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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!