Monday, 19 November 2012


This past weekend, I did my first Artisan Craft Fair.

If you have always liked craft fairs, and feel you might like to try one at some time, I would encourage you to have a go, and perhaps this information may be of help to you.


To begin with, do check out the fair you intend to try for.  I looked at local fairs only, because I knew it would be tiring and did not want a long journey on top of everything else I had to do.  I went to visit three local fairs, to see what kinds of goods were being sold.


You need to be sure that your products will "work" with everyone else's - ideally, it would be good to have as little competition as possible, but more than that, make sure that the price range is appropriate too. I could be wrong, but I feel there is little point in trying to sell expensive paintings when everyone else is selling soap and greetings cards.

The first fair I visited, in a church hall, was all soap, greetings cards, and rather cheap jewellery. I sensed I would be out of place there.

The one I liked was held in a massive ancient renovated barn with stalls both inside and out, food items outdoors and a kiddies' area.

  There was music playing, and an enormous variety of products for sale, including a few stalls selling beautifully made ceramics, lovely woodcrafts and  real silver jewellery.  I felt that my enamelled copper pieces would fit in well, and the organiser agreed.  So, I became a craftsy person for a weekend.


Find out the size of the table you will be given (and the cost of course).  Try, at home, to work out how to display your goods.  Height is the way to go, if you only have one table.  Some kind of shelf unit will be helpful.  I made one - a shelf with four legs, so that I could display goods on the shelf, and on the table below.  I also was lucky enough to have a perspex cabinet which you can see on the right here.

Here is a photo of a stand at a very smart Ceramics Craft event, you can see how height is important:

Prepare, in advance, some cards or flyers about yourself.  Also, something I failed to do was put out a book where people could enter an email address for, say,  future information - as this potter has done.  Bad me. However, I did not have the kind of space he had...!

Organise a book to write down all sales  and wear a cross-body bag or body belt bag for takings.  Take with plenty of change - notes and coins.

Provide a table cover.  A sheet over a table will allow you to store your boxes underneath.

Buy wrapping material.  Not old newspapers or old carrier bags.  Go online to find inexpensive tissue, and pretty carrier bags.  Buyers really appreciate this.

Consider a way to accept Credit Cards.  Some fairs have a central payment facility, others have nothing.  In the USA, there are various credit card payment methods that individuals can use, some which attach to a mobile phone.  This SEEMS to have finally reached the shores of the UK, although I have no direct experience so without giving any comment about this one way or the other, do feel free to investigate:

Wrap up warmly if you take on a winter fair.  Barns and marquees are unlikely to be heated.  So not just a warm coat and thick scarf, but the most useful thing of all....thick-soled boots! This will stop the chill creeping up from the soles of thin shoes;  the cold creeps up legs and inside warm coats.


Unless you are a really early bird, you may find that you cannot park very close to venue.  So it is really important that you think about how you will get your products to your stand.  I used a little "flatbed" trolley, as did many other stallholders.  It was invaluable.  I was able to load all my boxes in one go, and wheel them into the venue.


I learned quite a lot.  One thing became apparent quite quickly.  A craft fair is not quite the same as a proper ART and craft fair. The expectation, from the visitors, is bargain prices, and fun items.  I did sell quite a few of my bowls, I am pleased to say - but in general, I quickly became aware that visitors were mostly looking for cheap and cheerful Christmas gifts.  The same thing cannot be said of a major ART fair, I visit a huge one every summer called "Art in Action",  artists not only sell their wares, they demonstrate too.  The expectation from the visitors is quite different.  Visitors expect to find quality art items, and are prepared to pay high prices for unique pieces.  Having said this....major art fairs of this kind are expensive for the exhibitor to attend;  smaller craft fairs are priced quite differently, at minimal cost for a table.


So - provided you manage your expectations, you can have a lot of fun. Remember the saying...."he who expects little is seldom disappointed".  The girl behind me sold almost nothing, despite the vast attendance.  It can happen, she said -  she was fairly philosophical about it whereas I would have been devastated.  But she knew that no two weeks are the same.

Prepare well, keep your expectations in check, and have a great time.  I did.

Last but far from least..........TAKE A SKETCHBOOK!  The sketching opportunities are endless, and between sales, you can sit and quietly  capture some special scenes.  (This young man in the middle has a baby animal - perhaps a rabbit or guinea pig - stuffed down his jacket and is eating its carrots.......)


  1. Congratulations on the sales, Jackie, and thanks for the very helpful information.

  2. Thanks for sharing! I had a similar experience at a fair. This one was mostly food, soap, and inexpensive jewelry. Although I was only selling mini paintings, they were probably the most expensive items by far. I sold just enough to cover the costs but did have a good time meeting people.

  3. Your bowls are beautiful! Hope you sold a lot. Looks like fun.

  4. I can recommend iZettle as a means of taking credit card payments - you can get a £20 reader that will take chip and signature payments, or a £60 reader that does chip and pin, and links to your phone via Bluetooth. The more expensive reader might be more than you need, but it does take extra types of cards, like debit cards. I've tried it out and it's easy to use, and the transaction rate is fairly low.


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