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Craft Fairs: What you need to know before selling

Craft fairs can be a fantastic opportunity for artists to sell their work, but it can also be a challenging experience. Having done a few myself over the last two years, I thought I'd share a few helpful tips and tricks I've learnt along the way which will hopefully help you if you're just starting out and will increase your chances of selling. Let me know in the comments if you'd suggest any others:

1. Create a visually appealing display.

It's important to have an exciting looking stall that showcases your work and draws customers in. Things to consider:

  • Make sure your stall is in a well lit area (I had a fair before Christmas which had really poor lighting and the only window light was behind me - shown in picture).

  • Use height - for me I use card stands to display my products at different heights.

  • Have your company name and logo on a banner at the front of your stall (or on the wall behind if the venue allows). Do remember to take some safety pins or blu-tack as otherwise you'll be taping your banner to the wall with brown tape like me which isn't the best look!

  • Get your own trestle table and table cloth for the professional look. Not all fairs will provide one.

  • Group similar products together - for example, I group my cards together under occasions and my prints are grouped within sizes and themes, i.e. A5 flower themed prints, A4 food themed prints, etc.

2. Know exactly where your stall will be located

Is the location where your target market would shop? Is it inside or outside? Is a gazebo provided if outside? Is electricity provided? Are you against a wall? Is it in a hall, field, or high street? What shops are around you if it's a high street?

All of these aspects have an affect on your chance of selling your product to your target market. For example, I found my most poor performance was a high street market - the shops surrounding me were not where my target market would shop and people passing weren't there specifically for the market. This doesn't mean it won't work for you but I've had more success at craft fairs that take place in their own designated location.

3. Have a variety of price points

Not everyone who attends a craft fair is looking to buy high-end artwork, so it's essential to have a range of price points that appeal to different customers. Consider having a selection of smaller, lower-priced items, like prints, postcards, or stickers, alongside your larger, more expensive pieces. I also offer special offers for multi buys.

Remember to label everything so people know what it is and display your prices everywhere. At a fair last year I had to ask someone what the parcels were on her stall and how much they were. I was told what the product was and was then told they didn't know what the price was - needless to say I didn't purchase any.

4. Engage with customers

If you sit there, hiding behind your stall with your head in your phone, it's unlikely people will want to buy from you. People love to connect with artists, so be prepared to engage with customers who stop by your stall. Be friendly, welcoming, and open to answering any questions they may have about your artwork. If they don't have questions - tell them about it. They may be too shy to ask.

(Jolly AF sign purchased from @the_little_shop_congleton on Instagram)

5. Bring business cards

Business cards are a great way to keep in touch with potential customers who are interested in your work and I've had many return months after a fair to purchase things from me having kept my card. Make sure that your business cards have your contact information, website, and social media handles, so customers can reach out to you later.

6. Offer discounts and promotions

As mentioned before offering discounts and promotions is a great way to attract customers to your stall. Consider offering a discount on multiple purchases or running a special promotion for a limited time. You can also offer discounts to customers who sign up for your email list or follow you on social media.

I'd also suggest offering to take orders for items you don't have with you at the discounted or promotional price and then sending / delivering them to the customer if you can. For example, I can't take every single card and print I sell to a fair so I'll regularly find myself shopping on my website on my phone with a customer at my stall to show them what I have available and offer it to them at a discounted craft fair price.

7. Accept multiple forms of payment

Make it easy for customers to purchase your artwork by accepting multiple forms of payment. Credit cards, cash, debit cards, and mobile payment options like Apple Pay are convenient for customers and allow for quick and easy transactions. I use a Sum Up machine which has always served me well, charges a minimal transaction fee and accepts all of the above payments. Others are available.

If accepting cash payments, don't forget to take a float and count this before and after the fair. This sounds an obvious point but I forgot to do this with my first one - d'oh!

8. Public Liability Insurance

Public liability insurance provides protection for you in the event that someone is injured or their property is damaged while attending your craft fair. Most event organisers will require you to have one. Head to one of the comparison sites to see how much it's going to cost you before you sign up to a fair.

In conclusion, selling your artwork at craft fairs requires preparation, creativity, and a positive attitude. With these tips, you can increase your chances of making sales and connecting with potential customers. Remember to have fun and enjoy the experience of sharing your artwork with the world.

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