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By knittykittybangbang, Jun 22 2016 01:38PM

Some of you may remember the excellent fun we had last year in the knittykittybangbang and friends charity auction, not to mention the huge amount of money we raised! This year I’ve teamed up with my Aberdeen Ministry of Crafts partner-in-craft Iona of Crafty Wee Birdie Giftshop to raise money for #teamHamish.

Hamish is a brave wee boy from Nairn who has already been through so much in his life. At a young age he was diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic aleveola rhabomyosarcoma, a soft tissue cancer. He underwent lots of treatment including pioneering surgery called rotationplasty, which involved the middle section of his leg being removed.

The family are now living their worst nightmare as Hamish, now 7, has been diagnosed with a DIPG (brain stem tumour) Unfortunately we can't change the outcome, but the family wanted to give back to a couple of the charities who help families going through such a tough time. The money raised will be split between two charities Glasgow Children’s Hospital and Calum’s Cabin.

We all know someone who is affected directly or indirectly by cancer.

Iona and I have got together with loads of our crafty chums to bring you an online auction packed with high quality, hand made, one of a kind amazing things! Most, if not all, items can be posted out so you can shop from the comfort of your home, wherever you are. If you’re local to us, there are many items you can collect too, saving you on any postage costs.

100% of the money raised will go to the charities! All the items have been donated by generous small businesses and artisans from Orkney to Newton Stewart, and even one from an ‘honourary Scot’ in Germany.

How do I take part?

The auction will ‘go live’ at 6pm on Wednesday 29th June, and bidding will close at 9pm on the same night. You will need to ‘like’ the Crafty Wee Birdie Giftshop Facebook page to bid (feel free to ‘unlike’ again afterwards!)

By joining the Facebook event, you'll get a handy reminder before the event.

An album full of photos of the items for sale, plus minimum bids and any postage costs, will be published on the facebook page. At 6pm on the 29th you can start bidding. To bid you just comment on the photo of the item you want, making sure you bid higher than the last person. At 9pm, all bidding will cease and if you’re the highest bidder you’ll get the item. We’ll contact each highest bidder to arrange payment and once that’s received we’ll get the item/s sent out to you or put you in touch with the maker to arrange collection. Easy as pie!

Loads of items will be under £10 and many will go for less than you’d normally pay. It’s an excellent way to nab yourself a bargain while giving to a worthwhile cause.

Here's a current (there are items coming in thick and fast!) list of those who have donated items -

Hannah Bakes Cakes

Quinneys Antique Jewellery

Bramble and Friends - luxury pet accessories

Abacus Beading

The Butterfly and Toadstool - paper based art, keepsakes and jewellery as well as children's fashions

Mardie's Sock Creations

Carryn's Crafty Cards - all things papercraft!

Lady Dragon Crafts - decoupage and mixed media

Ophelia's Pond

Carmen's Jewellery Tree

Evelyn Treasure Finder - all things vintage

iDesign Orkney

Snowdrop Candles

Rose-Tea and Rabbit - eclectic fashion and semi precious jewellery

MandMade Soaps

Imagine North - embroidered art

Kellas Kask - homewares using recycled and reclaimed wood and barrels

Handmade with love by Jane

Macleods of Nairn - tweed accessories


Made Marion Soaps

No Books Were Harmed - folded book art

Marigold & Mo

SilverDekkers - picture candles

Art Deco - with passion - decoupage boxes and homewares

Becazzled - felt critters and creations

Buttons and Bows hair accessories

Station Crafts

(I'll try and update this list as items keep coming in, but no promises!)

By knittykittybangbang, Jun 10 2016 04:13PM

Firstly I need to say that this particular post is written from my own experience as a jewellery and gift seller whose customers are adults. If you sell food items or predominately to children, you may find things different.

Often people assume that the ‘quietest’ months of the year sales wise are January to March and in my experience of selling through craft fairs, this isn’t the case. For me, and a lot of people, the quietest months are May-July. This often shocks people and they get angry and frustrated, especially when they haven’t bothered with the earlier months as they’ve assumed there is no point.

When you’ve ignored the first quarter of the year, had high expectations of the summer, and are disappointed, of course that’s going to be frustrating. You’re probably (or not!) surprised to hear that as a market organiser I’ve even been physically threatened and intimidated during this period, something I put down to just this frustration and misunderstanding of how the year actually flows event wise, and they want someone to take it out on.

Now I could just say NO! BAD CRAFTER! NO! but I figure that it’s better to avoid the frustration in the first place, and save you burning bridges because realistically if you’re an arsehole in the summer, organisers ain’t gonna be offering you spaces at Christmas are they?

