Since 2009 we've been putting on vintage and craft events in Worcester, and the monthly Worcester Flea now also accepts stalls of craft, supporting local designer-makers.
We thought we'd share some of the tips we've picked up over the years about craft stall displays and getting the most out of your craft stall at events.
All stallholders want to make their stall look appealing and to draw customers over for a browse and ideally a purchase, but there is definitely an art to decorating your craft stall that can make all the difference between having a good or bad day at an event.
If you're just starting out it's a good idea to think carefully about your craft business and how you want to present it to the public. The most successful craft businesses think like big businesses and create branding for their business such as a name and logo, business cards, website/blog etc, and even how the stall itself looks. If you give your stall a catchy name it's more likely to be remembered! If you've got a coloured logo you can then devise a colour scheme that also ties in colours of your blog and your stall display, such as a matching table cloth etc. All this helps to create a strong identity which will make your stall stand out.
The basis of a craft fair stall display is the table cloth, but just arranging your items flat on a tablecloth isn't going to show off your items fully! To catch people's eye, you need to display actually at eye level. Therefore use your table as a platform to build from. Think of your stall as a shop window display for your products. The best stalls we've seen use bookcases, vintage suitcases, packing cases etc to add height to their stall and bring their product to eye level. You can see this being applied in these examples from our fairs in the past:
See how inviting these stalls look?! There's psychology involved in this display method. Have you ever not wanted go into a small shop for fear of offending the shop keeper by not buying anything? As silly as it may sound, many people do think this way and the same reticence can be found in browsing stalls. Customers can be intimidated when approaching stalls if the stallholder is sat behind an empty, flat looking table. They have to go right up to the stall and lean over to view items, which can put people off having a closer look at your stall. They don't want to feel embarrassed for not buying anything or obligated to make a purchase. It's something we've noticed at other fairs we've attended too. For instance, a stall of lovely preserves and chutneys was given a wide birth by shoppers at a fair we visited, because there wasn't an interesting display to draw people over, just lines of jars.
If you build up your stall you're creating a more inviting, pressure-free environment for your customers to browse by having eye contact with the products and not the stallholder! The different height and display cases, whether book cases, boxes, or suitcases etc, add character and interest to your stall.
Fairs like The Worcester Flea for example, have room for more than just a table top display, it's a square space so 3 sides can be utilised for display. Stallholders there use backdrops, bookcases, a variety of table sizes, baskets and items like coat stands etc to display hanging items. There's room to be fairly creative within your stall space by bringing in different 'furniture' to display items in an interesting and customer-friendly way.
Creating height and interest for your stall is not to say you should hide behind it! Standing, smiling and greeting customers and having a chat to them is all part of running a stall at a fair, but creating that inviting, browsing environment helps to draw the customer over in the first place.
Another top tip is to make sure you have a business card or details of how people can contact you, visible on your stall. Several times over the years we've had people email us after fairs asking did we know the name of the stall that sold 'such and such' and where they can contact them. Customers do sometimes go off and have a think and then realise they really did want to make a purchase. If they can pick up a card or flyer from you then they can get in touch directly and you can still make that sale!
Flyers for other events you're attending are also handy to have with you. You can give them out and let people know where you'll be so they can find you another time.
As well as having an appealing looking stall, starting your own promotion before an event is key to getting the most out of the fairs you attend.
Having a website, facebook page or other free blog for your craft business/stall, is a great way to promote yourself and your products ahead of time. Fair organisers like ourselves can then link to your page before events so potential customers get to check out your products before arriving at fairs.
We've had great feedback from stallholders who had their webpage linked to by us. They've reported back that shoppers have said they'd seen their items online and made a beeline for their stall on the day, which is great!
If you don't have a webpage then take some photos of your items to send to fair organisers a few weeks before the day and ask if they can put it on their blog/facebook page etc. This is something we do that works well for sellers.
There's an interesting, detailed article HERE that talks about marketing and promotion for craft businesses attending large fairs. Although it's referring to larger events in the US, the same principles can be applied to smaller events here.
Have you any other top tips as a vintage or craft seller to share? If so we'd love to hear them, please leave your comments below!