If you make Jewellery, then sooner or later you are going to be thinking about selling it. Of course, you can sell online, but that means waiting for your customers to come to you. Another option is to go out and search down your customers by going to them. A great place to start is Craft fairs. Customers going to a craft fair will expect to see handmade items, especially handmade Jewelry. So you’ve already got your target audience and hopefully, they have come with money to spend.
Choose your fair wisely
Try to find out what other sellers will be there and how many stalls. Ask what the usual footfall is (the typical number of visitors they expect). If on the day you don’t get the claimed numbers, it’s a good argument for a discount or refund. Is the event being publicized and promoted (how, where). Consider too the local area and who might come, is it a wealthy area? Choose the fair, that will bring you the customers YOU need. You will usually find that the larger established fairs, with high footfall, will charge more money. Smaller events may even be free, purely to attract people to a venue.
When booking your craft fair pitch, check what is included. Some places may provide tables, but some places may not. Even if they do provide a table, you may prefer to use your own. Remember to take a couple of folding chairs as well - unless you want to be stood up all day.
Tables are usually 6” long, but you can buy ones which fold in half and so make for easy carrying and transport in and out of a car. Also, if you stick to the standard 6” table size then you can also get fitted covers. Apart from making your stall look nice, these cover the front and sides of your stall meaning you can put your boxes underneath, out of sight. Stackable large plastic boxes with lids are ideal. Remember you also need to store them at home, between fairs, they need to fit in your car, and be easy to carry and store under the table.
Folding 6" Table with fitted cover.
Quick, easy and looks classy.
Essential item !
Trolley or Sack truck. Why carry boxes one at a time by hand? Big boxes filled up to the brim can get heavy, but one of these little trucks can make easy work of transporting multiple boxes in and out of the venue in one go. Use elasticated bungee straps, to secure them. you can now get trolleys with triple wheels; these allow you to walk them up steps and stairs. An absolute lifesaver. Invest in a good trolley and it will save you time- and your back muscles. Just ensure it will fold up and fit in your car!.
When loading your items into the car put the table and cloth in last. When you arrive at the venue you can take out the table first, set it up with the cloth and then put your items under it as you unpack.
Sack Truck, makes ease of moving heavy boxes.
Note the three wheels allowing it to go up steps and stairs.
Keep your valuable items covered up and ‘locked’ in the car until the last thing. Don’t dump a box full of valuable Jewellery in a tent whilst you walk off across the field to get another box from the car. Your last trip should be your valuable items, so you are never leaving them unattended. Likewise, get all boxes to your stall ‘before unpacking’, so you don’t have to walk away leaving items on display and unattended. Always be mindful of security.
You will want business cards. These can be bought online very inexpensively. But you can also get signs, posters, banners, and all manner of promotional items, all very cheap from online printers. So brand your stall, accordingly, making sure everything matches in style color, and branding. You can get custom Jewellery boxes made, with your name or logo on them. But this can be a little expensive, to begin with, and you need to order a lot of boxes. A cheaper alternative is to print labels or get a custom rubber stamp made. You can then buy cheap blank Jewellery boxes and add your own labels. All your items should be ready to go. Having items displayed in their boxes will ensure faster setup and guarantee that there is a box for every item.
Tools of the trade
Remember to have ring sizers, a ring sizing stick, scales, and a tape measure. If a customer wants something you don’t have, you can take their measurements on the spot. You can also tell them the size of a ring if they are buying it as a gift for someone else. And of course don’t forget the essentials, a notepad, and a pen.
Mirror. Are you selling earrings, necklaces, or pendants? People want to know what they look like on. You may not want people trying on pierced earrings for hygiene reasons. But even so, you should provide a mirror for people to hold them up and see what they look like.
Small inexpensive mirror I use on my stall.
Approx 27cm X 43 cm
Some venues may be able to offer power. But venues outdoor like craft tents or marquees, may not. So don’t rely on something that needs power, like a laptop, or lights. Ensure that you are self-contained and cordless. Especially with things like card readers and mobile phones. It’s a great idea to have some cheap battery-powered LED lights, just in case the venue is dark.
A great option for small sellers is a handheld card reader with built-in 3G sims. These are completely self-contained items, and you simply type in the amount and swipe the customer's card. The money goes into your bank account. Some card readers require the use of an iPad or mobile phone, and perhaps a Wi-Fi network. So for craft fairs, the self-contained units are a very simple way to go. Tip- you can get a mobile phone power bank, which can be used to charge up phone and card readers on the go. Great if you are planning a long day and don’t have access to power. Remember most card readers will charge a small percentage or fixed fee for each transaction. So factor this into your prices.
Ideal for taking card payments on the go.
Of course, you will also want to take cash sales too. Take a good supply of change in small notes and coins (a float). Often the first customers have larger notes until they make purchases and get change. So a couple of large notes and your change is wiped out. Have a good supply. It’s tempting to keep cash in a small metal cash tin, but you need to think carefully about security. All your day's takings plus your float in one small box can leave you very vulnerable to an opportunist thief, especially at the end of the day when you’re packing up. It’s easy to pick up a small tin and run away. A better alternative is a cash belt around your waist (Cash Belt UK bum bag / USA fanny pack). This keeps your money safe and always to hand.
