Selling at my first Craft Fair | One awkward introvert’s experience
Have you ever wanted to have a go at selling your arty-crafty goodness at craft fairs? I have, but it’s taken me a lot of years to finally get up the gumption to do it. What was stopping me all this time? Here are a few of the questions I would ask myself…
💭 “Is my art good enough?”
💭 “Will anyone even look at my stall?” (And conversely, “What if someone looks at my stall?!”)
💭 “Do I have enough stuff to sell?”
💭 “What will I say to people if they talk to me?”
💭 “What will I need to pay out to try it - and can I afford it?”
💭 “What makes me think the stuff I make is something worth promoting?”
💭 “What if someone tries to haggle or is negative about my prices?”
Ok, as you can see, the list could go on, because I’m sure we both know worries spiral easily! And sometimes its easier to think “I’ll leave that and come back to it” than to address all the questions buzzing in your head right then.
Eventually, I rationally talk myself through these kinds of worries, but because I am doing it all on my own, it just takes me a bit longer to get to the other side. But I do get there. I think that’s the main takeaway - we all go at our own pace, and as long as we are still moving somehow (however slowly it may feel) then that’s ok.
For me, it also gets a bit easier the older I get. Little by little, I am starting to let go of caring what other people think of me.
So, I decided this would be the year to do my first Craft Fair. I chose a local market which I had visited previous events of, so I knew it would have a nice vibe. It took me a month or so of going to the organiser’s website, thinking it over, going back and forth in my mind, until one day I took a deep breath and clicked “Apply”. I then immediately asked my friend whether she would come with me on the day - striding into big rooms and claiming your space is always easier with a buddy by your side, and luckily she said yes.
And so to the planning…
I made a list of all the things I could think of that I needed to research/resolve, including things like:
What products would I take with me? (And how much could I physically transport?)
Where do I get Public Liability Insurance?
How would I display my products?
Where can I get a nice tablecloth that’s the right size?
How much money would I need to take as a Cash Float? (And where do I get all the change?)
Would I take card payments? (And if so, HOW would I do that?)
How much would I price my products at? (The same as my Etsy shop, or should I have exclusive offers?)
How to label my prices (individually, using cards or via one price list)?
What other info could I display (eg. QR codes for Insta/Youtube/Skillshare, my process, who I am)?
How to brand my table with my GtP name?
Again, the questions kept growing until my list was very long - but I had given myself a two month window before my Craft Fair date would arrive, so I knew I had plenty of time to figure it all out.
Finding the answers that suited me…
It’s important to remember - my answers are not necessarily your answers, but they might help you in figuring out your own best way of taking the craft fair plunge!
Here are a few things which helped me organise my products and display items:
*Please note, there are affiliate links included here which do not cost you anything to click on, but do help to support my free content.
📦 I bought a sturdy storage box. I wanted one that was big enough to fit in A4 prints, and other bits too - but that I could still physically carry. I decided on the 48L Really Useful Box. I bought some cheap hanging files which could sit in the box too and I organised my prints inside them.
👀 I visited some craft fairs and did my very best lurking 🕵️♀️ If I saw a table that I liked, I took a second look to see what boxes, props or display tactics they used. It was a good way of getting ideas!
🛍️ I kept a look out for any cheap small storage solutions that could fit on my table and hold my products. The Factory Shop and Poundland became my go-to hotspots. I trawled the internet for tablecloths and finally found a light blue one from Denovo which fitted my aesthetic.
💡 I looked out for any display things which could be helpful, even if my purpose wasn't listed as their main purpose. For example, I found a reasonably priced grid unit on Amazon that could be built/dismantled easily, and that was listed as storage shelves - but that I would use as a type of grid-wall to peg prints onto. I also used an Earring Display Stand as a Bookmark holder, and Wedding Table Place Card Holders as a way to hold my price cards.
💷 I ummed and ahhed for ages about the money side of things. To buy a card reader or not to buy a card reader? In the end I decided I would, because I know sales are more likely if that option is available - and after researching and asking for recommendations I went with Square. It was easy to set up and, despite having some connectivity issues at the start of the day, I did eventually make some sales on it.
In the run up to your first fair, it's a good idea to practise setting out your table. Whether you lay it out on the kitchen table or the floor, measure out the space you are going to have and then lay out your products. Play around with ideas, and take photos each time so you can remember what you did.
Some tips (from a first-timer...so this may change later!) for making the most of your table:
↗️ Vary the levels: Think about how you can display some of your products higher up than others. Creating varying levels for folks to look at makes your table more interesting. This might look like using a grid like I did, or it might be more about stacking stock on top of boxes or shelves.
🏷️ Make the pricing clear: As a customer it’s a pain to have to ask how much a product is. Make sure all prices of your items are easy to find - whether you put prices on products individually, or you create price cards or one general price list.
🧐 Consider how folks will browse your products: If I had the space on my table, I would have liked to have placed my prints boxes nearer to the front of the table - as perhaps this would have made it easier for folks to flick through them. Wherever I could put a product into a box, so that it could stand up rather than lay flat, I did it - because then they became easier to see from further away, and also made it easier for people to pick things up to look at them, without feeling like they were messing up the display.
(Psst! - you can hear more about my first awkward craft fair in my Youtube video - head on over to have a listen, and share your Craft Fair awk-experiences in the comments!)
Can we talk one moment about the whole awkwardness of being a seller at a craft fair? Does anyone else feel it?
My main question going into the day itself was - what do I DO with myself? What do I do with my body, where do I put my hands? Do I stand, sit, make eye contact, say hello?…
This is just something you have to muddle out the answers to as you go! Find what works for you. For me, I worked backwards from what I respond to as a introverted customer…
As a customer I can feel pretty awkward at craft fairs, and I tend not to make eye contact with sellers unless I’m interested in their products. I also don’t tend to approach tables when the sellers behind them look bored or are just sitting looking at their phone. So I understand that mindset and, as a seller, decided to go for a standing kind of hover (yes, still awkward) behind my table. I tried to say hello to anyone who would let me and then let them be.
For this part, I don’t have any good answers yet. I’m a work in progress - all we can do the first few times we try new things is to give ourselves a bit of slack, smile and do our best.
If you are thinking about giving a craft fair a go, then - even if it freaks you out - know that you can do it. It’s just one step, then another, then another, until you’re there and you’ve done it.
Go do the thing!
Keep making happy!
Love Gem x