08 December 2013

At the craft fair

Starting to set up

The doors open before I'm ready

Friends, visitors, customers

My display included a tablecloth (mis)printed with Travel Lines
Thanks, first of all, to blog readers who sent good wishes - and to friends for coming along. Although it was only six hours, the fair was fairly quiet and time passed slowly. I did ok in terms of sales and the day produced a profit of (let's not be coy) of about £200 - which of course is risible in terms of hourly rate, given all the work involved not just in the making but in all the peripherals, an hourly rate in pence rather than pounds. Anyone who has ever gone the "handmade" sales route will recognise the situation, it's a common problem.

This was definitely a learning curve, so what have I learned? It was a question of "sight unseen" both in terms of previous craft fairs at this venue and the venue itself, so Lesson 1 is: be prepared for anything, be flexible - and make sure you have a setting-up toolkit with you. (I'll be adding those to my product range!)

Nothing could be done about the lighting level, and it was chilly. Lesson 2: wear warm clothes, bring extras, keep moving.

Nor could anything be done about the position of the table - the pillar at least was useful for displaying the price list! There was space behind the table for one or other of the sellers with tables on either side of the pillar, and on balance it was better to have the chair at the end of the table - fortunately I was at the end of the row, not in the middle. Lesson 3: if possible, request "table next to wall" or "table at end of row".

The display itself gives you lots of options. To get some "vertical impact" I used small wooden cabinets, opening the drawers for display - with storage in the closed drawers. For a screen that gave hiding places for untidy items like a coffee cup or notebook, I used A3 pieces of foam core, cutting them carefully so the backing would act as a hinge, and mounting examples of the Travel Lines, as well as a few short paragraphs giving "the story". This elicited no interest whatsoever - hey ho! 

I was able to use the Lines printed on the tablecloth as a talking point, but feel that the pattern made the tabletop look too cluttered. it could be "reconfigured" to go around the sides only, to be pinned in place.

As for talking points - I was taking this opportunity to practise telling people about the Travel Lines, what they are and how they came about and all that, but haven't got it right yet. It's an ongoing project… I did get to write some "soundscape lines" during a bout of singing - the young ladies in the barbershop quartet were really good, but their words were lost in the hubbub of general conversation.

Lesson 4, then, is along the lines of "less is more" - things will be more eye-catching if they have space around them. (The table alongside me was piled high and spilling in both directions…)

All in all, it was a good atmosphere at the fair, with mulled cider and tasty cakes and freshly-made sandwiches, and sellers with a range of goods. Very child-friendly too. I hope that next year there will be more publicity and more people will come!

To end, the seasonal decorations of the house across the street from the venue (photos by Tony Wallis) -


irene macwilliam said...

I was wondering how it went.
When I used to do craft fairs I found that if a venue fell down badly on publicity one year they made sure they did plenty the following year, or was I just lucky with the particular one I am thinking about.

Jill Dian said...

enjoyed reading your thoughts on Craft Fair...very interesting and I agree less is more where presentation is concerned!