Monday, 24 September 2012

The art of craft fairs..

The weather forecast meant that Saturday afternoon would be the best chance for an autumnal stroll in the sunshine.  So we went to a Michaelmas Fair at Weyhill village Craft Centre.  Michaelmas is the feast of Saint Michael, and in very public schools, this academic term is called Michaelmas.  More erm, commonly, we use it as a marker really for the onset of Autumn.  It was a gorgeous day.  Look at the colour of the mid afternoon sky.  Chilly in the shade, but no matter.  There were some wonderful craft stalls.  The scene stealers were the carousel and the helter-skelter, don't you think.  Wonderful painting - there the brave St George towered above us, keeping us safe and frightfully British as we went about the craft stalls, bravely ignoring the people who run them. Lest we feel obliged to make a purchase.  It's a funny thing that isn't it.  A sort of passive guilt.  Very noticeable if you've ever been a stall holder though. Can easily be confused with rude mannered customers.   But equally, if you run a stall, after a brief summary of how/what/who, please leave me to browse.  The 'hard sell' is as big a turn off to the customer as the ignorant ignoring customer is to you.  So strike a happy medium huh.  And if you run a stall..try to look busy-ish, engrossed in your craft, even...makes you more approachable, gives your wares a greater credibility and stops you looking horribly bored. Equally, I promise not to pick up every damned thing, talk to you with my mouth full of home made food or tell you how expensive your stuff is.  
This really is the season for craft fairs and hand-made gift buying - so come on stall holders....add a comment,  see if you can educate us purchasers!


Annie said...

What a beautiful blue sky you have there Julia and it sounds like you had a lovely day. It's raining here today like it's never rained before and the floods are already worse than the last time back in July! I've just ventured out to snap a pic and have put it on my blog.
A x

Sarn said...

FAB pictures . . . I wanna ride on that Carousel.

Do you think Di will allow one in the Playground?

Sarn xxx

Shaz in Oz.CalligraphyCards said...

ah H Julia do love that St George (mind you was not quite sure what a helter skleter was) so glad you put in the pickie!! seems what I do most days!
Smashing works both of them - great share and so know what you mean about going to fairs and feeling bad for just looking!! Shaz in Oz.x

Anonymous said...

I have no problem in those who just want to look at craft markets, especially when there are lots of other stalls. However, I do object to parents who let their children pick every item on the stall with no intention of buying anything! My funniest customers are 10-13 year old girls who have to come and look 3 times before they buy something!
Heather from north Wilts

Helen said...

What a beautiful day you had! I have never been on the "other" side of the stall, only buying...

Carmen said...

Funnily enough I just had this conversation recently with Devvie. She said her and Phoebe saw some hand crafted wares set up in Hastings town centre and she really wanted to go look but the ladies kept jumping up and hovering over whoever went near the stalls. Devvie said it put her right off because it makes her feel like the person thinks she'll steal something because she's a teenager. I said no, more likely she might just want to put the hard sell on you and Devvie said that was just as bad. I have to agree it is very off putting but, if like you say, the person is sitting there knitting or making bracelets or painting etc that would entice people over to see what they are doing as well as look at their stall.

Morti said...

LOL - we drove past there on Saturday morning, on our way down to Sussex for a reunion of old Wolfshead members, and yes, we commented on George and the Dragon.

So agree with you on Craft Fair etiquette. As a stallholder, I think it very much depends on where you are and how much traffic you have - as well as whether or not you have items for sale that are a) expensive, b) easily pocketable or c) easily breakable. I also hate being a buyer, ending up engaging the stallholder in conversation, and then not buying anything, so these days, I tend to avoid the fairs unless I'm selling, which less often than Halley's Comet comes round now!

Julie said...

Hi Julia,
What a gorgeous day. Seems you had a good time

X Julie (paperpathway)

Lunch Lady Jan said...

