Selling at Craft Fairs

Last year I attended two crafts fairs as a seller, my first since I began wet felting, and I would like to share with you a few of the tips that I believe have helped me enormously.  You have put a lot of time and hard work into making your pieces, so why wouldn’t you want to show them to their full potential?

Is your stall coherent, does it have a theme ?

This advice for me at least is key.  What are you selling ? Whatever it is, wool, glass, wood etc, I firmly believe that if a customer has to stand in front of your stall and try to fathom what it is you are selling, their interest will wane very quickly and they will move on, I would.  They are there to have a pleasant relaxing browse, not to have to work things out.  This was the case at one of the fairs I attended, a fellow stall holder and friend came and said their takings were non existent for the day, and in her words she thought this was down to their stall being a ‘jumble’ of different things.

Here is a view of my stall.  I would have loved to put the picture easel you can see on the left at the back, to the side of my table, but space didn’t allow.  It is rather large but a great display stand (salvaged free from a shop that was throwing it away!)  It was still visible enough to happily sell both of the pictures shown though.  I just tried not to stand in front of it!  I was lucky to be able to suction cup my wall hangings onto the windows too, and I sold three.

CRAFT STALL ONE

Does your stall have variations in height?

This is also very important in my opinion.  If I stood in front of a craft stall and saw a flat table, my eyes would skim over it all in seconds.  Height adds interest and variety, your gaze will linger longer due to the different sections of the table, and then in case you have missed something, you will look over it all again.   I covered a long wooden box with a cream bed sheet and staple gunned it taught.  This was extra useful as it was left open at the back and this is where I stored bags, sellotape, scissors etc.  This can be seen in the next picture, with the tea cosies standing on it.   I also had the loan of a table top easel for my canvas wall hangings, this was just perfect and looked good.  I am lucky enough to have a card stand too, which displays the cards better than if they were in a box on the table.   One person can rummage in a card box, two or three people can explore a card stand, at the same height they are.   Alongside all of that I had a table top stand that I hung my bags on, creating more height too.

CRAFT STALL TWO

The use of cake stands will add height too, and also look pretty and be a little different.  These two were used for my felted soaps and pincushions.  I have since swapped my cake stands for glass only ones as I think they show the product better than a ceramic plate.  You learn as you go along.

SOAPS CAKE STAND

PINCUSIONS

Picnic baskets create height and also look good.  You could lay one flat and closed on the table with the other open on top with your wares.  A great option if you are going for a rustic look.

FELTED SOAPS

Table coverings

I am guessing,  but on the whole I think a lot people would automatically go for a brilliant white or cream tablecloth.  Think about this carefully in relation to your display.  I knew white would not enhance my felt pieces at all, perhaps making the colours appear flat.  I already had a wonderfully rich plum/burgundy coloured tablecloth, and this set everything off really well.  At the second fair, the venue had already provided a cream tablecloth for everyone, so this was a good way to be different, stand out from the crowd!  I made a length of bunting out of a failed project and appliqued fabric shapes on it, nothing fancy but hopefully it will never come under scrutiny!   Bunting can make a stall look very appealing, you have made an effort with your stall, it invites the customer to want to see more.

BUNTING

Think outside the box

Try and think how best to present your work to its best advantage.  At my first fair, my bags were hanging on the small wooden coat stand, and I didn’t sell any.  I then had a light bulb moment just before fair two, and thought I should show my bags as bags and not as a piece of felt hanging up.  So I stuffed them with bubble wrap and stood them on my stall, propped up, and I sold one to a lady organizer before the fair even opened.  Another tip, as she was happy to collect it at the end of the fair, I put a SOLD ticket on it and left it on display.  This gives confidence to customers that other people are buying from you, and they may wish to explore further.  At fair one I had two notebook covers for sale, and no one hardly gave them a glance.  At fair two I simply added an extra tag saying ‘writing journal with a wool jacket, ideal gift’ and sold one pretty quickly.  A friend of mine said a strange but very valid point in my opinion, she said customers do not want to look stupid.  Nudge them in the direction of ‘this is what it is, and this is what it’s uses are’.  Think about it, it is so true.

Engaging with customers

No one likes to be pounced on! Conversely, no one likes to be ignored.  I was lucky enough to have a friend helping me for both fairs.  If we were chatting, (who am I kidding – ‘if ‘ we were chatting !), when someone approached, I would stop talking with my friend and make eye contact with the customers.   I would then say just hello or good morning/afternoon.  If they then showed an interest in something such as my felted soaps, I would tell them more about the product, very often making a sale.  Give them enough time to look, but try not to let them slip away without some attempt at a gentle sales pitch!

I hope you find some of these suggestions useful.  I wish you every success with your fairs, and above all I hope you have fun!

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38 Responses to Selling at Craft Fairs

  1. koffipot says:

    Lots of good advice and ideas there Tracey. Your display is very inviting and the goods look superb. You must let us know which events you are doing this year as ithey’re likely to be within easy striking distance for me. Good luck with this year’s sales. 🙂

    • tracey2008 says:

      Thanks very much Judith! I try to make a stall that would attract me to go over and browse. Here’s to a good year, thanks!

  2. craftywoman says:

    Great advice Tracey, thank for sharing your experiences and reflections, and good luck in future fairs 🙂

  3. Karen Lane says:

    Some great tips here Tracey! You made terrific use of a small space…..with such attention to detail there’s no wonder that your stall was so successful.

  4. Really good tips! Your stall looks fantastic and you should have sold everything!

    Your idea about displaying the handbags (stuffed) makes a lot of sense; the soaps look pretty in both the hamper and on the cake stand but the hamper has the advantage of notice display space and if someone stops to read they’re more likely to look slowly over the whole stall; the pin cushions look edible on the cake stand; the easel makes it clear that it’s a picture for sale and your choice of cloth worked well – it makes the stall look ‘rich’.

