Booking onto your first ever craft show can be an exciting and daunting experience at the same time. But don’t worry…you’ve already done the hard bit and started your own crafts business. The rest is easy with a bit of planning and preparation.
When we first started Cardology in 2014 we wanted to get our amazing pop up cards in front of customers quickly and we decided very early on that we needed to go where the volume of people would be. We had already set up a website, but having a website with no visitors, is like having a shop tucked away down a back alley where no one can find you! Craft fairs are great exposure for your business and although the stand costs can vary between fair organisers, the good ones will attract volumes of the right customer who will appreciate your craft and buy it.
Our first craft fair we ever exhibited at was an experience we now laugh about. We weren’t prepared and our stand looked extremely amateur compared to the other experienced traders around us. We booked a stand thinking we would be given a proper exhibition style stand and tables. We turned up and discovered 2 paint marks on the grass marking out our 3 meters!
We’ve now been going for a few years and exhibit at close to 50 fairs throughout the year, so we have got our stand tool kit down to a T!
Here’s our ultimate checklist of what to consider and bring with you, to set you up for success:
Ultimate Craft Fair Check List
- The most important piece of information to find out is if the stand you have booked is a ‘Shell Scheme’ or ‘Space Only.’ The materials you bring with you on the set-up day will depend on what type of stand you have booked.
- A shell scheme is an exhibition style stand, where you have a back wall and normally 2 side walls. Each organiser has different shell scheme structures so you should check what you can and can’t do. For example, some allow you to paint, staple wall paper, or nail light shelves into the wall. Whereas if the walls are of a plastic material, the organisers don’t allow you to paint or nail anything to the walls – this is where Velcro, S-hooks and cable ties are your best friend! You will have to think about your stand set up accordingly.
- Space Only – as the name suggests this is space only, meaning you have to bring your own stand structure to which you can hang curtains, shelves, lights etc.
We purchased our custom market stall frame from the following company. Ensure that the individual pieces will be able to fit into your car/van when dismantled.
- Samples – you don’t want to have a mad rush on day one and have an empty table left by the end of the day. Take enough stock with you to last the few days of the fair and keep your display looking full and appealing.
- Remember that customers will want to find you again after the craft fair, especially if they want to buy from you again or recommend you to their friends and family. Here are some things that you should keep in your admin box:
- Fliers or business card with your contact details
- Float – think about the cost of your items and what kind of change you will need to give people. Are you going to need a lot of 50ps, £1 coins or £5 notes? We usually take £50 worth of float to start with (it’s better to have more than not enough)
- Card Machine – More people want to pay by card these days. There are lots of companies out there that make it really easy to be able to take card payments when you are at a craft fair E.g PayPal or iZettle. We use iZettle, you can purchase the terminal from their website or even Costco for a one-off fee. You need a smart phone with good signal. It’s easy to set up an account with them and follow the instructions to get started.
- Receipt book (not used often, but good to have just in case)
- Banner with your logo (optional) – this is not always necessary, especially as some indoor exhibition style fairs will give you a name board above your stand. We have found that over the years we don’t use our banner. We prefer utilising the back wall (prime retail space) to show more of our product and offer signs.
- Tables – most fairs you should be able to hire these if needed, but you can also buy your own, if you are planning on doing more fairs in the year. Tip: Find tables that can fold up – remember you will be transporting these in your car or van!
- Secondly, sorting out your lighting is very important. Even if there are main lights in an exhibition hall or craft marquee, find out if electrics are included. With many craft fairs, you have to book electrics and are given a power socket – 500W is typically what you will need.
- You can either book a lighting rig with the craft show (if this is offered) or if you are planning on doing more than 1 fair, you can also invest in your own lights which you can take everywhere.
- Signage – price signs, promotion signs, price tags on your products, “we accept card payments” sign, other bits of information you want your customers to see.
- Other bits of kit depending on your stand set up: Table cloth, curtains, display shelves for your product. Think of other things your customer will ask for. For example, if you sell a type of clothing, you will need a full-length mirror.
- Toolbox – nothing will ever go smoothly, so be prepared and fill your toolbox with the following items:
- Safety Pins
- Blue Tac
- Measuring tape
- Spirit level
- Cello tape
- Cable ties
- S-hooks (lifesaver to hang things up)
- Gaffer tape
- G-clamps (optional)
- Other things that a lot of people always forget are:
- Trolley (a foldable one that you can have in your car in case)
- Extention leads
- Charger for your phone
It’s important to remember that when you go to the fair you will get better ideas on how to display and decorate your stand from other experienced traders around you. It’s a learning process and you will constantly improve on your display. The above list is just a guide to get you started and give you tips on things to look out for.