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



Anonymous said...

Thank you very much for those great tips, best of luck for the forthcoming season :)

Sue said...

Really good tips here. Particularly about creating a checklist. I have a permanent checklist which I add to as things come to me. Money is near the top since my first pamper evening when I didn't take any money other than that in my purse. Fortunately it was held in a place with a bar and they were kind enough to help! I always have a supply of £1 and £2 coins and £5 notes if I can.

Rose said...

All good tips. Could anyone comment on Public Liability insurance? Do we need it and where would you find a reasonable quote?

Georgie said...

Hi Thanks Rose - I will do some more research for you. I found joining the Federation of Small Businesses was worthwhile because of savings on card processing and insurance, I'd say that was a good thing to check out :-)

Watch this space then!

Louise said...

Hi Rose!
I have just recently purchased liability insurance through the policy is with Aviva and the payments are monthly which is great! I'm paying just under £9 a month for public liability up to the value of £5million which is what a lot of venues ask that you have.
Hope this helps!

Anonymous said...

Do you have to be registered for anything to be able to sell at fairs

Georgie said...

Hi Ref - registration - I'm not quite sure what you mean, but if you're selling your items then, generally, you're a business, not just a 'hobby' so yes, you would need to register with HMRC etc. you can do this online - it's very simple. This would apply to any selling activities (parties, eBay, folksy, commissions, shop etc) not just fairs.

If that wasn't what you meant, then please post a bit more info and I'll try and help you (or point you in the right direction!)