Author Topic: Craft Fairs  (Read 9118 times)

Offline George

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Craft Fairs
« on: August 31, 2018, 11:31:45 AM »
Hi Everyone,

I'm thinking about trying to sell my work at craft fairs, can anybody advise me about what sells well at them, also any tips or advice would be most welcome.

Many Thanks

George

Offline Les Symonds

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Re: Craft Fairs
« Reply #1 on: August 31, 2018, 01:09:47 PM »
Hello George....that's a can of worms,if ever there were one. It's such a complex subject that you'd need to tell us so much more about such things as....
  • is your work functional or artistic
  • what sort of price range
  • what sort of quality is it
  • what sort of craft fair (small, village hall or major fair with reputable host)
  • what do you want to spend on a table fee
  • what do the other stall-holders sell
....there's good reason for needing to know this. There are small, local craft fairs, regularly attended by a host of "crafters", some of whom buy stock in and sell it as craft work. The stock is often cheap and cheerful (or not) and there always seems to be somebody who virtually gives their stuff away because it's a hobby and they don't need to make any money beyond covering cost. The table-fee will be cheap and the customers will usually be just browsing and may well not want to spend much.  At such fairs you'll probably only sell small, inexpensive items.
On the other hand, there are well organised fairs with a good reputation, where the bought-in stock is not allowed and where hobbyists will not be undercutting your prices. Goods on sale are of a high quality  and the visiting public know this. They may well have money to spend and understand that the stall holders are asking a high price for a quality item. At these fairs you can sell big, artistic pieces that command a premium, but then, you'll be paying a premium for a table-fee

As you see, a straight answer to your question is tricky!

Best of luck to you, whatever route you pursue......Les
« Last Edit: August 31, 2018, 01:12:07 PM by Les Symonds »
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Offline The Bowler Hatted Turner

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Re: Craft Fairs
« Reply #2 on: August 31, 2018, 01:20:34 PM »
Hi George, as Les said there's a can of worms. Without telling you what to make I can say that quality always sells as does novelty or stuff that is different. Don't expect straight answers to your questions here as although turners are happy to share some information they are less than willing to tell you about their best sellers. Some of the bits I make and sell are not made by other turners so I am not about to divulge to many secrets(!) But I will tell you something that was told to me when I started doing craft fairs and that was this...".People that visit craft fairs rarely take their wallets out so what you need to do is make and sell items that takes the change from their pockets". Or another one...." People spend money on 3 things, their kids, their pets and their home, so make stuff to suit that". My advice is quit now while you are ahead :D but if not make a statement piece to attract people to your stall and then once they are there the quality of your work should sell itself. Hope this helps and good luck.

Offline John Plater

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Re: Craft Fairs
« Reply #3 on: August 31, 2018, 03:15:42 PM »
Hello George,
I had a tot up and over the last ten years or so I have done over 100 events during which I get to meet the customer (I don't do shops and galleries as a rule). I must add though that I use the most ridiculous business model, that is to make what I want, when I want and how I want without any vision of how it might sell !! I am selling in order to move stock on and because it interests me to do selling events as an extension of my woodturning activity. Early on I gave up on trying to predict the things which should sell from my stock, it never worked. I have a good stock of "fifteen to fifties" but always have the three and four figure pieces as a draw to my stand. The same stock will be taken to a local table top show and a high end juried contemporary craft show. It works for me. So, my suggestion would be to tip your question on its head. Decide what you want to make, give selling it a try and then develop accordingly.
ATB John
If I had a better lathe, I would be able to show my ineptitude more effectively.

Offline fuzzyturns

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Re: Craft Fairs
« Reply #4 on: August 31, 2018, 03:55:28 PM »
I agree with the three previous responses, but have to add from my own experience that this is a tricky business at best. Out of 8 events I have done so far, I only recouped my costs on one of them, and the most promising event was a complete failure (i.e. all costs and no revenue at all).
Don't try and compete with the traders, they get their goods made in countries where the living wage is so low that you wouldn't even get out of bed for it. Don't try and compete with the hobbyists, either, as they have a similar approach to pricing.
In consequence you have to have two things: top notch quality and something that makes your work unique/different.

Offline The Bowler Hatted Turner

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Re: Craft Fairs
« Reply #5 on: August 31, 2018, 04:00:53 PM »
I would add one more thing to Fuzzy's item, you also need a thick skin as sometimes it can be really demoralising, but don't let all of us doom and gloom merchants put you off, craft shows are a lot of fun to do (hard work too) and you get to meet some lovely people and sometimes pick up good ideas and good contacts.

