Last week was a busy one: with four days at the Royal Highland Show and all the time spent
preparing, packing and travelling, I am so ready for a summer holiday! It was a big show, with
literally thousands of people expected every day, and I was there as part of a collective. This
presented a different dynamic to what I was used to, and the space I had to display and promote my wares was tiny – only a third of a six foot table. It reminded me of when I started out as a hobby crafter, doing only the local Christmas fair, on as small a table as they could offer. I enjoyed the challenge, and I realised that the principles of selling at a craft fair are the same, no matter what size stall or table you have. It was great to be in such close quarters with other crafters, to learn about their process and display techniques, and to see what worked and what didn’t. Over the four days we moved the stand around twice, and the same ideas seemed to work best, no matter where or what was being sold.
So, what did I learn about setting up a craft stall? Here are six tips I took away with me from the Royal Highland Show:
1. Know the venue: ask as many questions as you can about the space you’ll have before you
get there. It’s size, position and construction are all things that will influence where and how
you put things. Be aware, especially, that not all stalls are constructed in a way that is very
solid, and you might not be able to hang things on the walls or use them as a support.
2. Use your vertical space: this is something I find hard to do, but the most popular products at our stall were those that were elevated to eye level or above. Displays that are too horizontal allow the visitors eyes to skim across and past, so adding hight creates a wee
stop’ sign, adds interest and gives your stand or table an added dimension.
3. People buy people: selling yourself is an important part of selling your product. Branded
clothing helps to connect you to your products, and a short introduction and a story about
your products draws customers in and often results in a sale. Showing a deep knowledge of
how and where your products are made also builds them up in a potential customers mind
and makes them memorable. ‘Handmade’ is only a concept to most people, until they can
actually see the hands that did the making.
4. Let people reach things: firstly, is your stand well lit? Can people see what they are buying?
Can they also reach to touch or smell your products? Do you want them to? I find that the
majority of people who smell and handle the soap bars will buy one, and if they try the body
butters they will definitely buy one of those as well. But touching needs to be monitored –
sticky fingers, putting things back in the wrong place or knocking things over are all hazards.
5. Make your pricing very clear: some people prefer to look quietly, and don’t want to ask
questions, so all your important points about your product – and the most important of
these is their price – need to be well displayed, both on the items and as a price list on
display cards of some kind. People can them work out what they can or can’t afford before
engaging with you.
6. Work to the future: there are many reasons why people might not buy in the moment, but
this doesn’t mean you can’t prepare them for a future sale. Information and incentives that
they can take away with them increase your chances of future sales, so offer business cards,
postcards, and / or flyers with website discounts and promotions that they might come back
Above all, smile and engage. You never know when a little bit of chat will result in a huge order or a return customer, and a positive attitude can carry the day. I’m having a week off to rest my feet and tidy the workshop. Next stop, the Lismore Show xx