Optimism and bobble hats on a rainy day

I’m feeling most uncharacteristically optimistic today. This comes as a huge surprise as I spent the morning at a craft fair where I failed to sell even one item! Considering the dismal wet weather, it didn’t really come as a shock that customers didn’t arrive in droves to the chilly little WI hall, but despite the lack of sales, I did enjoy myself!

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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?

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

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More crochet cosiness and a little birdie.

Last week I finally got around to finishing a pair of leg warmers I’d promised to the mother of one of my bestest friends in the world. I was a bit worried that summer would have arrived before I was done but as the intended reciprient lives up in the always chilly north I think she’ll be using them for a while yet!

Lacy purple crochet leg warmers (please excuse the weird feet and saggy knees!)

Lacy purple crochet leg warmers (please excuse the weird feet and saggy knees!)

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Frames, magnets, crocheted Easteriness and fifty, yes FIFTY flowers. Plus cat.

Last week was a bit of a blur. First the deadline for the Hillarys Blinds Country Craft Competition (which I only just met!), then a flurry of activity to get ready for the Easter Briar Patch Craft Fair, then the fair itself on Saturday, and through it all I was still struggling to fight off a nasty gum infection. But despite how grotty I’ve been feeling physically, it’s still been a good week, and I did get round to finishing a lot of half-finished and (barely started!) projects.

Firstly there were the plate full of fabric flowers that I made with my kanzashi flower maker, remember those?

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Craft fair, bunting, cute and smelly (in a good way!) little owls, WIP and socks.

Suddenly it’s Wednesday and I still haven’t updated my blog! I can’t blame it all on recovering from the Briar Patch craft fair on Saturday, although I was exhausted after spending the day chatting away with both customers and fellow stallholders. A steady stream of compliments more than made up for the slow sales, and it was a fantastic opportunity to network with other creative people locally. There’s not a lot of crochet at this particular craft fair, and what there is is mostly hats and scarves, so my stuff really stood out. I was lucky to be given an extra table to fill at no additional cost due to a last minute reshuffle by the organiser!

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Crochet owl keyrings, pincushion rings and lovely hearts

My next craft fair is less than a week away now, and I’ve stayed more or less to my target of making something to sell every day.

Owls are still very popular, and an easy shape to crochet, so I improvised these cute little amigurumi keyrings. I could happily making dozens of these in all different colours, but I’ve just made a few to start with to see if they sell first.

Crochet owl keyrings. Small, cute, and hard to photograph because they won't sit up and behave!

Crochet owl keyrings. Small, cute, and hard to photograph because they won’t sit up and behave!

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A crochet tea cosy, plenty of potholders and the six heeled sock of doom

I had another productive week last week. I’ve been trying to work on a item a day for sale at the craft fair I have booked on the 1st. I already have plenty of stock but I want to be able to be enthusiastic about what is on my stall, and that’s going to be easier if I have new things to show off.

First I made another tea cosy.

orange tea cosy

Then I went a bit pot holder crazy…

multi-colour pot holders

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Crochet tea cosies, turtles, and relearning to knit European style

The short, grey days are getting to me a bit at the moment, so although I’ve had quite a productive week, I don’t have much to say. 😦

My stripy blanket (tutorial by notyouraveragecrochet found here) is making steady progress. I’m on row 26. I would have been a lot further along but I had trouble ending up with the right number of stitches after doing the two rows that made up the star stitch stripe (the lime green stripe between the purple and the red). I got there in the end though, and got a lot of practice with a new stitch!

Stripy crochet blanket work in progress. 26 rows and counting!

Stripy crochet blanket work in progress. 26 rows and counting!

I have another stall booked at the Briar Patch Craft Fair in Eastbourne on the 1st February, so I’ve been trying to make something every day to sell. I made a couple more cupcake keyrings and a turtle too. Continue reading

Achievement unlocked: sell work at local craft fair

I’ve been neglecting this blog even more than usual lately, but that’s because I’ve been busy getting ready for my first stall at a craft fair. I had lots of half finished bits and pieces that I had to work my way through in order to have a decent amount of stock, and somehow I managed to pull it all together in time for the big day yesterday.

I was very proud of my little stall at The Briar Patch Craft Fair in Eastbourne, and although the event wasn’t exactly swamped, there was a steady stream of people having a good look around, and I did make a few sales!

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