And as a market organiser, here’s a top tip for you, if you want a better chance of getting a spot at an over subscribed Xmas event, only applying for those events is a bad idea! Think about it this way. Come Xmas, regular visitors to events want to see the people they’ve browsed with through the year, they want to talk to the person who has greeted them with a smiley hello and whose product they know and have come planning to buy from. As organisers we would be fools to fill events with entirely brand new stalls at Xmas, not just for the customers, but also it would be ignoring those stallholders who have supported us throughout the year and who we know have a strong brand awareness for our customers because of that. Turning our backs on people who have been loyal customers to us, both event visitors and stallholders, would be really bad for business on our part.

Communities are different during the summer months: people go on holiday, children are home all day, tourists visit, students leave/return. Gala days, agricultural shows and other events and festivals spring up from nowhere. People have different commitments. Add to that the constantly variable weather and it makes summer somewhat more of an unknown quantity than other times.

That said, I believe doing the right events for you is still super important because (say it with me folks) IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT SALES ON THE DAY! During the summer you’re building contacts and brand awareness for later in the year, you’ve got greater opportunity to network and discuss ideas with other people in the industry, and definitely don’t forget that if you get your own marketing right, even the quietest day can be highly profitable.

Can’t be arsed with the quieter months? ‘Taking summer off’ sounds lovely but if you’re building/maintaining a business or brand awareness I think it’s a pretty bad idea. What do you think when a business just goes off the radar for 3 months? Most people assume 2 things – either they’ve stopped trading or they’re not serious. If they’re not serious then they’re less trustworthy or ‘not a real business’ hence don’t need to make any money. Being seen as untrustworthy will seriously damage your sales, and if people think it’s just a hobby to you then they’ll be less willing to pay real retail prices for your goods. For the sake of some slower days, I don’t think it’s worth it.

So what do you do about it? 2 things – choose your events wisely and bring in your own fans!

Choosing your events wisely

There are lots of events during the summer which advertise a massive footfall, but footfall does NOT equal sales. I’ve been at events where there have been tens of thousands through the door and people have had zero sales, and equally I’ve been at the quietest of events where I’ve made a packet.

You might be saying ‘ah but with thousands of people through the door, even if you don’t sell you’ll be getting to talk to loads of people about your product and building for the future’ (good! You've been paying attention. You get a biscuit) and this can be true, however if crafters are only really there to fill up space/make a bit extra for the cause then I’ve found that people just aren’t interested. Here’s an easy example – you’re a customer interested in a dog show, you’ve PAID to see a dog show, how much time are you expecting to spend talking about jewellery? How much money have you brought with you to spend on jewellery (after you’ve paid your entry fee and for your lunch)? And how much time will there be to look at stalls when there are activities/exhibitions/other stuff running throughout the event? Unless it’s an actual craft market or there’s a really concerted effort on the part of the organisers to make the crafts/stalls an absolutely integral part of the event and advertising, I just haven’t found there to be the interest. Sure I’ve had small impulse buys, even a lot of small impulse buys, but they’re not people who I generally see again or who buy more things, or who even recognise my ‘brand’ if I see them by accident again (they can usually name the event, which means I’ve helped to build their brand but not vice versa). If you’re a market type stall selling items 10 for a £1 these events can be great, but if you’ve got beautiful ‘craft’ items, they’re not so worthwhile.

For me also events with lots of children, or geared at children, are less worth while. Most money being spent is spent on the kids and parents don’t have the ability to spend time chatting with you as they’re also having to parent. With these, pay close attention to how the event is marketed. If the organisers are using you to fill up space rather than as an integral, important part of the day, think about it carefully.

Outdoor events bring their own considerations – Over and above weather, there is also alcohol and smoking to think about (and mud). If there’s a beer tent, there’s drunk people. In my experience most outdoor community type events such as agricultural shows have little to no visible security people. Generally it’s fine, but where there is alcohol, there are drunk people and incidents, as small as spills and as large as assaults, do happen. Factor this in when making your decisions. On smoking, if your items are fabric or paper and smoking near them could spoil them, how are you going to deal with getting someone to stop smoking near you when they’re not legally obliged to stop (and they’ve got a drink in them)? Where are they going to put you in relation to the food stands? Chips and fried onions (mmmm) are a great smell when you’re hungry, they’re a terrible smell stuck to a beautiful gift or an expensive scarf.

Ask yourself - who is my target market and will they attend this event? When choosing specific events that your target market will attend, think about things like -

-Will they have to pay to get in? If so, is the event something they’ll be prepared to pay to get in to? An example might be….if you sell dog collars it’s fair to assume your customers have an interest in dogs therefore they may be delighted to hear about you attending a dog show and will be happy to pay a fiver to get in as they have an interest in the event. If you sell Metalcore-y items, your target market are probably not going to travel in great numbers to and pay a pound to get into a church coffee morning, even if there is cake.

-Is parking or walking a long distance going to be a problem? For lots of outdoor and large events, parking may be very far away from your stall. If mobility is an issue for your key demographic (older people for example), including walking on uneven ground, then this might make you quiet.

