Friday, December 9, 2011

First Craft Fair -- Lessons Learned

I hosted my first booth at a small community holiday craft fair on Saturday.   Thanks to some very helpful guidance I received here, and by researching ideas about booths, displays, and more on the Internet and in books, I felt fairly well prepared for what would happen.  

Some of the ideas I read included:  

  • Make the jewelry, not the table covering or other surrounding items, the focus.  (My sister gave me a nice fold-up table and a table cloth.  The covering is a lovely off-white with faint lines of silver and gold.  My display items were in natural tones of tan--light woods, fiber, craft paper, as well as black, and pewter.  I added a touch of red, silver and lime green in a very small festive decoration.)
  • Display things at varying heights for visual interest.   (There were different heights, but not well-planned. I have room for improvement here.)
  • Jewelry looks best with lights.    (I asked for electricity so I could take credit cards via my laptop, so I was also able to lay out small white Christmas lights on the table.  I think that would work year round whenever electricity was available.)  People did actually comment on the lights.
  • Have something close to the front of the table of interest to children.   Where they lead, their family members will follow.   It also gives them something of interest to touch rather than the jewelry displays.   (Over Thanksgiving, my sister-in-law and husband made up bracelet kits with  plastic beads in combinations of red, clear, and green and heavy paper string.)      

Just a bit of the great advice I got here:

  • Not everything you use in your display has to match.   
  • You don't need to purchase everything.   Look for items around your house.  
  • Using unexpected items for display purposes brings visual interest to your table/booth.
  • Wait to buy items for your display until you find just what you want.    

This sounds exactly like how I USUALLY shop, but not what I was about to do this time.   When I heard this, I immediately reconsidered an order I was about to make and made some changes.   Instead of ordering an earring rack I didn't really like or one I didn't have space for, I used two items from home and adapted for use as earring displays.  (One was a wire grill/cookie pan cooling rack.  I hand-sewed a bit of fabric on the back to keep my earring cards from tilting forward.  Then set it on an easel.  That one worked best.  Admittedly both of my earring racks looked okay, but turned out to have some stability issues!  No worries, by waiting, I've since found a rack I think will be perfect!)   I also skipped purchasing racks for the many pendants I had to display.   A few days after I placed that order, I found an interesting wall decoration and easel I used instead.)

I asked a question of you about what you might have forgotten to take to a craft fair...
I did a good job of remembering everything I needed to take, with one glaring exception--the camera!

So the few photos you see here were taken at home while preparing for the event.  My sister had her camera phone.  If she comes up with more pics for me, I'll post later. 

A few other lessons learned:

1.  There will always be more lessons to be learned.   (Very few people attended this event.   The weather was unpleasant, and the craft fair had a 3-hour lead on other events to draw people in.   That equated to poor sales, not just for me but for others too.   I can say now, I'll look more closely at the schedules before signing up, but...there were lots of seasoned veteran craft fair people here, and we all showed up together.  All I'm saying is that I imagine there is something to be learned every time I do a craft fair, and it will probably not be a lesson I'm expecting.

2.  When things are going slowly, it's easy to spend more money than you take in!   (I'm not the only one who confessed to doing this.)

3. Tweens can be your most serious and enthusiastic shoppers.   Handblown glass holiday earrings drew the most interest among this age group.  I only had a couple of pair.  Next time I'll have more.   The exuberance of this age group  brought others to the table too!   

4.  Not everyone "plays fair."   It can be a very competitive environment.   Do people not read--or just learn to ignore--space and table limitations?    (Will I be the same way after another time or two?)

5.  Some people are extremely generous in offering to help a "newbie" like me, to help get us in the loop of other fairs, show us the ropes, and offer encouragement.   And that's a really nice thing to learn.

To all of you who did the same, my sincere thanks.   

The winner of the give-away for providing craft fair ideas is "BeadBug" from TracyBell who emailed me a full page of ideas to consider. (Tracy will be the winner of a $15 gift certificate to or a shop of her choice.  I'll be in touch soon!)  My thanks to Tracy and all who commented and offered encouragement!   



Beadbug said...

There will always be a space hog on one side or the other of your booth space. Get there early and don't let them infringe on your space. If you have to take masking tape and a tape measure! I am serious this happens every time even at outside fairs.

Thanks for the gift I really didn't expect anything for my running on about what works for me but thanks so much.

Sharyl said...

Thanks for the tip. I was there early, but still... so next time the tape!

You are welcome for the give-away gift certificate! Thanks for providing your helpful input! --Sharyl