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

So far in this series of craft fair tips we have discussed how much to pay for a craft market, the worry of not selling anything and we’ve also had some great advice from crafty event organisers on what makes a good fair. We still have a few issues to discuss and perhaps the most important factor of selling handmade at a craft market is your stock!

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

Ok, so I now have 24 bracelets, 15 pairs of earrings, 2 keyrings and 1 necklace… (will make a few more necklaces at the weekend) do you reckon this is enough stock, or do I need lots more? (bearing in mind it is’nt going to be a huge event). I’ve never done anything like this before, so have no idea! Aargh! Aranelwen

So how much stock do you need to make for a craft fair?

The answer is not as simple as just lots or “enough to make your display look good” although of course that is also a key factor. (We’ll be discussing table displays next week).   Many craft fair organisers will ask you not to pack up before the end of the fair, so you need to think about stock control as well as just what can cover your table. You don’t want to be left with an empty looking display too early on. As well as researching which fair your work will sell well at you should consider which of your handmade products are likely to sell well on the day.

I think it is important to have plenty of stock under the table to replace sold items with. Although this is quite tricky for me because each of my ceramic pieces are complete one-offs, I like to try and 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 they hadn’t seen it with it being under the table, I could be missing out on a sale. Charlotte Hupfield Ceramics

Most craft fairs will be booked well in advance so you will hopefully have plenty of time to think about the products you need to make. If possible set yourself budgets and goals well in advance for producing your stock. Be realistic about how long each piece takes you to make and the cost and quantity of the materials you need. It could leave you feeling stressed out and disappointed if you underestimate the time and costs involved (not good for productivity or creativity!).

You also need to leave plenty of time to consider all the other details you need at a fair such as labels, banners and your display in order that your items are well presented and given the best chance to sell on the day. More about these important details in next weeks post, in the mean time why not take a quick look at Charlotte’s Craft Fair essentials checklist a great list of all the little things that are easy to forget when you’re focussed on being creative!

The following are few important points to consider when deciding on the stock needed for your craft fair:

The number of hours selling and the size of the display

Is the fair 1 or 2 days, or just a few hours? For example, if you estimated you will have on average 3 sales an hour then you will need to have at the very least 18 items for a 6hr 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!

Price points

The average age / income bracket of the people attending the craft fair will help to determine what range of stock you should be making for an upcoming craft show. Try to bring a mix of stock to suit peoples 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.

The season

What will peope 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 the purses you sell could seem like a fabulous idea but it may be wise to make your display Christmassy and stick to creating products that will sell well all year round.

Do you have other fairs booked in the near future?

For example if you have booked three fairs in the run up to Christmas do you have enough pieces that you can reserve a minimum for the upcoming fairs. (Just in case of a sell out day!) As mentioned earlier be realistic about how much stock you can make in a limited time frame between fairs. It may be cautious to leave a percentage of your made up pieces at home.

Product books/catalogues of your designs

Making up a folder with good quality images of your range is an excellent way of showing your full range of products, especially if you haven’t had time to make everything up or you are selling really well on the day. Customers will appreciate being given firm lead times if they order from you at the fair. Remember to bring order forms and receipt books with you and ensure to note down your stock of supplies before you leave for the fair. You want to appear professional and organised to gain the trust of customers. Being confident that you have a certain fabric, bead or yarn in stock may result in an extra commission on the day. You can of course always just direct them to your Folksy shop!  Some crafts people bring their laptops and set up a slide show of their designs – check you have a power point first!

Next week we’ll be looking at how to make a great display!  Watch out in the forums for a thread where you can contribute your ideas and advice.

This article is one of a series of articles from Folksy featuring tips and advice on how to sell at craft fairs – the images used are taken from items for sale at www.folksy.com Click images for more details. Email hilary@folksy.co.uk if you have an idea for a future article.

13 Comments

  • Reply June 28, 2010

    Suzy Taylor

    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!

  • Reply June 28, 2010

    Deb

    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!

  • Reply June 28, 2010

    Jax

    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!

  • Reply June 28, 2010

    joa jewellery

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

    Thanks!

  • Reply June 28, 2010

    Victoria

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

  • Reply June 28, 2010

    Clare's Creations

    This was really helpful, thankyou x

  • Reply June 28, 2010

    Daisymooo

    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

  • Reply June 28, 2010

    amyorangejuice

    LOVING this series! x

  • Reply June 28, 2010

    Lizzyanthus

    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.

  • Reply June 29, 2010

    Konnie Kapow

    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!

  • [...] 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 [...]

  • Reply October 7, 2010

    FridayClub

    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….

  • Reply October 7, 2010

    FridayClub

    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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