I having been looking back at 2019. My first full year of doing craft fairs taught me a lot of things. Firstly, I was welcomed by lovely co -crafters willing to share their knowledge and experiences. Everyone was very helpful. I got to know quite a few and it was always good to see a familiar face at events. One piece of advice was to keep a log about each venue, things like parking, access, footfall, how well the event was organised, how well advertised. This will prove invaluable when booking for the following year.
One event I did was very poorly attended. On paper, it looked a great venue, a prestigious building in the centre of a busy town but the event was on the first floor and I soon learnt that people don’t like stairs. I did not care too much either having to lug my wares up and down 2 separate service lifts. Another one I did was in a market town and fortunately there was a farmers’ market on in the morning which bought a lot of trade into our hall, so it’s worth checking what else is on in the area when you book – it may be an advantage or it may not. This event had a few stalls on the stage behind me and even though there was good footfall, I noticed hardly anyone was going up to see them. Again, people don’t like stairs!
I found events fell into 4 categories, the really top price large organised events, craft fairs, charity and community fairs and farmer’s markets. For my first endeavour into doing events, I felt local craft fairs and the charity and local community fairs would work better for my handmade products.
The craft fair fees ranged from £25 - £40 a table and for the most are well organised and well -advertised. The best ones are established and often have a waiting list so it is important to book early. Bookings start in January even for the Christmas Fairs.
I really liked doing the charity and local community events, firstly because I was supporting a good cause and they are usually well supported. Quite often one of these events leads to another. I got a several invites to have a stall at other events this way.
All in all, my first year was an invaluable learning experience. I enjoyed meeting people and a lot of my repeat orders are from customers that I have met at these events.
My advice to other crafters venturing out into doing craft fairs is keep learning and networking. Each time I improved the way I set up the stall to generate interest and engaged more with the customers as I grew in confidence. Have faith in your products. I only had one really bad event where literally no one showed up, luckily other stall holders were coming over for a look and buying my soap.
Note on 2020 – What can I say? At the time of posting all the events I had planned for 2020 were one by one cancelled due to Covid-19. I must say all the organisers were good, kept me informed and all offered refunds or to book a later date. Some Christmas Fairs may yet go ahead, I know the organisers have worked hard to make them Covid secure. We are all having to live with this awful virus and a cancelled fair is nothing compared to what many people have gone through. It may take another 6 months or so but things will get back to normal. Crafting is a great way to relax and a happy distraction in these difficult times. I can still enjoy making soap and gifts and coming up with new products for my online shop. To all my customers and co -crafters alike -we will be back doing craft fairs in 2021 enjoying ourselves and having a good catch up
In the meantime, my message to everyone is ‘Stay safe and of course, keep washing those hands.’