Tips for Selling at Craft Fairs or Markets
I've been working selling my wares at weekly markets for the past 4 years, and I always have other crafts people asking me for some tips and tricks to do them.There are two sides to doing a market, the nuts and bolts of display, tables, and getting your stall. And also what to do/say to your customers to make the best of your stand. Both aspects have their difficulties, and trust me I've learned the hard way by making every mistake in the book.
Firstly you need a great display, this can take a long time to figure out, it's taken me years to really get to grips with properly. Maybe try to do some research online and at markets, take photos of the displays that you like and try to learn from them. Here are some easy pitfalls.
- Don't put all your products flat on a table, people will be walking past and judge what you're selling in about 2 seconds, if it's not visible they will walk on.
- Don't have an empty stand, if there isn't lots to choose from people won't buy. If you don't have lots of work share your stand with a friend. It cuts on cost and it fills up the table better.
- Price your work, people will be afraid to ask if there is no price on it, especially with crafts, people always assume that they can't afford it.
To help with creating a better display use risers, either by propping up some boards with boxes covered with a table cloth. Alternatively buy two notice boards and hinge in the middle so they can be free standing. I easily covered my boards with white cloth so the pieces can be viewed better against a fresh background. Other things like pretty baskets and hat boxes are fantastic for displaying your work in.
Shop around in the pound/thrift shops, even in the garden or kitchen ware sections, think outside the box for what you can use. Also places like Aldi and Lidl sell mini easels and chalk boards, which can really add to the charm of a display. If it's possible try to contrast or conordinate the colours of your table cloth to your logo, it will really give your display that extra punch that it needs. It's all about creating depth and texture, if there is a lot to look through people will stay browsing, but it must be well organised so it doesn't appear chaotic and cluttered, you just need to find a balance.
During the Summer is a good time of year to go shopping for market equipment, things like fold down tables, chairs and gazebos are all easily available in Argos, B&Q etc, look in the camping and garden sections. In the past I've used fold down tables that are used for wall paper pasting, they are very affordable and the heavy duty one is still working 3 years later.
What ever you do if you need to provide your own stall do not buy the one in Argos that is a pole assembly, it is a nightmare to put together and it's useless in British weather, it may look like a bargain but trust me it will break your heart (and your back!). At the start try to find a market that is indoors or provides cover for you. For your first market it will be quite daunting to deal with this aspect as well as your display and selling to customers.
Signage is also very important, you want people to remember your brand and know what to call you when talking about how amazing you are later to friends and family! I made my own banner with my sewing machine, but in the past I've used a long laminated sign, that cost about 40 euro from my local printer. Just like with your etsy shop it's good to keep your look consistent, so my banner matches my tags, and my smaller price signs.I got this great stamp on etsy from Jlmould, and it's really helped with my packaging, while keeping my costs low.
Now that your stall is looking stunning all you have to do is figure out how to talk to people. Doing your first market can be daunting, and it's difficult to know what to expect, one thing I hadn't factored in was how to interact with my customers, I figured it was no problem since I had worked in the service industry for so long. But I discovered it's different when you're selling your own work, on my first day I didn't know what to say to people because there wasn't that buffer of the being at a checkout/bar/till. Suddenly it seemed far more personal and I got really tongue tied, it took me a little while but I learned tricks to get around this:
- Be friendly: Nobody wants to go to a stall where someone looks grumpy and unwelcoming, I know it sounds very basic but a smile makes all the difference.
- Give people a bit of space: Don't pounce on them as soon as they stop at your stall, telling them the price of everything. Usually if someone picks something up or inspects a price tag I tell them it's handmade, or a special offer price. It's a way of opening a dialogue with someone who looks interested rather than heckling every passerby. It can be a difficult balance and some shoppers are very shy, so try not to get offended.
- Offer Information: There is nothing worse than talking to a trader and you feel like you are pulling teeth trying to get information out of them. Be pleasant and not too pushy, but tell people it's handmade, what the material is, or that your materials are sourced locally. These are things that people want to know, that's why they are at a craft market instead of Pennies/Primark.
- Converse: once you open up a dialogue and you feel that it's going well, continue the conversation, people at markets love to chat, go with it, you never know where it will lead. They might end up telling their neighbour 'about the lovely girl down the market',there is no harm is aiding some word of mouth business. Although be careful of those who want to chat for a half an hour but don't buy anything, those people might get in the way of other prospective customers, I know it sounds a bit cruel but you'll need to politely dismiss them.
