Setting up shop, a craft fair survival guide by RockCakes…

It’s the hectic time of year again that all crafty makers ‘should’ thrive on, love and enjoy, Yay Christmas! With Christmas comes craft fairs a plenty and maybe, just maybe, a little teeny bit of stress…!

If you have signed up and paid your hard earned money for a stall at a fair then you want to make the most of that space and not have a nervous breakdown in the process.

The first Brighton craft fair that I did was back in 2010, it involved a lot of nerves, a sleepless night and a car full of stall set up and stock. For me things have progressed, my stall looks better, my nerves are fewer and I can just about carry all that I need.


My RockCakes stall

So here are my top tips for having a fun fair and making the most of the opportunities to sell…

Make a plan – Write a basic list of what you want to take with you product wise – you’re going to need more of your best sellers. What is realistically achievable? What can you afford to make? Then plan when you are going to make them, I recommend leaving the day/evening before the craft fair empty as there are always odd bits and bobs that you’ll need to do.

Invite your friends – This will add to your business / sales and the bustle of the event as a whole, do a mail-out (even if it’s just to friends), use Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, is there a hashtag for the whole event? use it 🙂

Price up your work in advance, don’t undersell yourself, it’s not a sustainable business practice and might make your products not seem the quality that they are, use either removable tags, stickers or little price signs.

Make a stall sign with your business name on.

rcb_05Work by Mooshpie

I find it super helpful to do a test run, I measure out the same space that my stall will be and set up my shop at home, I take a pic and draw a stall map which I will use on the morning of set up, it removes a billion tonnes of stress and helps me to see how much product I need to take. It is also a good opportunity to take a couple of pics and share on social media to get some anticipation going.

For those of you that have lots of small items to display use cling-film! Ok so everybody laughs at me but once I’ve done my test set up at home I cling-film my little products into their display boxes, no fiddling on set up morning, saves loads of time and space in my bags.

It is the evening before the craft fair and there’s just one more product that you’d really like finished, it is soooooo tempting to push yourself at this point and work late, I have found more often than not I wont sell that thing anyway. Instead get your favourite outfit ready and waiting for the morning and get an early night, being tired adds to your nerves, can fluster you and doesn’t help towards that friendly and inviting smily face that you need.

Be confident, fake it ’til you make it! Once you start chatting about your work it can flow, if you struggle think of a few icebreaking things to say about your favourite products, if you sound enthusiastic others will be too.

rcb_03A hiding Saffron Reichenbacker

If selling doesn’t come naturally to you before the event sit down with a pen and paper and ask yourself a few questions, you need to tap into your inner pride! You must have thought that your work is good or you wouldn’t have applied for the fair – or been accepted! What do you love about your work? Be prepared to tell people. You can pre work out a few conversation starters, mine is normally “there’s a gold crown on that bird…” or “that necklace is Every cloud has a silver lining….” people usually grown but they can relate to these things and start a conversation….

Still worried, take a stall buddy they can keep you smiling through the day and half the pressure.

Make friends with your crafty neighbours, they will help you, encourage you, watch your stall when you need to nip off and they may even buy some things from you.

rcb_06Two very silly stall holders 🙂

Give a business card to EVERYBODY who stops at your stall, the internet is a wonderful thing, if somebody walks away with a business card that is a potential sale. I often make more money after the fair from people browsing my Etsy shop in the comfort of their own home than I do at the event itself, you could even have a special promo card to give to them.

Take some pics of your stall for social media and for future promotion.

rcb_04Work by Toby aka i-like-cats

Some people have a mailing list sign up, a clipboard and pen – it’s something that I lack at doing but is a good way to start a relationship with a potential customer.

Take food with you, I always take a polite sized sandwich, cut into childlike manageable bit-sized pieces, some choccie, a banana, coffee and water. I don’t recommend stuffing a massive burger into your face, it isn’t a good look and I guarantee you it’s at that moment you’ll have a rush of customers to your stall!

Here is a little checklist of things I recommend taking:

Your stock / products
Display materials – boxes, plates, cushions, baskets…
Table cover
Extension cable
Change / kitty
Payment devise – such as paypal here or izettle
Phone / Camera – to social media your stall and encourage your followers to come
Business cards
Packaging – bags, boxes and tissue paper…
Name Sign
Price Tags
Notebook and pen
Tape, string, scissors and calculator – if there isn’t one on your phone.
Consumables food, flask, water and a 3:30pm slump treat 🙂
Wear layers of clothes – the temperature can often be unpredictable.
Your big friendly cheesy SMILE 🙂

I hope that helps, if you have more tips please do share them in the blog comments, I guess that my final tip is to HAVE FUN!

So good luck at your festive events, I wish you well!
Sarah aka RockCake x


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