I loved attending craft fairs, however, when I started, my stall was not as good as it could be if I am honest. My focus really was on enjoying the process of making my products and little thought was given to actually selling my work. After going to my first few events, I quickly noticed how “professional looking ” other stallholders presented their work, and along with that, saw customers stopping, looking and buying. Unfortunately, people walked past my stall because my presentation was poor. Over time, I invested in myself and my little business and saw my sales grow as I learnt “how to sell” my work, including how to present myself and my offerings.
The following is a list of things I invested in for my business and which I still have today. All of these items came in handy around the home when I was not out at craft fairs and could be used inside and outside too – Bonus!
A strong and sturdy table is necessary for craft fairs. Some craft fair organisers will provide a table, but not all, so do check.
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I have done fairs where you are charged extra for a table and chair! Therefore, I invested in my own as in the long run, it worked out cheaper. Plus, if the organiser only provided one table, but you had space enough for two, using my own table came in handy. I invested in this folding 6ft long standard table. I love this as it is strong, sturdy and perfect for craft fairs. It is a standard size too at 6ft long and 2ft deep. It folds down easily and can be done by one person. If you are not particularly strong, it can be a little heavy to carry, but this should be manageable for the average person. If no table is provided and you don’t have your own, then this is perfect. If a table is provided by the organiser and you have plenty of space available, i.e. if you have an end space, then having a second table like this is perfect! Twice the space = more products to display = more sales!
Depending on the space available, I would also carry a smaller 4ft table or 2ft table such as the ones below. These are perfect for extending your space. More often then not, I would use the 2ft table as my sales station which was positioned either on the end of my main table display or on the next to me, in my space behind my main table. This was where I would package all sales, write out receipts and sort out any change. This meant I wasn’t disturbing my main display or packaging up items sold on the chair or on my knee.
When I first started, I took along a kingsize sheet, which was fine to start off with, but as the day went on, with people brushing past the cloth as they walked by, it started slipping, which looked unsightly. I then took along some safety pins and hitched up the sides, but it looked untidy. Then one day, I was at a craft fair and I saw a trader using the most ingenious table covering ever, and that was it – I had to get some for my table displays. It was a three-sided rectangle trestle tablecloth. Perfect. No more slipped table sheets and no more unsightly safety pins. My table was properly AND safely covered, reducing the risk of people tripping on long slippery edges and causing themselves an injury. No more kids pulling at the loose edges of the sheet, risking my display ending up in a heap on the floor. I found the perfect solution. 3 outward facing sides were fully and properly covered, with my side mainly uncovered, which meant I could easily access stock under my table to replenish stock when I sold out. No more getting trapped under lose sheet edges and getting my hair in a mess! I ordered one straight away and never looked back.
The lighting on your stall can make a big difference in attracting customers and clinching sales. People just won’t buy if they cannot see what you have on offer. Whilst you won’t be selling in pitch darkness, what I mean is people need to see the details of your work. If you sell items such as jewellery, these items particularly need good light. Also, any other items such as sewn, knitted or crochet goods with detail. Don’t rely on the lights on the venue – it just won’t be good enough. When I invested in good quality daylight lamps – everything lit up and so did my sales. I particularly like the Kenley Floor Lamp as this can be positioned either at the back of my table or to the side. As it is tall, it throws the light out across the table. Also needed is a table lamp and the Daylight Company Unolamp is fantastic as it is slimline with a flexible arm, enabling it to be positioned. The lamps are also perfect for use at home when crafting and doing detailed work.
Now, I’m a big girl with a bad back and achy joints, so comfort is essential for me. If the craft fair organiser did provide a chair, I can assure you, they were not thinking of my backside and comfort! After my first few events, I decided to invest in a comfortable chair as being laid up for days after a craft show due to pain in my back and hips was not an option. I brought a variety of chairs of differing quality and price points. Some were light, but not sturdy, others were strong but heavy and bulky. Then one day, I had a stall set up next to a lovely lady who offered me her chair to sit on due to me being in a lot of discomforts. Not only was the chair super comfortable, but it had a built-in side tray and drink holder just like this one. The side table was secure and it had padded armrests. Comfort was always going to be on my side now.
Over time, I found standing for any length of time, particularly during busy periods was aggravating my back, even though I wore comfortable shoes. So, if you suffer from your back, or if you are likely to be standing for any length of time, I recommend having something soft, supportive and comfortable under your feet. For some people, a piece of cardboard or carpet may be suitable, but having quality and fit for purpose material was invaluable. I invested in Interlocking Floor Mats for quality and comfort. These also worked well on the hard floor when sometimes your feet can get cold (if you are not moving around to get the circulation going), but also for outdoor events when standing on damp grass or hard surfaces.