I always have some crafting to hand when I do my stalls (a) cos I can't bear sitting around all day doing nowt! and (b) because you're not staring at the customers as they approach. Only if they handle something do I initiate a conversation and if they're not interested, then I don't pursue it. It's not rocket science....
I'm not slow in telling kids off for just picking my stuff up either OR ladies who have purple hands cos they've just been picking blackberries....!!!!!

ArtSings1946 said...

Lovely post ... really enjoyed all the fabulous pictures ... and really, you know, people are people. Sounds so familiar ... happens very much like this in the states.

Happiness always,

505whimsygirl said...

Hi Julia,

Oh, love the photos of the carousel and the other thing..... is that a roller coaster of some sort?

Thanks for the tip about keeping yourself busy in your booth. Very good advice! I've been busy getting ready for my sale in November. Had a bit of crafting this weekend. Making some of my photos into cards and finished knitting a cowl.

Thanks for stopping by and seeing the pups.


Bleubeard and Elizabeth said...

When I saw that "helter skelter" in my sidebar, I thought it was a lighthouse. I had to go back and look a second time to truly appreciate that it was a ride. What fun you must have had, with the lovely blue skies and slight chill (I'm still running my AC).

I once had a boutique sale for two weekends in my home in Missouri. It was a huge Victorian, but I could keep the parlor sectioned off from the rest of the house. Since it was in my home, I enlisted the aid of two other like-minded artists who helped keep things in check. Although we didn't get the traffic we would have if we'd been in a craft fair, we still got quite a few people who came by, if for no other reason than to look inside the lovely old home. Once there, they often bought a piece and several told stories about the house I knew nothing about. One gal drew as she watched over the merchandise, while my guy friend made the most beautiful bows that complimented the floral arrangements I had made. People even got to pick the bow they wanted for their floral arrangement. I greeted people, but didn't interact with them unless they asked a question, or offered a story. We made sure we didn't hover, which we all thought was impolite.

The ONE thing that got me and I almost told the lady off, she kept calling it my GARAGE SALE! Needless to say, she didn't buy anything. And she was one who complained about the prices, which were far fairer priced than if we had been at a craft fair, but much too expensive (as she constantly pointed out) for a garage sale!

Kerry said...

Totally agree about the kids not handling everything especially with chocolate/icecream all over their fingers.

Agree about the pre teen girls. It's so funny to watch them. They are great customers though.

CraftygasheadZo said...

Hee hee will bear that advice in mind when I do my one and only craft fair in Nov. My approach is chatty friendly, as I tend to know a lot of the people passing by! Though I am aware that I can talk too much, I mean really, but hey ho I do manage to sell some of my wares. Am counting down to the big meet up in Oct, hope you got my email to say I'd definitely be there and will be bringing a friend. Take care Zo xx

scrappymo! said...

What gorgeous rides. I too thought the first picture was a decorated lighthouse!

I used to do lots of fairs both as a seller and as a customer. I like to just say Hi with a big smile and then busy my hands with fancy cutting etc so they don't feel offput.

My biggest turnoff is a seller who stand in front of her booth tidying. Usually OCD types! teehee

Tidy from the sellers side of the booth for heavens sake! The booths are small here and usually only room for 3 or 3 shoppers. If the seller is out front too, then the shoppers have to line thanks, I just move to the next seller.

jill said...

love the painted helter skelter & the fab blue sky.

Hettie said...

Wow! What a fabulous carousel and helter skelter! Who needs all these whizz bang blow your mind things when you have those two to play on. I want a go!!
As for being a stall holder...been there, done that, not again! Two people were taking what I thought was a keen interest in an album I had made. I asked, politely, if they liked it as they were almost taking it apart. They asked where it was made. When I told them about 2 miles away they said to pull the other one I had bought the book and just recovered it!! Not amused when they put it down and walked away muttering that I was fibbing and that it was probably from China!! That hurt me after I had spent hours painstakingly cutting the paper (acid free of course), stamping each page, cutting and applying expensive paper and binding it all, then decorating the front. Once I had reapplied some of the bits they tried to pull off I gave it away as a present rather than sell it!!
Then one of the other stall holders told me they "looked too good" to be handmade hence why stuff wasn't selling and why bother when they can get it cheaper in town! I wasn't the only one there who had that kind of treatment!!
Ho hum! After that I took the stuff into work and sold most what I took in!! Live and learn ey!
Sorry. Ramble over!

misteejay said...

