First Craft Fair Experience
At the beginning of summer 2018 I attended my first ever Craft Show. It was a local one for me but on quite a large scale. I was promised around 20,000 visitors over the three day bank holiday event. Whether this was true or not I’m still unsure but we were definitely lucky with the weather so the footfall did seem rather high.
Prior to the event I wanted to figure out what I actually wanted to get out of this experience. What did I want to focus on selling? What was my main aim? I decided that I really wanted to concentrate on selling my greetings cards and producing interest in Pet Portraits. So I needed to make sure that I had enough information and signage to put up on my stall.
As well as this on the build-up to the show I had to buy all of my set including a folding table, table cloths and some fencing panels to create my folding backdrop and hanging wall. I would recommend this technique to any artist wanting to create a nicer background to their stall and for great displaying purposes.
By far my favourite part of the build-up was finding and purchasing all the ‘dressing’ items including fake ivy, dried grasses and lavender, glass vases, and a make shift sign created from what was, a seaside hanging ornament. I thought that anything I could do to save some money was great as fairs do tend to be expensive. You can still get a really good effect but for a fraction of the cost which will mean that profits will be more likely and more plentiful. This is something that I would tell anyone who is going for their first event. I managed to also use two fold able chairs and table that I already had, rather than having to buy some ugly camping chairs which would not have gone with my aesthetics!
This meant that I had a little area to sit down in and do some stitching which looks great for people walking past even if you don’t get much done. Another tip would be to take a piece of work that is almost finished, as I had a lot of interest from people wanting to come round to take a look at what I was doing. I hadn’t thought about this prior so there wasn’t much to look at and it was in more of an awkward stage rather than a put together pretty stage.
Before setting off to the fair I made sure I had plenty of checklists ensuring I had all the greetings cards and prints and all my framed embroideries I wanted to take as well as plenty of stationary.
I found getting some proper plastic storage boxes was great and allowed me to carry and store all of the bits I needed and they fitted perfectly under my display table. Things I’m glad I didn’t forget were sticky tape, string, pegs, tissue paper, paper bags and my iZettle for taking any card payments. As part of my display were some logs, (also great and free if you’ve had some trees fall down in a recent storm) I took a silver table dustpan and brush which is designed for cleaning up crumbs but worked perfectly for getting rid of any pieces of bark. If you can I would recommend setting up all of your stall at home and map out the size that you have paid for to ensure all of your setup can fit comfortably.
I arrived the day before the fair opened and was unfortunately met with a far smaller plot than I had previously been promised. So my earlier advice did not work for myself! As a result this was my first hurdle to get over and because of this I was far more squished and I found it was difficult for prospective customers to come and view my artwork. My stall was also placed right by the door to the marquee which was good for getting some breeze in the hot weather but it did mean that quite a few people seemed to walk straight passed my stand without even looking.
Despite all of this my overall experience was a positive one. I met some really great people on opposite stalls and had a lot of fun. I also managed to sell lots of bundles of greetings cards and prints, get my name out there with the local community and gain lots of interest with my pet portrait commissions.
I also really enjoyed having a break during the three days and having a wonder through the other marquees with a glass of Pimm’s and getting to know other makers of various different mediums. This was not only enjoyable but meant that I got a good idea of what all the other stalls looked like and what they were offering to the visitors. Even though it hadn’t been as successful as I had hoped going into it, I wanted to make sure I had a great time, made some friends and learnt a lot.
In the future I would definitely take part in another show but I think I would make sure that it was more of an upmarket and arts based one. I had not been to this event before as a visitor, even though all other blog posts about craft fairs do encourage you to do so. With this specific show I was competing with quite a few mass produced stalls with people selling items they had bought in rather than handcrafted themselves. However, now that I have all of my set ready to go, the next one I attend will definitely be a lot easier and a bit less stressful. I was given lots of invaluable advice from other stallholders about good events to go to that my work would suit.
I’d love to get a chance to participate in another fair just before Christmas with all of my new Christmas card designs and to look around all of the festive stalls with a cup of mulled wine! But until then I shall keep cracking on with my more autumnal and wintery embroidered designs so that I have enough time to mount and frame the originals and to get my greetings cards printed.