Offline bodrighywood

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Re: Craft Fairs
« Reply #6 on: August 31, 2018, 09:44:28 PM »
We do about 10 shows a year and they are a major part of our income. Having said that every one is a gamble and if you want to earn money you need to spend. Good shows, well organised, monitored and vetted will cost you anything from three to four figures. We make a profit from all the ones we do and have dropped some when they have come to cost covering only or start having bought in work. You need quality work, ranging from basic bread and butter items of a few pounds to three figure pieces that attract attention and most of all you need to have a good display that looks attractive. The biggest two failings most people have is that their displays look like a glorified boot sale and they undervalue their work. This also means being different. Aim to be unusual, varied and not the same sort of thing that you see so often. No offence to those that do them but bowls, pens and t light holders won't usually earn you much unless they are unusual and different.
Whenever possible we both demonstrate as this attracts people and also gives people confidence in your 'hand crafted' work.
Having said all that if you are just thinking of doing the smaller church hall type fairs then you are unlkikely to make much and may at best just cover costs. People going to them go out of curiousity not specifically to buy and expect things to be cheap. ten years of doing shows has led us to avoid them except where they are for a good reason.
Things you MUST learn if you wish to do shows

Learn to smile at ridiculous questions and have suitable responses ready
Be nice to those who know better and criticise your work
Be ready for other turners who will check your work for tool marks etc
Don't haggle, the price you ask for is the one you stick to
Wear comfortable shoes, standing all day is hard
When at a show you are an ambassador for the craft amd as such should be offering value and quality as well as a good disposition.
The cost of the show includes transport, food, accomodation if needed and should be allowed for as well as the cost of materials, hours taken to make things,power, acessories etc.

All this aside, as John said they can be great fun and you meet a lot of interesting people.

Pete
« Last Edit: August 31, 2018, 10:32:11 PM by bodrighywood »
Turners don't make mistakes, they have design opportunities

Offline Derek

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Re: Craft Fairs
« Reply #7 on: September 01, 2018, 12:10:46 AM »
Something that has not been mentioned is that trying to tell someone what to make for a craft fair show or wherever you choose to go is very difficult as each venue will sell different things this will only be found out by attending and taking a good selection of items.
Don't crowd the table with goods so that people can easily see what you have, if someone likes for example a tea light say to them I have others like this and pull one out of your stock. Always carry spare stock to fill that space from the last sale.
A friend of mine has three to four times the amount of stock out on display which is bunched up he also sits at the back reading a book even when someone is browsing. The first I covered above and the second in my eyes is a no no stand up and engage with the customer even if it is about something totally different from the items you have for sale it breaks the ice.

Offline seventhdevil

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Re: Craft Fairs
« Reply #8 on: September 01, 2018, 10:50:27 AM »
i only do one craft fair a year as i do lots of production turning but i love making bowls and need an outlet. it is in eton college so you get a mix of rich and regular at this one.

so far as i can tell there is no best seller as everyone has different tastes and like different shapes and colours. the others are right about quality selling though, i pick quality timbers and do the best job i can with the wood. have a mixed bag on display and have stuff to replace it with once sold.

don't be afraid to take commissions or say yes i have a bit of wood like that at home so i can make that for you.

being my only fair i don't invest too much into it except for the week leading up to it. it costs me under £40 to attend and i regularly make 3-4 hundred quid at the end of the day.

i think the best advice people can give you is to have some stuff on your stall that will draw the crowd to you.

Offline John Plater

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Re: Craft Fairs
« Reply #9 on: September 01, 2018, 11:20:09 AM »
I forgot to mention, it would be unusual not to be offered a tree at some point over the weekend ! It becomes cyclic, do a show, get offered a tree, collect it and turn it, take the pieces to a show.... :)
ATB John
If I had a better lathe, I would be able to show my ineptitude more effectively.

Offline bodrighywood

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Re: Craft Fairs
« Reply #10 on: September 01, 2018, 04:56:22 PM »
I forgot to mention, it would be unusual not to be offered a tree at some point over the weekend ! It becomes cyclic, do a show, get offered a tree, collect it and turn it, take the pieces to a show.... :)
ATB John

Got offered a fly wheel at the one last weekend LOL. Ideal fpor a treadle lathe apparent;ly. No thank ypu

Pete
Turners don't make mistakes, they have design opportunities

Offline dr4g0nfly

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Re: Craft Fairs
« Reply #11 on: September 01, 2018, 06:39:38 PM »
Everything above but a couple of quick thoughts;

You need 3 conversation openers, to get people talking

You'll be lucky to sell more than one nice item at a normal sized show. So make sure you have lots of small (impulse) buy items, that don't cost more than a few pounds.
Oh Lord, Lead me not into temptation…

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Offline Wooddust

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Re: Craft Fairs
« Reply #12 on: September 01, 2018, 07:25:38 PM »
Just back from a show and we had a couple of people ask if we take "cards" Again something to think about.

Offline Derek

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Re: Craft Fairs
« Reply #13 on: September 01, 2018, 08:14:20 PM »
I forgot to mention, it would be unusual not to be offered a tree at some point over the weekend ! It becomes cyclic, do a show, get offered a tree, collect it and turn it, take the pieces to a show.... :)
ATB John

That is true at the last show I was offered a walnut tree trunk been down for three years at 24" diameter. And also a 12ft long piece of yew but no idea of diameter as of yet as i have to ring the man again next week.

Offline The Bowler Hatted Turner

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Re: Craft Fairs
« Reply #14 on: September 01, 2018, 08:16:32 PM »
Everything above but a couple of quick thoughts;

You need 3 conversation openers, to get people talking

You'll be lucky to sell more than one nice item at a normal sized show. So make sure you have lots of small (impulse) buy items, that don't cost more than a few pounds.
Guess I'm lucky then!