How to Prepare for Your First Craft Market | My Experience & Tips for Success

How to Prepare for Your First Craft Market | My Experience & Tips for Success

A Little Bit About Me

Growing up, playing 'shops' with my friends was always one of my favourite things to do. We would set up the ironing board in the kitchen, gather things from around the house and in the kitchen cupboards to display on it, and then 'sell' the items to our imaginary customers. Fast forward to 13 years down the line, I am now playing 'shops' as my full-time job! Except I am now selling products designed and made by myself (cya later Heinz beans), and I am actually selling to real life people. If I could insert an audio clip here of 10 year old Milly screaming, I would.

Prints by Milly is my online business selling wall art prints, greeting cards, stickers and other stationary items. I started Prints by Milly in July 2020, and after a successful two years of online sales, on Tuesday 10th May I decided to take the next step with my business journey and start researching for local craft markets to apply for. The next evening, I had a response from an amazing local craft and farmers market saying that they’d had a cancellation for their event on Sunday 15th May, and offered the stall to me. With this event being just four days away, I felt like it would have been completely idiotic of me to say yes with having no stock prepared and no equipment whatsoever. So this was my response:

"That would be great, thank you! :) My email is p***************."

AHHH! Operation 'prepare-my-first-EVER-craft-stall-in-three-days' was now officially on.

My Top Tips for Success:

1. Know your limits

Although I knew it would be a struggle and a lot of hard work, I knew that I would realistically be able to source the equipment and make enough stock within three days for my first market. I run Prints by Milly from home, so I was able to print and make stock alongside and in-between my other business duties. As for equipment, I had actually been making a list for at least two weeks prior to the event of equipment that I would like in order to make my stall look exactly how I wanted it to, so next day delivery came to the rescue and I ordered everything on that list to arrive the next day.

Ultimately, depending on what you sell and how long it takes you to make your products, you will need to work out a realistic time-frame of how long you estimate it will take you to make your stock before committing to an event.

2. Limit your products & make as much stock as you can

Even if you know what the estimated footfall is going to be at your first craft market, it is practically impossible to estimate how many of each item you are going to sell. You also need to remember that you can't take everything to a craft market, so I would suggest selecting a limited number of products from your collection to showcase well. 

As an example, I chose 16 greeting card designs out of my collection of 45 designs and made at least 4 of each design (I made a few more of my best-selling designs). At the end of the event, I still had at least one of each card left, which I could then use as stock for my next craft market.

I would suggest making as much stock as you can, because whatever you don't sell, you can always take those items to your next market! Obviously if you sell products with an expiry date such as baked goods, this tip won't be of any use to you, but it is always worth asking the event host what the expected footfall is, and you can work out an appropriate amount of stock from that. 

3. Make your pricing really clear & offer deals

One thing I learned during my first craft market is that people love a good deal. I was selling my cards at £2.50 each, but I also had a '4 for £7.50’ deal on which meant that the customer would essentially be getting one card for free. The majority of people who picked up a card then saw the offer and immediately chose three more. 

Another top tip is to make sure that your pricing is really clear. Often, if pricing isn’t displayed clearly, people would rather put the product back down again rather than risk asking you for the price incase it ends up being more then they are willing to pay. I printed off my own price signs and stuck them to some little wooden easels to then put in front of each product. Alternatively, you could have a price list clearly displayed somewhere on your table.

4. Practice your set up & take a picture 

My first craft market was outside, so I had a gazebo to tackle pitching up as well. The day before the market, I pitched the gazebo up in the garden and set up my stall to make sure that a) I had an idea of how long it would take me to set everything up and b) so that I could practice laying everything out on the table and position things how I wanted them. A top tip is to make sure that once you’ve practiced your set up, remember to take a picture! When I arrived at the market and started setting up, I used the picture as a reference to remember where everything went and it made the process so much quicker. 

5. Not everything will be perfect

No matter how small, there is always going to be something that goes wrong. I had ordered a banner to go across the front of my table cloth, but the delivery was delayed and it wasn’t going to arrive in time for the market. I was bummed, but knew I had to improvise as I really wanted my logo displayed on the front of my stall. I printed off my logo onto a sheet of A3 paper and used safety pins to attach it to the tablecloth. It wasn’t perfect, but it did the job! If something doesn’t arrive or doesn’t go as planned, always try to have a plan B and improvise as best as you can.

6. Pack everything the day/night before

Packing the car up was one of the most time consuming parts of prepping for my first market, so I'd highly recommend packing up the car the night before to save yourself some time in the morning. It's also worth thinking about how you will transport your equipment from your car to the market stall pitch; you may need a wheelie suitcase or a folding load carrier if you don't have a helping hand on the day! 

7. Think about payment

The majority of sales I made at my first craft market were with card payments, so it's definitely worth investing in a card machine for your first market stall. I use the SumUp card machine, which is super easy to use! If you're taking a card machine, make sure you set it up with the appropriate app beforehand, and make sure that both your phone and the card machine are fully charged ready for the day.

Even if you are taking card payments, remember to still take a cash float with you as quite a few people take cash out specifically to use at craft markets. I usually take a £40 float with a variety of different notes/coins.

Your first craft market is always going to be expensive as you have to start from scratch with buying equipment, but once you've made the initial investment, the only way is up!

I hope you found this blog post useful, and if would like any more advice, pop me a message on Instagram

Good luck!

Milly x

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