Over the past 10 years I have run 3 very different small businesses and had stalls at countless craft fairs, from windy school fetes outdoors to posh stately homes and vineyards. My businesses have included an animation parties/workshops, artisan gingerbread and of course now, my wool art and pet portraits. My favourite thing about craft fairs is the camaraderie as running your own business from home can be lonely! Also it's great for pulling up my socks and feeling professional as you get to meet customers 'in the flesh' !
Here I am in my hey day when I was promoting my animation workshops/parties by running a mini 'make your own flick book' workshop for free!
Success doesn't just mean sales on the day - but building your brand.
I did a fair once where one table sold cheap made-in-China charms for 50p-£1 each and they sold the most that day (appealing to the teen/pocket money market), but on a quiet day they wouldn't have done well and as my work is mostly high end commissioned work, all I need is 1 customer to place an order to make the fair a success.
Have prices in round numbers if possible £5 easier than £4.50.
Much easier for you to deal with change and easier for customer to hand over £1/£2/£5 than to rummage about. Also don't write labels by hand (ideally)
Have your items VERY CLEARLY priced.
(consider eyesight and people often have a mental budget or a £10 burning their pocket) I was at a fair recently next to a beautiful stall, heaving with fabulous jewellery but no prices anywhere. I could easily have mentally spent £10 (I found out some earrings were only £3) if I'd known how much everything was. The stall holder said she was afraid prices would scare people off - let's hope £3 wouldn't scare anyone off!
Have your brand/logo clearly identified and flyers to take away if possible.
I use beautiful postcards that (I hope) people are more likely to keep on the fridge than immediately chuck away. When I made children's name plaques my postcards featured my whole funky felted alphabet! Fun and memorable, as well as eye catching.
Have nice lighting - e.g. Fairy lights/spotlights if appropriate and add height to your stall (such as with my white tree) That I used to hang my gingerbread ornaments.
If you run a food business - ALWAYS have samples so your stall because an exciting, sensory and memorable experience! When I sold decorative artisan gingerbread (I spent 6 months perfecting the recipe with 11 different spices) they looked great but to me it was a whole sensory experience I wanted to sell. Similarly I always have some of my felt art out to be touched as it's so soft and luxurious.
If you're planning to scale your business have an email/newsletter
sign up sheet with an INCENTIVE!
I usually do a small giveaway and get up to 50 emails at a time
Have one or two high priced items, this will make the quality of your work seem higher and your lower priced items like bargains.
Try and put price categories together £5 in one area, £10 in another. Nobody has time to check the price of each item if they are individually priced
Even on quiet days look attentive and smile. Maybe pay the customer a small compliment or ask a small question (often I start with - hello! Have you come far today? Isn't the weather nice/awful? I love your scarf)
ALWAYS engage with your customer verbally, not just a smile
If appropriate stand and be adjusting your items etc or even doing your craft but don't seem to engrossed. I find silence but a smile can be awkward than a simple 'hello, let me know if I can help at all - are you looking for anything in particular?' Also if I, as a customer have to say 'excuse me' to a stall holder that is NOT a good start.
Have a focal point or one really eye-catching feature, a talking point!
(Did you spot my zebra jumper above? It often gets a mention!)
I always display my best dog/cat portraits prominently so they almost catch the eye of passers by. Try to stand out from the crowd - this isn't always easy! Even if you wear an unusual jumper or festive earrings that can help draw people in and make you more memorable.
Do not make your bargains the focal point, do you want people to buy because you are cheap or because they love/want your product?
If people don't buy, don't take it personally! Fairs are a tough gig.
Try and be clear what your own goal is for the fair - to generate income that day? To build your brand?
It's always useful to think of fairs as a great place to do market research. I always drop in a few subtle questions e.g. Have you ever bought a portrait? Do you have cats/dogs? Would you ever consider a portrait?
A finally after 10 years of fairs - I'm still learning! But hopefully you think my stall is pretty eye catching!
And one final hot tip! I use an iPad to display my wide range of artworks - and I never see anyone else do this, it is very eye catching and a super talking point!
I hope this has been useful, and if you would like to add any more tips please pass them on to me!