Cash belt, offers safe and secure storage of your money and float.
Think also about your prices. If you stick to a simple pricing structure like $5 $10 £20 then this will make adding up easier and reduce the need for small coins. Depending on what you make, might you be able to price everything at one price? Or three items for $10 etc? Simplify your prices to minimize your change.
A very important thing is to have everything priced clearly. People often don’t like to ask for prices, as they then feel embarrassed if they don’t buy. Also…Don’t pounce on them as soon as they approach, giving them the sales pitch. Most people don’t like that. Likewise don’t stare at them like they are a thief. Just say hello and leave them to browse. With everything priced they can decide in their own time if they wish to purchase.
Barbel or Dumbbell labels, are small self adhesive labels. The middle bar section is not sticky and they are designed to thread through rings and chains, giving a convenient way to price small items.
Tip: - some customers will ask for a printed receipt. Whilst you can get little receipt printers, these will need power and WIFI. A cheap duplicate receipt book will be fine, just fill in a ticket with a pen and tear off one copy for the customer. Alternatively, the card readers can often send a text or email receipt. I find that most people don’t want one when offered.
Another tip about pricing is to think about the customers attending the craft fair. Assuming they have brought a little money with them, how much are they likely to have in their purse? And how much will they be willing to spend? This will take a little experience to gauge and different venues may have different visitors. For example, a friend of mine attends craft fairs in the UK and discovered that people tend to have around £20 on them to spend. So she prices most of her items around this figure. If people must go and get more cash or get out their credit cards, then it becomes more of a considered purchase. But if they have the £20 in their hand, then it’s easier for them to make a quick impulse buy.
That said, the craft fair is also an opportunity to show off your skills. So do take a few high-end pieces. Even if you don’t sell them, they act to showcase what you can do. In my shop, I have several items that are not for sale, but they demonstrate my skills, and hence I get custom work and commissions.
Again, think about security with these higher-value items. Place them high up, in the middle of the stall, and towards the back. Don’t have high-value items at the edge of the table. (Kids, thieves, or accidental knocking off). It may be worth getting, a small plastic cabinet, or display case, for a couple of select items to showcase.
A portable table top display case. Ideal for more valuable items
a favourite of craft sellers worldwide.
If you make lots of unique commissions for people, then you may not have any of these pieces to show. So photograph everything you make, place the photos in an album and display it on your stall. Even if you don’t have that special item, you can show people a photo of the one you made previously, and hopefully get a commission. (Pad and paper at the ready too).
Build a following
Regarding commissions and future sales, it’s important to get people's contact details. You can be passive and just give out your business cards. But you can also be more proactive and get their emails. You can then send them offers and tell them where you will be exhibiting. A great way to do this is to have a competition. Offer a prize or a voucher and ask people to put their names and email on a list and one will be picked out at random. Everyone likes the idea of winning something for free, so it’s a great way to get lots of customer details. Perhaps even set up a Facebook page and ask people to follow you for a chance to win. Whatever it takes, get those contacts, and use them. Follow up with emails for special offers or details of other fairs you are attending.
When people are walking around a craft fair, there is nothing they like more than to see people demonstrating and making things. It’s much better than seeing someone just sitting there in a chair drinking coffee. Have a couple of small tools and do ‘something’. You don’t need a production line, just bend some wire, or put some earrings on hooks, anything. Wear an apron or T-shirt (branded of course) and just look like you are doing something, you will instantly attract people and engage with your customers when they ask what you are doing.
After a few cups of coffee, you are going to want to go to the loo. So how are you going to do this? Ideally, take a friend with you. But if you’re on your own then ask a fellow stall holder to keep an eye on your stall. And offer to do the same for them. But take your cash bag with you. Also, consider that if you are on your own, you may not be able to go off and get lunch, so take some food with you, that you can eat on the go, some sandwiches, fruit, and a few bottles of water. You can almost guarantee that as soon as you take that first bite, a customer will pop up wanting to buy something, so have dry things which you can easily bite and put down. Nothing messy, and avoid food with a powerful smell, curry, garlic, onions etc. You may annoy other traders as well as your customers.
Cheap items for the kids.
People going to craft fairs will often have kids with them. Use this to your advantage in two ways. Firstly sell things to the kids. Have cheap keyrings, small toys, girls’ earrings, etc. Put a bowl of sweets on the front of your stall and give away balloons - “Every” kid wants a balloon! Do anything to attract the kids, In the first instance, you might sell some small items to the kids (who will likely have some small money, they are desperate to spend). But whilst you are dealing with the kids, their parents may just buy one of those larger items. So get the kids – get the parents. This is the best tip I can share.
So we hope there are a few trips there. Good luck, have fun, and make money!
by Dave Wilson