Monday, October 24, 2011

Post Mortem: FIVE Craft Fair Afterthoughts


So this is the following post after the booth display. Just wanted to share my two cents' worth on my first craft fair experience...


Booth placement is vital.

If you can, request for a booth space that is in the HEART of all the activity, i.e. in the middle. Chances are, most visitors have already seen the first few booths on their way in and by the time they get to the middle of the fair, they are all psyched and pumped up to BUY! I know that's how I would be, if I were visiting a fair!

I was placed at the beginning (or you could look at it as the end) of the fair. In short, i was on the peripherals. A lot of people who stopped by my store were either new arrivals, or were about to leave. If they were new arrivals, and if they saw something they liked, they almost ALWAYS said they'll return after browsing some more. Out of the 5 who said that, only 1 came back... As a buyer, I would have the same mentality. I like to rein myself in in the beginning, and when I feel like I've seen enough, that's when I'm ready to make some purchases... which of course happens about halfway into the fair. At the same time, people who are leaving the fair are either all SHOPPED OUT, mentally exhausted or visually overstimulated. Some families had hungry (screaming) kids trailing behind, so they were not very likely to stop at any of the booths at the end.


Real-time real-life interactions.

This may sound very obvious, but I realised i wasn't very prepared to meet buyers face-to-face. I've only been selling on Etsy, where interactions happen via email and Etsy convos. At the fair, it's real-time interaction. You don't get to edit and delete what you say. I'm glad I work at the museum where person-to-person interactions happen daily, so I'm not fazed by the thought of having to talk to so many people. If you have anxieties meeting people, you should think about preparing yourself mentally. Experience is the best teacher. Just sign up for as many fairs as you can manage (ONE AT A TIME), but the more you get out there, the easier it becomes. I find it easier to start if i just greeted people. I said my "How d'you do"s to everyone that walked past the store. It helps present yourself as an approachable seller, not to mention it is also basic courtesy.


Be ready to persuade and counter their decisions.

How to turn indecision into sales?? That was one of my major obstacles. A lady said, "Oh I already have too many bags" after she ooh-ed and aah-ed over my tote bags. In response, I said, "If you see something you really like, you can come back! I'll be here till the very end!" In retrospect, I should have said something along the lines of "OH! A girl can never have too MANY bags! If you like this one I can give you a good discount!"

Role play with a family member or friend, to help you get used to persuading people to buy. Come up with marketing ploys to entice people to buy and to buy more, pairing complementary items together, giving discounts etc.



Take a walk around.

Make sure you have the opportunity to walk around the fair, when it is not busy, to meet other sellers, or even just to take a look at the wares. It is a good warm-up, especially if you do it at the start of the fair. It helps you get started talking to people, get yourself focused and excited about the event. It can also be good for taking a breather, taking a break from the monotony, or from the hectic selling. (*hopefully it's the latter*)


Administrative odds and ends.

Print out a list of the items for sale, the selling price and the lowest prices you're willing to let them go. Be prepared for customized orders, as people have the strangest requests! I had a man buy my quartz crystals that were on display. And I would have made more money selling my elephant collection than my crafts!
Think about your packaging. How are you going to present your sold items to your buyers? I bought some brown paper bags, twine and made some stamped labels. Put some thought into the final packaging because it adds the final touch to the whole selling process. Most importantly, prepare some change!! I completely forgot about that. It was the J-man who reminded me (also because he wanted some change to buy tacos for breakfast!) Bring lots of loose change, depending on how your items are priced.


:: END ::

I do still have some doubts about putting up price tags. I didn't do it this time, so interested buyers had to come up to me to ask for prices. And I think that is better than pricing your items visually. I think that if people are not prepared to pay the price they see, that immediately extinguishes any interest they might have for that item. I also feel like people are less likely to ask for discounts seeing that the items are handmade, therefore works of art. To me, asking for a discount is kinda like demeaning the artist. That is just my POV, and I might be biased :p

But what do you think? Price-tag your items or no?

Hope this helps!! Do you have any craft fair experiences to share?


  1. So this is what a real craft market post-mortem is! Mine is just bitching. Here's my 2cents..
    1. Booth placement is vital if there are many sellers. I like being in the heart too.
    2. I say "welcome!" Copied from Japanese restaurant.
    3. I give my card to those who can't decide.
    4. I love checking out the other sellers' wares.
    5. I don't put decorative items which aren't for sale because it distracts the buyers.
    6. I price tag so I needn't be at my booth all the time. Friends, neighbours or family could handle the sales.

  2. Oh wow! What great tips, seriously! I don't sell handmade items or anything, but seems like you've learned a lot from the fair! I wish I would've been able to see your booth :]

    Price tags are eh and eh... I don't know honestly. Some times I like them as a buy because it helps my decision quicker mentally, but as a seller it's always nice to have conversations with your buyers. What if you need like a price range? Is that weird? Like Necklaces: $10-$15? Then it gives them an idea, but they still have to ask?

  3. this is so helpful! i'm doing my first craft fair at the end of November and I'm pretty nervous, but these tips will help a great deal! interesting about the booth placement, it's something i wouldn't have thought of really, so i hope i'll be in the heart of it. i don't think i'll price my items visually but i'll make sure i've got a price list so my boyfriend can hold the fort while i have a nose at the other stalls :)

  4. Thank you for this, it will come in very handy :) x

  5. Very good tips. I am always curious about placement. Sometimes it is luck. I realize though that lighting counts, alot. Hope your sales was good. I don't put price tags. I felt doing so can deter customers. It is a good idea to explain to them when they show interest in something eg this is satin, hand-sewn so on. So when they hear the price it won't seem as high to them compared to when they see the price without knowing the details. Also you could see their reactions, if they thought it was too high I'd introduce some cheaper things to them. Still tweaking my formula though.

  6. Great post! I agree with placement, though sometimes, it's mostly about the display, or simply what people are looking for. I do a weekly market in the summer, and sometimes I am super busy, sometimes, it's painfully slow. I like to price items, because I know as a buyer I don't like to ask for the price. I'm immediately deterred if I have to ask for the price, because then I feel committed to buying. Usually I like to engage my customers as soon as they start looking. Ask them questions, give them a little info about my stuff if they seem interested. I still haven't perfected the art of selling. It just doesn't come naturally to me.
    Thanks again for sharing. I always love hearing about others experiences.


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