Depending on what you sell, display equipment will be different for everyone. Do shop around for suitable equipment and particularly items which help to create height. People tend to buy more items displayed at eye level than items above or below that level. Think about it, next time you go to the supermarket, look at where you pick items up from! Retailers have studied this and therefore put the most popular brands at eye level. So, think about what display items will help you to create attractive displays at eye level.
Using items such as the bookshelf below can really help.
The lovely thing about the bookshelf is you can paint it to fit in with your brand colours, and not only is it strong and sturdy, but it is foldable and compact too – perfect for storage and carrying too.
Other considerations for craft fair display equipment is smaller clear items such as a 3 step display which is perfect for small items which can be grouped together and elevated or display plinths to give a contemporary and modern feel.
Having somewhere discreet to store your cash is important. When I started I use to keep my cash in my pocket and purse, however, I soon realised this wasn’t such a good idea. Having to take out my purse and fish out change didn’t look very professional, plus it drew attention to personal items such as my bank cards, driving licence etc, also putting my purse down to hand over change left it open to being snatched. In addition, if I wanted to go to the toilet, asking a nearby stallholder to look after my stall did not provide them access to money if they made a sale. Therefore using a money belt or cash box was ideal. I invested in both – a money belt so I can keep the bulk of my takings and notes and a cash box to store small change (about £10’s worth) for sales
Always taking something along to eat and drink is wise! Being at a craft fair can be a long day, and can get expensive if you are not prepared. I use to always take along snacks, drinks and a hot meal to keep me going. For hot food, do consider taking along some warming soup or leftover casserole in a thermos flask such as this one. I liked ones like these because they are sturdy and have a wide mouth (suitable for loading up and eating from), plus there is a spoon included. During long cold craft shows, this will prove invaluable. Also, carry a couple of water bottles – one with hot water for making tea and coffee and another with cold drinking water. This type of bottle is great as it will retain the temperature (hot or cold)
Trolley for Transporting Goods
You will find your own way of packaging up your goods depending on what you sell. Whatever you use, do think about how you will transport all your equipment to and from your car/transport to your craft stall space and back. Ideally, you may want to make as few trips as possible, particularly if you have lots of heavy equipment to move. I would put all my items into large clear plastic boxes with lids and carry them in, until one day, I saw trader pulling all his boxes and bags on a platform trolley! Perfect. It meant I could put all my boxes and bags on the trolley and wheel it in and out of the venue. It was timesaving and more importantly, easy on my back. The trolley folded down and stored easily under the table with my boxes, ready to load up when I was ready to leave.
Notepad and Pen
I found it valuable to carry a notepad and pen to jot down contact details of people I met or useful information I came across. I realised if I wanted to be taken seriously as a designer and trader, I needed to look the part and scrabbling around for scrap bits of paper wasn’t cutting it. I ordered a zipped Conference Folder and took it to every craft fair I attended. Customers appeared impressed when I used it to note down information. A worthwhile purchase.
You will need a receipt book to record details of all sales for your accounting and record keeping and also to give a copy to your customers with their purchases. Some customers will ask for a receipt and others won’t, but its always good to record the sale regardless. I used Pukka Receipt Books like this which is in duplicate. This style is perfect for taking details of any orders or commissions and once you write out the details, your customer gets a copy and you have a copy in your book. In addition to using this book, I would print out my name, business name and contact details on Avery Labels and stick a label on the customer copy (top white sheet) of the receipt book in advance. This meant I didn’t have to write it out myself and the customer would have all my contact details – saving money on business cards.
Do consider having signage to let customers know who you are (i.e. business name) and details of your offers and discounts. I would print off details on my computer and home and insert into picture frames. Personally, I found plain frames worked better as they didn’t detract from my message. When I used fancy ones, comments were about the frames and not the offers!
Investing in Yourself and Your Business
That’s a lot of stuff to get before I start selling at craft fairs I hear you say. Yes, it may seem like that, but it is an investment to get you up and running as quickly as possible. I didn’t buy everything all in one go, it took me time and one I decided I was going to sell my work through craft fairs, the investment paid off. I still have everything I purchased several years later and use them around the house. Plus, and this is a big plus… If you decide to buy anything to use in your business, it is likely to be tax deductible and you can claim your tax back when you complete your self-assessment at the end of the tax year.
In the first instance, look around your home and see what you can use. Alternatively, ask friends and family if there are things you can borrow to get you started. This will save on costs. Then decide what is a priority and factor any costs into your business.
I hope you found this article useful. If so, please leave your comments below.