CRAFT FAIR CHECKLIST
What are the essentials you need to remember when selling at craft fairs? We asked craft fair experts Sinead Koehler, co-founder of phenomenal Crafty Fox Market, and Victoria Woodcock, curator of the inspirational BUST Craftacular fairs, to share their tips and put together this essential craft fair checklist. So next time you’re getting ready for a craft fair, or if it’s your first time selling at a market, have a look through this handy guide first, tick these 12 points off your checklist and you’re good to go.
Photograph of a Crafty Fox Market by Yeshen Venema
The essential craft fair checklist – featuring tips from Crafty Fox Market and Craftacular
1. Tell your fans about the craft fair as soon as possible
As soon as you hear that you’ve been accepted for a craft fair, start talking about it to drum up interest and let people know you’ll be there. The more sellers who talk about an event, the bigger the footfall will be. “Use social media and your mailing list (if you have one) to promote your involvement in the event,” advises Sinead. “Fans of your work will want to visit the fair and meet you in person. Talking about the event on social media beforehand can also be a useful way to connect with other makers.”
2. Practise your table display at home
“The more visually arresting your stall, the more people will remember your work,” says Victoria, and practise makes perfect. So find the measurements of the table from the craft fair organisers and mock-up your display at home. Use suitable props that work with your brand and aesthetic to complement your products, and add height to your display so there is something to see at different levels. Look at your display from all angles to check there are no weak spots. Take a photo of your final display on your phone so you have a picture to work from on the day.
3. Design a beautiful banner that shows off your brand
With so many stalls at fairs, it can be hard to see who’s who, so use your crafting skills to design a beautiful banner or sign that clearly displays your brand name. “A craft fair stall needs a highly visible name banner,” says Victoria. “A good banner will help visitors remember your brand name. The last time I went to a big craft fair I noticed that with lots of the stalls I liked I couldn’t work out the name of the brand without asking.”
4. Create a craft fair survival kit
Make a craft fair survival kit containing all the little things you’ll need for the fair, and have it ready to go for every fair you do. Knowing you have the essentials packed will help ease any stress leading up to the craft fair. “Things to include are a float, pens, business cards, bottles of water, snacks, blu-tac, scissors, and something to do in any downtime,” recommends Victoria.
“My survival kit consists of all the things you might happen to need – scissors, string, strong tape, chewing gum or mints, a bottle of water, tissues, wet wipes, a pen, and a small notebook,” says craft fair regular Zoe Bateman from Ladybird Likes. “You’d be surprised how many last-minute problems can be solved with these simple items!”
“My craft fair survival list would include a tablecloth, price labels, bags, a card reader, directions to the venue, and a positive attitude!” adds Sinead.
5. Make sure you can carry everything!
How are you getting to the fair? How much do you need to carry? Will it all fit in your car or if you’re going by public transport are you bags light enough to carry? How will you get your products from the car to your table? Do you need a trolley to help you? “Getting all this organised in advance – even doing a trial run for your packing – will make the journey less stressful,” advises Victoria. “For the first BUST Craftacular fair in 2008 we gave away 100 goodie bags, which I stuffed with all the goodies at home and packed them into two big bags,” she remembers. “Turns out they were really heavy. On the morning of the fair I couldn’t even lift them into the taxi. Nightmare. Frantic repacking!”
6. Know exactly where you’re going and when to arrive
It sounds obvious but “make sure you know how to get to the venue and what time to arrive,” advises Sinead. If you’re arriving by car check where you can unload and park, and programme the correct destination into your Sat Nav before you set off. Print out a map in case your phone battery or signal dies – and leave yourself plenty of time for traffic jams and late-running trains!
7. Price your work
Work out your price list in advance and make sure all your products are clearly priced. “Some people might be too scared to ask about your work or pricing, so it helps if they can find out this info by themselves,” explains Victoria. Victoria and Sinead both advise keeping prices the same at craft fairs as they are in your online shop. “Prices should be largely consistent online and at markets,” explains Sinead, although as Folksy seller Debbie Greenaway points out, “craft fair special prices always help with new or discontinued makes.” Folksy seller Sarah from Eskimo Circus agrees: “Prices should be the same at craft fairs are they are online. You can maybe offer special deals but don’t anger buyers who do buy and then look online.”
8. Bring business cards
There are lots of reasons why people might not be able to buy on the day, but having a business card makes it easier for them to find you online later. Business cards are also great to give customers who do buy from you at a craft fair – you can even write a discount code they can use in your online shop as an extra thank you.
[Did you know Folksy sellers can get 20% off the entire range of business cards from Moo? Details here >]
9. Do you need a card reader?
A card reader can be a really good idea if you sell more expensive products or if there isn’t a cash point near the venue. Having a card reader can also encourage customers to buy more than one thing from you at a craft fair. Some customers even expect stallholders to now take cards. “I’ve seen demand for card payments increase in the past three years,” notes craft fair regular Debbie Greenaway. If you do have a card-reader, make sure you bring it (!) as well as a sign to say you accept payments by card and a charger (or spare batteries) for both the card reader and your phone.
[Folksy sellers get a special discount on SumUp card readers. Details here >]
10. Update your online shop and social media so you’re ready for extra traffic
“Taking part in a market will often lead to a spike in online sales,” points out Sinead. “So make sure your online shop is up to date and fully stocked, and that all your social media links work.” There might be customers who couldn’t buy from you at the fair but look you up online when they get back home, so rather than putting your whole shop in holiday mode, hide any one-off items (or products that can’t easily be replicated) while you’re at the craft fair, so you still have buyable products but you don’t end up selling something twice that you can’t repeat!
11. Be prepared with some conversation starters
“Taking part in a market offers more than a simple selling opportunity,” explains Sinead. “It’s also a chance get to know your customers, gather feedback on your products and build your mailing list so that you can keep in touch.” But learning how to communicate well with customers – when to talk and when to hold back – takes practise. So have some conversation starters ready and be prepared to talk about yourself and your work. “You need to steer clear of acting like a fruit seller, but you do need to engage with people and have ideas for conversation,” suggests Folksy content and community manager Hilary Pullen. Getting the balance right can be tricky. “I always smile, but never hassle or jump on customers,” says Kim Lawler from Finest Imaginary. “I hate that ‘hustle’ approach as a customer.”
“Be approachable, smily and friendly but not over-zealous,” advises Victoria. “People generally want to browse at their own pace; some people are more chatty than others. After a little while you’ll work out when to hang back and when to jump in. And have fun! Because you’ll have a good day (even if you don’t sell much), and people like to see other people having fun! It’s a selling tool too!”
12. Talk to fellow stallholders
“Make friends with fellow makers and keep in touch after the event,” recommends Sinead. “They can be a really useful resource when you have questions about your business.” Craft fairs are a brilliant way to build your network and make genuine friends.
Photo credits: Melanie Chadwick from Mellybee