-Will it be noisy? If you need to talk a lot to your customers or noise is going to be off putting, difficult or triggering for your fans, then loud events might not be your thing.

-Is alcohol an issue? Even if it isn’t for you, is it a problem for your demographic? Lone women, or families, may not be comfortable going somewhere they’re going to be surrounded by groups of drunk men.

Weather plays a HUGE part in summer events – if you’re outside and it’s a windy, wet or cold day it’s not going to be great, if you’re inside and it’s a boiling hot day (like…anything over 18 degrees, we are still in Scotland after all), it’s going to be quiet. The difference in the 2 being if you’re in the middle of a field in the rain, no matter how interested in your product people are, they aren’t gonna stand outside in the rain for it. If you’re inside however, if they are tempted by your stuff enough they might spend half an hour inside having a look. This brings us on to what’s really most important…

Bring in your own fans!

Even more so than with events at other times of the year, if you are adamant that you NEED to run a high profit at every single event, your best (and only) option is to cultivate your own following and increase your brand awareness (ie tell people about you!) The easiest way to do this is through a Facebook page or other social media most appropriate for your demographic (there are loads of options now but if you’re a beginner or short on time, Facebook is a good bet). I’ll do a post on beginners Facebook tips, but that’s for another day. Keeping mailing lists is also an excellent way to keep your fans updated.

Now I know it is of course the organisers duty to advertise the event, but they have to think of the event as a whole rather than specifically about you. They need to do what they can to get the maximum people through the door, and sorry love, but your product might not be it.

Choose events your fans will come to and tell them about them so they want to attend. Tell them as often as you can, and do it long enough before the day of the event so they can plan to come and attend. Telling your mainly local following that you’re going to be at a ticketed event 50 miles away 10 minutes before the event opens probably isn’t going to bring anyone in.

Think about how many sales you actually need to make it a good day and try to bring that amount of people in, wherever you’re going, whatever you’re doing. The number is probably very small isn’t it? If you rely on yourself to bring in enough people to cover your costs, anything you get from the actual event is profit.

And finally….


Come with a good attitude, a gorgeous display and your best fucking customer service.

Stay until the doors have closed, and be on your feet and smiling, chatting and being welcoming to every single person who comes near your space.

Do what YOU can to make the event the best it can be – create a good atmosphere, post photos on your social media, interact through twitter/instagram with people who are tagging as being at the event, or just have a good time with your fellow stallholders.

Follow every single bit of Selling at Craft Markets: Some Advice to Make it a Better Day.

And most importantly, don’t let any frustrations make you a jerk and affect your future earning potential.

By knittykittybangbang, Mar 31 2016 02:11PM

First off I must say that I’m really bad at the aesthetics of display, this is definitely not going to be a ‘how to make your stall look fab’ post! If you want stall display inspiration just click over to Pinterest and there are literally thousands of pics to flick through. This post is going to be about practicality and basics, your style is entirely up to you.

If you want to have the best possible display, the only way to really do this is practice. You can imagine things will look a certain way and when set up they look entirely different or don’t fit. Draw it out then practice laying it out before you go to your first event.

Firstly, a few things that are just helpful in making your stall look great.

Work to your strengths

I’m TERRIBLE at keeping things tidy so I have to work with that rather than trying to produce something that’s going to be a headache for me to lay out or maintain. If you have skills or ‘deficiencies’ like me, work with them rather than against them. Be honest with yourself, if you are terrible at combining colours, for example, don’t try because you’ll never feel secure about how your stall looks which means you will spend forever fiddling with it.

Stick to your demographic

Your display should appeal to your target market so determine who they are and design things around them. An easy example would be items targeted at children – your display will need to be low enough for children to be able to see and reach things, it will need to be brightly coloured and you are probably wise to make it easily cleanable! Ask yourself WHO are my demographic and WHAT do they like?

Are you cheap and cheerful or sophisticated and expensive?

Your display is what will attract people to your table so have your display reflect your prices. Are you selling ‘market stall’ items or high end hand made? If you are ‘pile em high and sell em low’ then do just that, if you are looking for a high price for high quality goods, your display needs to reflect that. I wouldn’t rake through boxes for a £100 handbag and if I was looking at items 5 for £1 I probably wouldn’t bother approaching really sophisticated looking stalls as I’d assume they were too expensive.

Black can make colours look great up close but it does nothing for anyone at a distance

I love black but it seriously saps light. Sure the items on top of your table may look great but for someone looking from a distance you kinda disappear. If you are using black then add signage or something so that from a distance you are eyecatching rather than a black hole that just blends in.

Use height

Find a way to build height on your stall so people can see your goods without having to stare directly down on your table. Pinterest is great for finding ideas for how to add height, just remember to make everything very stable.

