Monday, 20 October 2008

What will I need to take for a craft fair?

Further to feedback I had on the earlier craft fair blog, I've thought of more things I should have added. One thing I see asked about a lot in forums, is what to take with you.

I've lived for quite a long time now and done quite a lot of different things and I've always adopted a policy of being potentially over prepared. It doesn't seemingly matter how well prepared you think you are, invariably there is something that never occurred to you. Over time, you'll fine tune what you need for yourself.

These are my personal thoughts:

For craft fairs, as with many things I do, I keep a case made up that I take to every event - it might not be practical if you're just starting, to do this, but over time as you duplicate items, you can put aside materials dedicated to your craft fair activities.

I now use one of those large aluminium flight cases, that are sometimes used as camera bags or if you're a hitman, maybe your precision rifle. I keep mine partitioned and fitted out with all the things I might need on a typical day - after an event, I fill everything up again, ready to go next time. In fact, I've done such a good job with it, I use it at home when packaging up my items to post out, as I have everything to hand.

In mine I have sections pre-filled with my stocks of gift bags, boxes, stickers, ribbons, sticky tapes (clear tape, duct tape, double sided and masking tape), scissors, business cards, leaflets, carrier bags, stall notices and price tickets.

I have boxes containing an assortment of pins (jewellery display pins, map pins, safety pins etc.) and assorted fastenings - there may be occasions where you need to fix something or a notice keeps blowing over, so it stands to reason you're going to need various fixing methods. I always keep a quantity of BluTak too - that's perhaps what I use most, I stick all my prices on with a tiny blob and display busts can be fixed if they're prone to falling over, getting brushed past or blown. I also keep a stapler and staples and spare bulbs for my lights.

I have a box of small weights (curtain weights covered in dark paper) for display pieces and to put inside some of the gift boxes I use for display - I learnt that lesson the hard way at an outdoor market - I hadn't factored in wind - gusty wind is even worse. I use a free standing mirror for customers to try jewellery on, but in case I forget it, I have a simple, very slim flat one (I paid 25p for it in a bargain bin) that folds that's the size of a CD case and sits flat in the back of my case too. I did forget my mirror once and was glad I kept the spare packed.

I always keep some sachets of hand wipes, tissues, handcream, tictacs, headache pills, nail file (you invariably snag one setting up), a small deo spray and a perfume cream pot, small tie handled rubbish bags and various pens, pencils and a notebook and calculator. I keep spares of my display packaging to replace damaged or scruffy items and some extras of my origami gift boxes, pre-prepared to use, but not made up - they take up much less space and only take a minute to make from there. I have a copy of my insurance documents and all event details and even a card that shows who to make cheques payable to - it's easier for people to see it written than to spell it out to them.

Prepare in advance to save from fiddling:

Because I have a tendency to get befuddled and easily flustered when trying to wrap jewellery pieces and take money, especially if it is hot, busy and a breeze keeps whipping my materials off and I'm working in a confined space, I prepare as much in advance as I can. I've found it a really worthwhile exercise.


I hand my jewellery over, once gift wrapped, in small plastic carrier bags, the size made for CDs and the like. So before the event, I put one of my flyers and a business card inside each one and pile them ready inside the lid of my case. I also pre-shape my pieces of ribbon and place them under my address sticker - and then put the backing paper back on it, ready to peel off and stick on the envelopes. I also cut my tissue into the common sizes I use for wrapping and place these in pockets in the lid of my case.

I also keep a flat piece of bedding roll foam the size of my case interior to hand, which normally stops the materials in my case from rattling and moving around when on the move and serves as a flat surface to work on once the lid is up.

Other tips to make life easier:

Make sure that you have plenty of change and keep it in a portable format, on your person. I've been at two craft fairs where a seller had their cash stolen from off their table. I also separate mine into two locations too. The larger notes I usually keep well hidden, then keep a 'working float' with smaller denomination notes, just enough to give change for any sale. That way, when you give change, the buyer, or witnesses nearby, don't see your whole stash and where you're keeping it. Once you have a quiet moment, or on a bathroom visit, sort it out discreetly.

Price everything - preferably in advance - tedious, but worth doing:

I always price everything individually - it's a tedious task to do (if you do it as you make things, it's much easier), but well worth it in the mess you end up with as you break down your stall. I usually have two prices on each piece; a small silver dumbbell sticker with the item number and price and then I use a little display ticket on the display. If people have to ask, they'll soon get bored and move on. And there is occasionally mischief to be had if things get moved from their original location with the display ticket. I try and store my pieces between events with the display ticket too - makes setting up much quicker - I stick them ready, with a little BluTak.

Take some refreshments:

Make sure that you take a cold drink with you and preferably something to eat that won't make your fingers greasy, drip on your stock (i.e. no sliced tomatoes in your butty) and will not deteriorate too badly if squashed in your bag, part eaten and returned to later. I've found that peanut butter sandwiches remain palatable (assuming that you can stand them at any time) regardless of the abuse they suffer and it's good clean energy food you can swipe occasional bites from if busy. Things like meusli bars that won't melt are easy to snack on when you feel in need of energy.

4 comments:

Alexandra said...

Thanks Boo, for this really excelent information. I will be doing my first Craft fair in December so I am starting to prepare now.

ei! kumpel said...

Hi Boo!

Brilliant post, it's very nice of you to share such precious information!

thanks!
margarida

Mystic Spirit said...

Hi there Boo!
I regularly look at your blog and love all your jewellery designs and photies. I have my own blog too (MysticSpiritShop) and was in the middle of writing about my craft fayres that are coming up when I though about this particular post that I'd seen last year. Would you mind if I posted a link for it from my blog, as it's got so much useful information in it for everyone new to the fayres and stalls?
Thanks and keep up the amazing work you do!

Boo's Jewellery said...

Apologies Mystic, I never got an alert for this comment and have only just seen it. Yes, linking to the blog would be fine - thank you. I'll be thrilled if someone finds it useful.

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