Thursday, 17 August 2017

Selling your crafts at a Fair.

Hello. Thanks to Angela for the idea for this post. She has booked a stall at a Christmas Craft Fair and as it's her first one she asked me for advice. As I had three years of doing craft fairs, agricultural shows, cat shows, and markets, I know a bit about it. There may be others who are contemplating selling their crafts, so I thought, now is the time to start preparing for the busy Christmas selling season. This is my guide.
I think I ought to begin by saying you won't make a lot of money out of it. Considering the amount of hours it takes to make something, don't expect a minimum wage, it will be less than that. My business was ticking over for three years. I didn't make anything, I bought in stock from wholesalers and trade fairs. I still spent a lot of time on the business because I went out on buying missions, sorting, storing, and pricing it when I got back. Then packing the car up and travelling anything up to 150 miles away to events. I usually went the night before to set up the stall, I slept in my car to cut costs. Sometimes I would get up at 4am and drive to the venue, sell all day, pack up, and arrive back home at 9pm. A long day.

Right, for anyone who is considering this type of selling. Choose your venue, it's location, how far away is it. How much will it cost in time and petrol to get there? Is it an established fair? How many stands will there be, how much competition. They often limit the amount of jewelry and card stands, there are too many sellers in these fields. Is the event well advertised? Posters. flyers, newspaper advertising etc.

You have decided on which fair and booked it. Small events should be about £10 - £15 a day, larger events can be anything from £50 upwards. I did a Truck show once, it was £200 for two days trading. I took £1,000. Hard work but worth doing. Now the thing is, don't get carried away by a good result, year on year, the same fair or show will bring in vastly different amounts of money. I did the truck show the following year and took less than £500. Very disappointing, I didn't do it again. The reason was that in one year the climate had changed, people no longer had spare cash to splash.

So. You arrive at the venue, there will be a plan of where to set up your stall. If you are a newby your allocated plot may not be in a good selling position, you may be shoved at the bottom of a dead end, tucked away in a corner. You can ask to be moved, but they may say you have to stick with what you have. As you do more shows and watch how people move through, you will learn the best places to stand, you want lots of passing traffic, ideally in the middle of a busy thoroughfare.

The amount of visitors passing through is no indication of how much you can expect to sell. Obviously only a handful of people will not bring lots of sales, but on the other hand, too many visitors packed like sardines who move en mass through, will not give people a chance to stop and look.

Setting up your stall. Most will provide a 6ft wide table. If the show is fully booked you will not be able to expand sideways on that, they have to leave big enough gaps between tables for safety reasons. You can't get much on a 6ft table, so you have to make the most of what you have got. You can build height into your display, as I have done on the photo. I constructed a wooden step type of  assembly covered in red velvet. It dismantled for transportation. What you can do is pack your stock into collapsible plastic crates, empty them, turn them upside down and put them at the back of your table after you have put the main cover on. If you don't have crates you can use cardboard boxes. Then cover them with smaller pieces of fabric and tuck in the loose bits. A word about drapes, use tablecloths, throws, bed sheets, or whatever you have, but they must be plain, not patterned.

To build further height into it, you need to be able to hang things. Bags and clothing are better hung. I had two long lengths of wood and fixed them upright to the back of the table with heavy duty metal clips. Then I added two bars across the width with smaller plastic clips. You need to use every bit of your 6 foot space.

If the aisles are wide enough you could take your own small fold up table and set it up at the front of your display, put a cover on it. Some may not allow this, but try it anyway. Watch what other people are doing.

It is important to try and get on with your neighbours, you have to work closely with them, sometimes squashed in together. They may try and encroach on your space, do not let them push you out. Smile and ask that they leave room for you to get out to the front.

If there is a very wide aisle in front of you, I used to take my own 6 foot table and add it to the one already there, giving me double the depth. It meant that I had to reduce my working space at the back, but the more selling space you can get the better.

Best to keep your money on you in a bum bag, or pouch around your waist. Take a float of loose change. It goes without saying not to pounce on potential customers, they won't like it. Best not to sit on a chair reading a magazine either. That shows you are not interested in selling something. I always stood up, looked as if I was busy, re arranging stuff, titivating the stock, pricing it up etc. I would look up at the person, sometimes pick up an item and say something like, 'I only got these last week, I think they are lovely'. Or if they pick something up for a closer look I tell them a little story about it, even if it is made up. I might say, 'someone's just bought one of those'. Basically it's all about chatting, smiling, and looking as if you are enjoying the experience of having a stall. Ask if they have come far, ask about the weather, if you can't see it through a window, anything.

Don't be in a rush to pack up and go home, even if you have had enough. Sometimes stragglers buy something. They may have seen it earlier and come back for it. Leave your pitch tidy and take your rubbish home with you.

That's all I can think of at the moment, any questions please ask. Thanks for popping in, we'll catch up soon.
Toodle pip

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Summer flowers are looking nice

Hello. It's been a sunny day, I have a few garden pictures. I spent the afternoon mowing the lawns. First I have to trim around the raised beds, and all the edges, with shears. The flowers are looking lovely now. 

Ha ha, Heidi has curled up in a plastic bowl, doesn't she look cute. These bowls are usually full of rain water, but I have emptied them onto the garden because it hasn't rained for a couple of days. Need some more rain now.

Ha ha, she has moved to a smaller bowl. Can't curl up in that one.