It takes a great deal of skill to make ‘a plethora’ not look ‘cluttered’

You don’t have to have EVERYTHING on your table, which applies to both stock and display equipment. Coco Chanel said of accessorizing “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off.” This works for table displays as much as it does for fashion. It’s only YOU that knows that something is not on there.

Your product is what people should see first, not your props

You’re not setting up a museum display, you’re trying to make your product look good. I’ve seen some beautifully crafted displays, but I’ve not been able to tell what’s for sale and what’s for decoration. If people comment on your display more than they buy your goods, then you’re doing something wrong. Strip it right back and see if your sales figures go up, then you can start adding your beautiful props back in.

Textural and natural usually work

Now I’m not saying that all displays should be textured and natural, but it’s much easier to work with that than with flat, shiney and man made. Texture can be added by using pattern as well as relief and textural cloths are much less likely to look like they need a good iron! Wood and baskets will immediately look warm and welcoming and are easy to pick up cheaply. Slate and stones also work really well to give a simple classy look and have more warmth than flat black.

If you’re not confident with colour, natural colours work well too. Creams, taupes, pale greys and pale browns usually all work well together – and work with wood, slate and baskets easily. They wont fight for attention with your products but look warmer, and are easier to maintain, than white.

Of course these wont work for everyone, but if you’re stuck for a place to start find a picture of a flower or landscape that you feel fits with your theme or brand and start building your colours and look from there.

Your opinion is most important

Now obviously everyone has different opinions about what looks nice and certain things will suit your style better than others. I’m quite a good case in point being a jeweller whose jewellery looks much better away from the jewellery standards of clean lines and shiney monochrome. Do what feels right for you and screw everyone else, including me and my ‘helpful tips’!

The biggest mistake people usually make is that they plan their display in a vacuum. They set out their ‘dream’ display and don’t take any of the practicalities of life and work into consideration.

When planning your display for fairs and markets the first thing you should be thinking of is –

What are the limitations?

All events have largely immovable limitations on space and time and these will differ per area or event.

These limitations will be things like –

• What space do I get?

• How long do I have to set up?

• How far will I have to carry items? Will I have any help?

• What is my transport situation?

• Do I need to own my own table?

• Will there be electricity available? If there is, will I need my electricals PAT tested?

• What restrictions are there on what/how I can display? (ie do I require a table cloth)

• Health and safety!

These limitations should form your display design rather than trying to force your design to fit them (but I know you lot, you’re much more into the creative bit than the planning so if vice versa works for you, go for it you chaotic beggars!)

Quick reality check – EVERYBODY would like more space, their back to a wall and electricity, so we aint all gonna get it! Create a display that doesn’t depend on these things and you’ll have a much better time of it.

Let’s just think through the limitations above as to how they will inform your final design.

Do I need to own my own table?

I’m putting this first as it is the biggest variable that you can cheaply take completely out of the equation –buy your own table! Folding tables cost £20-£40, solve the feeling of ‘what table am I going to be faced with’, and allow you to practice and plan your display exactly as it will appear at events. You’ll never be faced with a display that fitted fine at home but now doesn’t fit on the table you’ve been given and some events simply don’t have ones you can borrow.

Find out what the ‘norm’ for your area tablewise is, and buy a table the same – for example the norm here is 6ft x 2.5ft (an average ‘hall’ type table). If you’re not allowed to bring your own table to an event, then generally the tables don’t vary much from the norm. Where you are, there might be no norm. If this is the case, do some research on events you want to attend to find out if you can bring your own table and/or what size of space you will be allocated so that you can try and get a table that will provide your display base for most events.

A word of warning – a pasting table is NOT an adequate substitute for a proper sturdy table. They are not made for holding more than 1 sheet of paper and I have seen several completely collapse taking all the stallholders stock with it. (Yes one was china!)

What space do I get?

Where I am, most indoor events let you have 6ft of space. This is an absolute – you get 6ft, you make your display fit within 6ft. This is where practicing your display comes in, if you don’t have your own table, mark out a 6ft area and use it as a blank canvas. If, like me, you kinda love drawing things to scale with graph paper (mmmmm scale drawing with graph paper) do that. DON’T guess your space sizes, actually measure because a guestimate wont do.

If you decide you really NEED more space, be prepared to pay for it. You don’t need to bring, or have on display ALL of your stock at once and you should have plenty space under your table for back stock that you can bring out if something sells or someone wants something that is not on display. It is a real faux pas to apply for events and say on the application ‘I need more space because my display is big’ and can result in you getting turned down for events. Most organisers will be happy to sell you a double space but why should they turn down another paying stallholder so you can have more room, and why should you get a bigger space than someone who is paying the same as you?

