Folksy Ltd

Craft fair views?

(Uphillcottagestudio) #1

Hi all.
Just joined folksy recently,but getting addicted already. I’m better in my workshop than on a computer, but here goes.ha.
I would like to hear other members views on craft fairs,we started doing fairs about 3 years ago, but now only do 2 a year, as all the others we’ve done have been a huge disapointment, and constantly leave us out of pocket, not just ourselves but all the other crafters that attended on the day.
As i’m a woodturner, I go on the turning websites,and the general feeling is not to bother with craft fairs.

First Craft Fair Advice
(Christine Shephard) #2

I think you have to pick and choose your craft fairs carefully, so that you’re targeting your own customer segment. It depends what you make, the price level, the style - only you can determine where your likely customers tend to shop, which fairs they visit and then do those craft fairs. Market research is essential before booking fairs - ask the organisers who visits, how many, where they advertise/promote, the general demographic of visitors, the average spend etc. If you just book and turn up, you’re taking a risk and most will probably not be right for you. And if you can visit the fair first, before selling there, even better, as you can judge for yourself how appropriate it might be for your work.

(Margaret Jackson) #3

As a buyer I frequently go to craft fairs, and wood turning stalls are something I look out for/sometimes buy from, so I think it can be worth it. As Christine says, you do need to research to find the right one for you. Good luck!

(Uphillcottagestudio) #4

Hi Christine.
I reckon if I’d done market research on most of the craft fairs we’ve done in the past three year, I wouldn’t
have done 99% of them, so your’e right.

(Karen Ellam) #5

I love visiting craft fairs as a buyer not a seller. I think I would struggle to make enough pieces to fill a table display lol.
I visited one a few days ago in a beautiful setting (National Trust) it had a great selection of handmade goodies. I nipped in at the beginning and again towards the end of our visit.
It was very obvious the tables which had done remarkably well, and the ones who hadn’t.
This fair was mainly food & drink related items.
I never really know why some stalls do better than others. The quality of everything there was fantastic.
When I’ve been to other types of craft fairs there’s the same pattern of the popular tables and the struggling ones.
It definitely helps having a natural confidence and a flair for selling your product. I always get drawn to stalls where the maker is animated and enthusiastic about what they make, but there is a fine line. Too pushy puts me off.
I would love to one day try my hand at a stall somewhere, but I know I would struggle with my anxiety and I think I’m abit too shy lol. Perhaps not the best combination for selling my wares out and about :wink:
My Dad is a fantastic salesman. It all comes naturally to him. Maybe I could drag him along with me lol :smile:


(Helen Smith) #6

I generally try to visit a fair as a buyer before committing myself to a table. I’ve lost count of the number of fairs I’ve walked in to and walked straight out again! I find the ones calling themselves an ‘Arts Fair’ or ‘Maker’s Fair’ tend to be better for my style of work. But even some that have looked really promising have ended up a dead loss, whether due to weather or competing events etc. On the other hand there are odd ones I’ve done as a favour not expecting to sell which have gone really well. It’s a complete gamble!

(Joy Salt) #7

I do a few but not many and those are all local, as low a table fee as possible and carefully selected. I enjoy doing them. It is essential to actually sell your work face to face occasionally so you can see for yourself people’s reaction to it.
I’ve done a few where I wish I hadn’t bothered getting out of bed but most, even if sales are not brilliant are good fun.
Some people do them every week, all year round. Me, I’d rather be making glass and selling it here on Folksy.

(Ronald Koorm) #8

Many craft fairs seem to be uneconomic when one takes into account the insurance costs, stall cost, parking, set up, and other factors.

Also, it depends on what you sell; - wood turning has a place, but there is quite a bit of competition out there.

Good weather is important too, but we once did the best ever financially, on a day with horrible squalling showers, when everyone else seemed to do very poorly, so one cannot tell.

I know of a really good ceramic artist who did a big two- day event near Kew this year, being advised there would be thousands of visitors.

But the organisers positioned her, and some other craft stalls, where she got almost no sales, and the outlay was £60 plus parking costs. She was very upset.
Not the first time she has been given poor locations at fairs.

So, be careful about the timing of the fair, the location of the stall, the weather, predicted footfall, phase of the moon…!

(Pauline Hayward) #9

I tend only to go to local fairs and maybe 2 or 3 a year. There is a really good one which I attend in December which is 5 minutes down the road for me and every year I’ve done it I’ve done really well. I’m booked in for this year and can’t wait, but first I need to get busy making so that I have plenty of stock for it. That’s the first thing on my list when I get back off my hols.


(Uphillcottagestudio) #10

I reckon the organisers make more money in these local town hall fairs, than the sellers.
I wonder if some do organise a fair as a money making scheme.

(Joy Salt) #11

I did one good xmas fair in 2012 at a ‘retirement’ housing complex. Sold lots. In 2013 I found myself not in the main thoroughfare where everybody came past (and lots stopped to buy) but in a room at the other end of the building, through the dining hall and behind a door so anyone popping their head round the door would have seen just a pile of knitted toys and a stall of cupcakes and not me and my glass. Not many bothered coming in, I didnt sell enough to make it worth my while to pack the car and went home a good hour early!

