Monday, 19 December 2011

Craft Fair Tips... promised in my last blog post a couple of days ago I have put together some craft fair tips which may be of some use to fellow crafters out there.  I have learned a lot over the last few weeks where I have done 5 craft fairs (6th one coming up on Tuesday).  I am still a beginner at doing fairs so I will no doubt continue to learn the more fairs I do.

I will say that I will probably forget a few things so I will come back to this post to update it.  Also, if you have any of your own tips I would love to hear them.

Accepting a Craft Fair

1.  Firstly ask if there is a fee for the table so you know how much money you have to make before you start making profit.

2.  A rough estimate size of the table you will be given eg. a school desk size, pasting table etc.  This will help you judge how much stock you will need to take with you.

3.  Where it is - not only area you need to travel to but where in the actual hall, room etc you will be placed.  If you have a choice of tables on arrival think carefully and don't just jump in.  I done one where I thought it would be brilliant because I was right by the door to Santa's grotto so I thought parents / grandparents would have browsing time (which could turn into buying time) whilst waiting their turn to take the kids in but what actually happened was a blocked view from potential customers and lots of children picking and prodding products and even throwing things on the floor!!

You may need to consider appropriate clothing depending on where you are and if you are outside consider whether your items need to be weighted down somehow or if they need any other protection from the elements!

4.  Whether or not you need to bring anything.  I have been places where you have needed your own table.  I have two pasting tables just in case.  I have also had to provide raffle prizes, donations etc so check if you need to take anything.

5.  Unless you know already ask whether or not they have held a craft fair there before and what they expect the footfall to be.

6.  Ask what time the fair starts and finishes and what time you need to be there to set up.  Setting up a table takes me a lot longer than I would have expected.

Preparation Beforehand

I only done my first ever craft fair a few weeks ago so I didn't know what to expect and had NO IDEA how to set up my table.  What did I do???

1.  Set up a mock table in the living room...  It really does help.

2.  I bought a sign to make my table look a bit more professional.  When visiting craft fairs before as a customer I often saw the signs attached to the table using string.  Trying this myself was very fiddly and didn't look great.  Practice putting your sign up beforehand.  I found using large safety pins worked best...

And if you do have a sign get yourself a cardboard tube to store it in so it doesn't get squashed.

3.  Buy a table cloth(s) and iron beforehand.  It looks a lot nicer.

4.  Don't have table cloths?  I bought double sized bed sheets in ivory especially for craft fairs ;-)

Packing Ready to Go

1.  Pack an extra table cloth - I found this extremely handy.  I'll explain why later on...  Pack cloths on the top - you need these first remember.

2.  Decide how you will transport all of your items.  I used a large suitcase for large items, table cloths, packaging supplies etc. I have noticed I have been the only person to do this at the craft fairs I have been to.  Everyone else I have seen have arrived with many trips to the car with a ton of boxes.  A suitcase is much easier as you can wheel it in instead :-)

3.  I had little compartments within my suitcase for various items and little bags for things like price tags, spare string, ribbon etc so everything is within easy reach.

4.  Bubble wrap is invaluable :-)  as is tissue paper and sticky tape!

Checklist of Essentials Needed

1.  Safety pins

2.  A couple of pens

3.  Notebook - handy for jotting down orders and keep a tally of what you have sold.  This make is far easier working out your profit when you get home.

4.  Packaging supplies - bags (although you need to charge for in some areas including where I am based), tissue paper etc

5.  Sticky tape - I take a normal roll with me together with a pretty pattered tape which I use for packing customers purchases.  I also take one of those tape dispensers which is so much easier.

6.  Props for your items - see Setting up your Table below...

7.  Calculator

8.  If like me you haven't got time to price every item individually make little cards with the prices on instead to pop next to the item.

9.  A diary.  I have been asked to attend another craft fair whilst in the middle of attending another.  Easier to pencil it in there and then.

