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The Essential Survival Guide to
Getting started with craft fairs
The first thing you must do is actually visit craft fairs. Go to a big one as well as some smaller local ones to see if it is actually for you. Look at what other people are selling and ask yourself if your craft will fit in there.

Where are the craft fairs?
The first point of call is your local newspaper. All craft fairs are advertised or they wouldn't attract customers. Look at local community bulletin boards or contact your local council. Many churches and schools have bazaars or craft & gift fairs which would be a great place to start.

Before the fair
I have already got a good basic stock built up and I am attending craft fairs at least twice a month, but I always prepare well in advance. You need to make sure that you have plenty of each of your items to sell. I had a day once where I sold out completely of pink ball candles. For some reason they were a really popular that day! (I've not sold a single pink ball since then though!) I make every single colour imaginable in a variety of styles, but at different times, different colours and styles can sell better than others. Even if you only make one type of candle, you will need plenty of them to sell. The more you have on hand the more people have to choose from and the more you sell.

Your Display
You will need to prepare something to display your candles. I have learned that display is essential to draw attention to your stall. The more professionally you display your candles, the more likely you will be to sell them. You always want to give the impression that you know exactly what you are doing... even if you don't actually have a clue. I am still learning about display and trying to perfect my own. When I've learned more I will share what I have learned on a separate page, but meanwhile, here are some basic display tips:-

* Always cover your tables. It looks unprofessional. A bed sheet works brilliantly with a lace cloth over the top. You can use almost anything as long as it is plain. A print will distract from your candles.
* Keep it tidy and don't let it get cluttered. Group candles together by styles to keep your display looking organised. You will need to replace candles when you have a large space on the table from ones you have sold. If you leave the gaps, people think that you don't have much to sell and will walk past.
* Try to only straighten your stall when there are no customers around. When it is crowded you will need to be available in case someone has a question. They will not ask if you look like you are too busy.

Setting Up
All craft fairs will allow you to set up your stall well in advance of the fair opening. While you are unpacking, make sure that each item has a price on it. Items that are not priced are not likely to sell. People do not like to ask how much things are, they like to see a price displayed, then they will decide if they are interested. When pricing your candles, make easy for yourself by using prices that are even, for example 1.00 or 10.00 or even 1.50 or 10.50 but don't use prices like 1.89 or 15.63. These kind of prices just make it harder for you to figure up your customers bill. You will be less likely to make a mathematical error if you use simple pricing.

Try and work out a display plan beforehand so you already have an idea of what to put where. The first fair I did, I didn't have a clue and I wasted valuable time thinking "hmm, that can go there, and this can go there" and then changing my mind when it didn't fit or I ran out of space. Even if you only make a rough plan it will help enormously.

Be Ready to Make the Sales
This is vitally important - make sure that you have plenty of change. You will need lots of loose change as well as pound notes and coins (or dollars) in ones fives, tens and possibly a few twenties. You need to be able to make change for your customers. I found this out to my expense at my first show. I thought I was doing okay by just taking lots of loose change, but when my first customer handed me a twenty I was stuck. I couldn't change her note and she was about to walk off without buying it at all when another stall holder who had taken me under her wing came to my rescue with some change! It didn't look professional at all.

Always keep a pen and paper with you. If you use price stickers on each candle then have spares of those as well. If you are doing this for the first time and are unsure of your prices, you may need to lower or increase them.

Try to keep track of what candles you sell by making a list as you go. It is handy to have a good record of what colours/styles sell best and will make life much easier when it comes to making more.

Be sure to keep your money in a safe place where it is not readily accessible to the general public. It's nice to think that you can trust people, but the truth of the matter is you can't. Unfortunately there are lots of people who will watch to see if you are paying attention to where your money is. I use a money belt for all the notes and main coins, then my loose change is in a pot under the table.

After the craft fair...
Pack everything away neatly so it is ready for the next show. It is easy to just throw it all into your boxes in a hurry to leave and get home, but it is worth taking extra time now to save you time before the next one. There is always a chance that you can break things if you don't pack up carefully. You are generally required to clean up your own area and there is a possibility of being invited to come back again if you leave a good impression.

Evaluate the Show
Try and evaluate how your day went. What items sold and what didn't? Do you think that maybe your prices were too high or too low? Did you make enough sales to cover your costs? What was the crowd like? Were they a good mixture of ages and backgrounds? Was it a good market for your crafts? Do you think you would do better at a bigger/smaller venue? I have already found that some shows are better than others and you really cannot tell what will be selling from one to the next as I described with my pink ball candles above. If it doesn't go well, don't be discouraged, try to look at the reasons why. If there were hardly any people then this would be a good reason, but if there was a good crowd and nobody bought anything, then maybe your prices were too high or your craft wasn't suitable for that particular venue. It is always worth giving a venue a second chance just incase that day was particularly bad!

http://www.candlemaking.org.uk/fairs.html
 
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