*please note I am using the word fair and market interchangeably
We’re in the middle of summer and who could even think about the Holidays! But if you are not careful craft market season will creep up on you! Some start as early as September with Holiday Craft Fairs and in reality you can run a craft market anytime of the year! There are a number of things to consider if you want to run a successful craft fair. And the number one thing I would like to say about that is: DO IT RIGHT THE FIRST TIME!
It is much harder to come back from a low turnout and low interest craft market than it is to do it right the first time. Build the trust of the vendors and customers and they will both keep coming back. If you are successful in the first year you only have to put in half as much effort the second year to get the same results. If you are reading this and already have had an unsuccessful year or two we can fix that too. Follow the advice outlined in this planning a craft market series and stay tuned for extra advice just for you!
Let’s start at the beginning, before you can start planning your craft fair you need a place to have it!
Important for real estate, businesses and your local craft market.
There are a number of items to consider when picking a location: How well known is it? Can people easily find it? What is it going to cost you? Do they have tables and chairs or will you or the vendors need to bring your own? Do they set up or you set up? How many vendors can you fit? So many questions!
The first two go together, how well known is the location and can people easily find it. It needs to be one of the two, at least. If people can easily see it from a well traveled road that’s great. If it’s a little bit off the beaten path you need to make sure it is somewhere people already know about. If it is too hard to find people are not going to find it. Think of it this way, you are going to have to put the location information on posters, community reader boards etc. Will people a) already know where the location is so you don’t have to put directions or b) be able to figure out where it is from the one line of directions you can fit on your posters?
The second part of this equation is all about the venue itself. The cost is a big one. This is going to set your vendor fee and possible admission price. Make sure it is a reasonable cost for the venue based on the number of vendors you can fit. You are putting a lot of time and effort into this and don’t want to be out money because of an expensive location. It’s not worth it. And vendors cannot afford high fees, especially if you can’t deliver the customers.
What is the right fee to charge a vendor? and how much is too much? We will talk about this more in depth in part 3, but for now let’s talk ballpark numbers. Of all the craft fairs I have attended the range of vendor fees was from $10-$80. Anything more than $50 and I am really questioning whether I, as a vendor, can afford it. You as the planner need to cover the cost of the venue, advertising fees and your efforts. If you can ballpark a vendor fee of $50 or less for a small local craft fair in its first year from your venue costs you are on the right track. In your planning for year two you can consider raising it, once vendors see you deliver on getting the customers through the door.
Size is important too. Too small and it won’t be worth it for the customers to walk through, too big and you might have a hard time filling it the first year. If you are a vendor yourself you will likely have a rough idea of how many people you might know who would be interested and where to find more vendors. You want to be able to supply enough variety that the customer felt it was worth their while to come through. You can always work with smaller venues but a good variety, in my experience, starts at around 20 vendors, for a walk through craft market. If your venue is bigger than you can fill in the first year there may be a way to close off a certain section to make it cozier.
Does the venue supply tables and chairs as part of the fee or do you need to bring in your own or ask vendors to bring in their own? If the tables and chairs are part of the fee you are set. If you have to bring in your own that is an added cost. If vendors have to bring in their own they don’t expect to pay as much (unless they know it is a really busy craft fair…again it is all about setting the precedent in that first year).
What about set up (and tear down)? Will the venue take care of that? Or do you need to recruit volunteers? Or can you lower your venue fee by bringing in some volunteers to help with the set up so not as many venue staff are needed? These are all important questions to ask and will help determine if you’ve chosen the right venue and if there is anyway to lower the fee.
I am really excited to be writing this series of posts! I joined the crafting community last year and have dipped my toe in the direct sales community this year. I have been a crafter/vendor at many fairs, a customer to even more (I love going to craft markets) and ran my own. I have seen this from all sides and am bringing you the best of what I have seen work and what made the craft market I planned successful.
Please share any tips you have with us throughout this series!