I am trying to decide if I am going to do a craft fayre next year, so I thought that I ought to visit one this year. The way I make decisions best is to make a list of the dos and don’ts so that I can plan well ahead. At the rate I am going at the moment though, it will take me that long to produce enough stock, I think!
Over the past year or so, I have spent quite a while producing some designs and stitching them up. I have made some cushions which are appliqued with Welsh language words like Cwtch (cuddle) and Nadolig Llawen (Merry Christmas)
This week, I finally found the time to go to a nearby Christmas craft fayre. I am so glad that I did as it was a great morning out. There were lots of good and very good ideas to pinch and also some not so good practices to avoid.
I worked in retail and sales for many years before I decided on a change of direction. So I have a bit
lot of prior knowledge of customer behaviour, and also of the results of good and bad customer service. I’ve installed window displays and also merchandised in-store displays which included tables. This all means that I’ve had plenty of experience of what works in a display and what behaviour will discourage potential customers.
In sharing my thoughts I hope that I don’t upset anyone. People who have done loads of craft fayres will think that I can’t possibly know what I am talking about!! But here goes anyway!
Here is a record of my observations of a recent craft fayre
I arrived at the venue fifteen minutes before the doors opened. The event was in a large hall in a very well populated town, so as expected there was already a small queue.
It cost me a pound to get in, with no charge for children. The floor was very well set out by the organisers who had clear walkways between the tables. Everything was accessible by everyone including wheelchair users and people with pushchairs. There were a couple of food stalls near the entrance selling hot and cold sweet and savoury snacks and hot drinks which were very nice to have on a freezing day! I am sure that the stall holders were as glad of refreshments as the public were. So far, so good so well done to the organisers for such a well presented event!
The stalls in general
Almost every stall was fully set up, so the stall holders must have been there very early laying out their stock. One person was still tweaking her display, but that could go on all through the day as items are sold, so that didn’t look at all bad.
The four most notable stalls were the ones that sold silver jewellery, handmade cards, etched glass and burned wood signs and another that sold hand sewn items.
These stalls were particularly well set out with plenty of height and space between all the items, with all of them clearly priced. They were dressed with lovely table cloths and bunting or other decorative items. No excess stock, boxes or rubbish were on show as anything like that was hidden well behind the table cloths.
The silver jewellery stall
Necklaces were laid flat in neat rows on black satin fabric on the table; there was height introduced by hanging displays on racks either side of the table top and on large pin boards which were standing on the floor and leaning against the front of the table. Everything was clearly priced and organised by style and colour. It was very eye-catching and smart.
The handmade cards stall
Cards were very well displayed by standing them up in display boxes with their faces forward. Some boxes were stacked to give a good view of more stock and there were stands to give height and interest. There was a large selection of beautifully made cards for all occasions. The stall holder had clearly priced them and also explained to me that there was a multi-buy price reduction too.( A great way to increase sales.) She also told me how she made the cards; that they are not to be seen anywhere else and that she can make custom designs. She is a very clever crafter and artist and a great sales woman! You can email her on Karen.firstname.lastname@example.org find her on Facebook at “Cards from the Attic”
The pyrography and glass engraving stall
This stall was full of things made by burning designs onto wood or etching on glass. The display had lots of height and was full but not cluttered. It had a huge selection of lovely gifts for all ages. The stall holder had in stock pocket-money items like key rings and plenty of items suitable for adults and also children, so all price points were covered. Again the stall holder was fully engaged with potential customers. She was chatty and informative, explaining how she made things and that she can be found on the internet at www.craftylittlekel.co.uk and that she is on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
The hand sewn items stall
Long items like aprons were displayed on clothes airers and coat racks which stood on the floor to the side or behind the table; giving height and interest. Everything smaller was displayed in an eye catching way on the table, whilst being individually and clearly priced. The stall holder was fully engaged with her customer – out in front of the table, chatting and explaining; lifting things up and showing the item’s front and back, and offering it to the person to hold. It is a
well-known retail secret that once a potential customer touches an item, they become invested in it and are more likely to buy it!! I bet she sells loads!
There were also a few things going on at the craft fayre that I realised would put people off,resulting in lost sales
No welcome/ closed body language
Some stall holders were sitting behind their stalls, heads down and engrossed in their phones, paying no interest to potential customers; others were standing guard behind their table, stony faced or arms crossed in front of them and looking a bit forbidding! I know it is a long day, but eye contact, a smile and a bit of patter is needed to encourage someone to stay around long enough to buy. People like to hear the story of how things were made, where you make them, what they are made of and how much they cost.
No prices on show
Other stalls had no prices on show which I found was most off-putting. When a shy person or someone in a hurry can’t see a price, they will most likely go away without buying. If there is a queue, people will move on to the next stall rather than waiting to ask the stall holder for a price. They will also assume that items will be highly priced or that maybe they can’t afford them. Traditionally it has always been the habit of high-priced shops to hide their prices.
No planned display
There were also a couple of tables that looked very jumbled, with no apparent design. There was no space between the items or any height in the display. Items were just piled onto the table almost on top of each other. They were very beautiful items but their beauty was lost on such a confused table! Time spent planning and even having a practice run at home will ensure a beautiful display and higher sales. I have learned that even the cheapest items can look “designer” if the display is well thought out!
No advertisement or contact details
There were no contact details available for quite a lot of stalls. It would be better to have either printed business cards or even hand produced flyers or cards for people to take. Repeat sales can be made and custom orders may be the result of someone finding your details hiding in their bag even some weeks later!
Thank you crafters everywhere!
All the stalls had lots of lovely stock and the crafters had obviously spent a lot of time, effort and a pile of money producing their beautiful wares. They all seem to go to lots of fayres over the Christmas period, spending many hours in village halls, sports centres and other venues. They must be very dedicated to their craft as well as very talented.The few people I talked to crafted until the wee hours as well as holding down a job. Hats off to you all, without your dedication gift buying at Christmas would be a very bland experience and everyone would get the same old shop bought stuff. Thanks guys!! Have a bit of a rest after Christmas when the madness is over, (before you have to start again!)
What tips do you have for higher sales?