I now have three fairs under my belt. This by no measure makes me an expert, but each of the three fairs has been very different and a learning experience. So, I thought I'd share my tips if you're thinking of launching yourself into the world of fairs!
When booking the fair
It goes without saying that you need to make sure the fair is right for you - or does it? When you're just starting out you're keen not to spend too much money or travel too far. The first fairs I did weren't really right but they were valuable learning experiences (they were also relatively cheap to do!).
There are a number of questions you need to ask:
- How big will your table be (and what shape - I ended up with a hexagon I wasn't expecting - that was a bit of a challenge)?
- Is the fair to be held indoors or outdoors (if this isn't obvious)? If it's indoors, is it still likely to be cold (as the fair I attended last weekend was)? If it's outdoors is it exposed, partly covered, in a marquee? There's nothing worse than being stuck behind a table for hours when you're either freezing cold or too hot.
- Do you need to bring a chair with you or is one provided (or, if there will be two of you attending, will you get a second chair)? Again, this is really important if it's a full day fair. Don't assume one will be provided.
- How will they be promoting the fair? What is the target audience? This is vitally important. Poor attendance is just depressing. There may be ways you can help with the marketing - ask.
- Your stock (don't limit this to what you think will sell)
- Items for your display - table cloth, stands, props, additional tables if appropriate
- Signage and a method of attaching this to your stand
- Lighting etc (if you need it)
- Safety pins
- Spare price tags/labels
- Paper to be used as receipts (I'll simply stamp with my Made By Mrs M stamp and hand write) - it's rare that anyone wants one in practice, but good to have
- Cash float
- Business cards (and/or postcards depending on the level of the event)
- Mailing list sign up sheet (and pen!)
- Money bag - I use a cross shoulder bag which keeps my hands free and my cash on me at all times
- Plasters (I managed to cut my finger and bled everywhere at my first fair - didn't have plasters)
- Snacks/lunch if a full day
- Something to do in case it's quiet (on Saturday, I had my knitting).
- Evaluate - what were the best sellers? What were the worst? What were people interested in but didn't buy? Think about why this was (the price?).
- Just because you did really well it doesn't mean there's nothing to learn - think about it and write some notes.
- Even if it was a complete disaster and you didn't sell a thing, there are always positives to take away. Make sure that you identify them (as well as making a note of what you think you need to change).