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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....)

By knittykittybangbang, Sep 17 2014 10:05AM

Knittykittybangbang’s basic sewing class has now been running for 2 weeks and I am seriously impressed with the items the students are making!

Week 1 we started off making a basic envelope cushion cover. Students produced their own patterns, then cut and stitched up their own cushions. Almost everyone finished at least 1 cushion in class and nobody sewed themselves to anything or swore!!

Last night everyone started on making their own bags. They were told how to make a very basic pattern then they all amended it to produce their own designs. Each design was different and unique and I can’t wait to see them all finished next week! It’s amazing that on the first week most people weren’t sure how to thread their machine up and now they are making their own patterns without a second thought!

After our bags we are moving on to skirts. Not everyone wanted to make a skirt so 3 have decided to make dresses the brave brave people!

By knittykittybangbang, Aug 11 2014 09:14AM

I met Magda from My Decor Ideas at one of the very first fairs I attended in the early days of knittykittybangbang. The fair was a complete disaster, but Magda and I stayed in touch and she has attended almost every one of the knittykittybangbang presents events. I've seen her progress from making cushions and small painted household items, to completely renovating everything from shelves to chaise as well as making her own candles.

On 1st August, Magda took the brave step of opening up her own shop! Any excuse for a party, of course, so along to the opening I went and ate cake and drank fizz. Magda has really great taste so I knew the shop would be gorgeous and it is!

Magda is an example of what hard work can do, as well as proving that craft doesn't have to be twee. Her pieces have a 'modern rural' feel, using beautiful, comfortable and warm materials, but in, as the name suggests, a more urban colour pallette and slick lines than the usual shabby chic look.

Shades of Blue and Grey is open Tuesday - Saturday from 11am, 281 Holburn Street, Aberdeen (parking directly across the road)

By knittykittybangbang, Jul 24 2014 03:22PM

This seems to be the attitude of a lot of crafters to facebook events - much to the pain and suffering of fair organisers across the board! So why DO we bang on about facebook events all the time? Hopefully this article will enlighten you....

How facebook works, in the nicest possible way, is like a virus - the more people come in contact with its content, the more that content spreads. Facebook events are NOT just about advertising the event on that day, although of course that is a big part, but they are also about collectively getting together and promoting every single stallholder there in a very quick and cheap way.

Check out the flowchart that shows this spread. You see it doesn't actually matter whether or not the people you invite can attend the event, everyone who doesn't actually press 'decline' will still see promotional material from the event, and given that most of us have options for people to buy online, this is very very useful. If you are one of those people who spends a lot of time on 'like for like' pages, I think if everyone came on board with this it would be much more fruitful in terms of actual sales.

LET'S DO THE MATHS! You can't argue with maths.

Let's take the lower end of the 'average facebook friends' number of 130, and imagine we have an event with 20 stallholders. Let's say each stallholder only invites half their friends - that's already 1300 people. 1300 people who have DEFINITELY had a notification of an invitation - not 'might have seen a share if they were online at the right time'. Let's say that half of those people actually hit the 'decline' button - that's still 650 people left who are going to see some updates from the event in their newsfeed. Let's say only 10% of those people 'join' the event or like a page or picture in it - that's another possible 8450 people (using the lower end of the average) who could be seeing your goods!

I can hear you say to yourself - 'but I don't want to annoy people'. Let's be frank businesses always need to rely to some extent on their friends and if they get pissed off at, at the most, 4 invites per month they aint that great a friend really are they? And if they find a business they love through one of your invites, they're only going to love you the more for it!