Craft Fair: Crafted by Hand
Reviewer: Jane Duke from Stoneflower
Date: 27th October 2013
Venue: Masham Town Hall, North Yorkshire
Cost of stall: £50
Entrance fee: £1.50
Crowd: Mainly age 30-60, interested, knowledgeable, eager to talk to stallholders.
Footfall: Excellent in morning, affected later in day by freak weather, though even then busier than other fairs I’ve attended.
Sales: Very good in morning – I’m pretty sure it would have continued that way if not for the weather.
Would you do it again? Yes please!
My Stoneflower stall
I have to start this review with a disclaimer; unfortunately this fair fell on the day the nation was being whipped into a panic with reports of the approaching St Jude storm. Now while Yorkshire folk are not generally known for a tendency to panic, it’s likely that some had already been put off driving out into the picturesque dales even before the skies turned black and the rain started falling horizontally (forcing the abandonment of the outside gazebos and demonstrations of crafts like blacksmithing). There’s little doubt the weather had an effect on footfall and sales.
BUT despite all that – it was still a great day!
Agnis Smallwood’s stall
This has to be the best organised event I have ever attended. There was lots of information and communication leading up to the day, including floor plans so you knew where you were going to be (makes such a difference) and a map for parking. Fellow sellers are behind the event and it really shows in the way they put themselves in the stallholders’ shoes and anticipate their needs. From the small army of volunteers with trolleys to unload your car for you, to the mobile number to call if you need someone to come and look after your stand while you nip away for a moment, the Creative Masham team have thought of everything.
The venue is a traditional Yorkshire town hall and the main room is upstairs. This is not a problem for the stallholders as there is a lift (and, of course, the volunteer trolley-pushers) and, judging by the footfall, not a problem for visitors either. There was a café downstairs run by the WI (fab cakes), along with a few stalls in the smaller ground floor rooms. The hall is next to a large car park so visitor access couldn’t be easier. (Exhibitors move their cars to another nearby location).
The fair was staged for the first time just last year but made an instant impact on the Yorkshire event circuit. More than one stallholder had described it to me as their ‘favourite fair’ and so I was thrilled to be selected when I applied this year. Masham (pronounced Massem) is well known in the area for its buzzing arts scene and the fair was just one event in the Masham Arts Festival running all week. There had been wide publicity with quirky and distinctive advertising and lots of social media activity. The fair is a destination event rather than one relying on passing trade, and as a result the visitors were interested, knowledgeable buyers who had made a conscious decision to be there and were going to spend time looking around. They were confident about what they liked and comfortable with asking questions and talking to stallholders. Lots of individual and eye-catching coats, hats, bags and accessories could be seen among the crowd – these are people who appreciate style, originality and craftsmanship and who like to buy away from the high street (perfect Folksy customers in fact!).
Kate Bowles‘ stand
Folksy was well represented; stalls included Kate Bowles with her exquisite handmade books, Agnis Smallwood’s beautiful hand-woven textiles, the funky felt accessories of Made by Lolly and the gorgeous recycled textile pieces of Daisy Florence Design. Also a special mention for the inventive Andy Poplar of Vinegar & Brown Paper who was a speaker at the Folksy Summer School this year. Overall there was a really good mix of stands and a lot of thought had been given to the layout to keep it interesting and varied – something that was appreciated by customers judging by feedback I got afterwards. Free demonstrations and opportunities to try crafts were being offered too which helped to keep visitors engaged.
Made by Lolly‘s stall
I think people were more into Christmas present buying mode than I had anticipated (perhaps because I always leave my own shopping until December!). So next year, assuming they will have me back, I will take more of my lower and mid price-point items and leave my bigger investment pieces behind. I was delighted with the response to my hand-printed and waxed Christmas bunting, which was a product so new I only finished packaging it at 10pm the night before. It was a hit – hurrah! There was lots of interest in my workshop leaflets too and a day later I already had new bookings as a result of conversations at my stall.
Vinegar & Brown Paper‘s inventive display
I would unhesitatingly recommend this event to other sellers. Stallholders were given a feedback form which asked if we’d be interested in a two-day event and/or a spring date as well as autumn in the future. A big YES to both from me.
If you’re selling at a craft fair and fancy writing a review, let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org