Beautiful photos Julia.

I find craft stalls far more interesting if the person is demonstrating their skills...I certainly don't want folk hovering over me all the time. Hard sell tactics put me off whether at a fayre or in the high street.

Toni xx

Arnoldo L. Romero, MLA said...

LOL! You made some great points, and I'll keep them in mind if I do another art show in the future. I love the photographs you took at the fair. The weather appears to be flawless too. Blessings!

Jaki Morris said...

I LOVE doing craft fairs. Basically, I am a people person and I love to chat!
I only ever make genuine comments to people. So if they have a fabulous bag, I say 'I love your bag' then they chat about it, we chat about this and that, they admire my stuff and chat away. Inside I'm screaming 'Just bloomin buy it will ya?' Outside I'm all 'Blah,blah!'
I have noticed that the bored looking stall holders who don't engage with people, don't sell too much.
At my last fair not only did I sell a load I also got an order for bunting and an enquiry for a pin board.
It seems that this Saturday was a perfect day for craft fairs. I was in Hartney Witney at a Vintage Bazaar, buying, fondling and chatting! (Oh and nicking ideas!)


Unknown said...

Ha ha - how stooooopid am I? when I first glanced at the picture without reading - I thought it was a lighthouse lol!!!

Wow - what paintings! Stood against that sky - you would think that was painted too - what a colour, and all the best for showcasing such a beautiful Helter Skelter (say that workd over and over again and it starts to sound funny)!!!

Did you really speak with your mouth full Julia? Did you blow your crumbs across the stamps as you spoke lol.

Yes indeed, a real turn off when they have their beedy eyes on you - you feel like you're gonna nick something in their minds. It kind of makes you feel guilty even if you've never done it in your lifetime - they make you feek like you have light fingers!

Other than that, I hope you enjoyed!

Paula x x x

Unknown said...

I can't believe this - I've just been back to read all the comments (as I sometimes do) - and others had said the same as me - I promise you, I didn't read them before I commented. I don't feel so 'stoooopid' after all. lol

Paula x x x

Tamika said...

Well I like the photos you got even though the sales were low!

Neesie said...

Fantastic photographs Julia and just look at that sky!
I haven't worked on a stall to date but if I do I'll certainly take on all this helpful advice.
I did do a silk painting demonstration as part of an art exhibition and that seemed to work well...lots of commissions came from showing just how involved it was...and also we had a list for people to sign up for workshops. :D
I hope that weather continues and you have a great week! ;D

Kirsty.A said...

I like your point about the manners of craft fairs. I think it's a really good idea to be making something while you're selling - also stops it being so boring. I want to do a few fairs this season, better get on and make some stuff then, hadn't I?

Neet said...

Fab photos and a great blog post. Don't do craft fairs as a seller but as a buyer I do appreciate prices being on things. I tend to walk away if I see something without a price as I worry it may be too expensive and then I would offend the stallholder.

Neet xx

HeARTworks said...

I've joined a craft fair where I sold a lot, and then another where I did not sell a single thing! It's always great when someone stops by and makes a nice comment even if they don't buy anything. Isn't it awful though that when we are the ones roaming the aisles that we do have a tendency to ignore the sellers because we don't want to get talked into buying anything!!!! Patsy from
HeARTworks and

Linby said...

Great pics, what a lovely blue sky.
The SU set you asked about is called Whimsical Words and is not in the current catalogue, it could have been a set you got if you ordered a certain amount - not sure, had it a couple of years!