Monday, 3 March 2014

Market stall experiences

I attended my first handmade market of the year at the weekend, at the fantastic Stalybridge Handmade Market. Its always a lovely event full of really talented sellers and lots of friendly and happy customers, all situated in a lovely building, so its a great way to spend a Saturday.

My first craft event was last May, and since then I have sold at a few different events, both regular markets and one off events, indoors and outdoors. The first event took me weeks of hard work to prepare for and plan.

Since then my stall has developed and so has my understanding of what makes a successful day.

 So what have I learnt?

  • Choose the right events - the best events are the busy ones, not just in terms of selling but because a busy day means lots of nice people to chat to about your work, plenty of feedback from customers and the time flies by. Finding events that are situated in the right location and are well promoted can be difficult, but learning which ones are not right for you is a good start. Some events provide the equipment (tables, gazebos etc), others don't so deciding whether to invest in your own kit might be important.

  • Start making well in advance, trying to decide how much stock to take is difficult. I have lots of different products and I find that every time I do a market a different product become popular. You never want to sell out of things you could have sold more of, but spending time and money making things that don't sell, and having to carry all your stock around can be hard work so it is about finding a balance. Making things gradually helps you build up a stock over time so isn't all a last minute rush.

  • Be prepared. Every time I do a stall I take a box of things that may come in handy - blu tack, sellotape, pins, needle and thread, baby wipes, scissors, notepad etc - it is amazing how many times I have had to raid the box either for myself or to help out a fellow stallholder.

  • Practice your set up. About a week before each event I measure out the table size I have booked on my own dining table and then plan a basic layout for the stall which I photograph on my phone so I have it with me on the day. I have built up a collection of stands and boxes over time so I usually have something to display my items on, but as I like to continually change my stock I still need to check I can display it all together. The last few stalls I ran last year were focused on Christmas and much of the space was taken up with a display of hanging decorations. This time I had some new larger dolls who needed a place to sit, so putting it all out and planning in advance helps make sure you have what you need on the day. You need to be flexible though - if your stall is close to someone else then you may not have the space you thought, if it is on a corner then people may be viewing it from two possible angles - be prepared to make the best of the space you are given on the day.

  • Take snacks! No matter how much you enjoy these events you will still feel tired and hungry after a while so even if it is an event that sells lovely food make sure you have something with you to get through the day - you may be too busy or too far away from food stalls to leave your pitch and there is nothing worse than feeling hungry and thirsty all day.

  • Pack it well. Most places I have sold at involve some amout of trekking back and forth to your car which is no doubt parked well away from the venue, so being able to carry things easily will help save time and energy. When you pack to go to the venue make sure the things you need first (gazebo, table, cloths, shelves etc) are packed at the top, then you can unload stock more easily.
There are plenty of people who give good advice about setting up for a craft fair - @agirlcalledboz wrote this lovely piece lately with some great advice, and @craftbloguk has loads of advice on everything, including craft fairs. For inspiration about how to set up your own display have a look at pinterest - I have started collecting some ideas on my own craft fairs board but there is loads more still out there.