The lawns back and front are neat and tidy once more. It's a big job, the brown bin is full of grass cuttings and won't be collected for another week.

I'm going to bed now. Thanks for popping in, we'll catch up soon.
Toodle pip

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Rescue a dog, don't buy one.

Hello. The elderly gent lost his dog a while back, it was poorly and was expected. He used to walk the dog every day, it was sad to see it going downhill. He was obviously devoted to it. I felt so sorry for him that he would have to face up to the fact that his companion wouldn't be around for much longer. Then I didn't see him around for a long time, the dog had obviously gone. 
Months later he was out and about again, with a new companion. I rushed out to speak to him. Doggy is from a rescue, he is elderly and needs medication which the rescue pays for. At first he had the dog on trial like fostering, to see how he got on with it. As you can see he needs a frame to assist his walking. 
Now months later all is well, the dog has settled nicely and now I see them out every day. The man has a new lease of life, it has given him something to look forward to. He can often be seen chatting to people. 
For me this is what village life is about, walking around the streets meeting your neighbours, and quite often their dogs as well. Next time someone tells you they are going to get a dog, please tell them to look in a rescue. There are all kinds of dogs waiting for a home.

Noel Fitzpatrick, the Supervet has just done five programmes on Channel 4 called Animal Rescue Live. They are all on 4od. This is the link to see them, but beware you will need tissues. I'm not sure if this is available outside the UK.
Animal Rescue Live.

A short video about Noel.

Right, I'm off out to walk Jade, she's a lurcher/greyhound, a gentle girl. Busy day today, so I'll leave you to it. Thanks for popping in, we'll catch up soon.
Toodle pip

Monday, 14 August 2017

More of Art in the Pen at Skipton

Hello. That's better, I feel refreshed after the long day yesterday. Chatting to like minded people at the Art exhibition has fired me up to get on with my own arty stuff. I wish there were more art events in my area, but they are few and far between, so I have to travel. I shall put this one in my diary for next year, and who knows, I may even exhibit. 
When I arrived I was like a kid in a sweet shop, it took me ages to get down the first aisle because I was chatting to everyone. The exhibitors were a friendly bunch, answering my questions and willing to share snippets of their lives. Ooooh, I am nosey, ha ha. This lovely lady goes by the name of Nanny Lynn. I just had to ask her about her felted hair. Isn't in amazing. She had it done at Glastonbury and the process took ages. She loves it, I think it goes perfectly with her business. She is a spinner, dyer, and felt maker from Bolton, Lancashire. She offers talks to groups, group and individual tuition. We had a hoot, she is full of fun.

Some of the things she makes. Her Facebook page is regularly updated, take a look if you are into all things felt.

It was the unusual materials which made me look at this stall, plus the unique name of her business, Hanging by a Fred. Looking closely at the colourful bowls and jewelry, they are made with redundant climbing rope, which used to belong to her father. There are very stringent regulations regarding the strength of climbing rope, and once it has been compromised the whole rope will have to be discarded. Freddie has found a way of upcycling it, in an amazing way. She makes coiled rope bowls, pet accessories, jewelry, and woven mats. Take a look at her web site for more details.

As I was searching for the unusual and unique crafts, I came across this smiley man. I couldn't quite work out what materials he had used to create his art, so I had to ask. Richard is a picture framer, but he was here with his very unusual arty sculptures. He uses reclaimed wood, and stator plates. I've just had to look up what a stator is. It's the stationary part of an electrical generator or motor. Basically a small piece of flat metal which he bends into all kinds of shapes and painstakingly attaches them to chunks of old worn wood. I do believe that his art is totally unique, I've not seen anyone else do this with scrap metal. If you want to learn more about his work, take a look at his web site.

And the last artist I am featuring here is Mathew. Unfortunately I was so intrigued by his work that I forgot to take a photo of him. Sorry Mathew. He is a very personable young man with a massive talent.

Think of a map of a city or town, not a conventional map with symbols, but one with pictures of important buildings depicting the history of the place. Then imagine that all these buildings are piled on top of each other in a tower, and this is what Mathew does. Pretty amazing I think you'll agree. Apologies about the quality of my photo's, some reflections of the lights in the glass. I suggest you look at his web site to see the extent of his artistic talent. I love the pictures of the muck spreaders, quirky and very amusing.

A couple more snaps, colourful stalls always attract me.

And that concludes my visit to Art in the Pen. Now back to my own needle felting picture. It's coming along nicely.
Thanks for popping in, we'll catch up soon.
Toodle pip

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Art in the Pen at Skipton

Hello. Just popping in with a few piccies. I had a day out today at Skipton. Art in the Pen is an art and crafts event held in the Auction Mart, the place where they usually sell livestock. It's an ideal venue for it, plenty of room in the big shed, and parking for 500 cars outside. There were 195+ exhibitors, the entrance fee was £3, and a brochure was included in the price. Quite a good deal I thought. It was rather a long way to go for a day, should have made it two days really. I didn't decide to go until last night, so I left it a bit late to get organised. No matter, I had a good day. 
I'll do a longer post tomorrow, I'm too tired now. I met some smashing people, had some great chats, everyone was very friendly. There was all kinds of art and crafts. Here's a few of them, more tomorrow,

Thanks for popping in, we'll catch up soon.
Toodle pip