Never book a stall at an event featuring a pole dancer – some advice for craft fair vendors.

my stallSadly the title of this post is not a joke.

The warm, friendly local craft fair where I had my first stall a year ago has really lost its way. An event that would normally be a magnet for families, young mums, and ladies of a certain age, turned its back on its core present-buying demographic in a cacophony of drums, crude language and general lack of common sense. And yes, there really was a pole dancer. So please excuse me whilst I have a mini-rant about this disastrous Christmas fair, and then I will move on to sharing some advice that will (hopefully!) help you avoid your own craft fair from hell!

It was billed as a “Christmas Extravaganza!” combining elements of a previous Steampunk event, (with its questionable choice of entertainment), and their usual craft fair. I rashly decided to risk it, belly dancers, pole dancer, the twenty strong group of drummers and all. Besides, I like Steampunk! Some of my favourite cosplay designs at events like LFCC are the exquisite Steampunk costumes, and I love the way they blend Victorian poise and elegance with classic science fiction themes. It can be a beautiful and exciting style but…  the local interpretation lacked the finesse and attention to detail of the London Steampunk scene. As for the Christmas part, aside from one sad, barely decorated tree, there was nothing. I guess Santa knew to give this particular church hall a miss this year.

My handmade top hat fascinators with sari trim hat bands and vintage belt buckle detail.

My handmade top hat fascinators with sari trim hat bands and vintage belt buckle detail.

My stall was badly positioned and completely inaccessible during the entertainment, and even the audience had nowhere to stand and watch. Mr BAM fetched me some earplugs so I wasn’t totally deafened by the drummers, but there was little I could do about the jiggling midriffs of the belly dancers at eye level, or the crude language of the men elbowing their way behind my stall to get a closer look. By comparison they were almost well behaved when the pole dancer was performing, although they may have been distracted by how precarious the wobbling pole (and dancer) seemed to be.

my stall close up

When people could reach my stall my sales were actually pretty good, and had my pitch not been so ridiculously impractical I might have fewer complaints about the event. I took my chances knowing about the questionable entertainment, but would I do it again? No, definitely not. The Steampunk crowd were more enthusiastic about dressing up than spending money on crafts, and were rowdy to the point that some had to be asked to leave. I should have listened to my gut feeling! Pole dancing and craft fairs do not mix well!

(Apologies for the poor quality photos – they were all taken on my phone. All pictures are of my stall and my stock because it seemed unkind to use pictures of other people in this less than favourable write up.)

So, rant over, here are some things to consider before booking a stall at a craft fair:

Research the event before booking a stall

If possible visit it or speak to people who have. If its a regular event, find out if stallholders keep coming back. If people only ever do an event once it may be an indication that it won’t be worth your time and effort.

Check what entertainment or background music will be used

Music can help create a welcoming atmosphere, but you may want tear your hair out if you have to listen to the same CD on repeat for five hours. Check if any musical performances are going to be acoustic. You do not want a pitch next to an amp or a speaker, and any kind of performance will require both a stage area and a place for the audience to watch and listen. Personally I’m not that bothered by what else is going on as long as it’s not too loud and it doesn’t interfere with my stall.

Check out the parking situation

Plenty of parking close to the venue is obviously good both for the stallholders and the customers.

Take a packed lunch and something to drink

Refreshments can be very hit and miss at craft fairs. Sometimes you’re spoilt for choice and there’s free tea and coffee for stallholders, and other times there’s no food at all and you’re charged £1 for a tiny cup of instant coffee! Take sandwiches rather than anything that needs a fork or spoon. There’s less mess, and less chance that you’ll get caught with it smeared all over your face/clothes/stock/customers!

Don’t forget your float and somewhere portable to keep your takings

Sod’s law dictates that your first sale of the day will be someone with a ten or twenty pound note, so make sure you have enough change (you can’t have too many pound coins!). It may be tempting to put your takings in a lockable cash box but these are more trouble than they are worth. They are too bulky and conspicuous to take to the loo with you without making it look like you think everyone is a thieving b*****d, and if they are all thieving b*****ds they’d only grab your cash box and run anyway! It’s much better just to have a purse or small bag that you can keep with you at all times.

Talk to everyone! And take business cards or flyers

Other stall holders are by far the best source of information about craft fairs. Usually they are a friendly bunch and you never know what creative opportunities will arise from making a new friend or swapping business cards.

There are no guarantees when it comes to craft fairs. They are a complete gamble; sometimes they pay off but more often than not they don’t, at least financially. But as a way of becoming part of a local crafting community, they have been invaluable to me, and it’s always good to step outside and see what people think of the projects I have so much fun making!

Have you ever done a craft fair? I’d love to hear about other people’s experiences, good and bad. Have you got a horror story to share?

The Knitting and Stitching Show – I came, I saw, I bought the lot.

