Selling jewellery at craft fairs can be a lot of fun and is a great way to make a little money to support your jewellery hobby. It can also lead to greater things, perhaps even a complete jewellery business, but only if you get the basics right!
Selling Jewellery at Craft Fairs: Tip One
My first tip for successfully selling jewellery at craft fairs is to do your research. If you hear about a craft fair that you might want to try, then go and visit it before you invest in hiring a stall. While you’re there, take some notes and talk to stallholders. Make a note of the facilities: what is parking like? Are there signs to direct passers-by into the event? Take note of the atmosphere in the fair: how many customers are browsing? How many stalls are at the event? What are these stalls selling? What is the price range on offer?
These are all important facts to build up a picture of the event. If parking is poor and there is nothing to tell people about the event, then you will most likely find that there aren’t very many customers browsing the fair. In order to confirm your observations, you may be able to check this by asking stallholders if they have been to the event before and what their experience of the organisers is like. In many cases, the difference between a good fair and a bad one is entirely down to the organiser and how well they market the event. Bear in mind that the organiser is guaranteed some income from the day because they will have charged every seller a fee to be there, even if nobody comes through the door to buy. It is fair to say that if sellers have paid for a table and then no customers turn up, they probably won’t be trying that craft fair again, but a little careful research before you hire a stall can help to stop you becoming a victim in this way.
If the event looks busy and seems to be well-organised, then take a closer look at what is on sale. Are all the stalls selling hand-made goods or are they selling cheap imports from China? What are the prices like – is every item under £5 or are there items for several hundred pounds? This information will give you a good idea of what the customers are like and will allow you to judge whether your products are a good fit for the event. It is no good selling jewellery at craft fairs if all the other products are cheap and your jewellery is expensive – the customers at the event won’t be expecting to pay much for their purchases, so you will have trouble making sales.
If the price and style of goods looks about right, then check out your potential competition. Are there any other jewellery stalls and what style of jewellery are they selling? Again, you don’t want to be selling jewellery at craft fairs where every single stall is selling jewellery just like yours. The odds of someone buying your jewellery instead of someone else’s then become a matter of luck. It is quite likely that there will be other jewellery stalls, but if they are offering pieces made using, for example, metal-smithing techniques, whilst your jewellery is bead-weaving, then you probably have something different to offer which may appeal to customers.
Be honest with yourself as you are making this assessment. If you are serious about selling jewellery at craft fairs, then you want to choose the right fair. It is very tempting to want to rush straight in to selling and not bother with the research. It can also be tempting to feel determined to do a fair because the stall hire is cheap or the location is close to your home. These can be valid reasons, but you may find yourself spending the day in an empty room chatting with fellow stallholders and wondering if a customer is every going to enter the fair (I have actually had this experience!).
Selling Jewellery at Craft Fairs: Tip Two
My second top tip for selling jewellery at craft fairs is to think about pricing. If you haven’t already, then read the posts on pricing your work. Once you have priced a few items of jewellery, you will have a good idea of your particular price range. Firstly, think about this in comparison with the price ranges you observed on your research trip: will your work fit? If it’s a lot cheaper than the other stalls, people may take that as an indication of inferior quality. If it’s a lot more expensive, then you may find customers simply aren’t expecting to pay that sort of money for their purchases.
Even more important than this is to consider your pricing relative to the cost of hiring a stall. As I discovered when I first started selling jewellery at craft fairs, stall hire varies from £20 to £300 and upwards. Further research may indicate that the £300 stall is for a two-day fair, so you would be looking at £150 per day. Even so, this is still a huge difference from £20 for the day. It is likely that if you’re paying £150 per day (or more) for a stall, you are going to be at an event organised by a large company with a good reputation. Many of these are selective in the traders they will work with and such events are usually strict about only allowing hand-made goods to be sold. They typically also have good marketing, so you are more likely to have a lot of potential customers (although nothing is guaranteed in a struggling economy!). The £20 craft fair may seem very attractive to start with, but you can easily find yourself competing against 50p greetings cards and seeing just ten customers during the day (this has happened to me!).
Back to my original point about your pricing relative to the stall cost. If your most expensive item of jewellery is £5, then you are going to need to sell 30 pieces of jewellery per day to just cover the cost of your £150 stall. You will not have covered the cost of the materials you used to make your jewellery, or the time you have spent making the jewellery and attending the craft fair. So, you would probably be wanting to sell more than 60 pieces (at least) to make the event worthwhile. Is this actually feasible in the context of the number of customers you observed when you did your research? Even if there are 120 customers during the day, that means half of them must buy something from you. It is highly unlikely that you will sell something to every other person who comes to the event, however good your work. So think about whether this is really a realistic venue for your jewellery. If the £20 craft fair brought in a reasonable number of people, then your work is probably more suited to that event.
Selling Jewellery at Craft Fairs: Tip Three
If you have thought all this through honestly and feel the event is right for you, book your stall, then the hard work begins. My third top tip for selling jewellery at craft fairs is to put together a professional display. Find out the size of your stall and mark out a similar sized area in your home, then use this to try different styles of display. Remember that people will be walking past, so their eye-line is going to be fairly high up. This means you need to find a way to create some height that will attract people to stop and look. If your stall includes a ‘shell scheme’ or some other sort of makeshift wall around your table, then you can use this to pin up posters or actual items of jewellery. If you just have a basic table, then think of ways you can give it height: perhaps display necklaces on a ‘bust’ or use colourful boxes to create different heights on which to stand your work. As I gained more and more stock, I found I could use cheap photo frames to create display boards and pin my jewellery to these. They are quick to pack up and make a great colourful display.
Speaking of colourful displays, think about colour and use it to help you. A brightly coloured table cloth will attract attention from a distance, but it may also detract from your jewellery, leaving people more interested in the cloth than your work. A plain black cloth is a popular choice as it is simple and appears sophisticated, but does this suit the style of your work? Do you have a colour associated with your brand that you want to bring into the display? These are all ideas to play with.
You can of course invest in professional display cases, but it is easy to spend a lot of money to no great effect. Bear in mind that you need to be able to set everything up and dismantle it all within around an hour, so don’t be tempted to buy huge display cases that have to be assembled every time you use them. Think about the practicalities of how you are going to transport everything too. If you are prepared to spend a bit of money, then invest it in good lighting. For jewellery, this is especially important as it will bring out the colours and details in your work. Get creative and take advice from friends and family so you create a really eye-catching display that shows your work off to best advantage.
Selling Jewellery at Craft Fairs: Tip Four
My fourth tip for selling jewellery at craft fairs relates to you and your attitude. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. If you’ve been to a craft fair, which stallholders did you buy from? Probably not the ones who did an obvious ‘pressure sales pitch’ and probably not those who skulked behind their stall looking as if they were bored by the whole experience. Think about what you wear: make sure it includes some of your jewellery so people can see what they will be buying. A smile is a good way of starting a conversation and you should be prepared to talk about your work. What inspires you? How long does it take to create a piece? What other interesting information can you give a customer? Make sure you know your materials well: customers will often ask about them and you want to inspire confidence that you have checked your sources and use only good materials. You may want to sit and demonstrate your jewellery making – it can be a good way of passing the time on a slow-trade day and it always inspires interest from potential customers.
Finally make sure you have plenty of business cards to hand out. You may not make that sale at the fair, but you never know when someone is going to get in touch afterwards to place an order.
My last tip for selling jewellery at craft fairs is to enjoy yourself. Your passion and enthusiasm will come across to potential customers and you would be surprised how often this generates an impulse buy! Learn from every experience and keep on reviewing so you can keep doing more of the things that worked and improve upon the things that didn’t go so well.