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Preparing for summer craft fairs

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Summer is approaching (although it may not feel like it!) so now is the time to prepare for the summer markets and craft fairs. There are a few things you need to think about when getting ready for and budgeting for these events.

Anna Campbell has a list of handy questions to help you prepare.

summer craft fairs

How to display your jewellery is only one decision you need to make if you are planning to sell at fairs ©Anna Campbell

Where should I sell?
There are lots of markets, school fairs, open days etc that you can choose from so there will be something local to you. Make www.stallfinder.com your first port of call and do a search for your area and the month you’re thinking of selling.
However, there is more to think about than location. Before you sign up look at
● does the event have a good website?
● does the website include clear information for stall holders and shoppers?
● how is the event being marketed? Is it being advertised in the local press? At the school? Will there be leaflets in local shops? Do you think this is sufficient to draw in a crowd?

Sometimes the small, local events can be more lucrative than the bigger markets that charge you more. If you can, talk to people who have sold at the event before to get their opinion.

How much will it cost?
There are lots of things to consider when working out the cost of selling at a summer fair
● How much will the stall cost?
● How much will it cost for you to get there and back? Include all costs e.g. parking, petrol or train fare etc
● How much will display items e.g. busts cost?

What are the logistics that I need to consider?
You need to consider all of the things you will need to do to have a successful day. Think through your day carefully from packing up your stock, travelling, setting up etc and make a list of the things that occur to you. Here are a few questions you need to answer

● How do I get there?
I don’t have a car so when I go to markets I need to make sure that I can get public transport there, work out how long it will take and how much it will cost
● How do I get my stock there?
I carry mine in a large wheely suitcase. You need to check that you can fit everything in including any display items you will need
● What is provided and what will I need to bring?
The event organisers should give you a list of what is provided e.g. a table (don’t presume you’ll get one – make sure you aren’t expected to bring one!). You may need to ensure you have a cloth for your table (I use a large bed sheet), your own signs etc. At one market I sell at you need to bring your own lightbulbs to plug in! Make sure you know what to take.
● How will I take payment?
Bring a money belt or similar with lots of change. You can guarantee that the first customer will pay with a large note! Also consider allowing people to pay by paypal if you have a smartphone or tablet and internet access
● How much stock should I take?
This is a tricky one. Spending a lot of time and money making stock that doesn’t sell is a waste but so is selling out early.
My advice is to consider the size of the table you are being provided. Have a practice setting up your display and see how much makes sense. Remember that you won’t want everything out at once. I tend to put out one of everything and leave the rest in my case under the table (hidden by the sheet I use as a table cloth). That way I can easily see what I have and can spot if something goes missing.

How should I display my jewellery?
● Think about new ways to display your jewellery and catch people’s eye. I sell jewellery that looks like sweets so I bought a children’s play sweet shop and use that as the centre of my display
● Think about having different levels to your display rather than having everything just on the table. Get some busts to display necklaces, use some shelving to create different levels
● Consider getting a sign professionally printed if you are going to be selling at lots of craft fairs
● Make sure items have prices on them. People don’t always like to ask. I use small pieces of slate and chalk to write prices on

How do I make sure I’m comfortable?
Make sure you prepare for all eventualities of a British summer! Bring layers of clothes. If you are outside you can quickly get cold in the shade so don’t presume you won’t need a coat.
I always bring a flask of tea and a few snacks to keep me going! It’s also a good idea to have a friend come to take over from you at some point so you can go to the loo!

What if I don’t make many sales?
Of course making sales is important but there are other benefits to selling at summer fairs
● Networking
Make sure you have a chat with other sellers, perhaps find out about other selling events they recommend. In my experience there is a lot of camaraderie rather than competition, a craft market needs a variety of different sellers to make it successful
● Mailing list
Make sure you have a mailing list on your table and invite people to give you their email address. This allows you to keep in touch with those that are interested in what you make
● Business cards
Make sure you have some available for people to take. I love the mini cards from Moo (use this link for 10% off your first purchase with them)

If you have sold at craft fairs, what advice would you give? We’d love to hear them in your comments.

Anna Campbell is an experienced teacher and enjoys all types of jewellery making including beading and silver clay. She runs her own business, Light Boat Jewellery and has made jewellery for celebrities.