Monday, 27 September 2010

Surviving bad fairs and a catch up

First of all apologies for my tardiness in not posting for a while it has been a manic few weeks.  First of all both my babies have had birthdays and are now a frightening 15 and 12! I really do not know where all those years have gone it doesn't seem five minutes since my eldest was running around at Christmas in her little fairy costume and also telling everyone her name was Betty Lily, no really, and stunned people looking at us as if to say mmm interesting.  Strangest thing was her name is Jasmine and we don't know anyone called Betty Lily!

Sales have picked up online through Etsy which is fab, however, this is quite strange as I promote my Folksy shop and have had nothing since the end of July!?  However, I am not going to query how I am just grateful for the sales.  The Handmade By shop is going from strength to strength and looks fab really if you are in the area you need to drop in and have a mooch around I can guarantee you will not be disappointed. 

So the point of this post is, fairs, more importantly how to survive the bad ones you know the type they can go one of two ways either there is no one there and you swear that at one point you actually saw tumbleweed rolling through or there are lots of people and they are all spending money just not with you!  In the last two weeks I have had both my latest one being yesterday I sold one brooch and was verbally abused by a little old lady, however, you have to laugh even though at the time you feel like crying, packing up and going home.  This believe it or not is an ideal time to re-evaluate what you are doing.  This is my first year for doing 'proper' fairs so I have given myself this year as a learning curve because if you don't do them you don't know which ones are good ones that you should be attending and which ones are not.  Yesterday falls into the category of 'not' I don't think that the venue was ideal for selling my pieces.  In relation to being verbally abused, the little old lady in question stood in front of my stall and when her friend said 'ooh handbags' she replied, very loudly, 'looks like a load of old rubbish to me!', mmm nice.  Having already got a feeling of what the day would hold I laughed this off, you have to develope quite a thick skin and take what some say with a pinch of salt.  I have also had people standing in front of my stall discussing how they could make them and probably a lot cheaper as well, I resist to comment 'well be my guest!'  You have to smile sweetly, look down and carry on sewing.

Taking something to do is vital if you don't want to lose the plot completely.  I have read on the forums about how you are supposed to stand in front of your stall poised like a ninja ready to pounce on the first person through the door.  However, I do not agree, if someone were to do this to me I would run for the door.  I hate it when I walk into a shop and the sales person within ten seconds says can I help you when all you wanted to do was have a look around.  I prefer someone to acknowledge my presence with a smile which says 'have a look and ask if you need anything'.  If someone takes an interest in a particular item I then initiate conversation with how it was made or what materials I use and this can then lead onto a sale.  When the fair is slow like I said I take something to do, this can sometimes interest people who are essentially nosey and want to know what you are doing, thus leading to a conversation and possible sale.  When there are no people around at all I also take this time to get to know fellow stall holders, they are a source of valuable information of what other fairs there are around and how they have found them.  I share which fairs I enjoy, for example my Congleton one, however, I have also told of others I have attended.  So should any fair organisers be reading this be aware we do discuss!

Talking of fellow stall holders Wendy from 1st Unique Gifts was at Whitchurch yesterday, have a look,

So let me know what you tips are for surviving fairs good or bad.


Charlotte Hupfield Ceramics said...

Sorry to hear you had a bad experience. I agree with you, I don't like to pounce on customers, I think it is important to look happy and smile at everyone, but don't get too carried away with making your work - people may not want to approach you because they might think they are disturbing you. At quiet times I make the most of chatting to stall holders, looking at other stalls, thinking of how my stall could be improved, and 'tidying up' my stall - everything has to be in its place!

Mangle Prints said...

HI Elissa, thanks for sharing your experiences regarding fairs. It always amazes me how rude people can be, and well done for not reacting!
People always want something for nothing, personally i think your work is very reasonably priced, considering the work that has gone into your items.As a very satisfied customer of one of your lovely totes, i would add that your bag has been the only bag i've had that hasn't had the lining split, or fall apart after a period of time (and believe me, it's had lots of use over the summer!!). Keep going Elissa, shrug off the negative comments and stick to your guns!!
Amanda x

Violetstone said...

Hi. Sorry your experience wasn't good. I've had many a fair like that. After a bad one in May I decided no more till Xmas. But by now I would have hoped things would have picked up. I think a combination of all the things suggested in the comments above and what you did sounds about right. I met some really nice fellow crafters at thar fair. Try not to worry about the rude old lady. You were right to laugh it off.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you, it is tough to do a fair that goes badly (I had one where I made £36 in two days ...) but the key thing is not to change the nature of your business on the basis of one fair.
You're totally right about the first year or so being a learning curve, hang in there and, in time, it'll all get rolling xx

The Sewing Directory said...

I always think it's good to think of shows as publicity excercises - getting your name out there and handing our cards. That way any sales you get are a bonus and you dont spend the whole time worrying about whether you're going to cover your costs.

Jenny said...

Oh I know just what you mean about bad fairs and verbal abuse! It's very disheartening when you've put so much into your items. Hope you have a better experience next time!

Gaia_Noir said...

I found this really interesting in light of my Folksy topic today (also on what attitude to have to customers). And sorry to hear about the rude old lady, although...I think I might have been catty to my friends about items I didn't like (usually in high street shops, I hasten to add!), myself. I will now think twice about keeping my voice down! Still, at least it wasn't on your personal appearance. I've had a rude old lady come up to me at a stall and nastily tell me my heavily pierced ears were vile and 'why would you mutilate yourself like that?'. I nicely explained why, at the time, but if I get such rudeness again, I will be sharply reminding the speaker that it's a craft fair and not Vogue magazine, so can she either switch the focus from me to my stall or get lost!

Gemma said...

Hugs! Def feel you have the right attitude though.

A friend of mine used to sell miniture (1/12 scale) polymer clay food at minitures fairs. One fair she sold practically nothing and loads of people were loudly saying how expensive it was and how they could do it much cheaper. Next fair at the same place they all came back and bought the lot! Turns out they'd tried and not found it easy after all.

As a crafter I often look at things and think I can make it cheaper...but it would take me hours and I buy it!! Some people have this strange idea that you shouldn't charge for your time.


Val said...

Hi Elissa, I have just discovered your inspiring blog and shops. As a bag lady myself I know how it is to be so hopeful and well prepared for the fair .... only to be disappointed, but chin up! Your bags are excellent and very beautiful and well photographed, I am sure you will go from strength to strength.
Thank you for your honest thoughts and for the link to the unusual new venture .... if only more places could start up such an outlet :0)
Happy creating!
Val xx