So position is important and with hindsight I should have asked for a table fee reduction.

Never mind not going this year :slight_smile:

(Liz Dyson) #12

I’ve given up with fairs as the last couple I did it weren’t worth it. However, I’m glad I saw you post this thread as I’ve been stalking your shop for the past few days and umming and ahhing about buying your lovely clock. I was going to put it on my Christmas list (just in case anyone actually asked me for one this year) but then I thought it might have disappeared by then, so I have treated myself a little early. Can’t wait to see it in the flesh.


(Claire Davis) #13

I agree with you Karen about having that natural confidence about your product. When I’ve been to fairs as a buyer and seller, people seem naturally drawn to the tables where the seller is smiling, chatty and friendly, and you see some where the seller is just sat down, not making any eye contact and I really find it off putting. I’m not naturally that outgoing and find it hard to know what to say to people but a simple ‘hello’ and a smile usually helps break the ice. And I worked in retail throughout my early 20’s so had it drilled into me to smile, be attentive, mindful of body language etc. Good old John Lewis came in handy for something! :smile:

(Uphillcottagestudio) #14

Thanks liz, for your order, it is a nice clock you will be pleased, I,ll get it sent off on thursday.
As it happens i’ve been looking for some cabochons which I use as embellishments in some of my boxes,as I also make wooden necklaces, I tend to run out of fasteners, and leather cord,give me time to check out your’e shop, and i’ll be in touch.
Thanks again.

(Brenda Cumming) #15

I did two craft fairs a month for over 20 years…they gradually dwindled and the footfall to each fair was quite often dire. I would even pay as much as £46 for a stall at a London venue. I loved meeting all the people and my other crafting buddies but at the end of the day reality hit.
Why pay a minimum of £10 (more often £20) to go to a fair and be lucky if you even covered your expenses, let alone made a profit. You have to remember that with the cost of the table and petrol etc you have in effect given that amount of supplies away for nothing…and that is before you even start to make money. NOW, I can sit indoors, watch tv, save my petrol and show an item on Folksy to possibly thousands of people for 18p…I couldn’t even put an advertisement in a shop for that !!
Yes, I sometimes think it would be nice to do a fair but then I think…nooooooo.
Don’t misunderstand me…fairs can be fun and it is lovely when people tell you how talented you are but you have to be very lucky these days to make them pay.
I am earning far more money now than I have ever done and I found it quite soul destroying standing for hours at a fair and having to go home and tell the family that I have not made any money.
I am really thankful for places like Folksy because it has enabled me to earn money. I can even just paint one picture and list it…to do a craft fair I would need dozens of paintings or I would look silly with an empty table.

(Su Mwamba) #16

I’ve re-entered the world of craft fairs this year & had some very hit & miss experiences (although only one, thankfully, that was a complete dead loss). I can only afford to do smaller local fairs, but have found one that seems to suit me, so am going to stick with that one as a regular thing next year, and just try out one or two others, depending on what comes up. I’d love to do one of the £60 or £100 huge fairs but I don’t drive so I have to weigh up the inconvenience of getting to somewhere as well as the actual cost…

I do love actually being out there and talking to (potential) customers, which is something you just can’t do online. As everyone above has said, though, it’s best to check out the market beforehand, if you can, and make sure there is enough footfall to make it worth your while. There’s little more disheartening than sitting at your stall with next to no people even passing by, let alone buying anything!

(Aisfor Alice) #17

I’ve just signed up for 4 fairs leading up to Christmas - 2 are small ones, predominantly artisan foods etc but are cheap as chips, so I’m using them as market research for what people are interested in and the best way to layout my table. Another is a Christmas fair which has good footfall apparently and the final one is a new arts market held in a really popular location. I’m hoping one of these will clarify which market works well for me. I haven’t done fairs in a few years (I got totally disillusioned by the effort vs sales!) so I’m hoping I at least have some success as I think my kids stuff will benefit from face to face interaction, and as this is a new venture for me I’m full of enthusiasm!!

(Leathermeister) #18

I recently did a craft fair in a shopping precinct only to discover that the ‘crafter’ next to us was selling imported bath sheets at 3 for £10 anther was selling imported mobile phone covers, another was selling imported watches and scarves, and the organiser was selling imported plastic handbags. If it wasn’t for a really nice couple sellling hand crafted slate products and ourselves with our handmade leather products there would have been no crafters there at all. If this is the state of craft fairs around the country it is a sad day for the designer maker.

(Christine Shephard) #19

Sadly that is exactly the state of most craft fairs around the country. Many have become little more than markets, with few if any genuine handcrafted products for sale. This puts the ‘handmade’ buyers off going to craft fairs, as they expect to see the same imported stuff at all of them. The organisers are killing off their own livelihood as well as those of the real designer/makers, but are too short-sighted to see it.

(Shine On) #20

I haven’t done craft fairs. Yet. Been trying to summon the confidence. This thread isn’t helping :wink: