Folksy Ltd

Leaving before the end of a fair

I’ve done a couple of fairs in the lead up to Christmas this year, one of them was meant to run from 11 til 3. It wasn’t well supported, probably not widely advertised, and by 12.30 several stalls were packing up and going. I felt quite uncomfortable - leaving early seemed rude to the organisers and left gaps in the hall making it look less appealing to customers coming in the door. However, it was very quiet and some stallholders made no sales.

I stayed until 2.15, by which time everyone was packing, but I wondered what other people think - what should you do in this situation?

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As a both a buyer and a seller at fairs these are my thoughts only.
I used to do a monthly craft fair which ran from 10-4 we were not allowed to pack up one minute before 4 no matter how quiet it may have been. If you did flout this you would not be allowed to take part again. It was a popular fair with a waiting list so it was not an empty threat. I also know as a seller if you have sat there with no one through the door the temptation is just to give up and go home I always tried to sit it out to the bitter end with a mental note not to do that one again.
As a customer if I arrived and lots were packing up I would possibly not go in thinking I was too late and had got the time wrong.
If customers are paying to come then I think stallholders should stay no matter what, as customers arriving towards the end have paid to see the same amount of stalls as the ones who came at the beginning.

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I agree with Gill. It’s not fair to the customers when stallholders pack up early. It’s also not fair to the other stallholders. As Gill mentioned, customers are less likely to come in if they see stalls being packed away and that takes possible sales away from the stalls that are still up and running.

At most of the fairs I go to, the stalls do start to pack away before the end when the customers dwindle away but only within the last 20 minutes or so. If a fair is dreadfully quiet, I wouldn’t pack away ridiculously early - I just wouldn’t do that fair again. Generally, well-organised fairs have a rule that sets a time limit on how early you can pack away.

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Thanks for your thoughts, I agree with both of you. And of course there is the added bonus that if you are still set up when lots of others have packed away, those that do want to come and spend money are more likely to spend it with you :grinning:

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That actually happened to me last week Mel @aquilacrafts - it was a bit of a dire fair but I doubled my sales iin the last 20 minutes as nearly everyone else had packed away!

I try not to pack up early as like you all say - it does put off potential customers at the door. Even with all my pottery it only takes 20 minutes to pack away, so if you planned to stay until a certain time, I don’t see the point in losing a couple of sales by leaving early. (unless maybe everyone is getting snowed in - which could potentially happen tomorrow!)

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I hate it. Its happened a couple of times. I think if Ive paid for a table for a certain amount of hours Im darn well going to stay there! Its very annoying as a seller, making it look like nobody cares and must be a let down for any customer that has bothered to turn up.
At one venue people were packing up more than an hour before the end. What the organisers failed to check is that a charity bike run was happening and roads close to the venue were being closed for about an hour. #annoying

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I wouldn’t pack up early, and hate it when people do, I always pick up trade as one of the last ones standing! One fair I used to do regularly (and I don’t do many these days) one regular seemed to pack up half way through the morning. I was really surprised by her actions, she was always there and knew there were good and bad days, the next time I saw her, I quizzed her about it, because, she was back at the same fair! It turned out that she had fallen off a chair she was standing on and banged her head. She had had people help her pack up and leave. When she got home she insisted her husband take her to a and e . This poor lady had also broken her back! So, perhaps we shouldn’t jump to conclusions too quickly…

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I don’t do fairs now, but when I did, I always stayed to the end…
I once did a fair and at 5 mins to closing time a coach load of tourists turned up and spent money with the remaining sellers…those that went early lost possible sales.
You never know who is coming through the door or when.

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Thanks everyone for your advice, it seems like we all feel much the same. If it happens again I’m going to stay right to the bitter end…as long as I’m not snowed in and haven’t had a nasty accident :grinning:

I like it when fairs specify that you are not allowed to pack up early, it’s much fairer on everyone, especially if customers are paying to get in. I stay to the end as much as possible, I used to be the same at boot sales too, always the last one sitting in the field!

I once saw an event where £5 was added on to the price of the stall and you received it back at the end or after a set time or something like that. Not a bad idea, although I wasn’t there to see if it worked or not.

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@aquilacrafts that happened to me recently! I was selling at a small fair and lots of stallholders packed up because it went a bit quiet and then suddenly there was a flurry of people came in. I sold more in the last half hour than the whole morning and was really glad I stuck it out!

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I have never packed up early but there have been times that I might as well have. When the event is poorly located / badly, if at all, promoted and there are more sellers than total number of buyers… and all buyers jump to attention when someone comes into the otherwise empty hall…
Of course in those circumstances the organisers should probably refund 50% of the stall fees…
It takes me 40 mins to pack up and that’s with Bob helping so I might do a bit of discreet tidying away but otherwise I stay to the end regardless.

Correction… Pre-Xmas 2015
1 - left Uttoxeter Victorian Market at 7pm 2 hours early washed away by torrential rain
2 - left Lichfield Georgian Market at 11.15am (Sobbing heard here, I was having a fantastic time) when my gazebo was blown away by a tornado (ok very strong wind but same effect and gazebo was ruined too).

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Oh my goodness!!! I hope none of your glass got broken in that incident!

I haven’t braved an event with a gazebo yet… but after hearing that I’m not sure I want to!

Dropped a couple of fused things as the top didn’t get put on the box properly in the rush. Smashed them up and made them into nuggets !

Worse than broken though was the Wet at Uttoxeter.
All my suncatchers are stored individually boxed with lids (microwave / takeaway containers). This keeps them clean and dry and airtight (and also allows me to see what is in which box, to use the boxes with lids underneath for displaying and best of all, to use as perfect containers for safe postage).

For ages afterwards I had to keep replacing chains where a drop of water must have got into the box before I put the lid on resulting in Rust. It was a most aggravating thing.

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I have NO gazebo. I had lost a cheaper one at a windy event in summer so the one lost at Lichfield cost more than I took at the abandoned event.
I have therefore not done any outside events since and have had some brilliant fairs and markets this year.

Tomorrow I was to be at Tutbury market but not as Joysofglass but under the auspices of Country Markets and therefore under Their gazebo.
Proper Snow is forecast from 4am. I have therefore decided to stay at home. I don’t want snow in my boxes nor do I want to risk not either getting there or not getting home. There are small hills between me and Tutbury but in anything more than 1 inch of snow they are Mountains.

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I only start packing up when the organisers tell me to (in a couple of cases slightly forcibly as I’ve still had customers after we were supposed to have stopped and they want everything cleared away so they can reopen the road…)
Today’s market sold not a lot in the first 5 1/2 hours and then over £200 to one lady in the last 30 mins - other people had started packing away at this point - its worth staying to the end.

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Wow, I am now absolutely convinced to always stay until the end

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I’ve never done it before today. Outdoor under a cover attached to the stall(organisers insist the firm sent the wrong stalls), no lighting provided however. Fine while the shop I was in front of was open but the street light in front of me failed to come on and I only have battery operated fairy lights as there is no power provided. All the food stalls had already packed up and you literally couldn’t see my stock. The Manchester Derby started at 4.15 so there were few customers left by then so little point In staying til 6. Saying all this earlier in the day made it my most successful ever, despite the snow, and it was the first they had organised. I’m signing up for their summer gala and will come next year. Have suggested they look into lighting for next year.

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I don’t do fairs any more but when I did I always stayed till the end, If it was quiet I may of started to do a bit of ‘tidying up’ and pack away things that were not needed so I’d be ready for a quick getaway.

The only time I did leave an event early was one year at a Pumpkin Patch event, it was every Saturday and Sunday for the month of October and one of the Sundays was non stop rain, although the stalls were in a marquee the field became a muddy quagmire, the farmer who organises the event sent us all home early.

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