6 Things I’ve Learnt After a Year of Craft Fairs

It was November 2017 that I attended my first craft fair as a seller, and not just a nameless face in the crowd looking over other’s wares. Over a year has passed since then and I think I’ve come quite a way from the terrified, clueless person I was then.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still terrified, I’ve just learnt a few things that make me a bit less clueless.

But there are a few things I wish I could tell my past self. Of course, with that being impossible without a time machine I’ve decided to tell you instead in the hopes that it might offer some help, no matter how small.

So here, in no particular order, have 6 things I’ve learnt;

1. Customer Service Persona

If you work, or have ever worked, somewhere where you’re faced with customers, patients, etc, then you know what a customer service persona is, and likely already have one. If you haven’t, then I suggest you start cultivating one.
As a bit of an introvert I’ve found this has been especially important. I don’t present my usual self, I present a happier, perkier, constantly smiling, and willing to help self. You’ve seen those people on checkouts and behind reception desks, right? Smiling and speaking in a happy, polite way? Yeah, those are the people you want to emulate.
Trust me. It works.
Even if you don’t feel it inside, show it on the outside. At shows you can meet some of the rudest arseholes around, but I’ve found that they don’t quite know what to do when faced with a seemingly perpetually perky person. Just swear at them in your head, while you smile brightly at them.
Of course it also has the added benefit of drawing people in, and anyone you draw in is a potential customer.

2. Fellow Crafters

Talk to your fellow stallholders if you can. If you’re friendly with each other then it lends towards helping each other out, especially if you’re on your own and need a bathroom break. Also it can be a lot of fun talking to fellow crafters, you can gush about your crafts, get ideas from each other, find out about other craft fairs, there’s even the chance to teach or learn something new.
I’ve met some incredible people at craft fairs, and I know, as a shy introvert with a sprinkling of social anxiety, that it can be hard to do, but I promise you, it’s worth it.

3. Small Drawers

I have a set of three small drawers on wheels that fit under the table.
I love these drawers.
I never want to be without them.
I bought them after having three fairs of struggling to find my money box, bubble wrap, and bags in the boxes under the table. Now I have all these things in these drawers and it is so much easier to grab the things I need. Honestly, if you don’t already have a way to grab these things quickly and easily, then I recommend getting a small set of drawers on wheels. (the wheels also help when unloading and loading the car as it’s one less thing to carry, just wheel it out)

I got mine from Argos, but you can get them for almost anywhere.

4. Take crafting things with you

If the things you make your items with are portable then, for the love of all that is holy and unholy, take some projects with you! There is every likelihood that there will be periods of time where you’re bored out of your skull, taking projects helps with that boredom. It can also have the added benefit of drawing people to your stall. They like to see crafters at work, and it’s a nice ice breaker that could end with them buying something.
Only once have I ever forgotten to take something, and I greatly regretted it. Usually I tend to take either my needle felting or my wire work with me. The needle felting draws in a surprising amount of people, and the more people you can draw to your stall the better.

5. Your table set up

My first few shows, my table set up stressed me the hell out. I had read so many articles I’d found on Pinterest about table set up, and what to do, and what not to do, that it was all just spinning around in my head and I didn’t know what I was doing. Which, of course, made me panic further.
So, my advice for your table set up? Don’t worry about it. It’s not worth the stress, and it’s likely to change anyway. In my experience, table set ups evolve. Experiment with it, play with height, with colour, and placements. You don’t have to have it all figured out from the start. I still don’t have it figured out, but I now know a few things that I like, I know what I don’t, and I’ve experimented enough that I’ve pretty much got my colour scheme sorted.
Everything comes with time. So if you feel yourself stressing, just step back, take a deep breath, remember everything is a process, and try to look with fresh eyes.
Nothing has to be perfect.

My first ever table. Didn’t know what I was doing.
This is my most recent table set up. Compared to my first, it’s a damn sight better. But it’s taken me a year of experimenting to get this far, and there’s still a lot I’ve got to learn.

6. Little things with little prices

I’m sure I’ve seen this said in multiple places but it truly does work. If you can, have something small that you can sell for a low price. It can draw people in, and people can be more willing to give up a couple of quid than something more.
My small thing?
Button earrings. Just simple stud button earrings.
They draw in everyone, though children and older women tend to be the most taken with them. They’re actually my best seller, and on one particularly bad fair they were all I sold. It meant I was £10 off my stall fee, but it would’ve been so much worse if I hadn’t had them.
You could even have some fun with it. One stallholder I’ve met who sells crystals had a lucky dip at £2 a go which drew in quite a few children, and more often than not their parents bought something else too.

And there you have it, 6 things I’ve learnt that I’d love to tell my past self. I hope they might be of use to you.

Have you learnt anything from fairs you wish you could tell your past self?

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