Sunday, July 5, 2009

How to prepare for a craft fair?

You subscribed for an upcoming craftfair? Craftfairs are an excellent way to meet your customers personally. It's also a very direct way to get a response on your products. Meeting your customers is a valuable and inspiring experience. It's important to keep your eyes and ears open when customers visit your stand. Listen to what they say and look how they react at your table. Don't be afraid to talk to them about what moves you & try to get a response on what you love to make.
But before you can enjoy the process of chatting with your customers, you have a lot to prepare.
I have a craft fair planned in August and started to write down a few bits and bobs for myself. In the past, I've done a lot of fairs professionally but I've never participated in a craftfair selling my own goods. This is all new to me and therefor I did some research on the internet and found some great tips & links that I just want to share them with you. Hope this gets you and me ready for a great craft fair.

Make a plan for yourself a few weeks before you go to the fair. Mark on a calender which days or what time is dedicated to prepare for the fair. Try to stick to this & you'll find yourself much more relaxed & organised.
Decide what you want to take. This often depends on the public that will visit. Often you don't know that beforehand so make sure to take items in different price ranges. Let people have a choice between cheaper and somewhat more expensive items.
If possible, try to leave some room to demonstrate what you are making. People always want to know how things are done. Depending on what product you sell, you can prepare a few things beforehand so you can show the steps or if you don't want to let people in in your secrets, just show them how it is finished off.Take
Don't put too many items on your table. Try to find the right balance on showing off what you have to offer and giving people enough to choose from. A cluttered table is not selling.
Apart from taking your items, you will need some other things to make life easier for you.
Make a checklist on what you are taking. Here is an example
  • Pens, markers
  • Paper (scrap and nice paper for signs)
  • Invoice book
  • Scissors
  • Labels and price tags
  • Tape (EVERY KIND YOU CAN THINK OF: double sided, duct, scotch, packaging. If they make it, bring it.)
  • Mini-first aid kit (band aids, pain relievers, eye drops, antacids, etc)
  • Tools (screwdriver, hammer, pliers, wire,zip ties, aka The Crafters Need to Have Supply!)
  • Bags and packaging materials for purchases
  • Apron or waist pouch for change
  • Plenty of change to put in your apron or waist pouch
  • Wet naps and hand sanitizer
  • Water and snacks
  • Calculator
  • Mirrors for customers to use
  • Marketing tools (business cards, folders,...)
  • Displays
  • Tablecloths
Have an opening line to say to your customers when they visit your stand.
Try to feel if they like it if you talk with them. Some people will hate it and just turn away, others are intrigued if you tell about your process for example.
A great tip that I found in one of the articles: when people compliment on your work, don't say 'thank you' as that is a conversation stopper. Say 'yes, they are great because...'
And don't forget to smile, even though you are not selling a lot. When you are in your stand feeling miserable, people will not want to come by.
This might sound strange if you are not selling food ware, but putting a little tray with something edible on your stand, will make people stick at your stand as bees do on honey.
If you bake something yourself, that can be a great conversation opener & make your customers feel at ease while looking at your items.
By offering a promotion at your stand, people will be more likely or interested to take you up on the offer. Make your promotion visible & talk about it with your customers. Don't feel afraid to tell them that especially for this craft fair you are wanting to promote a certain item & that therefore, a discount will apply. Be enthusiast about your promotion.
Make it fun at your stand: let people scratch away a lottery ticket or ask if they want to take part in a raffle by letting them guess how many items are in a certain jar or something.
It's a great way to get the conversation going and because it doesn't cost anything, people will most likely participate.
When it comes down to a sale, make sure to wrap it up all nicely. Don't just chuck it into a bag but add a personal touch to it. Either giftwrap it or add a little freebie (a postcard, a coupon, a button,...) with the sale. It shows people that you care about your product and that you are happy about them purchasing from you.
Selling handmade is selling how much you love what you do so just make sure to show that, it will be highly appreciated.
I know that this how-to is just one among the many on the internet. If you google 'prepare for craft fairs/shows' you'll find plenty of information.
I haven't read all of it but I wrote down what I found helpful. I also recommend to read these two articles from the Storque, Etsy's blog: Rocking holiday craft shows and Seller how-to: craft fair tips They contain so many helpful tips and links that it just will get you ready for the perfect craft fair! Good luck!
Thank you to Maria from Leelabijou who also sent me a helpful PDF file with craft fair tips.

And for those living in or around Maastricht, Netherlands, don't forget to sign up or visit Craftparking on sunday the 16th of August. Lots of EST (European Streetteam-members) will be present and we are already all giddy and happy to meet each other! It's going to be a fabulous & fun experience. Hope to see you there! :)