I attended a holiday craft fair a couple of weeks ago, and boy was this one way better than my first experience! I dressed (too) warmly, and it was indoors so I wasn’t standing there shivering while talking to the people who came by. And the people! Everyone was in the Christmas spirit, smiling and chatting. Since this was a local school event, most of the people who attended the fair knew each other from the school community, so there was quite a bit of chatting going around. I loved the small town feel of the event – kids wandering freely through the halls, moms (and dads, although a lot less) catching up with friends and neighbors, babies being passed around from arm to arm, and everyone cheering when Santa came in to take some pictures. My friend came to cheer us on as well, and that was such a welcome sight!
I went with my friend Jenny who was selling mason jar soap dispensers, sugar scrubs, vanilla sugars, rosemary salts and her family’s awesome Herb Wreaths. My items were all handmade crocheted gifts, so we had a very colorful and diverse table.
Lesson learned #1: Focus your brand/set a theme. At my first fair, we had a lot of different products and it seemed a little too “crafty” and not very professional. This time, with me focusing on all yarn and crocheted items, and Jenny focusing on “things in jars”, we gave out a much more unified image. Plus, our products were distinctly handmade, which set us apart a bit from some of the “come-to-my-house-party-so-I-can-sell-you-stuff” booths that were there.
Tip: Everybody says you need to have prices readily visible for those customers who may not feel comfortable in asking. I made price tags for each set of items with a picture of how said item was to be used. Obviously, no one needs to know how to use a hat, but it was an opportunity to show off some cute kids! This also forced me to gather like items together, so there weren’t random products spread out all over the table.
Lesson learned #2: Know your audience! I tried to sell baby hats the first time, and although many people said they were cute, hardly anyone plunked down moolah for them, or they asked if there were kid/adult sizes available. Since this was a holiday fair at an elementary school, we anticipated our audience to be young modern families, many with children. I had hats in every size from infant to adult, and there were lots of items at different price ranges, perfect for stocking stuffers, office gifts, or for the one adorable boy who threw a $5 dollar bill at me and grabbed a lip balm (“for my mom!”) and RAN.
Lesson learned #3: Pretty packaging. If you’ve been in the craft blog world (or in the internet world, really) for any amount of time, you probably already understand the importance of packaging. It can make the simplest things into a beautiful looking gift. I used kraft card stock and extra cardboard (scrounged from the office) to make backings for the flowers and bracelets, wrappers for the mug cozies, and tags for everything else. It turned a dinky little flower into something you might see at a store. (I admit, I was a little too pleased with myself with how they turned out.)
Tip: Accept credit cards. Over half of our total sales came from credit cards. Nuff said. One lady asked us if we accept cards because she had no cash and used up all her checks. When we said yes, she said “uh-oh”, and proceeded to do quite a bit of holiday shopping.
Tip: Get the senses involved. Jenny offered rosemary sprigs to just about anyone who walked by, and offered to let customers smell the vanilla sugar and coffee sugar scrub and rosemary salts before purchasing. We had a mirror on hand, and encouraged people to touch and try on the scarves and hats. You always hear you should interact with the customers, but I found that being really open to letting the customers interact with the products really helped. Plus, it created a group around the table which attracted other people to come by!
This time around, we didn’t really plan our table ahead of time, nor did I pack a lot of back-of-the-store items. We had scissors, extra tags, a calculator, pens and string, and we seemed to do just fine. Jenny had her own set of supplies to help replenish her products, but we didn’t hit any major snags where we were just completely up the creek.
Well, that’s it for this year! I’ll probably be doing some more fairs next year, now that I know what to plan for.