Having just spent a very enjoyable 5 days at a Craft Show, I thought this would be an opportune time to write a post helping other crafters with an idea of how to prepare for a craft fair and getting ready for a craft show.
Each year I take part in the Dorset Arts and Crafts Association Exhibition.
1. How many events have you organised?
2. How many visitors do you expect?
3. What other stands will be at the event?
4. How many of each type of craft will be displaying
5. Is there an entrance fee?
6. Is it outdoors or indoors |where is it?
7. How is it advertised?
8. How much does a stand cost?
These questions will give you a good idea of whether to spend your hard earned money and time in the first place.
1. If they have never organised an event before - it's likely that you won't get a great deal of attendance and they won't know how to set up and advertise the craft show - they are orgainising it, to perhaps raise money for their chosen charity - in which case, they are just making their money on the entrance fees|stall fees and don't care whether you actually sell any of your goods or not.
2. If they struggle to answer this question or 'fudge' the answer then you know they haven't considered this and again, don't care if you sell anything or not as they're making their money from the stand fees initially
3 &4. Firstly you need to ascertain if the stands will be CRAFT or if they will be anybody and everybody who's willing to pay an entrance fee! If, like me you'd be selling silver jewellery and there's a stand at the event with imported "handmade silver jewellery" then I'd never attend. The imported handcrafted silver jewellery isn't hand crafted! It's machine made and a worker in the 3rd world or somewhere has used a pair of pliers to add a jump ring. There is no way I could compete on prices because it'll be "cheap and cheerful" and it also shows that the organisers don't care about craft - they just care about making their money. Then, if they are only accepting legitimate craft at their fair, then make sure they're not having too many of one type. How many times have you attended an event when every other table is selling beaded jewellery? So, double check (a) how many jewellery stands as a percentage of the overall show there is and then (b) check how many of your particular craft are displaying.
5. It's interesting to note if they charge for entrance - if they do, then question 7 is vital.
6. consider if the show will get passing trade or if it's somewhere where people would go out of their way to attend. If it's outdoors, what arrangements are in place to protect you and your goods from adverse weather?
7. If it's not advertised - then how will people know it's on? Have they advertised it in plenty of time before the event? Have they considered all the options that you know are available locally to you - e.g. local radio / free newspapers / posters / craft shops / local magazines - signs showing where the event is on the day. Check thoroughly how they intend to get people to come to see you
8. The deciding factor. If it only costs a small amount for the day and you aren't comfortable with some of their answers - well, it might be worth the risk for a day out and to gain experience of doing a craft fair. If it costs a lot of money - then you'll want to be sure that they've given good, solid answers to your questions.
The other option craft show organisers can use is a percentage of your takings and no stall fees. That perhaps is a good one to consider - after all if you don't make any money - neither will they!