- Business Cards: If someone seems interested but they don't end up buying it probably means they don't have the money on them at the time, but you have the opportunity for a future sale. Keep business cards on the table and also some close to hand. Hand them your card, tell them about your website, and also if you'll be trading at that market again. 99% of the time I get an encouraging 'oh really, that's great' in response.
Recently I've starting giving out DL sized flyers with all my info on them, shop, facebook, and blog with info and images from my business. This seems to be more effective than business cards as it supplies more information. If you do custom orders this would be a good way of letting customers know.
Sometimes it can be a very long day if you are at a stall, especially if it's quiet and there aren't many customers to talk to. The temptation is to bring a book and read it, but I would highly recommend not doing this. It's like adding another barrier between you and the customer, lots of people won't interrupt you, and you will miss opportunities to talk to browsers. This one-on-one interaction is what massive companies would pay millions for, so use this opportunity to add a face and a personality to your business.
One tactic I use to pass the time is to bring some sewing with me, it makes it obvious that the products that I'm selling are made by me, I get work done during quiet times, and it's a way for opening up a dialogue with customers. It has the opposite effect of a book, it makes people curious and I end up talking to lots of people about crafting.
Another handy tip is to wear your product if possible, it shows a pride in your work and it also illustrates how well your pieces look when they are worn. Sometimes it can be a little thing like this that make that last final decision in a sale.
This is also something you can do in your everyday life too, I often wear my felt brooches, and if someone comments I tell them I made it and either give them a business card, or tell them that I sell at a local market. Moo keyring business card holders come in very handy at those times! I know it may seem pushy but you are marketing yourself and your business, and it does lead to sales.
Recently I've found my facebook fanpage to be a fantastic resource for the market. It's a great way to advertise locally for free, during the week I post pictures of the things I've made to build up an interest for my weekend market. Then the day before I post a reminder about the market, with opening times and a link to the website.
Without fail every week I get a new customer at my stall saying that they were reading about my work on facebook and they came down because they read my update. I can't recommend it highly enough, it's not that time consuming and it's free!
For the past few years things have not always been rosey at the market, sometimes it can be tough. Here are a few things I learned the hard way:
- Sales: There have been days that I've sold nothing, it's really heartbreaking and I took it personally, but sometimes it's more to do with advertising, weather and the alignment of the stars. Go home, have little cry, pick your self back up again and try again the next week. It won't happen that often, but try not to take it too hard if it does.
- People: I know it sounds awful but some people are just rude, some people expect to buy everything at a market for £2 and get annoyed that you are overpricing. Either politely explain that it's handmade, if they persist ignore them. Some folks are just plain dotty!
- Weather: If you are trading outdoors check the weather forecast the night before, there is nothing worse than being freezing with no jacket, or wearing uggs and a jumper in 30 degree heat.
Original post can be found on Bugs and Fishes. Ruth Crean writes for Nice Day Designs. Republished with permission.
Read NextFramed Poem DIY
Tags / Related Topics
Your Recently Viewed Projects
May 18, 2017
Thank you for the realistic look at what it takes to sell crafts. I have always been a customer, never a vendor, but I think it's important to keep in mind what it takes for a crafter to even sell at a fair.
Feb 12, 2017
This is just what I was looking for I make all kinds of different things from jewelry to tutus to ring bearers pillow and more and I would like to start selling them I had a lot of questions but this answered a lot of my questions This is great advice for anyone starting and also for those that are selling now You may find something helpful I totally agree with the sellers personality because I go to a lot of craft shows and nothing is more of a turn off than someone that does not smile or seems grumpy I usually just walk away and go on my way and those sellers that are so pushy I walk away Also if everything is all cluttered together and you have to sort through everything in the same place is a great turnoff This is some great advice and very helpful Thanks…Read More
Jan 30, 2017
My partner and I have just recently bought our very first house together and adopted our first dog as well (it's been an exciting time) but budgets are tight and I was hoping to do Christmas markets this year to help us have a little extra cash over this expensive time of the year! Does a my one has any more hints and tips for a newbie like myself? I am starting to make stock now so I have plenty but how much is too much? And I'm scared of over charging so once the cost of making the items are taken out how much do you add on to the item after that? Any help/advice would be amazing!!!