If you can’t fit into the space readily available, perhaps reconsider if attending these events is right for you. If you sell very large goods – such as furniture – maybe try bringing a couple of small examples and use the rest of your space as display for pictures of your goods, wood stain/paint samples, and perhaps access to your website through a tablet or a catalogue that people can look through. Remember craft markets are not just about sales on the day! (See previous blog post)

How long do I have to set up?

Obviously we’d all love to take our time, chat, drink tea and leisurely get prepared pre event, but sorry folks, time is money. Most venues will be paid for either by the day or the hour and you’ve paid for your spot based upon how much the venue is costing, as well as paying for the heating, electricity and staff who actually have to be there while you set up. Find out what the average time is in your area and practice or amend your display until you can do it in less than that time.

How far will I have to carry items? Will I have any help?

In some (rare) cases there will be people on hand to help you carry stuff in, but keep in mind that there could be another 100 stallholders who are also wanting their help so plan on being self sufficient. Steps are common into venues so be aware that you will likely not just be able to pile everything onto a trolley and wheel them in. Feel free to ask organisers if there are steps etc but if you want the maximum opportunites, make your display items ‘step friendly’.

It may seem obvious, but make sure you can safely physically lift your boxes/cases and display items. I know more than once I’ve filled a box nice and neatly then gone to lift it and, no chance! Be aware of your own physical limitations, you don’t want to get injured.

What is my transport situation?

If you’ve got a mini you likely can’t fit a whole shop in it! If you only have room for 2 boxes in your car, that’s all you can take so plan accordingly. If you’re serious about ‘the fair life’ and transport is a problem, maybe you need to think about changing your transport situation rather than trying to work with it.

Will there be electricity available? If there is, will I need my electricals PAT tested?

Organisers have to lay out their events on a ‘needs first’ basis and sorry but unless part of your body needs electricity to keep you alive, you don’t NEED electricity. More crafters have disabilities than in the average workplace and if they need a certain space to be able to see/hear/get up then that’s much more important than someone who wants to turn on lights or charge their phone. You also need to be aware that LOADS of people ask for electricity for one reason or another and some venues don’t even have a single socket. If electricity is a dealbreaker for you, you need to realise that this will minimize your opportunities and cost you extra– is it REALLY making you that much extra money?

Some venues require anything plugged into their sockets to be PAT tested. This can be done at any electricians and isn’t desperately expensive (around £5-£10 per appliance when I last checked), but if you are working on a small budget it’s something you might not want to spend money on. Not all venues require it, but it will give you extra opportunities if you get it done.

There is an easy way around the dependence on electricity – battery power! Swap out your electric lights for battery ones and you’ll never need to worry about whether you are next to a socket. Battery tea lights and fairy lights are really really cheap (you can get them in pound shops) and if you look around you can find bigger ones in lots of different designs online. This might take you some time to figure out, but the extra opportunities, the money you save on PAT testing, and lessening of uncertainty should make up for it.

What restrictions are there on what/how I can display? (ie do I require a table cloth)

This is something you want to check out. Where I am, most events require you to have a cloth covering the sides and front of your table. Regardless of whether or not you are required to have the fronts and sides of your table covered, it’s a good idea to do so. Under your table is where you will mainly be able to stash your stuff. If you’ve spent time designing a lovely display on top of your table, do you really want it spoilt by everyone seeing the complete disaster zone that’s underneath it? (What do you mean it’s only my table that looks like that underneath???)

Whatever restrictions organisers have put on they do so for a reason so be aware that in certain situations you might have to change your display to comply. Take this into consideration in your design. Be fluid and flexible and you’ll have more opportunities.

Health and safety!

H&S is REALLY important. Don't let anyone, including yourself, get hurt. Adhere to basic health and safety rules –

• Don’t pile things up high so they might topple

• Electrical cables must not hang, they must run along the floor and be taped down

• Don’t have sharp stuff/poisons/breakables where little paws can reach out and grab them

• Don’t have stuff that people might trip on or will encroach on the walkway

• Don’t have a ‘dangerous’ display such as broken glass or mirrors, irritants or toxic substances, or unstable shelves/tables.

Remember, your limitations whether personal or otherwise are what really inform your design. Working with them will give you more opportunities and an easier time of it.

By knittykittybangbang, Feb 17 2015 09:01AM

With fair season about to explode, I thought it might be a good time to write a piece about selling specifically at craft fairs and markets. If you google ‘selling tips’ you will find a lot, but mostly about selling for a big company, to another big company, which to my mind doesn’t really translate to the artisan life where we are generally talking about a lone designer maker selling directly to an individual, for relatively small amounts of money.

Before I get on with the knittygritty (ya see what I did there?) of things I think there is something important that needs to be said. Craft markets are NOT JUST ABOUT SALES! “Shock horror gasp!” I hear some of you cry, but they’re not. They are about helping to create and maintain a strong client base. They are about advertising and networking as much as they are about selling. If you are a lone worker they provide possibly your only time in a week where you can chat to people who understand your job.

