I did my first craft fair last weekend. It's the biggest step I've taken with my business so far, and a scary one, but also so rewarding. I'd been invited to take part in the second Support Local Pop Up in Tunbridge Wells, and we had the most beautiful venue - the Function Room at One Warwick Park Hotel, a gorgeous high-ceilinged wooden-beamed space with big windows and lots of light. I had plenty of time in the morning to set up my table (although I'd practised how I was going to display things on the spare bedroom floor!), and to chat to some of the other stall holders. Everyone was lovely, and that definitely helped make the day a good experience.
We had a pretty steady flow of customers throughout the day, with a bit of a lull around lunchtime, and then of course a last minute flurry before we closed! I had tried not to go with too high expectations and end up disappointed, so I was delighted to make a few sales, including the two highest priced items on my table! I didn't make my fortune in one day, but I did cover the cost of the pitch, and had a bit over, which I suppose is the best I could have hoped for on my first try.
I've booked to attend again in August and September, and hopefully that will help to start growing my presence on the local scene and lead to more opportunities in the run up towards Christmas. (Yes, I know it's only July, shhhhh...) I got lots of lovely comments on my display and products from browsers, and some of the other makers, which was a wonderful compliment.
Having got the first one under my belt now I feel much more confident about taking part in other markets and fairs like this, and of course I'll let you know when and where I'm going to be as soon as I book any more. I felt more relaxed on the day than I thought I might, and I realised how much I enjoy talking to customers (having now had a few years break from working in shops) about what I've made, inspirations, different ways of using/displaying products, and of course that perennial British favourite - the weather! Hey, it's an icebreaker if nothing else!
Not than I can speak as any kind of expert on the subject, but here are a few top tips that I'll be trying to remember for next time.
- Accept card payments - definitely a useful one. Even at a small local event, some people are likely not to have a lot of cash on them, and if you're wanting to sell anything for more than about £20, being able to accept debit or credit card payments is going to be vital. Several of the other stall holders last weekend were using iZettle card readers, so I'm going to look into getting one of these for future events.
- Take more kit than you'll need - scissors, sticky tape, pins, safety pins, pens, business cards, mailing list sign-up sheet, carrier bags, extra stock...OK, so I know I was once a Girl Guide and have always lived and died by 'Be Prepared', but you never know what you're going to need, or if someone will ask to borrow something, so have a bag or box of essential kit handy.
- Talk to other stall holders - this was absolutely invaluable. You're going to be spending several hours in their company, so you might as well be friendly and make conversation. It's also a great way to hear about their experiences and advice, find out about other events that you might be able to sell at, and you'll probably need to pop to the loo at some point during the day, so if you've made friends they'll be happy to keep an eye on your stall for a few minutes as long as you do the same for them.
- Don't expect too much, don't end up disappointed - I had desperately tried not to go with a figure in mind of how much money I'll like to take, and I think this is a good way of staying realistic. Several of the other makers talked about how hit and miss things can be some days, so if you're not expecting to make millions, you'll still be grateful and happy with anything you do manage to sell. Obviously there are costs to be covered, like the pitch fee and any other outgoings you've had in the preparation, but particularly for my first time I tried to keep it about the experience, and getting me and my stuff in front of real people, who maybe will remember me another time. Still didn't stop me doing a little happy dance the first time someone gave me actual money though!
- Comfy shoes! Do I need to say more? You're going to be on your feet most of the day, people can't see you if you sit down behind your table, and standing in more or less one place can make your feet ache even more than walking around, so your favourite heels (no matter how confident they make you feel) are probably going to be a no.
I was fairly exhausted by the time I got home, and had a really good sleep Saturday night, but since then I've had a chance to recover, and get back in the swing of things. I'd closed my Etsy shop over the weekend while I was busy at the fair, but it's now open again, and I've updated all my listings, and added a few more new things. Do go and have a look and let me know what you think.
The next Support Local event is on Sunday 6th August, again at One Warwick Park, Tunbridge Wells, between 10am and 4pm, so if you're in the area please drop in and see us!