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Great answers to tough questions at craft fairs

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The spring and summer craft fairs are on their way. While we prepare our stock and display, it is also important to prepare your answers to frequently asked questions. You don’t necessarily want to sound like you’re working from a script but equally you do want to know how to answer questions and respond to comments. London Jewellery School and Jewellery School Online tutor Anna Campbell suggests some answers to tough questions.

A craft fair or market can be a great way to generate sales and get feedback from potential customers however it can be nerve wracking wondering what questions people will ask. In writing this blog post I looked at the great community support resources from Etsy and Folksy which I encourage you to read. Even if you don’t sell through these channels you can still access the wealth of information and benefit from the experience of others.

Price

One of the biggest questions at craft fairs is around price. For example:

  • Why is it so expensive?
  • Why is it so cheap?
  • Will you accept £XX for this piece?

Advice

  • Display your prices. Firstly, I suggest that you have your prices clearly marked on your items. It is frustrating as a buyer not to be able to get a sense of pricing and interested customers may just go elsewhere without asking you what they are. Also, when you don’t have prices written down there’s a sense in the customer that you are charging different prices depending on the customer and that they might be ripped off. I tend to write my prices in chalk on pieces of slate so if I do decide to adjust my pricing during the day I can.
  • To haggle or not to haggle? It is up to you if you will accept an offer on a piece. I would decide ahead of the craft fair if you will do that. However, I do suggest you should stay firm on your pricing (have a look at this video from our director Jessica about how to calculate your prices).

Some great answers to pricing questions

“Thank you for your offer but I can’t accept it”

“I don’t haggle. My items are priced in such a way as to compensate me for my time and materials.”

“I can’t go lower, but that price includes the gift box/wrapping” or “No, but if you buy two, you get this price” or “no, but this item here is available at that price (point to a lower priced item you are selling) ”

 

Design

  • How did you make that?
  • I could make that
  • My sister/brother/niece/granddaughter etc etc could make that
  • Did you make this?

These questions and comments can make your blood boil! After all the training you have done and work you have put into creating each piece it is tempting to be rude to these people! However, remember that many are not trying to be insensitive (although some may be!).

Advice

  • Stay calm! Have a summarised story of how a piece is made (without giving them a tutorial!). This will help them see how much work it takes to make a piece.
  • Treat everyone as though they are a genuine customer even if you suspect they are not.

Some great answers to design questions

Put the focus back on them. People love talking about themselves so ask them

“Have you made jewellery before? What type of jewellery do you make?”

Those that have no intention of buying are likely to move away quickly so you can focus on the real customers.

 

For the question ‘How did you make that?’

“It’s a trade secret”

“Years of practice”

“That’s fantastic! I’ve been trying to meet some other designers who do the same type of work. Please give him/her my card. I’d love to do a design collaboration with your XXXXXX”

 

Materials

  • Where do you get your materials/beads/silver? Etc

This question could suggest a competitor is asking so my advice is to be positive and vague.

For example: “I have spent a lot of time researching and have a number of suppliers”

 

Can I take a photo?

Sometimes people will ask to take photos. Once again, I suggest you have an answer to this question in advance. If you are unhappy with people taking photos I suggest a polite notice on your stall to let people know.

Educating the buyer

It may seem insensitive to comment about pricing and value for money in front of you but remember, people are used to the prices of mass manufactured items. It is up to you to educate them about the time, effort, training etc that it takes to hand make an item.

Remember, nothing is a stupid question.

Browsing

When people are browsing start up a conversation. I find rather than sounding like I am just talking about my own products I like to say  ‘I love that ring/necklace/earrings you’re wearing’ Complementing the customer on their choices and talking about them can help get the ball rolling.

 

What advice would you give to those that are preparing for a craft fair? What strange questions and comments have you heard?! Share them with us in the comments section below

Anna Campbell is a metal clay artist and tutor at the London Jewellery School and Jewellery School Online and runs her own jewellery business Campbell Hall Designs.