Think of it this way – you pay £30 for a space at an event, how much advertising would that buy you? 150 facebook likes which may or may not lead to a single sale? A personal ad in your local paper, because it certainly aint buying you ad space? And as for networking, a place at a networking event, where you may or may not meet useful people, will set you back more than £50 through the local Chamber of Commerce. At a well run craft event your table fee will give you access to hundreds of visitors who are actually interested in your type of item – giving them the chance to see it in person and touch and feel (or taste!) it. Just because they don’t buy on the say, if you make in impression then they may come back and buy in the future. It will also give you access to other stallholders with knowledge, experience and an interest in your field! ALWAYS keep this in mind, NEVER go in thinking about sales alone, which brings us to our first bit of advice –

Adjust your attitude!

It’s not just about sales. If you’re having a poor sales day, so what? Do you think people are likely to approach your stall if you have a face like thunder on you? Do you think organisers and other stallholders are getting a good impression of you if you’re bitching and moaning? Just because your morning has been slow, it doesn’t mean your afternoon will be. If you have a good attitude and sunny disposition, it will shine through and people will pick up on it. And see that person across the room who you assume is doing really well because they look like a Cheshire cat? They might not be doing any better than you.

Be at your table

You’d think this was obvious but I see it time and time again, people spending more time socialising, smoking or making cups of tea than working. YES networking (and tea) is important but your customer should feel like they are the most important thing and that they aren’t dragging you away from something else. If you’re not there to make sales, how are they going to happen?

Stand up!

You just need to try this to feel the difference. It’s something that most of us just grow into so let me just save you some time and tell you – STAND UP! Studies have been done that say if you are standing you will feel more positive and confident and that alone will help you sell more. It’ll also help you feel more energised. Standing up will make it easier for you to reach the products on your table, and will put you face to face with your customers rather than them looking down on you.

Your personal appearance will affect your sales

Now I’m the first person to defend someone’s right to look exactly how they please but if we’re talking about sales then we need to be pragmatic. It would be great to be able to say people shouldn’t judge but alas some do. Look appropriate for your customers and product – for example if your demographic is older ladies, probably don’t dress as Hitler. You should look like someone who understands your product, and client, inside out, and your clients should feel comfortable asking you for advice. If you sell a product you can wear, you should wear some (something I am terrible at!)

While we’re on the topic of appearance we also need to cover personal hygiene. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD HAVE A WASH! You’d think that didn’t need saying, but trust me IT DOES. Be aware that you might need a breath mint or deodorant (humphing tables and stock around can get sweaty) and if you smoke remember to deal with the smell. Do you really want people thinking that that beautiful quilt you are trying to sell them for their babies’ bed is going to reek of BO, B&H or last night’s beer?

Say hello!

To EVERYONE!! If someone looks at your stall, invite them in with a hello. It isn’t pushy, it’s just polite. If you walk into a shop and nobody says hi, how do you feel? Ignored? Unwelcome? Well at a market you are in an even more intimate environment with your customer so an acknowledgement is even more important.


Shy? Suck it up buttercup! ‘Isn’t it a nice day?’, ‘Are you just out shopping today?’, ‘have you been here before?’ etc, will put your customer at ease, make them feel welcome and more likely to ask questions and feel comfortable enough to try things on or pick things up. All these things help lead to sales! Another important reason to chat with customers is that people don’t read signs. Yes you have a whacking great notice up there saying everything is made by you, but most people won’t notice so if it is important, make sure you tell them. Chatting can also lead on to:

Identifying your customers’ needs

If you’re new to selling and you’re feeling anxious about just chatting, this is maybe one to work up to, but it’s definitely worth it. Gently questioning customers - What is it they are looking for? Is it a gift? Do they have a budget in mind? If you know their needs, you can try and fill them. But remember:

Don’t overdo it!

Nobody likes a pushy sales person. Chatting is great, foisting things on people isn’t. You might get them to buy something once, but be sure as heck they won’t come back. People don’t expect the hard sell in a craft environment and it’s a sure way to put someone off your product.

Let people touch

Unless you are selling food, don’t have everything all packaged up and out of reach. People visiting markets want to be able to see and feel the products – otherwise they’d just buy online. If you sell clothing or jewellery, make sure people can try things on. If your product is skincare or something that really needs to be packaged to keep it clean or usable, then sacrifice one as a tester, or have some you can give our as free samples to people who perhaps need to try things due to allergies or in daylight. (Same would go for any items that are aimed at the wedding favour market).

Remember your regulars

Even if they never buy! People love it when you remember them. Try and remember what they’ve bought before and what they like/don’t like. You will be able to suggest things to them that they might not otherwise notice, and they will feel special. Just because someone doesn’t buy, it doesn’t make them worthless to your business – they have friends, colleagues and contacts that they might introduce to your business.

