Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Trying our hand at a craft market

One of my aims for 2016 was to have a stall at a Christmas craft fair.  When Ellie's Treasures first opened in 2009, I shared a stall at a local event but didn't have the best of experiences, so this time I put a bit of work into finding something I felt would be well run and appropriate for my items.  I was accepted to exhibit at the Christmas Quality Market in Stamford, Lincolnshire at the beginning of December.

The weeks leading up to the fair were manic - I don't think I've ever put in so many hours of continuous sewing.  Being Christmas, custom orders were competing with my fair stock as well as online sales, but, as is often the case, it all turned out OK in the end and I even found time to make two special shop themed brooches for me and hubs to wear on the day.

I started planning how my stall should look back in the summer, trawling through Pinterest and blog posts for inspiration.  I was aiming for a rustic feel and managed to find lots of suitable things around the house and garden that could be used for the display. "Kitchen & Things" in Newmarket, selling a huge range of very reasonably priced East 2 Eden storage goodies (and blackboards), together with a new white table cloth and battery powered fairy lights from The Range completed the look. I drew how I'd imagined the stall may look and then did a trial run on my hubby's white desk a couple of days before the event.  This really helped because it meant I knew exactly how to set up my table on the day - a big time saver.

The market was inside Stamford Arts Centre and took over three rooms.  The main hall was large, light and airy and flowed really well.  The other two rooms were located off the main hall and we found our room to be not too well lit and very quiet (despite having Christmas music being played on a continuous loop - I think we heard Michael Buble's "it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas" at least 10 times!).  People came along in dribs and drabs and sadly a surprising number didn't stop to look at the stalls in our room, they just continued walking as though it was a through-way.  Those that did stop were very complimentary, with many saying how unique Ellie's Treasures was.  Getting our first sale of the day gave me a very warm feeling and although we didn't make a big profit, it was good to know we had sold some pieces and many business cards had been taken.  I was itching to use my new iZettle for credit card payments, but everyone had come well prepared with cash - I guess that was a good thing really!

I've learnt that we need additional lighting to show off our stall better - it was just too dark to really see the detail of my work. Also, the goods looked lovely displayed in wooden crates and rustic baskets, but buyers didn't seem to want to thumb through to see all that was available, they would look at those that had been pulled out and placed along the front of the stall.   It was also obvious that items at eye level were viewed first, so perhaps a layered card display would prove beneficial, rather than people having to bend over (and often get their glasses out) to take a look.

We took some super photos of our stall set up with our main camera only to find the SD card wasn't formatted properly and therefore wouldn't let us download them.  Luckily the fair organiser had taken a few to put on Facebook which she kindly said I could add to my blog.  Next time, I'll take backup pics with my phone as well.

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