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How to shop at Craft Fairs – Advice and 10 Dos and Don’ts

Glastonbury Frost Fayre

Christmas is on its way! You may start to see more posters going up at the school/church/town hall/community centre etc for craft fairs. It’s the perfect chance to support local people, businesses and the event, which is usually for charity or raising funds for a community group, but before you go, please read this…..

1. Don’t pick up an item from a table, and then put it back in a different place. The stallholder spent a lot of time planning the arrangement to be at its optimum selling ability in such a small space. Don’t mess it up! Particularly take care not to cover up the price label!

Craft stall table byHelenHobden

2. Don’t engage in long conversations with the stallholder and then not buy anything. Whilst you’re busy chatting about the weather or how your daughter-in-law sells crochet fridge magnets, the stallholder is obliged to politely listen and respond. However they are then unable to greet other broswers and potential buyers and unable to answer their questions and end up missing out on possible sales.

3. If you’re looking at a vintage stall; don’t say loudly to the person you’re with that you threw away a load of rubbish like this from the back of your Nan’s garage last year. The stallholder loves that stuff, and knows some other people will love that stuff too – there’s no need to offend them.

Bath Christmas Market

4. If you’re looking at a handmade stall; don’t say something along the lines of: ‘I won’t buy it, because I could make it myself.’ Really? I mean do you really have that expertise to make it to the same standard? And even if you do; would you really get round to it? I often buy clothes, accessories and jewellery that I know full well I could make myself; but I also know it is unlikely that I’ll ever have the time to do so!

5. Whatever you do; DO NOT say to stallholder that their items are too expensive. I was once selling a leather bookmark for £3 and a woman and her daughter discussed quite Shopping advice for craft fairsunabashed how everything on my stall, but particularly the bookmark was priced too high. It is unfair to expect a stallholder to stand Christmas gift by Helen Hobdenthere; with their back aching; starving from not having time to eat lunch; tired from getting up early to travel to the fair location and set everything up on time; and then smile politely while they think to themselves how that bookmark actually took more than hour to decorate with that intricate celtic pattern. Would you work for less than three pounds an hour? Plus the expense of the leather; the electricity to use the machine to burn it; the years of practice to build up a skill good enough to sell; the weekends given up to stand in a drafty school hall; the cost of the stall itself (which is usually far too high), to have to listen to ignorant unappreciative bargain hunters!

6. Don’t shop at craft fairs if you have no interest in craft and the skills needed to make that craft. There’s simply no point and you’ll be wasting your time.

7. Do turn up with plenty of cash. There aren’t usually cash machines nearby, and even if the stallholder has splashed out on a paypal or other credit card machine; there probably isn’t a good enough internet connection to use it. Plus, there’s always something you see and desperately want when you walk in the door that costs fifty pounds.

8. Do admire the stallholder’s work. It means the world to them to receive a compliment. Chances are, they are working from home and rarely have interraction with the public except at these events, which they may only do a couple of a year (because the cost of having a stall is so high.) Even if their items aren’t in your budget, a quick ‘your things are really lovely’, may make it all worthwhile for them to be there.

Christmas craft fair stall

9. When looking at the price of an item, do appreciate the time it takes to make something by hand, (along with everything I mentioned in point five.) You have the opportunity to buy from the very person who put all the love, care and skill into making it. Appreciate there is no comparison for that for something similar in Primark.. To help you out, this is the rule of thumb crafters are given to help price their work: Cost of time taken to make the item (they should ask for at least £10 per hour and should go up to much more depending on experience) + cost of materials + a proportion of other expenses such as fees, fuel, power, heating, etc x 2 = wholesale price, x 2 again for retail price.

10. Do enjoy yourself! You’ll have the chance to browse and buy wonderful unique items that can’t be bought on the High Street. It’s really fun to see how creative, imaginative and skilled people can be!

A last note: If you’re looking for a unique handmade Christmas gift, please take a look at my Etsy shop, ByHelenHobden as you just might find what you’re looking for!

Here is the You Tube video I made as part of Vlogmas to go with this post:



Handmade business, UK,
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