Behind the scenes at the Craft Fair...
This weekend I had a stall at the Rockfield Centre Spring market, and while I was busy setting up and through the day, I couldn’t help thinking how good I’ve gotten at getting it all together. With lambing, children, ferries and finding parking during the Easter weekend, I knew I would only have 40 minutes to set up when I got there, and this thought filled my waking hours for days before Saturday came. Then when it did, I managed. 40 minutes? Done. It wasn’t always like that!
When I started doing them, this joy was often over-shadowed by the logistics of making, organising, setting up for and then selling at a fair. I forgot things (once a whole bag of goodies at the top of the pier!), underestimated things (why are there never have enough pound coins in the float!) and would over think things (should I say hello? Should I offer a tester? Why is that lady running away?!) My anxiety about the day ahead would make it hard to focus on setting every thing up, and it would take a good hour and a half to get ready. On top of this, I would probably already be tired from a late night and early morning putting finishing touches on things or making up more of something in a last-minute attempt to have a bigger variety. Thank goodness I often had a friend going to the same fairs to share a bit of the drama with – at least there was always someone to get the coffee before we started.
So, on Saturday, when I found myself ready bang-on opening time, I took a moment to think about how getting better at something takes practice, and tenacity, and time, and that it’s so important to celebrate all the wins, big or small. I had everything I needed, and I enjoyed every minute.
I’ve learnt a lot since my first craft fair, and here are five things I always take with me.
5 Craft Fair Essentials
1. An adequate float, kept in a way that’s easy to access when you’re busy. I keep my coins and notes separate, often in pockets in my apron. I take out the bigger notes to put away safely at intervals during the day so that the float stays about the same amount. This prevents me having to scrabble through piles of notes to find the right change, which looks untidy and is a good way for it to land up everywhere.
2. Water and food – especially if you’re by yourself. If you run a stall by singlehandedly, like I do, you want to minimise the number of times you have to leave your stall. It can be a long day at a craft fair, and you need to keep yourself fed and watered. Make sure every thing is packed properly and can be eaten bit at a time.
3. A notebook or order book, and stationary. If people ask for bespoke or alternative products, it is handy to be able to take orders, and have a place to keep their details and the details about your discussion and agreement. I would always follow this up with an email, but having it written down helps me to remember the occasion and the person. I always take pens, pencils and a good pair of scissors and tape. You never know!
4. A card machine. Being able to take card payments definitely had an impact on my takings, especially at the first fairs I did when restrictions eased after Covid and people wanted to limit contact. Offering an alternative payment method can also encourage impulse purchases!
5. Marketing materials. Once people have stopped at your stall, it’s nice to be able to give them a reminder of your products and business – if they buy something, be sure to use branded carry bags or other packaging, and slip in a leaflet, business card or postcard to encourage future purchases. These are also a good way to share information and build your reputation and brand - essential for people who haven’t bought anything but may do so later.
There are always things to learn and try and change, and this is especially true for craft fairs. Each one is different, and that’s what keeps it exciting. I might be getting it right (mostly!) but it’s not perfect, and I’m looking forward to trying out some new displays and arrangements at my next fair, in Inverness in May. It would be lovely to see you there!
I hope you had a great Easter weekend, I did xx