    Aside from your quality items, you deserve to make lots of sales for the thought you put into your display.

    • tracey2008 says:

      Thank you so Lyn much for your enthusiastic, generous comments! much appreciated. I just set out to make it look pretty and eye catching in the beginning. I am very happy with it all at the minute. It still takes me a good hour to set up mind you!

    • You do well for it to only take an hour.

    • tracey2008 says:

      The very first time I set it all up it took from 8.15 – 9.55, and that was with a friend helping ! I am getting the impression that on the whole the venue expects an hour is enough time for you, so I have fine tuned it all into an hours mission!

  5. Leonor says:

    Great advice here! I particularly loved the act of telling people what things are, very handy. As a maker one often assumes everyone else knows what a particular item does and that’s not the case at all 🙂

    Thanks for sharing your insight! Very handy as I’m off to a fair to do a spinning demonstration in a few days and might be bringing some wares with me to sell!

    • tracey2008 says:

      Thanks very much Leonor ! I make a point of explaining my felted soaps as some people think you have to cut them open to get to the soap, so you have to put them right on that one! You end up saying the same things over and over but better that and make a sale rather than them leave puzzled (and empty handed) 😉

      Enjoy your spinning demonstration and yes do take some wares along to sell, maybe some socks…..! 🙂

  6. Judi Moenck says:

    All good ideas. I have changed the “packaging” of my felted soaps 3 times to attract more attention. J

    On Tue, Mar 20, 2018 at 2:31 AM feltingandfiberstudio wrote:

    > tracey2008 posted: “Last year I attended two crafts fairs as a seller, my > first since I began wet felting, and I would like to share with you a few > of the tips that I believe have helped me enormously. You have put a lot > of time and hard work into making your pieces, so why” >

  7. I have done several shows with great sales and I’m so happy to read your tips which are among many of the things I do. Love the validation! Congratulations to you on your sales!
    A tip for quicker set up. Before a show I gather all my merchandise and supplies a do a “mock up” sales table at home. I try to do this a few days ahead. Sleep on it and see it with fresh eyes to make changes. Take a photo with my phone so when I get to the show venue set up time is a breeze. My favorite challenge is the rearranging of items after a sale is made Yippee!

    • tracey2008 says:

      Thank you very much Jackie!, and big congratulations to you on your sales too.
      I only did one mock up in the very beginning, but I am very happy it works for you. I know my set up is imprinted now, even after only three fairs. I love the idea of you busily rearranging your stall because you have made a lot of happy sales ! Keep up the good work, I don’t know about you but I am addicted 🙂

  8. meterrilee says:

    This is wonderful advice. I have given a thought to doing this, but shudder a bit when I think of the effort to set up and then have people handling everything “just because” (some felted items are more delicate than others). I think my sensibilities would fare better with an Etsy shop. :)))) But for sturdier items, which applies to most felted things, I love your suggestions!

    • tracey2008 says:

      Thank you very much Terri, that is so kind. You have to stick with what makes you happy, if a fair would stress you, then it is not the road to follow. However, one suggestion I could make is to visit a fair that you are maybe thinking of doing. Look around at the set up, the other stallholders and more so the public visiting to see how they interact with everyone. You may be pleasantly surprised.

    • zedster66 says:

      Terri, I always find that people are very wary about touching and I have to actively encourage them. Having sample pieces can be a way of letting people touch felt without handling your stuff too much. I have a variety from Herdwick to Camel, it helps open the conversation too, you can ask them to guess the animal fibre it’s made from:)

  9. ruthlane says:

    Thanks for a great post Tracey! It’s wonderful that you have taken the time to figure out what works best and to change things if something isn’t working. Lots of people just stand around and moan that it isn’t a good show because I didn’t sell anything. You take the bull by the horns and move forward. Bravo!

    • tracey2008 says:

      Thank you very much Ruth! I don’t know where these new ideas come from sometimes, but I am glad that they do come! I wouldn’t do a fair that I wouldn’t visit myself and I want my stall to be the kind of stall I would want to look at, it is as simple as that 🙂

  10. Marilyn aka Pandagirl says:

    Excellent tips Tracey! You certainly put a lot of “customer” thought into your set up for best attraction, visuals and information plus great customer service. Congrats and thnaks for sharing!

  11. FeltBliss says:

    A great post and very informative. Thank you for all the suggestions and your table looked very inviting. I definitely would have been drawn to it 🙂

  12. Lots of great advice, Its great that you are having fun at shows. Sett up does become a routine so you can do it fast.

    • tracey2008 says:

      Thanks very much Ann. The hour of setting up just seems to slip by even though you know where things are positioned, love it though.

  13. zedster66 says:

    Loads of great advice, Tracey! Your stall looks really appealing 🙂 I’m restricted by what I can put in my granny trolley, but I try to use the boxes I pack things in for varying height. The cake stand is a great idea, I’ll have to keep an eye out for something similar.

    • tracey2008 says:

      Thanks Zed! With regard to the cake stand, two things. It would unscrew and pack down for your granny trolley, but also I guess you already know you can just buy the ‘gubbins’ 😉 to make your own stand, maybe pick up some vintage plates in a charity shop. I believe it is not difficult to drill plates.

    • zedster66 says:

      Yeah, I hoped it’d be easy to take apart, but I never thought of making my own! I probably have some plywood discs, or papier mache ‘plates’, if not, they’re pretty easy to get and would be lighter. I’ll have to have a think about that!

  14. This is great advice I was at my first craft fair last night will remember your words of wisdom for the next one 😊

  15. Pingback: Selling at Craft Fairs | Iwantings|Article, media, sports, TV, conversations &more

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