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Craft Fairs - good, bad or indifferent!!

chrissd 12 304 United Kingdom
28 Aug 2007 6:59PM
Have just completed my first craft fair so thought I would pass on my info that I gleaned from the public!!

location, location, location!!

This cannot be stressed highly enough, I had spent a small fortune on preparing my images and getting everything right only to find that most of the public were only prepared to spend a tenner at most

here was my set up, i had A4 images in alluminium frames, silver and black, black is deff the best, I had wooden frames to at the same size, they bombed, next up I had A4 prints in double mounts, they seemed to sell well but had the same images in 16 x 12 and they didnt do a thing, my larger framed images at both 70 x 50 cm and 80 x 60 cm didnt do a thing and my large canvas print at 60 x 90 cm didnt sell but certainlry was a wow factor and pulled people to the stall, I also had a rotating card stand with nearly 50 cards in and they sold all day long in different numbers
In hindsight its hard to think of what to change as you have to have the wow factor to get them at the stall, but selling cards whilst profitable is not going to make a fortune

canvas prints are deff in vogue at the moment so i will enlarge on that for my next fair

this fair cost me 50 for 2 days which is very reasonable, but that said we had only 1500 hundred people through the door, this is not enough to start selling on a good return basis, my next fair at hopefully Broadlands near Romsey will attract at least 8,000 people and whilst it is not cheap at 150 for 2 days you do have people who are prepared to pay good money

its a bit like you pays your money and takes your choice, but that said it is hard work doing a fair and I would rather have the higher return even if it meant a higher outlay

Be happy people and I hope this helps any budding enthusiast


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cattyal Plus
12 8.5k 6 England
28 Aug 2007 7:27PM
I must admit that I've never considered doing a fair but thank you for sharing your experience - very valuable information and I shall definitely refer to it should I ever wish to take the plunge!

brian1208 Plus
14 11.3k 12 United Kingdom
28 Aug 2007 8:57PM
In time Chris your experience of different venues will help get the market intelligence you need to target product mix to market.

I suspect that Broadlands attendees may have more money to spend (and possibly bigger houses?) so it will be interesting to see if you do sell more of your larger canvases and framed prints there.

As I think I mentioned, I've noticed recently that people in the Christchurch catchment area seem much less inclined to spend on general images but are bginning to target specific subjects of interest to them. I'm hoping this may lead to more commissioned images - but its still necessary to show them a range of subjects to give them a clue what they may want.

You invested a lot "up front" for Upton but at least the stock isn't perishable (although take care it doesn't get damaged in transit, I wrecked a lot of frames in the early days). Hopefully you will move it on through your next few markets.

You must be pleased with the feedback you got though, you seemed to be attracting a great deal of positive attention when we were there.
liparig 13 233 United States
28 Aug 2007 10:44PM
wow this is very helpful I have been thinking of doing a fair for years but afraid of the setup cost versus sales. But you make some great points and you tips are great thank you. I hope to someday give it a try
rogerbryan 13 397 United Kingdom
28 Aug 2007 11:29PM
I think it sounds like Chris got the balance just right. Something low cost, cards etc, which if you are lucky will sell in volume. The often overlooked thing with cards is that they have to have your contact number on them somewhere - repeat sales could then occur when cards are used by you purchaser. Mid range price framed images will probably sell well as not many people will spend a lot of money on the day. Higher priced items, canvas prints, large framed images, usually require an order to be placed and this sometimes puts people off purchasing. Not only that but you have all the hassle of delivering the final print to them etc.

Timing of the fair is also important. August Bank Holiday is not always a good time to sell. People have either been on holidays and have little money left, or are about to go on holiday and litte surlplus cash to splash as it were. If you have done reasonably well at this one, as Christmas draws near peoples spending habits will change dramatically.

I have found that people will not spend 10 to 15 on a A4 or 400x300 framed print, but will quite happily part with 100 to 150 for a more unusual, panoramic or canvas print. The secret to success at these craft fairs in trying to know what kind of punter is going to come through the door. The only way to get this kind of knowledge is to do as many as possible in your first year and then target certain venues the following year. While you are at each fair, find time to talk to other stall holders to try to get info about the type of people they have experienced visiting that particular fair in previous years.

It is a hard slog initially that sometimes yeilds very little return for you effort, but something you should be able to draw upon from each venue cannot always be associated with a monetary value, - Encouragement. You may not sell well at every venue but if you come away with sufficient encouragement from each venue, then it will have been worth all the hard work.

brian1208 Plus
14 11.3k 12 United Kingdom
29 Aug 2007 8:32AM
Roger, your point about cards is a good one. If someone is unsure about buying a picture I now offer them the option to buy a card of the image as a "memory aid" so that they can come back later when they have had the chance to think about it. As a small added incentive I tell them that the price of the card will be credited to the purchase of the print. (Its only pennies but it does seem to be appreciated).

Another thing that seems to help is to make sure people know that the image on sale isn't the only size / format. A lot of my recent sales have been from people who wanted a different size or substrate (gloss rather than matt or canvas instead of paper).

I've also had one or two where people have "liked the image but could I change the colour a little?" When its a toss up between photographic integrity or a sale the latter often wins Smile

One key thing that Chris and Allie demonstrated very well at Upton is the importance of engaging with potential customers. People really do like to buy from people they like!
aftertherain 13 4.2k 2 United Kingdom
29 Aug 2007 9:25AM
It helps to say which other fairs you'll be attending so people can come back to you.
ColouredImages 13 47 35 United Kingdom
29 Aug 2007 8:09PM

I have now completed about 6 or 7 craft fairs and all with varying degrees of sucess. As I have said to you before; the thing is to stick at it and try to establish your reputation in the local area perhaps? I personally don't offer as much choice as you, the cards are labour intensive for a relatively smaller reward. I always engage my customers, telling them how certain shots were taken, asking them what they do and don't like about my work. I offer "my" black background flowrs which always seem to go down a storm but I have had to diversify too...after all not everyone will like what you or someone else likes. My landscapes do well too, the best sellers seem to be the framed and mounted rather than just mounted. I also have a little "billy do" I've put together detailing all the coming venues and dates, with my website address, e-mail address and two phone numbers. Each piece of work I sell carries all those details too. I have had orders off the website from people I have seen at previous craft fairs. I am so pleased with my results that I am now turning it into a cosher business and have a definite long term goal in mind.

If this was your first one, well done, having praised your work all along, I'm sure you will do extremely well, expecially in the run-up to Christmas


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