5 lessons I learned while trading at my first craft market.

Most of us have been to crafts fairs. The warm feeling you get while walking along stalls filled with handmade objects, from clothing to accessory and artisan products. 

Being on the other side of the stall though, is another story. It’s a good mixture of good and bad experience. 

Let me explain. 

If you ever want to sell your handmade art or objects at an art fair, the one most important thing you must do is to visit the fair before hand. Chances are that the fair runs either weekly or monthly. I didn’t get the chance to do this because the fair I attended attempted something new and relocated the fair venue for the one weekend I attended. You can imagine the regular traders frustration. A Christmas craft market, at a location no one expected it to be, with next to no marketing. 

So first time craft fair traders out there, here are the 5 things I learned on that day. 

1. Arrive early. 

Fortunately I did. I always tend to be on time for most things, especially if it’s my first time. You want to arrive early because not only will you be able to set up your table properly before costumers arrive, but you’ll also be able to talk to all the other traders, especially the regular and experiences ones. You can pick their brains and observe how they set up their stalls.  

2. Display is crucial. 

I made a good effort with my display and it looked pretty good, but looking at the other stalls I realised that they paid extra attention to display from the way they laid out their products to the way their stall was lit in general. So give your display extra attention wherever you can. Bring some props to give your art context, and if the fair is indoors, definitely bring some lights. I had a battery powered light

3. What actually sells is not what you think.

Even though your display looks good and mine did, you will realise that what people actually buy isn’t usually what looks best. I watched people closely as they walked by the stalls. They took pictures of my stall more than anyone else’s at the fair yet the stall with regular items like clothing etc sold far more than I did. Here is the point: if your display looks like an art gallery, people will treat it like one. It will be very popular but won’t sell anything. So make sure you display items that people can at least touch. That’s really what they are there for. To touch and feel handmade products, and then buy if they like. My stall didn’t have anything touchable so people only looked and took pictures. A few aked about price and how the pieces were made, but overall it was mainly a ‘gallery display’ situation.

4. Where your stall is positioned could make or brake your day. 

The fair I attended was setup on three levels with the entrance on the the ground level so those who had stalls near the entrance or on the ground level definitely had the most eyeballs. Not necessarily the most sales but at least they had more of a chance to sell than others.  

My stall was located on the second floor so people had to go up two flight of stairs before they can even see my stall. Most people are lazy so of the totality of people who came in, I’d say only twenty percent walked all the way up. This decreased my chances of selling dramatically. 

5. Get ready to document

one of the best thing about being a new comer to trading at craft markets is that you get to see what people like, how they behave and why they buy. So don’t forget your notebook and camera so you can record essential insights. This probably was the most enjoyable part of my day.

 

Being new to selling in markets and fairs can be discouraging. But what you have to remember is that we all start there and get better with time and experience.