Hints & Tips Preparing For Fairs

I find it helpful to keep a list of handy items to take to Craft Fairs, like the Scouts motto “be prepared” it helps when you are at a fair for whole day and away from home. Being at a fair is different from going to work as you can always nip out at lunch time to get items you need, whereas, at a fairs you are there for the entire day.  Often even if you able to ask another crafter to cover your table, lunch times are too busy to nip out and risk missing a sale or sales.

My list of useful things to take and remember:

First and foremost, don’t forget your smile! Leave your troubles and worries at home and put your game face on!
Your customers aren’t interested if you are grumpy or feeling unwell.

Money, always put your customer first make things easy for them

I have a petty cash small shoulder bag for keeping petty cash for customers who might need change, I always carry money on my person and not in a box. The reason behind this is because at one outdoor fair I was told by a neighbouring crafter that had her cash box snatched, despite a lot of other crafters around no one saw it happen, it was so quick one minute it was there and next she turned round and it had gone.

Additionally, when it comes to money and to make my life and my customer’s easier,  I personally round all my prices to the pound, this helps because then I only need to carry £1 coins and notes for customer’s change and I make sure I have a mixture of each of them.  There is nothing worse than running out of £5 notes as there are days when everyone will pay with £20 notes for example. Another tip is I do not myself accept £50 notes, if they are fakes it is just too money to lose – I have found most shops/retailers will not accept them either (so I am not alone in this decision) it also means a trip to the bank pay them in.

Bring a Card machine if you have one, there are lots of options out there for taking payments by card now that need not cost you the earth, ask other crafters who they use and what they pay and what charges are involved, you may be surprised at how flexible and useful they are. Not everyone has cash these days so it’s worth investigating.

Customer Experience

Smile, look approachable, talk softly and clearly but not too loudly that they have to stand back or are put off by you. Some customers just want to browse without interacting with you. However you will pick up the signs with experience and recognise when to leave them to browse. It is always a good idea to start with a good morning or afternoon to gauge response.

Enhance your customer’s experience where possible add value to their purchases

Remember the importance of packaging for customers so they can take their craft purchase(s) home: gift boxes, bags, bubble wrap and or tissue paper etc. It is part of your branding and overall customer experience, so do not skimp on this essential. Where possible think of alternatives to bubble wrap and plastics, customers appreciate when you are trying to be environmental friendly.

Seems obvious but don’t forget to thank your customer for their purchases. 

Contact Details

Take Business cards or at least something you can hand out with all your contact details on.  Sometimes customers come out for a day to ramble around the countryside and stumble across a fair by a happy accident but don’t have cash or cards with them.  They then may want to contact you later to purchase items or know where you are going to be next.

Presentation

Table cloths; remember it is important to look crisp, professional and to have your table top and both its sides covered. It doesn’t look good when you can see packing boxes underneath your tables as they are best hidden from browsers or customers view.  I use clips and safety pins to ensure the table cloth cannot be pulled off by children. I also ensure that it doesn’t touch the floor so can’t be trodden on and again pulled off your table.

Remember once set up to stand back from your table and really look at it, is your table cloth straight, do the items you want to sell fit in within the customers prime view.  Add some high and different levels with shelves so it is more pleasing and not all flat to your table top.

Take pictures with a phone or camera, if you have one, of your stand.  Using this method I sometimes find this easier to see how the display looks from a customer’s point of view and make alterations before opening.  I have also found taking pictures before we start a fair invaluable as when you are busy, as you may forget to record a sale you can then look back and check your picture to see what is missing.

Extra bits - to make your day easier...

Stationery

Stationery for example, pens and paper to record your sales and take orders and a calculator to check amounts when sales mount up or many items are purchased.  Sometimes at the end of day my mind goes blank trying to add items up and give the correct change and I find a calculator reassuring and it looks professional and gives the customer confidence that you are charging them the correct amount.

Keeping a record of purchases helps with maintaining stock control records as well as keeping accurate accounts. This can also be good information to have, to know what your most popular sellers are.

First Aid

Basic first aid kit for me, which contains plasters, paracetamol tablets, hand sanitiser.

Refreshments

Flask, drink bottle, sandwiches, snacks and tissues.  I have gone through many flasks in my time and found it easier to just take hot water in a flask, milky drinks tends to make the flasks smell over time, even with religiously washing them out after fairs. I take milk separately or more recently now use sachets of coffee lattes or herbal teas with no milk required.

Legal Requirements

Remember to take your Public and Product Liability Insurance Certificate, Risk Assessment Paperwork (and PAT Test Certificate if you have one and want to use power)

Lastly, remember to take a rubbish bag for your own rubbish at the end of each fair/day.