirable at a different time of year? For example, using Christmas fabrics for purses could seem like a fabulous idea but if they don’t sell you could be left with unwanted stock. So it may be wiser to make your display look Christmassy and stick to creating products that will sell well all year round.

7. Consider the length of the fair and size of the display

Is the fair one of two days long, or just a few hours? For example, if you estimate that you will have on average three sales an hour then you will need to have at the very least 18 items for a six-hour fair and you need to be able to replace each of these items at least once on the table, so that gives you 36 items. It can’t possibly be an exact science as it depends on the size of your stock and the intricacy of your craft.

If you are selling small items, then you may need lots more pieces laid out in order to fill your table display. Hopefully a few calculations about the space available and the hours selling will give you a rough estimate of the minimum quantity of stock required for your craft event!

8. Do you have other fairs booked?

There are some times of year when you may be doing a lot of fairs, one after another, so you need to make sure you have enough stock in reserve for those fairs.(Just in case of a sell-out day!) This is especially important around Christmas when your online shop may be busy too. Make as much stock as you can in advance to reduce stress and, as mentioned earlier, be realistic about how much stock you can make in a limited timeframe between fairs. It may be cautious to leave a percentage of your made-up pieces at home.

9. Bring a catalogue or iPad showing all your designs

Sometimes you might not have exactly what a customer is looking for – it could be that you left that particular product at home, that haven’t had time to make everything up, that you’ve sold out of that product or that you can make something similar – or that they might not be in a position to order on the day. Having catalogue or even a postcard that they can take away can help you here, and could lead to an order later on.

Making a catalogue with good quality images of your range is an excellent way of showing your full range of products, especially if you are selling really well at the fair. If you’re happy to take orders on the day, remember to bring order forms and a receipt book with you – and make a note of the customer’s contact details and any deposit paid. You want to appear professional and organised to gain the trust of customers, so give them a firm lead time and always make sure you have the materials or can get hold of them before accepting an order.

As an alternative to a paper catalogue or printed products, you could take along your iPad and store your product images on there. Or simply show them your Folksy shop! Some sellers bring their laptops and set up a slide show of their designs – but check you have a power point first.

Find more craft fair tips in our Craft Fair Secrets series > 

Image credits: Seaforth Designs

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Suzy Taylor June 28, 2010 - 8:18 am

I’m doing my first ever fair later this year and this Craft Fair Secrets series is so helpful. Looking forward to the next one. Thanks so much!

Deb June 28, 2010 - 8:19 am

Brilliant tips, thank you. I’ve been careful to space my craft fairs out to one a month this year, because I was worried about having a sell-out day and then having nothing left to sell at the next fair if it was only the next week or something. I can realistically only make about 2 bags, 2 shells and 2 keyrings a week so obviously that’s not enough!

I never thought about keeping some back, so that’s a great tip, thanks.

I like the idea of the display book too – might try and get one together before my next fair.

Thanks for this post, it’s great!

Jax June 28, 2010 - 10:21 am

This is such a great series of posts, really useful, so is the checklist!
Quernus had a digita photo frame at the Keighley Folksy Party which is another great idea!
Can’t wait for the table displays next week!

joa jewellery June 28, 2010 - 10:43 am

Wonderful! I have 2 craft fairs lined up and I was in need of some advice.


Victoria June 28, 2010 - 12:27 pm

Great post, I’ve been grappling with the idea of having enough stock too! Looking forward to reading your next post about tables.

Clare's Creations June 28, 2010 - 1:11 pm

This was really helpful, thankyou x

Daisymooo June 28, 2010 - 6:32 pm

Hi. good advise, we’ve done 3 Craft Fayres so far and we normally put all our stock out on the table, and the table does look pretty crammed and i suppose people don’t really know were to look first, so in future we will be leaving some of the stock in the case. Looking forward to reading next weeks tips, Thanks very much xx

amyorangejuice June 28, 2010 - 7:59 pm

LOVING this series! x

Lizzyanthus June 28, 2010 - 9:23 pm

Thanks. This is very helpful. I like the idea of the slideshow / presentation and catalogues. We normally use postcards with a selection of product images.

The advise about holding back stock, so that it can be used to refresh the table layout throughout the fair, is ideal. Also, by including the stallholders’ concerns about this, it gives a very real perspective on shows and their preparation.

We’ll definitely be checking this series again – in the run-up to our next show. Thanks again.

Konnie Kapow June 29, 2010 - 2:33 pm

I agree that these articles are really helpful. I wish I had seen them before I started doing fairs as I barely slept the night before my first one!
I did a fair a few months ago where I brought 5 or 6 of a brand new design to see how they went and sold out within the first hour. We had a real debate about whether to go home (not too far) and get more or would the cost of that outweigh what we would make?
We didn’t go home for them but brought loads to the next fair and didn’t sell one! You just can’t tell!
The seasonal advice really applies to card makers like me though, it can be a bit more difficult when you don’t have an ‘event’ or ‘season’ like mid summer though!
Keep up the good work Folksy Folks!

Folksy Blog – Craft Fair Secrets… September 15, 2010 - 11:14 am

[…] sell those, they’re amazing” after receiving a gorgeous handmade gift. The reality of producing enough stock for a fair right away could be quite daunting, especially if you have been making items on a one […]

FridayClub October 7, 2010 - 9:47 am

Very useful, thank you – wish I’d bothered to find it a few weeks ago. Good idea of product book and I like the photo frame – will think about that. I guess there’s some that run on batteries now….

FridayClub October 7, 2010 - 9:47 am

Very useful, thank you – wish I’d bothered to find it a few weeks ago. Good idea of product book and I like the photo frame – will think about that. I guess there’s some that run on batteries now….

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