One of the biggest issues facing new crafters who wish to sell their products at a craft fair or show is paying for the stall.
Here are some FAQs which I hope will help.
How much is the going rate?
Hmm, this is one of those ‘how long is a piece of string?’ type questions. Many different factors affect how much a particular stall in a particular show or fair will be. Here are some of those…
- How big a show/fair is it? Obviously a large, high profile event will charge a lot more for a stall than the annual craft show in your local village hall.
- How well advertised and promoted will it be? If the organizers are paying out for magazine, radio or television advertising then this will attract more visitors… and probably increase the amount they charge you for a stall.
- What sort of show it is? A specialist event, such as a fine art show or gallery will charge more than a general craft show.
- How many people are likely to visit? A fair held to raise funds for a local school may well attract students and their families. A show held in a tourist attraction like a castle or historic venue may have a lot of through traffic. A heavily publicized gallery event may attract art lovers with enthusiastic wallets. An outside craft fair on a rainy day may get little or no visitors.
- A specialized event may be a little more expensive, but (providing you are in the right niche) can mean far more targeted visitors and therefore more chances of sales. So if you make authentic medieval clothing and accessories then you will probably get far more sales at a historical reenactment fair than a more general arts and crafts fair – and so a higher stall price could well be worth the extra investment.
So basically a small local event may charge just a few pounds for a small table, or even ask for a voluntary donation from your sales. Some ask for a fixed percentage of your sales, but as this relies a lot of trust (how would they know how much you actually sold?) this is now quite rare. Around here the current rate (2013) seems to be £15-£45 for smaller craft fairs.
Big, well attended, highly publicized events are likely to charge far higher prices. You will need to be sure that you have enough stock to sell to warrant this upfront cost. If the stall costs £100 then how much do you need to sell to justify this expense? If your items are just a couple of pounds each then you will need to sell many hundreds to make any profit (don’t forget you still have your usual expenses of materials and time etc).
Are you likely to sell that many? Do you have that many in stock?
How much will I actually pay?
Be sure you know how much your stall will cost. If you have asked for a larger space, a special location, power points or other ‘frills’ then the cost may be more than the basic quoted rate. Always be very sure you know what you are paying and what you are getting for that price.
How do I pay?
Also be sure you know when and how the organizers require payment to be made. Many will want it in advance. Some will collect it from you on the day. Others will require a non-refundable deposit up-front with the balance collected from you on the day. Get a receipt (printed or email which you can print out) for your future reference.
Don’t forget that this is exactly the sort of legitimate business cost that you should include in your tax records! So make sure you keep that paperwork.
Don’t forget that you may have other costs to take into account. Does the venue pay for insurance for the stall holders, or do you need to provide your own? (it is often obligatory that you do). Will you need to pay for food and drink, or bring your own?
How much did I make?
Make sure you know how much stock you are taking with you! If you have a lot of stock write down a little inventory before you go, so you can easily count again after the show to see how much of each item sold.
If you stock is all different prices then it may be easier to note down each sale in a little note book on the day.
Don’t forget that sometimes a show or fair can be valuable as for brand building and making contacts – even if your sales were not as good as you wished.
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.
Check out my article on ways to Saving Money on Business Costs