Nov 18, 2016
This article is filled with valuable information for crafters selling at craft fairs and also helpful tips for growing my business. The ideas of not reading a book while you're selling because of low traffic and sales is something I will use. Also having plenty of items for sale and also wearing my items gives exposure from a distance to prospective buyers. I will use this advice for future references.
Jun 15, 2016
Apr 18, 2016
I have been doing markets from the first time I opened a shop on Etsy in 2011, throughout my displays are a hit and miss and I also believe that markets are so unpredictable. I wanted to tell you something I did was have a guest book for them to sign in with their email address which later is a great start on building a list for your website. I use battery operated lights to display with my jewelry set ups to makd them stand out and it worked one time but the next year nothing. Great tips. This was my first Christmas bazaar and I was sharing it with the person who was just helping me so I had a little end of the table to put them in the wrong way but I sold 22 out of 24 baskets.
Mar 03, 2016
Those tips are very helpful if you never had any show before I had to read this article few times last month and it helped a lot We were of Etsy sellers and used the same type table cover at every table I had crochet items and was a bit challenging to display specially the childrens crowns and flower brooches I learned that not over crowding the table is the best way to bring people close by And friendly attitude is win Though not to friendly I tried to be friendly with a grumpy lady and she asked if we knew each other and if we didnt I should not talk to her So there has to be a balance between a friendly and welcome phase and let the client see it for themself Dont you think I hate when the sellers are all over me and trying to show their…Read More items Also the price has to do a lot with their intrest A unreasonable price will turn people off and walk away Low price will do the same so I found it putting the prices for them to see is great idea
Jan 30, 2016
This site url=http//eatmywords.com/http//eatmywords.com//url can be a big help for kickstarters that wanted to sell their knitted products on broad markets.
Aug 04, 2015
Thanks for the article! I have a Facebook page and website for my T-Shirts, and I'm looking into having a stall too. I've done the few carboots, so I've learned that appearances are important (I had no idea about the difference a table cloth would make). I'm really excited about it, and your guide has been brilliant. Thank you! )
Mar 03, 2016
The seller next to me had done lot of advertsment rhough Facebook page and she had lot of people just coming to get from her. Is great idea. And I didnt think the table cloth was going to make a diffrence but it did. Good luck to you!
Dec 11, 2014
I could not agree more with your point concerning having a great display. It is incredible the difference in attitude that potential customers have based on how professional and inviting your display appears. It communicates to them how much you care about your products, and they make the assumption that if you can make your display look great then your products must be good too. Another page I have found helpful along these lines is http//craftshowsuccess.nitchmarketers.com/artic == les/craft-show-booth.html
Oct 12, 2014
This is so helpful. You have covered so much here. Thank you!
May 24, 2014
This is a good business to start, you can also include this at etsy.com, I suggest that you also give your product a unique business names in order for the people to know what you have.
Apr 08, 2014
This is wonderful advice. My husband and I are planning on setting up at some Craft Fairs this year and this will help tremendously! Thanks!
Aug 26, 2013
I'm a former crafter who stopped to pursue a teaching career, now that I'm a retired teacher I'm thinking of crafting again and I must agree with the author these tips are spot on. Especially about displaying at different levels, even hanging things from the top of the tent or stall down. Multi-level displaying actually causes people to stop and "take in" what they're seeing...great article
lounnanerland 4676 473
Apr 02, 2013
thanks for all the infor, very helpful for us beginers.
Nov 11, 2012
Great tips! Some I already had in play, but others are new...I am looking forward to implementing what Ive learned into the next show I do!
Paper Movement Ca rds Posters
Aug 13, 2012
Thanks for all the great tips. We've got our first show in 2 weeks selling our greeting cards, looking for all the good help we can get! www.papermovement.com
joannebrianti 6079 274
Jul 07, 2012
Superb article with some great advice for a newbie to the craft selling business
Nov 22, 2011
Thanks for posting this. I tried selling at an outdoor flea market a few weeks ago and it was really cold outside. I thought I was dressed right but after standing outside for almost 7 hours I don't think it mattered how many layers I was wearing. I also did not get any sales which was very disappointing. But the information shared in this post is very helpful and encouraging. Thank you!!
Report Inappropriate Comment
Are you sure you would like to report this comment? It will be flagged for our moderators to take action.
Thank you for taking the time to improve the content on our site.
Join our community of 5 million crafters!
- Get free craft projects, exclusive partner offers, and more.
- Information Use