I had quite a grumble about the Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace last year, but the lure of all that beautiful yarn was enough to overcome my reluctance to face the hoards of shoppers again this year. Having been half trampled and totally rushed due to going as part of a coach trip on the Saturday last time (what were we thinking?), this time me and Mum took the train up for the Thursday, and boy what a difference that made! Not only did we have a more comfortable journey, when we got there we could actually walk around freely in what ever direction we wanted without being restricted by the strange currents and tides of the crowd dragging us along! Continue reading

Shopping and drooling at Fibre East

How is already a week since I went to Fibre East with my mum and lil sis Katie?

This annual two day event celebrates every aspect of British fibre and craft, literally from the sheep to the finished jumper! it’s not just about spinning and hand knitting wool, although both those crafts are strongly represented. It also covers crochet (yay!), felting, weaving, rug making, machine knitting, button making, and… I can’t actually think of any more, but I’m pretty sure I’ve missed quite a few! Continue reading

Crafty geeks and geeky crafts at LFCC

Fan conventions are a relatively new phenomenon in the UK, and one that I usually have to explain when the subject comes up in conversation. Thanks to the popularity of the sitcom The Big Bang Theory, some are aware of the concept of a comic-con but usually they don’t know that such events take place on this side of the pond too. Maybe I’m selling the Great British public short, but the handful of people who know what I’m talking about when I mention conventions picture the stereotypical bespectacled nerd, probably wearing a scarily accurate Star Trek uniform, arguing with an equally stereotypical bespectacled nerd about how commercial Doctor Who has gotten.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Okay, sometime they skip Star Trek and just go straight for the Doctor!

This is an accurate detail of a much, much bigger picture that includes so much more than just die-hard Trekkies and Whovians. Continue reading

What a week! Ravelry success, surprise knitters, loud over-excited sisters, and a quiet craft fair.

What a week! Ever since I posted my Granny Panel Tissue Box Cover my daily stats have shot up, and ten people have added my pattern to their queues on Ravelry! I’ve been plodding along, doing my own thing on this blog for nearly a year now, mostly just because I enjoy it, and not really expecting many people to read it, so my sudden little success is very exciting! Mr BAM can tell just from my expression when I’m checking my stats because the massive grin is a dead give away. I really hope someone does have a go at my pattern and posts pictures of it!

I made another one, this time in Soft Violet and Lava Lamp, for my neighbour Betty

I made another one, this time in Soft Violet and Lava Lamp, for my neighbour Betty

Continue reading

Cute little hand sewn pouch purses, quick dash to Germany, and (very) minor brush with fame!

I’ve well and truly fallen in love with sewing again. It’s not that I ever really fell out of love with it, but lack of practice had undermined my confidence leaving me too nervous to even try. Fortunately learning how to follow a pattern to make pyjama bottoms, together with the kits I made last week, gave me the confidence to get cracking on some of the projects that have been a very long time in the planning stage! But it was a pattern for a little pouch purse sewn almost all by hand that really captured my attention and pushed its way to the head on the queue.

Kyaza Pochi

Continue reading

The Hillarys Blinds Country Craft Competition: the result, the backlash and some awkward lingering questions.

A sore loser is only really an embarrassment to themselves, but someone who keeps asking questions as to how and why decisions were made can be a more persistent problem for the organisers of any competition, particularly when there is an attractive prize.

Which brings me to the Hillarys Blinds Country Craft Competition with its first (and only) prize of £1000 cash. Billed by Hillarys Blinds  as a competition for UK craft bloggers to be judged by a panel of influential craft bloggers (, and the brief seemed simple enough…

My entry in the Hillarys Country Craft Competition

My entry in the Hillarys Country Craft Competition

Choose a fabric from the four available designs, and then Hillarys sent out a free sample of the chosen material. The rules stated that you had to make an original craft design and publish a blog post with pictures describing how you made your entry. Continue reading

Pink sheep, pretty wash cloths and chunky shawls

What a week! How can it only be Monday?

This is just a short post because I’ve just finished my blog entry for the Hillarys Blinds Country Crafts Competition (see it here), and it was a whopping great long post with tons of photos. It’s so long I doubt the judges will even read it all, but I figured it was worth a try!

Mothers Day was yesterday so I can now post pictures of the things I made for my mum without spoiling the surprise!

Left to right: a poetry book "written by cats" called: I Could Pee on This; a candy-floss pink sheep ornament that I... um... customised? with a shawl and jewellery; and on the right a glass jar of wash cloths crocheted out of Lilys Sugar n Cream cotton.

Left to right: a poetry book “written by cats” called: I Could Pee on This; a candy-floss pink sheep ornament that I… um… customised(?) with a shawl and jewellery; and on the right a glass jar of wash cloths crocheted out of Lilys Sugar n Cream cotton.

SONY DSC Continue reading