Know your product

It may seem obvious but really know your product inside out. One of the most common things I get asked is ‘what is it made from?’ Know exactly what your materials are, what allergens may be present, how they can be cleaned, ‘what will happen if...’. If you can’t answer a question, that’s probably a lost sale. As well as materials, know the benefits of your product – why is it better than others? What makes it good? Of course there are always questions you can’t answer, I got asked the other day “other than necklaces, what ARE these?” Still not sure what that meant...


That might be a new word to some of you! If you buy a greetings card in a shop and they say ‘do you need stamps?’, that is upselling. Do you need earrings to go with that necklace? We do scarves that match that hat, etc etc. I don’t advise doing this on every sale, if you’ve already established a budget and they’ve spent it then asking them to spend more isn’t going to make them happy.

Keep your stall looking good

Your stall is what gives people the first impression of your product. If it looks like a jumble sale, people will expect jumble sale prices. If it looks like a high end boutique, people will expect your prices to be high (ooooh that gets me onto pricing and that’s a whole other ballgame!) Don’t go crazy with the props, your product is the star. Your stall will get untidy through the day, don’t worry about it just tidy it up as you can. I have to say mine often looks like a tornado has hit it, the joy of lots of chains, but I just apologise to customers before I start chatting to them. DON’T tidy up as people are browsing, you’re ignoring them, distracting them and they will feel like they can’t touch and/or are in your way.

Write down your sales

How you ‘feel’ you’ve done is often far from the facts. I LOVE NUMBERS AND LISTS!! Making a list of things done, or sold, gives you a sense of achievement. If you work to a target, this will tell you how close you are to it. Don’t be obsessed by the blank page if you’re having a slow sales day, remember it’s not just about sales.

Bring people in!

This is a major bugbear of mine. Often you’ll hear people complaining about having bad sales days and the first thing I always think is ‘how many of your friends and social media followers did you bring in?’ Yes the organisers have a responsibility to market the event, but each individual stallholder has the responsibility to market their own business. Put something out on social media, contact your mailing lists, let them know where you will be so that they can come and see, and maybe buy, from you.

Bring em back!

With at least every sale give out a business card AND any flyers for other fairs you will be attending. Don’t expect people to help themselves to cards and flyers, the majority wont. If you can hand out cards and flyers to browsers too that’s great, but again don’t be too pushy with them.

And one final one for you to ponder or try out....

Work on your product at your table VS Don’t bring ‘something to do’

There are definitely 2 distinct camps here and I would encourage you to try both yourself to see which works best for you.

One thing both sides agree on, if you are going to be ‘doing something,’ make it work related. Don’t be playing scabby birds or whatever the latest game is, don’t be reading 50 shades of poop, don’t be watching films (yes I have actually seen that!) Certainly use your phone/tablet for business, but make sure you still acknowledge people and even apologise for doing it. The people in front of you made the effort to get off their butts to come and see you, the person who sent you a facebook message didn’t. This includes eating - Yes I know you have to eat, it’s important you don’t let your blood sugar drop, but be discreet, don’t be chomping down a saucy burger in their face. (If they are me they will leave your table and go and buy a burger...I could go a burger now actually...)


The essential ‘pro’ argument is, if you have a product you can be working on at your table it may bring people in as they are interested in what you are doing. This is especially true if your craft is something people will never have seen before, or takes particular skill. If making your product makes a nice smell (such as grinding coffee beans for example) that can be a big draw, as can something that makes a noise, but don’t go using noisy tools as it’ll not make you popular with your colleagues!

Certainly this might make people stop, but will it make them BUY?

My first problem is, manners dictate that it is rude to interrupt someone. If someone is not there with a hello, ready to serve me, then I feel like I am taking them away from something more important, or worse, that they don’t like the look of me. I think that customers should feel welcome and comfortable, which requires your attention. My second problem is, if I’m watching you do something, I’m not looking at your product – if you are demonstrating a product that might be different (drop spindles for example) but if you show me how to make your product, aren’t I more likely just to try and make it myself rather than buy it from you? Your customers are likely to be craft savvy - never give away all your secrets! Lastly - you can work on your product at home/studio any time, your networking/socialising time with other people in your industry/customers is limited to these few hours. Enjoy this time. I have heard huge deals being done at craft markets, don’t waste this opportunity.

My main suggestion is that if you feel strongly about one way, rotate between it and the other way for a few months and see what the difference in your figures (because you’ve written everything down) are.

If you’ve read down this far WELL DONE!! I hope at least some of these help you, or at least have made you think about how you ‘shop keep’.

By knittykittybangbang, Jan 10 2015 02:13PM

I asked members of the knittykittybangbang presents... facebook group what they had learnt in 2014 and the answers that came back were enlightening, especially to those new to the craft fair/craft business circuit!

