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attitudes to craft fairs

A link to an article on UK Handmade
http://ukhandmade.co.uk/content/business-different-approach-craft-fairs
interesting, good ideas
Went

The networking and marketing side have always paid dividends for us with the re-rushing and caning of chairs. Many people take leaflets and cards from us at the one market a year we do here in Spain and it generates steady work throughout the year via word of mouth or direct contact.

The other aspect we try and incorporate is a live demonstration - this stimulates a lot of interest.


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MornieG

There are a lot of good points raised in this article and I agree about local events being a marketing exercise as well as a sales platform. I don't think though that you can use that line for larger events where you may have paid out 250+ for the stand, plus fuel and maybe an overnight stay, you are getting into the realms of 500. If you do five of those a year say and only take 100 at each that's a huge loss we certainly couldn't write off as advertising.

We are definitely looking to do larger events this year and we have spent days agonizing over which events to try. So far only booked one two day Christmas Event in Dorset as we figure a specific Christmas Fair should at least produce a profit and we can stay with friends overnight.

The Oak Fair we have done for the last two years will be for two days this year rather than one and we have been fairly successful at that, though this time takings were down.

It's not only which events, but are we right for them and do we have the right products. Country fairs are popular but I think we need more hunting, shooting, fishing related items.

The article makes it sound so simple but when you are a full time business with what you make, not a hobby crafter or part time, you have to make money to put food on the table and pay the bills as well as fund the events in the first place.

Mo.XX
Nick

She thinks it's beyond her control if people who visit buy anything? Idiotic.

She's right about treating shows as advertising, rather than shop fronts, but it costs money.

Is there room for two or more Downsizers to bind together, and have a single stall, with stock from each one of you? Would take the pressure off, give you twice (or 3, 4, 12) times the advertising, for the same cost as doing it once? Imagine if 4 of you got together. You could do 4 shows, get 4 times the revenue, the footfall on your website, and 4 times the advertising, but only cough up for one show each, for the price, and the work. A courier would add slightly to the cost, for sure, but remove logistical headaches.

Getting people to your stand is the secret, and making them stay. People are attracted to people, and not stall holders. If you have a busy stand, it stays busy, so bribe people on. Have a box of chocolate open, or give away coffee. Or a prize draw, or a demo, or a video to watch. Once one person stops, the next person will, too.

What doesn't work is a an empty stand, with a person sat behind it, head down, knitting, or reading, or whatever. Everyone will pass that stand by.
madcat

All most everybody, I tend to ask what somebody is knitting .
Nick

Do you spend much money?
Went

I think it helps if you have a unique product or service though as well - so many craft fairs are full of the same old products with no imagination or relevance to customer needs.
earthyvirgo

Mornie G and Nick are absolutely right - there has to be interaction with potential customers.

When I've done the North Wales Art Fair, doing a demo always reaps benefits.

The ones where I let little 'uns produce a print from one of my lino blocks is even better ...watching out for their tiny fingers in the press of course - and making sure they remain ink free!

Even if people only buy a couple of cards, they have something with my name on it for possible future contact.

I'm thinking about doing the N Wales Art Trail again this year but it's definitely not just a matter of turning up.

EV
madcat

Problem with me Nick is that I don't spend much money ever and my spend is usually on raw materials.

Quite a lot of what I have is somebody else's unwanted old one, this strategy doesn't help increase the sales of a craft stall.

A totally separate issue is the nature of a lot of the stock on some stalls. There's a lot of pointless tasteless tat, cutesy teddies make me want to vomit.

I suppose I'm most likely to buy a beautifully made tool like a drop spindle.
Bodrighy

The smaller craft fairs have become places where people browse and will spend on the 'luxuries' they can justify to themselves such as soaps and small cheap jewellery but few will spend on anything that is more costly. Part of the problem is as said the recession but a big part is also the hobby crafters who are charging just for the cost of materials and in doing so not only undercut those who are trying to make a living but also give the potential customers a misunderstanding of the value of hand crafted items. At the end of the day those of us who are trying to do it as a living need to make sure that we have top quality work, sell for a sensible price and are approachable and happy to talk about our craft. I do get peeved seeing some stall holders sitting down reading behind their stalls, not even saying hello to people who approach and then whingeing at the end of the day that they haven't sold much. Most of what Karen says is true and comes from her own experience as well as her previous life before making her models.

Pete
MornieG

Another reason for going with the larger fairs is there will be little if any of the hobby crafters there as they wouldn't pay the money required for the event. You will still have the imported tat at some to contend with unless you go for the totally handmade ones. Country fairs are always full of so called fair trade items and mass produced imported 'handcrafted' stuff but you hope that the public will see the difference between them and you and choose to buy yours.

Pete has found that fairs he can demo at and give people a chance to have a go are better for us and organisers are always keen to have live displays if they can, and in return we generally get a reduction in fees or a large stand.

In reality though we nearly all make non essentials, luxuries large and small that when you are cutting back are the first to go. Food always seems to sell, it's a comparatively cheap treat. No one though has to have a wood vase or another pair of silver earrings.

Mo.XX
earthyvirgo

Another reason for going with the larger fairs is there will be little if any of the hobby crafters there as they wouldn't pay the money required for the event. You will still have the imported tat at some to contend with unless you go for the totally handmade ones. Country fairs are always full of so called fair trade items and mass produced imported 'handcrafted' stuff but you hope that the public will see the difference between them and you and choose to buy yours.

