Monday, September 26, 2016

Craft Fair 101... Craft Fair SOS... I Can't Decide

Now that I have more than a few craft fairs under my belt I know one thing for sure: they are not my favorite.

It's not that I don't like selling my work, or that I don't enjoy meeting the people who bring it into their lives (without whom I wouldn't be able to do what I do), or even that smiling all day makes my face hurt. It's more about that good old Murphy's law: Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.

In the hopes that anyone thinking about selling their work at craft fairs will be able to avert disaster I'm sharing my short list of  do's, don'ts, and must haves, because the long list might break the internet.

Use tiers to raise items up to eye level. 

Do: READ. Read all the things. They are written down for a reason.

Don't: Be inflexible. Remember those things you just read? Half of the other people involved did not read them and it's a good bet that the organizers have taken on way more than is humanly possible.

Do: Have a good attitude. Figure out how to laugh off the little things and present yourself as though you are having a great time to anyone that enters your booth. No one wants to hang around a Grumpy Gus. I think I've got this down to 80% Positive Polly, 20% Grumpy Gus. What can I say. I'm a work in progress.

Don't: Let people walk all over you. Confrontation is hard/horrible/yucky, but so is putting in a bunch of time and energy only to allow buyers to haggle away your profit, or a booth neighbor/partner to sprawl into your real estate. This is a business after all.

Do: Be prepared to talk about your work (repeatedly). Compile a short list of selling points that you can work into conversations naturally.

Don't: Be overbearing. Not everyone wants to hear the conception story for every piece, or even talk to you at all. This takes practice, but reading the room is a great skill to have.

Do: Stay organized. Have everything priced and inventoried before the fair starts. Make sure you have all necessary permits, licences, and insurances well in advance. Keep good sales records, you'll need them for tax time!

Don't: Think you can do it all alone. Fair days are long. Ask a friend to help out for a few hours, or to swing by with a snack. Ask the event coordinator if anyone is available to cover short breaks. If all else fails ask a neighboring vendor to keep an eye out while you make a run for the restroom.

Secure items to displays whenever possible to avoid theft. 

Must haves:

Water. Bring more than you think you will need. Nothing works up a thirst like talking and showing those pearly whites all day.

Weights (if the fair is outside). Bring more than you think you will need. Weigh down the tent, weigh down the table cloths, weigh down the displays. Wind is a powerful thing.

Pain relievers. A headache can really ruin a good time.

Snacks. Quick bites make it easy to stay in the booth and still look professional.

Change! Bring more than you think you will need.

Credit card reader and back up battery or solar charger.

Note pad. So you can write down all the things you want to do differently next time. You wont remember later. Write them down.

Alternates. Displays don't always work out the way you envision them. Cell phones don't always get great service. Run through your list and fit in a plan B wherever possible.

Alright. I think that covers the bare basics of preparing for a craft fair. There are a ton of great check lists out there that pretty much cover everything else, so get your Google on and good luck!

Thanks for reading!

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