Invest in yourself and keep learning

Whether it be learning how to do your own books or something more specialist to your field, there is always value in learning or honing your skills. It might just be making time to read or research a bit more, or it might be taking classes or a course, it is all beneficial and can save you money in the long term! Here’s a really obvious example – how much do you pay your accountant compared to how much a booking keeping class is?

All craft markets are not created equal – pick with care!

I think everyone has to go through trying EVERYTHING to see what works for them, and I think we’ve all found events that work for us and ones that don’t. There are a lot of variables when it comes to choosing events and each of us have to work out what the important variables are for us.

Be confident with pricing and don’t undervalue yourself.

Oh how I nearly cried with joy when the first person wrote this! You deserve to be paid, just like everyone else does. If a shop didn’t pay their staff because they weren’t worth it, then there would be outcry so why do it to yourself? Pricing is too complicated to go into in this post but there is a knittykittybangbang e-book coming later in the year that will cover some of it.....I could spend hours just talking about pricing....mmmmmm numbers......

Diversification VS Narrowing of product range

There has to be a better word than ‘narrowing’ but I couldn’t find a suitable one that didn’t sound hella negative! I think this is a terribly ‘space dependent’ issue. If you have the space – whether that be in a shop, wholesale or online, then diversification is certainly no bad thing – even the most avid bow lover will tire before getting to the end of 500 pictures of bows, for example. However if you only have a 6ft x 2.5ft space to contend with, there are definitely problems that come with diversification – display looking over complicated or ‘jumble-saley’, lack of a cohesive ‘brand’, having to cart about loads of different bags/packaging. Some people manage to achieve a ‘boutique’ look and product range (Crafty Wee Birdie is a superb example of this) within the small space, but it is definitely tricky to do.

Just because a fair was good one year, doesn’t mean it’ll be good the next (and vice versa)

Things change. People change. New things come into fashion, people get bored/lazy, or have already bought everything you offer! YOU change, your product refines, your clientele changes. Never rely on something being a sure thing.

Be more organised!

Whether it be with something specific, or just in general, the need to be more organised seems to hit everyone! For a lot of creative/people focussed types things such as admin and bookwork are deathly dull or difficult. Despite being the least tidy person IN THE WORLD (seriously), I don’t feel on top of things if I don’t have my books done every month and I ALWAYS make time at the start of the week to make a proper detailed to do list. (mmmmm lists......mmmmm numbers......)

People appreciate quality

They really do! If you have a well made, well designed item, that is appropriately (ie not too much OR too little) priced then there WILL be a market for it, it’s just up to you to find it.

Brand Awareness is really important

This is one that you might need to experience for yourself, but please just trust us, it really is important! Get business cards, have a table sign, even if you just make them yourself. Remind people it was YOU they got that lovely thing from. Going a bit deeper ask yourself why when in foreign countries do so many people buy coca cola and go to McDonalds? Brand recognition = trust = safety. If you are asking someone to spend money with you, they want to feel ‘safe’. I know from the outside that sounds a bit peculiar but they want to know they can trust your product, that it won’t fall apart/poison them/have a webcam in it/have fallen off the back of a truck. Once someone feels ‘comfortable’ with your brand (and this can be as simple as having heard your name before) they are much more likely to buy from you.

Don’t waste time obsessing about how competitors are faring

Now benchmarking against others is a necessary evil for some as it makes them ‘up their game’, but this isn’t true for everyone, and spending too much time picking through the work of others is a waste of YOUR time and can only be destructive to YOU. Stop following them on facebook and twitter and start watching people and companies you would aspire to emulate, that inspire you or cater for the same demographic.

Embrace technology

This is a biggie for me. I got a tablet free with my mobile phone and I thought ‘ahhh this’ll just be a fun toy to have’ man did I underestimate it! I tend to feel that most ‘tools’ are unnecessary things just to get you to part with your pennies (to the point that some of my students make fun of me!) but my tablet and card reader have let me do so many things (and won me sales!) that I wouldn’t otherwise have been able to. For example - I was at an event checking facebook before I opened. A client had got in touch to ask if I had anything in green. I used the tablet to quickly snap what I had and sent the photos back to her. She picked several pieces, I told her where I was, and she was able to come and get them (and a few more!). Had I not been ‘mobile’ this would have been a much more complicated process, and would definitely have been a much smaller sale. On that same day, the folks right and left of me were losing sales repeatedly because they couldn’t take cards whereas I didn’t have this problem. Technology needn’t just be computery, it could be anything that makes tasks quicker or lets you do things you couldn’t before. Examples might be knitting or sewing machines, stand mixers (or 2 stand mixers instead of 1) or just a trolley for ferrying your stuff around. Not tech savvy? This goes back to the first point about investing in yourself and keep learning.

What have YOU, dear reader, learnt in the past year? Anything you’d like to share? Anything you would like to query or disagree with? Please feel free - but no abuse please! (as if you would....)