Pete has found that fairs he can demo at and give people a chance to have a go are better for us and organisers are always keen to have live displays if they can, and in return we generally get a reduction in fees or a large stand.

In reality though we nearly all make non essentials, luxuries large and small that when you are cutting back are the first to go. Food always seems to sell, it's a comparatively cheap treat. No one though has to have a wood vase or another pair of silver earrings.

Mo.XX


A bit of a way from you but I'm considering a Crafted by Hand event in Masham in May partly because of the statement below and because their focus this year is on printmakers. They seem to have a pretty good marketing plan as well - and it's a cracking location.

"Finally. An event where you can find fresh, contemporary, quirky art, craft and design that's being chosen for its quality & originality. No made-it-from-a-craft-kit assembly jobs, no peach coloured crocheted toilet roll holders"

If you want to have a peek at the details and applic form, I can forward it to you or attach it here.

EV
earthyvirgo

Here's the new website link to the Masham 'Crafted by Hand' programme for this year.

http://www.by-handevents.com/

EV
NorthernMonkeyGirl

Masham added to my diary Smile
MornieG

Here's the new website link to the Masham 'Crafted by Hand' programme for this year.

http://www.by-handevents.com/

EV


Thank you EV. A long way for us but not overpriced and looks just what we are searching for. I have contacted then with some questions re setting up etc and will see what the reply is before we can make a decision.

Mo.XX
earthyvirgo

Here's the new website link to the Masham 'Crafted by Hand' programme for this year.

http://www.by-handevents.com/

EV

Thank you EV. A long way for us but not overpriced and looks just what we are searching for. I have contacted then with some questions re setting up etc and will see what the reply is before we can make a decision.

Mo.XX

No probs. Might even see you there Smile

EV
Bodrighy

Long time since I last went to York so might be a chance to have a few days break around the event. Looks pretty good going buy their web site.

Pete
Luath

Probably met you at the Oak Fair Bodrighy lol MornieG

Probably met you at the Oak Fair Bodrighy lol

We will be there this year too, if you go come and say Hi !

Mo.XX
Luath

Will hopefully have left the country by then, but will if it all goes pear-shaped Laughing Mistress Rose

When I first started doing craft fairs, 30 odd years ago, the main problem was 'sales of work'. People expected to pay very low prices because they were used to jumble sales or people making things for charity, because craft workers had got to such a low ebb. Things are a bit better today, although I agree the hobbyists cause a lot of trouble, and not just at craft fairs, but in any craft orientated business.

We try to have a demonstration at any show we do; bungee lathe turning, besom making, spoon or spatula making, and often more than one. One trouble we find is that people stop and look, sometimes even parking their children to watch, sometimes even ask questions, then walk past the resulting product.

We do farmers markets and some shows, mainly local ones, and we are expecting the January ones to be loss makers, just hope that the ones during the rest of the year yield some profit.
gregotyn

There are a lot of quality craft people at the Welsh Spring Festival , I am not sure of costs. There are two large halls full of sellers and buyers! It is held at the Royal Welsh showground at Builth Wells mid Powys towards the end of May on a Sat and Sun. I'm not sure which w/e it is this year, will let you know when I find out!
ed.- it is the 17th/18 May this year.
MornieG

Well EV we have applied for the Masham event and await their decision when applications end. It is unfortunately the end of May bank holiday weekend so every B&B, hotel and self catering cottage has whacked and extra 100 on a three day stay Sad There isn't a Premier Inn close by so will have to see if we are accepted first then try and find find somewhere to stay that doesn't wipe out any possible profit we may make.

Have booked a 4 dayer in Abingdon mid October which had been going for yonks and it's driveable for us on a daily basis, just. With the two day Oak fair and the two days at Kington Lacey for Christmas, that's probably all we can afford to chance this year by way of larger shows. We will hopefully do the three days at the American Museum in Bath but this is minimal cost.

The larger shows also entail a more impressive stand and more stock all additional investment before you have any idea if it's going to work for you.

Oh the joys of self employment LOL

Mo.XX
Nick

There's a holiday inn, 17 miles away for 56 a night.

This is a rate that allows you to cancel up until 4pm on the day you arrive.
earthyvirgo

Well EV we have applied for the Masham event and await their decision when applications end. It is unfortunately the end of May bank holiday weekend so every B&B, hotel and self catering cottage has whacked and extra 100 on a three day stay Sad There isn't a Premier Inn close by so will have to see if we are accepted first then try and find find somewhere to stay that doesn't wipe out any possible profit we may make.

Mo.XX

I haven't made a final decision on the Masham one yet ...probably not this year as I've decided to apply to a couple of 'Open' exhibitions (not cheap!) but we might visit to see what sort of event it is.

Good luck with the application. They seem like a good bunch up there.

EV
MornieG

There's a holiday inn, 17 miles away for 56 a night.

This is a rate that allows you to cancel up until 4pm on the day you arrive.

Thanks Nick, didn't think of them. Will see if they have the dates if and when we get accepted Smile

EV if we get in please do come and say hello if you visit.

Mo.XX
Nick

No worries.
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