10.  A decent float.  I always take £100 which consists of £30 in £10 notes, £35 in £5 notes, a bag of £1 coins, a bag of 50p coins and a bag of 10p coins.  Because in Wales we have to charge 5p for bags which includes paper bags I also take some 5p coins with me although I have found that hardly anyone wants a bag and are more than happy with simply having the item gift wrapped in tissue paper and pretty tape.

11.  Something to keep your float in.  You could use a tin but I find this difficult to conceal, cumbersome if you need to leave your table or turn your back on it.  I use a long handled shoulder bag with many pockets for notes, change, pens etc.

12.  Ribbon and string.

13.  If you are doing an all day event you may want to take something to do - you could take your latest craft project with you and do a little demonstration.  I think this makes customers realise that the items on your table have been made by you, are not mass produced and you can use it as a prompt to talk to your customers about your work.

14.  Something to eat and drink.

15.  Camera.

Setting up Your Table

1.  Arrive with plenty of time to spare before the fair starts to set up.  It takes longer than you think.  Like mentioned above, set up a mock table first and have a play around with how you would like it to look.  It will also help you judge just how much stock you need.

2.  Use props.  This was my first ever table...

It was a good turnout and lots of sales but to me the table was too flat.  I was very unhappy with it and felt it needed a bit of height.

I went and bought a few props and this is what happened...

Adding a bit of height makes all the difference.  I am now on the lookout for something to replace the Christmas tree in the New Year!  Any ideas appreciated.  I am thinking of using some raised boxes covered with a cloth for displaying cushions and doorstops etc.

3.  Use decorative plates, bowls etc.

4.  Try and display some of your items as they would be used by your customers.  It attracts their attention and gets them thinking how they will use the items themselves.  For example I covered a Christmas tree in decorations and I took a washing up liquid bottle with me to display one of the mini aprons.

5.  After setting up your table have a look to see if there is any space left anywhere.  For example, is there a very large gap at the end of your table?  I had a very large gap at the end of my table at my first event.  I found a few chairs, used my spare table cloth to cover them and then displayed all my cushions on it.  Very effective.

6.  I now make myself a packing table at each fair.  Sometimes I have been lucky to have a large shelf or cabinet behind me which I have covered in a cloth and placed my supplies on like this one here...

You can see I have managed to lay out my tissue paper, display a couple of cushions and have some paper, pens and calculator etc handy.

If I am not that lucky I place my emptied suitcase on the floor behind my table.  I put my large plastic box on the top on the suitcase (which I use for transporting delicate items) then place my spare table cloth over the top.  This now becomes the prefect packaging table at perfect height when sitting down :-)

During the Fair

1.  Sounds obvious but always smile, say hello and try and make eye contact with those visiting your table.

2.  Like mentioned above take something to do - preferably a craft project.  Potential customers like seeing how you make your things and makes them realise that it is YOU who makes all the wonderful things on your table.

3.  Keep a record of what you sell.  Makes life easier to tally up how much you have made and what you need to replenish your stock with.

4.  Tidy your table often (people like to pick up and move your items around a lot)!!

Packing Away

1.  Make sure you make the effort and take the time to pack everything away perfectly.  By doing this you will save yourself so much time for the next fair.  Also, it usually saves the need for ironing any items again etc.

2.  Pack cloths on the top - they are the last thing to go in but are the first things to come back out again.

Anything Else

1.  Take business cards.  I always place some on the table and have a little printed out sign saying "Business Cards - Please take one".  If a customer hasn't picked one up I pop one in each package purchased.

2.  Take photographs.  I can look back on each of my stalls and see how they have progressed / changed and can see what needs to be altered next time around.

3.  If you can, pay a visit to all the other stall holders.  It's nice to network.  It is quite possible that you will see the same faces again and at the same time you can have a look how they have set up their tables so you can gain some ideas.

4.  Product and Public Liability Insurance.  Very important.  I have been asked at many events (not all) to provide a copy of my certificate.  Always carry spare copies in a plastic wallet to all events as I have been asked to provide a copy on arrival before setting up my table.  May be worth asking beforehand if you need to provide a copy.  When I applied for my insurance I got covered the same day as applying and the documents were emailed to me the next day so it can be a last minute job if you haven't yet got cover.  It really does give peace of mind to both yourself and your customers having insurance in place.

