Friday, 26 August 2011

Creating Attractive Displays for Craft Fairs

Following on from last week's post, here are some ideas for setting up your stall!

Jewellery, by it's very nature, is pretty 'flat' - so just laying out your wares doesn't work that well. It's hard to attract customers if they have to look down at a table of items - however beautiful they are! Your stall is your 'shop window' so why not go to town!

You can spend a fortune on plastic display items - those fake hands and heads(!), but why not think a bit laterally and upcycle some items? Your display is a powerful way to get customers over to you, so have a think about who you are trying to appeal to.

If your items are for children, then think about how you can get them to take a look. I once saw a cute painted mini chest of drawers (Ikea sell them as desk organisers!) with cuddly toys sat around and sticking out of the drawers. All the toys were wearing the items that the stall holder was selling, and sitting around leaning against the drawer unit. The seller also had a shelving unit painted to look like a dolls house, and she had pinned items to the edges of the shelves. The whole stall was three dimensional and fun.

For a more 'grown up' display, think about how you can display items so that your customers can look 'up and around' . How about a patio umbrella decorated with fairy lights? Hook your creations under the canopy and round the edges using crystal string, or fishing nylon as a 'washing line'. If there is room, run some lines from your umbrella, to the wall, or edge of your unit.

I have seen lots of props put to good use - bicycles, bird cages, tailors dummies, 'junk' furniture, coat racks.... The limit is the size of your car! Have a look in charity shops for interesting teapots, trays & lamps to 'stage' your makes.

Another successful use of space is to buy cheap pin or cork boards and cover them with a dark cloth. Hang these on the wall behind your stand and pin on bigger pieces.

If you have no time because your craft fair is tomorrow, don't despair! Here's some quick fixes to help you avoid 'flat table' syndrome:

  • Grab the mirror off your dressing table, give it a clean and take it with you!

  • If there is room in the car, take a floor lamp, preferably one with a shade - and display your items on the shade

  • Cover different sized empty cardboard boxes in wrapping paper (or even plain white paper) and arrange your jewellery on them

  • Have a look in your cupboards for any vases or china that could be used as props.

  • Use 'tupperware' type containers *underneath* your cloth. Sellotape them to the table and then drape the cloth over. (The cloth may need securing with picnic clips) Instant hills and valleys :-)

The above tips will have your stall looking amazing - but there are a couple of other tricks to try too:

Firstly - while I know you want to wear your trusty jeans and a jumper, consider wearing a special 'fair outfit'. No, I'm not suggesting you go as a pantomime cow... but do have a think about what you could wear. If your designs reflect a time, for example 50s retro, then co ordinating your outfit adds to the sense of the occasion.

Secondly - provide an 'extra' service. Remember that if your stall is busy, other people will come over to see what is going on! A service provides the opportunity to 'create a crowd' - if you have a helper, consider offering things like 'pick your beads & we'll make you a bracelet' or offer to swap pierced ear wires for clip ons. If you're on your own, you can still offer gift boxes and organza bags. Get your customer involved in choosing the packaging too. These services add value, without costing you anything, and mean that people are more inclined to browse, or wait at your stall. While they're waiting, other people will be curious, and come over too! It's true - I don't know why, but it definitely works. These extra services are really useful if you are nervous about talking to people, they give you an instant 'something' to talk about, and are a bit more original than 'Can I help you'

I hope you can put these display tips to good use. Next week we'll look at pricing your makes & take a closer look at your image and growing your brand.
Have a restful weekend!

Friday, 19 August 2011

Autumn Craft Fairs

If you make jewellery to sell, then this time of year is 'ramp up production' time for all the forthcoming Autumn and Christmas Fairs. I don't want to be the one to bring this up, but there are a limited number of weekends available between now and Christmas!

Here at , we are often asked for advice about Craft Fairs, so here are some pointers. Do feel free to add your own top tips!

There are lots of Fairs and Markets and the number of events will steadily increase between now and Christmas, so happy trading!

  • Top Tip - go as a visitor to the more expensive venues. Check out the crowds, and the amount of sales. Ask other stall holders how they got on. Sometimes exclusive venues are well worth the cost of a table. I live very close to a few of these type of sales and they are always packed with people trying to buy nice Christmas presents. Quite often these venues also charge your customers to come in - so they're high quality leads for you, and motivated shoppers! You can offer (and charge for) additional services at more expensive venues - giftwrapping, personalisation, bespoke items for example. If you do take a stand, do consider making some 'demonstration' items while you are at the show - it's a talking point for your customers. Here's some premium venues nearby to the mad cows, but they take place all over the UK, so just 'google' :-) :

Westonbirt Arboretum Westonbirt School Charity Fair Mary Howard Sales

  • Top Tip - contact organisers before booking a table. There are lots of people selling jewellery and organisers may restrict the number of jewellery stalls. Before booking, see if they have a place for you. If it is a fair that you really would like to do, ask to be put on a waiting list. Sometimes organisers will also have a 'short notice' list - this means that if someone drops out, you can be called the day before with the offer of a stand. Ask the organisers how many jewellery stands there are. If there are lots of other jewellers, visit the fair first. How different are your items? Can you offer something different in terms of style, price or type of items? For example, there may be several stalls selling bracelets and earrings, but could you carve a niche with bagcharms, keyrings and brooches perhaps? SouthWest Fairs are definitely worth a look for Gloucestershire/Wilts/Somerset venues.

  • Top Tip - share with a friend. If you have a friend who makes things too, why not exhibit together? This means you needn't worry about covering the stall if you need the loo, or a cup of coffee. It's also good company and will help your confidence if this is your first show. However - a word of warning... chatting behind your stall results in no sales and is easily done. There is plenty of time to talk to each other at other times, so be very careful to be friendly and talk to all your customers. If you chat to each other, customers will often not want to 'interrupt' to ask about any items.

  • Top Tip - write a list! On the morning of the show it will be early, you may be nervous and you have LOTS to do. Write a checklist, and just work through the list. It will keep you calm, and make sure everything gets packed into the car. Here's a few pointers for your list, but you will need to add your own 'essentials' - check what is provided by the venue as you may not always get a table and a chair!:

Mirrors; Extra lights & extension cable; Plain cloth; Display stands; Stock (yes, it has happened!); Cash tin with a change float or money belt; calculator; bags; giftwrap; appropriate clothing and shoes (it may be COLD. You may have to stand up all day with a smile!) Food / drink.

I hope these tips have got you thinking about your Fair Campaign this Autumn. Next time we'll look at displaying your makes, pricing and talking to customers.

Have a great weekend