39 Words of Wisdom for those new to Craft Fairs
By Joy Ireland
Copyright 2015 Joy Ireland
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My name is Joy Ireland; I am a multi-passionate entrepreneur who has been attending markets and fairs as a stall holder since I was a small child helping my Dad.
I have compiled a list of things that I often get asked about by clients who are attending their first markets, in the hope that I can make your market experience an enjoyable one. I blog at and I am just launching my reviews site.
Read to the end for an extra Thank you.
Weigh up the stall cost vs. the profit on your goods to see if you can realistically make a profit. Let’s say the site fees is $100 and you are selling handmade soap for $4 per bar. Assuming the soaps cost $2 to make; you have a profit of $2. You need to sell 50 bars of soap before you cover your site fees. Carefully consider this before attending any market or fair.
Ensure you know any rules of the event, what promotion you can and can’t do before registering.
Plan your booth or stall layout carefully to encourage customers to move through and browse your items.
Decide if and how you can combat shoplifting. Maybe you can place more expensive items behind glass, in a case or at the rear of the stall where you can watch them closely.
Try and bring a friend, to help cover bathroom breaks, lunch runs and busy periods. If you can’t find someone to help all day, organise a few people at different times.
Be careful who you choose, make sure they know how to behave, I don’t want to sound rude, but that friend that swears in public probably isn’t the best choice for customers to see as the face of your business
Make a checklist of everything you need to take.
Use Pinterest for display ideas, you never know what you will have around your home.
Practise your display at least once at home.
If you are attending outdoor events without a gazebo, take at the very least a plastic cover to cover everything, you NEVER know if it will rain. Oh and an umbrella to cover yourself.
Remember to greet and thank the organizers, be friendly; they are a wealth of knowledge when it comes to upcoming events, tips for success and what works well at their shows. You never know if the next event will be fully booked, who do you think will get the first available spot? That lovely stallholder that was so polite or that lady that complained a lot.
Even if you are usually shy, be open and friendly with your customers, let them know you’re approachable, and then let them lead the conversation. A simple “hi, how are you?” Will open the channels of communication.
As soon as your budget allows get good signage, preferably before your first event, you want to stand out from the crowd.
Selling is a hard art to master, if someone shows interest in a particular product, sell that product to them. Too many choices and they may simply leave, it might be there first stop to your booth but they may have already looked at 50 other items.
Ensure you look your best on the day and don’t be afraid to go out on a limb, is you design clothing wear it, if you make funky one of a kind jewellery dress in an outfit that suits your items. How does the palm reader get people who have no interest get people to use her service? By creating the complete package.
Hold a giveaway, if you’re allowed, the extra foot traffic and exposure are worth it.
Offer a goody trail. Team up with a few other stall holders and print some tickets to stop off at each stall and answer a question, pick up a gift at the other end. Even if the gift is vouchers to spend at the participating stalls.
Once you have someone committed to the sale, offer them a complimentary product as an upsell, if the item they purchase has a matching item offer it to them slightly discounted.
Ensure you collect email addresses; perhaps offer them a discount for signing up or a special giveaway.
Try to offer three different price points to cater to everyone’s budget.
Take heaps of business cards, if you wander and network with other stallholders, hand out as many as you can, offer them to customers who show interest but don’t purchase, put one in with EVERY sale.
Ensure you have enough float and the right kind. If all of prices are whole dollars with no discounts, you don’t need small coins. I always found even at slow shows, $200 was a bare minimum.
Have more inventory than you need, even if it’s not all on display. You can refill displays as items sell, or offer colour alternatives to interested customers.
Create inviting tags and make sure everything has a displayed price; this saves embarrassment for the customer that can’t afford, and leaves you free to sell to the next customer.
Create interest by using height and colour within your display.
Consider creating a catalogue to have on display especially if there is option of custom orders.
Aside from the usual stationary you need, make sure you have a notebook handy, you may need to follow up with a customer, be told about a sale or hear of an upcoming event.
Consider your audience, if it’s a fete at a school; create a product of interest to children even if you don’t normally stock it. Cute small ideas can be found on Pinterest.
Will having EFTPOS help your sales? PayPal offer great options and most major banks now have apps that can accept payments. More info on credit card options can be found .
Remember you are there to interact with your customers. The only time your phone should be visible is to take pictures of your set up for future shows, or to process a payment, if you are too busy on Facebook, your customers are probably too busy to stop also.
Never leave an empty chair visible, this is all Gertrude needs to spend the afternoon telling you about Aunt Mable’s diabetes.
If your items are mostly given as gifts rather than for the buyer, perhaps only attend markets and fairs just before holidays.
Invest in a nice rug, even for outdoor events, it makes your stall seem really inviting, and shows you put effort into your site.
If appropriate have balloons as interest for your stall, give them away to any children that visit. If you’re feeling extra creative buy the balloon sticks and write your business name and site number on them or draw your logo.
Take a receipt book, in case a customer wants proof of purchase.
Keep your area clean, dispose of rubbish promptly and store excess items hidden under tables.
Prepare a few spiels for your most popular items so if customers ask about them you are prepared.
Don’t be disheartened if your sales weren’t great but everyone else is saying they had a great day. Hand makers are an optimistic and proud bunch; they are unlikely to tell you even if it was a bad day.
Have FUN, experiment, and if fairs just aren’t working for you, stop going. This is your business; put your effort where you get the most results.
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