September 29, 2023
At Lelloliving, we've got a background in setting up stands; from craft stalls at makers markets to major shows & design fairs. We've tried it all (and made some mistakes along the way!)
Here are our top 10 tips for being properly prepared & standing out from the crowd...
You're going to need as much stock as you can possibly fit (and more!) for your space. Ideally 2-3x the amount you can display, or more if it's a high turnover kind of item. If you're making it, that's going to take time so you need to prep months in advance (or be prepared to really hustle if you've only got a few weeks!)
Limit what you're taking as much as possible. We've always been 'more is more' kind of people but you're going to want to curate a bit so you're not confusing your buyers with too much choice.
Having said that, what sells in person is often quite different to what sells online, smaller items work better in person because you've not got the postage issue ramping up costs & they become impulse purchases.
Another thing you'll need to sort in advance is how you're going to display your items. What physical display are you bringing to the table? And how are you going to make/break it down?
Do some research and make sure your stand really brings out the best in your products - and that you're prepared to make your space really feel like your own - in probably a very short amount of time.
If it's outside, this is much harder as you've also got weather to contend with - even if its tented - wind and rain can still get involved so be prepared with ways to keep your stand looking in tip-top condition.
Practice laying your stand out, and take a photo so you don't have to think about it on the day. Think about positioning and about creating a reason for people to stop. Make your displays eye catching & user friendly.
Unless your products are extremely delicate you want to be using every tactic you can to draw people in and get them involved or handling your products. Handling your pieces connects the buyer - they're much more likely to buy if they can touch it.
One of the biggest tips is to make sure that your craft fair pricing strategies are really clear. Often, if pricing isn’t displayed clearly, people would rather put the product back down again rather than risk asking you for the price, in case it ends up being more then they are willing to pay. People won't hunt for it if its not super clear.
People love a good deal so create a bundle or offer a sale to entice people in. We've sold '2 for x' deals at twice the speed that we'd sell 2 single items. Most people would rather spend more but feel like they've got a bargain at the end of it.
There are lots of little things to think about so keep a list and check as much out beforehand as you can . Do you need insurance? Is there power and WIFI available?
What is the space liable to look like? (furnished, unfurnished, how high are the ceilings, what are the light levels like?) Is there space for props/larger displays?
Are there any site specific rules? Rules around waste or timings are common.
What packaging are you going to use? Have it ready and make sure it's quick to do if you're rushing.
Depending on where you're selling and the level of the event there are different rules of thumb for dressing. I looked very different selling £10 prints in Spitalfields market in the winter than I did selling £8k tables at London Design Fair!
Comfort is a key factor in both situations though, comfortable shoes are a must (even at high fashion events!) and you want to make sure you're neither going to freeze or roast as it will affect how you interact with people.
Pack layers so you've got options and a change in case setting up the space leaves you dirty/sweating.
It seems silly that the thing you're there for can so often be overlooked! Most traders I know use Square readers; they're easily bought via Argos etc and connect to your phone in a pretty much plug and play way. You'll need both it and your phone properly charged.
We once got to a 3 day show and discovered our usually bulletproof Square reader wasn't working, so check everything!
If you're taking cash, you'll need a float. If you price simply, you shouldn't need masses of change but expect to be breaking higher value notes a lot so bring smaller values with you.
Not only do you need to promote your event before you go, but you also want to maximise your time when you're there.
Have quality signage so everyone knows who you are from the off and something to take away to remember you by.
Take along more than you need when it comes to this type of thing. Business cards are great, but even more effectively make up some fliers that tell a little more about you and what you do. There is so much to see at fairs so having information for people to take home means they will be more likely to remember or recognise you in the future.
This is a prime opportunity to funnel people into an email list, especially if you offer an incentive. And take lots of photos/videos for social!
Things will go wrong! With all the prep in the world, something will not go to plan.
Either you quickly sell out of something you thought wouldn't be popular, or that sure-fire product turns out to be a dead duck. Technology can fail or the weather can be a blow-out etc etc.
At our last show, we were convinced that we'd sell masses of one item that didn't sell at all and ended up completely reorganising the stand so that the things that actually were selling were front and centre. If we hadn't done that, we'd have struggled to make many sales.
I remember at one of our earlier shows - a week long event - the stand next to us was empty for the first two days because their products were stuck on a Lorry in France! They made it work by telling the story and starting masses of conversations & picking up email addresses.
If you've got the possibility of having a second pair of hands, absolutely take them!
Being able to go for a walk, grab some food or use the toilet becomes a luxury and having that pressure taken off you is really important. I can also get really anxious so someone who can give me a pep talk (or fill time if it's quiet) is a must.
This is your time to shine!
A craft market is the rare time you get to see your customers face to face, if you have an online store. They get to meet YOU, as well as your products. A lot of the time, people are more invested in who you are and how you make them feel, rather than what you make. We can cultivate this over a long time online using social media, but it’s ten times easier (and quicker!) doing this in person. So make the most of it!
Even if you're a quiet person, make the effort to talk to as many people as possible, including the other sellers. I've found suppliers, masses of information, and customers amongst other businesses at shows -they really can be a goldmine in this sense.
Make space for people who want to browse quietly, but strike up conversations wherever you can.
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