I have been to a lot of craft fairs and shows over the years. A lot. And very often I have seen stall holders losing sales because they make some classic mistakes. All of the things on this list can be seen at pretty much any event, and I am sure you have experienced (and been put off by) at least a few of them yourself.
So, for those who are new to events, to help prevent you falling into these common traps, here are 8 things not to do at a craft fair.
1 – Pounce your visitors
A friendly smile is nearly always enough to greet visitors to your stall. A simple ‘hello’ or ‘hiya’ maybe. Some visitors may want to start a conversation (often about the weather if it is very hot or cold hehe) or perhaps about your products.
“What lovely hats, do you make them yourself?”
Respond to such questions in a friendly manner, but do avoid the hard sell – always. A visitor will buy if they like what they see, they do not need prompting. Let them admire, examine and generally browse in peace.
2 – Ignoring the visitor
The very opposite of number 1. Be aware of people coming to your stall so you can answer any questions. Many crafters like to knit, sew, draw whilst at their stall – and indeed this can be fascinating for visitors, but do be aware of anyone trying to catch your eye. Some visitors may be reluctant to disturb you and so wander off without buying!
3 – No prices
My personal bugbear. I don’t like to have to ask how much something is. It is embarrassing. And I know I am not the only person who feels like this. So please do clearly price all your items.
Small things can sit near a price label, big things can have it hanging or stuck on them. But make sure your visitors can see it. Goodness knows how many craft stall sales are lost each year for this one reason.
If you don’t want people to handle your items, make sure the price tag is in a visible location. I have seen people selling light coloured soft toys, with the prices stuck underneath them. So potential customers have to pick up the toy to see it. Do you really want loads of grubby hands on your item?
The same for delicate items. Whilst it seems somewhat traditional to put the prices of ceramics and glass items on the bottom, again this necessitates your visitors picking up the delicate products to see it. Put the price next to the item and they can “look with their eyes, not their hands”.
4 – No means to contact you after the event
Not everyone can buy from you right that moment, especially if your items are in the higher price brackets. Make sure you have business cards easily available so interested visitors can find your website/shop when they get home.
It also is worth making sure that your products have labels, stickers or leaflets with your contact details on them. I have often bought something from a craft fair and shown it to a friend who wants one too.
Or you could include a flyer or business card with each purchase.
Make it easy for your customers to spread the word about how great your stuff is!
Check out my article on What To Include on Your Business Cards
5 – Not enough stock
There are few things more pathetic looking than a stall with just a handful of items and masses of empty space. Make sure you have enough stock to have a nicely filled table at the start of the event, and ideally some more to replace things as they sell.
Check out my post about having a craft stall dress rehearsal, and then you will be confident that you have enough products to really look like you mean business.
6 – Too much stock (yes, really)
What I am referring to here is a full stall at the end of a craft event. It is always a good idea to bring plenty of products, ideally more than you expect to sell – just in case! But towards the end of the event, if your stall is still full of items, it might look like you haven’t sold a thing all day – and that could be off-putting. So don’t be afraid to have a couple of gaps on your displays.
7 – Unable to see your products
Don’t cram everything on the stall so tightly that it is hard to spot the individual items. This is something that a surprisingly large number of sellers seem to do. You don’t want people to have to keep picking things up to see what they are, especially fabric or delicate things, so try to ensure your display makes it easy for the visitor.
Use stands, different heights of blocks under the table cover, upright display items and boxes to make your stall more 3-dimensional and give yourself more space to spread your products out nicely and really show them off better.
Here is where having a stall dress-rehearsal can really pay dividends.
8 – Generally off-putting things
There are all those little things that make a visitor think twice about buying, or even stopping and looking. My personal list of ‘generally off-putting things’ includes:
- stallholder very dirty or scruffy – especially finger nails. Many people really dislike dirty finger nails.
- stallholder chewing gum (ok, perhaps I am just a snob, but I always find this unprofessional looking)
- lots of items that use trademarked characters, such as cartoon characters – it is not easy to get licensed to use such things. If you are licensed then put up a sign saying so, otherwise, it will look like you are infringing, i.e. breaking the law. If you are not licensed – don’t sell trademarked things! This is one of the most important things not to do at a craft fair. It is illegal and looks unprofessional too
- hastily handwritten price signs – most people now have access to a printer to make their signs. If you are handwriting them then do so at home, before the event, and make sure they are neat, readable and attractive. Beautifully handwritten prices can add to the perceived value of your products. Check Pinterest for ideas for novel price tags.
- anonymous seller – if you sell art then please make sure your name is visible, and ideally a bit of information about you. If I want anonymous art, I will buy it from a chain store. At a craft fair, I am looking for personal.
- the same products as everyone else – it is always disappointing to go to a craft show and discover practically the same items on multiple stalls. Be different and stand out – you will get more attention for it 🙂
You may enjoy my in-depth article, Preparing for a Craft Stall or Craft Show – you can also listen to this article as a podcast too.
You may be interested in my article 6 Easy Ways to Improve Your Craft Stall.
What puts you off at a crafting event?
What would you recommend for sellers not to do at a craft fair?