If you want to ask me anything or have queries or help in relation to craft fairs either comment below or email me -

IF YOU have come this far - well done - bit long winded this post.
I hope it is of some use to someone.  If you know anyone it may be useful to please feel free to share it and pass it on.

Also, if you have any tips of your own please share as I would love to hear them.

Emma xxx


  1. Thank u Emma I am hoping to start craft fairs in 2012 and your tips have been v useful. I have also been visiting craft fairs this yr and seeing how others have displayed their tables. V kind of u to share this with us. Thank you x

  2. I'm currently making a collection of items to sell next year and this is excellent advice - thank you for taking the trouble to share it with us.
    I wish you a happy Christmas and continued success with your business venture.
    PS I'm having trouble publishing a comment other than being 'anonymous'

  3. Fab post, very helpful tips! I used to do craft fairs years ago and when I look back at that time I realise how poorly I had my stall set up! I have started back again now but have only done 2 this year (there isn't any local to me really). I so need to kick myself and next year be more organised - your tips will come in handy, thanks for sharing! Have a lovely week x

  4. Really useful. I have also just started doing the craft fairs, and at the moment am using them as a barometer of what sells and what just isn't shifting. I have also learned the importance of smaller,impulse buys, which I hadn't really thought about in the beginning. Plus, the ifference between a ''shopping evening'', which was full of bought in goods, and a craft fair. At the moment it's an enjoyable learning curve!!! One quick question, I noticed that you are based in Neath. I am in Swansea, and am trying to source a good, reasonable supplier of fabric name tapes to sew into items, preferably with a choice of colours and fonts? Could you recommend anyone? Thankyou....and Merry Christmas :) The Sherbet Patch

  5. Very uesfull blog, thankyou. I did my first craft fair 2 weeks ago and it was sucessful and am now looking for more for 2012 (I found it to be quite addictive)
    You asked for ideas to replace the Christmas tree, I took a pine shelve thingy with me, the one that looks like the top of a welsh dresser with little drawers, I pulled the drawers out and used them to display my lavender hearts, it gave height and looked rustic.
    Many thanks for al the tips
    Janette (North Linconshire)

  6. Thanks for this, I've already been looking out for props to use next year if I venture into the world of craft fairs x

  7. some good tips.... definately safer to wear your money rather than having a tin or box for it. I try to round my prices up to easy figures and that makes providing change a lot easier.

    Also photograph you table at each event - changes can be made and you have a good pictoral comparison!

    try and get boxes on wheels or a small trolley thing that your boxes can be strapped to and this makes for fewer trips between car and venue when unloading and packing up.

    I have an admin box with me too = i include my PPL insurance certificate, safety pins, rules for the day/venue, pens, pricing labels, order book, photographs of previous orders and business cards.

    Always engage with people and show an interest in their needs and be prepared to make suggestions on how items can be personalised for them.

    great blog - many thanks xxx

  8. That was so helpful. I did my first craft table at a Christmas Fair at the beginning of December. I make fabric goodies some very similar to yours. For height I bought a silver cone standing about 18 inches high made of kind of lacey wire which meant I could hang little hearts on it which were very popular with little girls. I think you could use it all year round. Thank you for all the tips - I made about 5 trips to the car so the suitcase on wheels is a good idea. I used a laundry basket standing in front of the table just off centre to display draught excluders. Thanks again and good luck.

  9. These kind of post are always inspiring and I prefer to read quality content so I happy to find many good point here in the post, writing is simply great, thank you for the post

  10. Great advice,thank you. What a great idea to take a spare cloth for a wrapping table!

  11. Thank you Emma for sharing this great blog! I have got my first stall next week and this has been really useful - so many things I hadn't even thought about. I will definitely take a pen and note book to keep track of sales, if there are any :) Thanks again xx

  12. Fantastic post- Thanks so much for writing it. So many useful tips! I'm currently preparing for my first ever round of fayres! x


Your comments are always welcome and most appreciated x