Part of the beauty of our LHF craft cooperative is sharing our many combined years of experience. A couple of weeks ago, I received a message from a brand new crafty lady who was looking to hire a stall with us, and she was feeling a little bit down. She’d done a craft fair in a different area, and hadn’t sold as much as she thought she might.
Well, I hope she doesn’t mind me sharing a version of my reply to her on our blog here. I found it really interesting because she sounded like me, four years ago.
Here’s the gist of it:
So, you’ve had a great idea, you get cracking on it, produce it to a high standard, take it along to a fair, then wonder why people aren’t snapping your products up?
Yep, that was exactly how I felt when I first started. It took a good few months to relax into it, choose venues more carefully (eg not doing school Christmas fetes unless you’re a tombola stall!) and try and get into your customer’s heads more. But above all, it’s the realisation that although you love your products and can’t possibly think of any scenario where someone else wouldn’t, there will be many people out there who have differing views on design, finish and especially price!
As handmade craft stallholders, one of the things we constantly have to battle against is the misconception from the general public that because it’s handmade, it should be cheaper than anything they might buy from a ‘normal’ shop. This is very definitely not the case, yet they don’t see what goes on behind the scenes: All the hours thinking carefully about colours, textures and design…..all the while fitting it all in between jobs, children, husbands, dogs and the odd bit of sleep!
So one of the main points I would make to you is don’t give up just yet. Think about when you walk into a shop. You might buy something, but leave 99.9% of the products there for someone else to buy. It’s the same for a craft fair. Some people come in purely to browse, but then another might come in and give you a commission.
My mum comes with me to most of my events, and I constantly have to remind her that we can’t force sales on to people, however much we might wish to! She still occasionally gets indignant and says things such as ‘well what’s wrong with these people, why are they rejecting us?’
But I’m more laid back. If at the start I had gone into it thinking it was going to make me the next Alan Sugar, I certainly don’t think of it now!
Yesterday, one of the things I sold was a £25 necklace. The time before that at a different craft fair, I hardly made any money at all. So people do spend money, but in reality only a small percentage per number of visitors at each fair. This is where as large as possible numbers for footfall comes into it. We are a new venture (being only three months old) but we have had encouraging numbers through the door at all of our events so far. We have roughly 2-20 (ish) people visiting us at any one time, continually throughout the day. I know this doesn’t sound like a lot, but I have been to some events where it has been horrendous with only 4 visitors the whole day, and two of those were the husbands!
People also respond to just the right amount of friendliness from the stall holder. Pushy crafters scare the customers away, but conversely, sullen-looking ones always seem to have less interest too! Now of course I’m not at all suggesting that you’re either of these types, having never met you, just simply that there’s as much of an art to being a stall holder and running a small business, as the art itself!
So there you have it – the first of probably many insights into the minds of the crafters we have with us at Love Handmade Fairs. Of course this is just my opinion. But one who shares some of my views (and illustrates it in THE most beautiful way possible) is a lady called Kate, who has very graciously let me feature her beautiful work on this blog. I think you’ll agree with her if you’re a creative person, and if you’re all of the lovely people out there who buy our creations, we hope you agree too! I hope that when you’re next at a craft fair, you find your own ‘special piece of perfect’
Support independent sellers. Support handmade!
Thanks Kate! And thanks for reading,