Art, Everything Else, Learning

13 Things We Learned From Our First Craft Fair

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The concept of fairs (and as such, craft fairs too) is not new to me. Growing up in a small town, we had annual fairs, where the women folk of the town would get to set up their stalls and sell food and wares (including small decor, crafts, jewelry, clothes, and more). I would help my mom setup the booth and sell as well. Mom is a stupendous cook and her stall would always be super busy. It was fun and aptly named ‘Anand Bazaar’. Anand meaning happiness and Bazaar meaning market – so market of happiness.

Today, I am a mom, and this past weekend, had craft and activity booths to setup at our very first craft fair – the Girl Scouts’ Craftapalooza event. I realized that what I did as a child to help my mom was only part of all that needs to be done.

Now that the event is done, here is what we learned from our craft fair experience. This is assuming you have booked the booth for a fair/similar event already.

Before the fair:

  1. Listen to the buyers.  In this case, the makers and the primary buyers were all going to be girls, primarily in the age range of five to fifteen! And while they did sit and make the ornaments very happily, what they really, really, really wanted to make – slime.
    Slime on couple of nearby booths was selling off their tables, literally, while we were contemplating reducing prices on our products. So, the next time, I plan to ensure we have items the girls want to make (because that is what they will want to buy) in addition to items we adults believe the parents will want to buy.
  2. Make a few items of different types/sizes/prices to appeal to all the different people who visit the event. A few paintings and tons of ornaments were what we had this time around, but in hindsight we should have had a few more paintings, lot lesser ornaments and few of couple more things.. OR just a few of higher priced items
  3. Plan ahead – months ahead if possible – order items online to save (eg: alibaba or other discount craft stores). Spend a few hours each week on making the items where possible so does not seem overwhelming. We spent a couple of hours or more over three weeks of Girl Scout meetings on this, but could be next time, 1/2 hour of a few months of meetings set aside for this would work better?
  4. Dress rehearsal – we did not do this but it would have definitely helped to have a dress rehearsal of sorts at home, and have friends and family enact potential customers with our table/booth setup as we want it.
  5. Schedule who is going to be doing what and where at all times of the event

At the fair:craft fair decor snowman

    1. Setup – decor: Prep decor for your booth beforehand. Our booth had a snowman that people aawed over and remarked how cute he was.. not sure if he really helped in sales but it did increase the curb appeal of our booth a bit. And the paintings did get sold – 4 out of the 5 we had!
    2. Setup – for item prices and for cash: Mark items with price tags clearly … we had smaller items – ornaments mainly so kept different priced ones in different sections (small trees/hangers where they hung off of and baskets for the remaining pieces). We also had a small poster with prices but I think that small chalkboard easels would have been a better tactic – both in terms of looks and clarity of items and prices (pictured below – I got this for an event at home earlier but could not find these at all:( ).
      For storing the cash, we used a fancy photo storage box (one I got at Michaels) to store the cash but if you plan to do multiple sales over the year, then a regular cash box might be good. I saw many booths had those and it looked cool.

    1. Setup – for your actual items themselves: Ensure you keep the right quantity of items outside for display and to sell – do not overcrowd your table. You can keep replenishing as you sell the items. We realized that we had too much and then toned it down to something more visually appealing an hour into the fair.
      Ensure you have additional items readily accessible (under the tables in boxes might be the only option, like in our case). Also, do not forget to have carry bags for customers to take what they buy from you. We almost forgot these and ended up getting a combination of different bags from parents in our troop towards the end. But many customers opted to put their purchases (small wooden ornaments in our case) directly into their bags. Also plan ahead and think of any other items you might need that will help to complete the setup for your booth.

  1. Ensure you have change in all denominations if possible. So you are ready for customers who would otherwise not have bought goods from you because they/you did not have the right cash amount.
  2. An option for people to use credit cards. The Girl Scouts of Northern California recommended option – Square. Square is a nifty little tool (which I am waiting for in the mail at this time, and did not get to use at this craft fair) that lets you connect it to your phone and swipe cards for payment. You order the card-reader (for free when you request them to mail it to you), download their app, connect to the correct bank accounts, and you are done!
  3. Walk around the fair, visit other booths, make friends with other fair hosts, and you will surely get help and tons of ideas.

After the fair

  1. Talk to everyone on your team(be it family, friends, or in our case, our Girl Scouts and parent volunteers) about the highlights for each of them, what each felt they learned, what we could do better next time, and what they enjoyed the most
  2. And last, but not the least, celebrate – you have accomplished something.

What we earned:

  • Loads of fun
  • A great experience – in both selling and the activity booths, as well as trying out different activities themselves, and checking other books to see what they were selling
  • Tons of ideas for our next Craft fair event (we are already ready to setup our next craft fair!!) and
  • $67.50 in cash 🙂 yay!!!

Our expenses:  more than what we earned above definitely so we did not make a monetary profit, but like the Mastercard ad says – what we got out of this whole experience – it was priceless.

Linking this towards one more of the memes I love participating in – Thursday 13.

15 thoughts on “13 Things We Learned From Our First Craft Fair

  1. I think you did well. Craft fairs are always hit-or-miss deals, and since you were dealing with young women I am sure they also took away a lot from the experience. Good for you for doing this with them!

  2. Sounds like you and the girls had a great day even if you didn’t make a profit. But it’s a great learning experience and next year with all the planning, you will have great success!

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