Braving the Craft Fair

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Setting up the night before. On the stage behind the tables is what will become Santa’s Grotto.

The  Winter Fayre  has finally been and gone and it feels wonderful to have the pressure off and to do something other than sew for a while. I have been sewing every day, all day, for the past two weeks and my much-pricked and calloused fingers need a rest. In spite of that, I am already thinking about what I want to make next.

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The High Street, Newton Stewart, Scotland

The stalls for the Fayre were set up in the main hall in the town, spread out over two floors, with food, alcohol, sweets, jewellery, up-cycled furniture, baby clothes, wood and fabric crafts and a Santa’s Grotto for the kids. The tables  were quite close to each other, arranged in a circle around the edges, and around the centre, of the room. They were quite small, about 6ft x 2ft. I didn’t have a great deal of stock but I needn’t have worried as there was barely room for it all on the table.

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Tablecloths are added and people begin to arrange their goods.

We were given the opportunity to set up the night before, which was really helpful. There was a lot of carrying to do, up and down stairs but there was no need to rush and we still had time to add finishing touches the next morning before opening time.

I took a friend with me for company, moral support and to take the money while I wrapped and packed. We arrived early, before the road outside was closed to traffic, and enjoyed browsing at the stalls and chatting to stall holders before the doors opened to the public at 10am.

The hall had felt cold the evening before so we both wrapped up in woollens, only to find, with all the radiators blasting out heat and all the visitors in the room, we were too hot. I think I must have looked rather pink to any passer by.

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My stall, looking a little cluttered

I am sorry to say my stall didn’t do well at all, though I was not the only one. There were a few long faces at the end of that day, trying to work out the cause. In my case I think it might be for several reasons: What I make is mainly decorative. It doesn’t have a function other than to give pleasure and with the economy the way it is, people probably don’t feel they should be spending out on things that are not useful. Perhaps it feels too frivolous. Also , it’s all hand made, so although I keep my prices as low as I possibly can, you wouldn’t be able say any of it was a bargain.  I didn’t get the impression people were buying for Christmas, either.  Perhaps it was a little too early. Most of the visitors were young families and older people but there was a smattering of couples and a few men on their own.  A number of older ladies (and one man!) said lovely things about my work and appreciated the time it had taken. They probably have no idea how much their kind comments meant to me.

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‘Christmas House’ wall hanging.

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‘Coastal Cottage’ mini quilt

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‘Haste Ye Back’ wall hanging to have by your door, reminding you to come home soon.

As this was my first fair, I didn’t want to spend out on fancy display racks and fairy lights etc, so perhaps the display was a little unexciting. At one end of the stall I stacked three boxes of different sizes, wrapped in Christmas paper, and sat a house on the top and one or two at the edges. I placed a white saucepan rack at the other end and displayed some accordion houses on each of it’s layered ‘shelves’. I had a small basket of brooches, a larger basket of little houses and a Christmas paper lined box of fabric tree decorations. Then my mini quilts were scattered between each of these. I would have loved something to hang my quilt hangers on but ended up pinning them to the front of the tablecloth.

If I was going to do this sort of thing regularly, it would be worth investing in something better but I had already spent more than I wanted to on business cards, paper and plastic bags, tags and twine and the cost of the table itself. As you make money selling your goods, you can buy more to improve your display, I suppose.

I’m not sure that craft fair selling is for me.  Although I enjoyed talking to the stall holders who were so friendly and supportive, they did suggest that you have to  be prepared to try several venues because interest varies from place to place and time to time. It was a long day. It took a fair time to set up and pack up. And it doesn’t do much for your self esteem if most people’s eyes slide over your work and they walk on by.

I might try online.

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‘Heart in the Hills’ unframed fabric picture

First, I am going to take time out to recover and then reconsider. I am going to sew a few things for friends for Christmas and a few things for me; for fun. That should take me to the end of the year and then….well, we’ll see.

 

Till next time……

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2 thoughts on “Braving the Craft Fair

  1. Your booth looks so intriguing – not cluttered to my eye…The comments you made about doing a craft fair were welcome as I’ve toyed with the idea for my paintings and concluded it was probably more than I could handle on a regular basis. I continue to be amazed and delighted with your work. The seacoast cottage really caught my eye this time!
    Happy “vacation” from the needles and pins…
    Molly in San Diego

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    • Hi Molly, great to hear from you. I can’t take the credit for Coastal Cottage catching your eye – it’s that amazing fabric by Janet Clare with gulls flying everywhere, in a colour called Ocean. I wish I had more of it but it’s impossible to get here now. I have put some of my things on Folksy.com (the equivalent of your Etsy.com) to reach a wider audience. Mind you, I see a lot of handmade items I love on these sites but I can’t afford them. It’s not that they are expensive and it’s not that they are not worth it, I just don’t have the money to spare right now – and I think many people feel the same. We are in the middle of a craft revival in the UK right now, which is wonderful – lots of us are making but is anybody buying?

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