OT: How I Fared at the Fair

First of all: A massive thank you to all of you who did me the favour of following me on Instagram for my crafts account Scissors and Smiles. I only opened it yesterday but now that I have it, I intend to keep it going with pictures of the stuff I make – and some of the behind-the-scenes. A big thank you also to you for making the effort to leave a comment or a like. Very much appreciated!

And now the low-down. The craft fair went… so-so. Before I get more into it, I’ll show you a little bit of my set-up. I took a small video for you. Sorry for the low lighting – the light was not particularly bright in the venue.

 

The Christmas market took place in what used to be (or is?) a nightclub in central Dublin. The location was actually really good – right beside the main shopping center on the South side of Dublin city centre, opposite the terminus of one of the tram lines. The venue consists of several different levels, with little nooks and crannies with banquette seating and tables. I was placed in one of those, with a couple of steps up from the main pathway through the venue.

That’s Little Miss Guylty there, behind the stall. She helped me set up and kept me company for a couple of hours. Bless her

Most of the shoppers did actually step up onto the raised platform there. I shared it with a guy selling handmade wooden chopping boards opposite me. Here is a closer look at my table set-up.

I wasn’t sure whether people knew what a junk journal actually is, so I had made a little sign that explains what they are. Usually shoppers *love* reading explanations on stalls. Not sure whether it really made any difference here. I received lots of nice comments, and a lot of people actually could not believe I had made them myself.

These were tiny mini books, about twice the size of the micro minis you know from the fundraiser. They even had space for little tags and flips etc.

Since Little Miss Guylty was kind enough to help, and since she is a bit of a crafter herself, I suggested she sold some of her bottlecap badges, too, to make a bit of money for the poor student. We made a little display for it, and I thought it was hilarious.

She sold five of them…

I don’t really want to say I am disappointed (because I had made sure to keep my expectations really low), but my efforts weren’t exactly bestsellers, either, even though I had priced them lower than on Etsy (where I have to factor in P/P). The outcome was… I just broke even. That is, I sold 1 journal and 8 micro mini books and that way made exactly enough to cover the 65 Euro fee for the stall. Not exactly successful.

In general, it can be said that handmade things are not really that much appreciated here in Ireland. It’s something I have noticed long ago. And thus, even though the items were all priced in such a way that they did not even reflect their value in terms of time it took to make them (when applying the minimum wage to my efforts), they were obviously still too expensive. I do understand that if you need a notebook/diary/journal, you can buy one for mere pennies. But that’s sort of beside the point – the journals are hand-made, one-of-a-kind pieces, so of course they’ll be more expensive than an industrially printed and bound copy book…

Footfall during the market could have been better, too, I must say. There were only a handful of occasions when there were more than three people standing at the stall. Most of the time, the whole market looked relatively quiet. I was not the only one who was struggling to make a sale. My friends At It Again, who were there selling their prints, cards and books, and who are regulars at all the markets in Dublin, also just made enough to cover the costs and pay for their bought lunch.

All the people you see in this picture, were sellers rather than customers. It looked like this most of the time

And thus the high point of the afternoon, was the surprise visit from my lovely husband, who turned up with a flask of hot tea and mince pies which he had freshly baked.

BTS at the market…

So, I came back with a full bag. I guess I have lots of Christmas pressies at the ready now. 😂 And I can restock my Etsy shop. The experience was still valuable for me, no question. It’s always nerve-wracking to put yourself out there with the things you create. The conversations with the shoppers were nice, though, sale or not. But I know now that markets are not the way forward.

Nonetheless, thank you to you for your encouragement in the shape of lovely tweets and comments on Twitter and IG. They really made my day. 😘

32 thoughts on “OT: How I Fared at the Fair

  1. well done, i bet you’re knackered too!
    markets are funny beasts-you really never know how well you will do, so try not to let it put you off.
    The best advice I can give is try again. Research craft markets in your area–because there are plenty of people out there who want handmade stuff-there are people who still appreciate it and will pay for it.
    I think for your stuff, you should maybe look at small galleries or craft shops -because you are making something unusual.
    And don’t let the people who don’t appreciate that your time is worth money get you down!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for the encouragement, Rachel. Much needed :-). I wasn’t really that knackered (although I was at the fair from 10.30 am until about 5.30pm) because I spent most of the time sitting on the bench not needing to explain anything… You are right, though, I should keep looking at other fairs, and if the stall fees are reasonable, give it another try. Maybe also with a different pricing strategy. Sell them cheaper – but sell more?

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      • I wouldn’t go cheaper because you spend alot of time on them! You deserve to be paid for your work. I think it’s finding the right audience more than anything else. We did Tyntesfield house one year and if we were selling food then we would have made a fortune! Lol

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        • Audience is exactly the point. I can see that when I look at the crafting community online. The foremost junk journal makers are pricing their items for what they are really worth – and they are receiving the price because the audience knows what has gone into the items.
          I just looked up Tyntesfield House online and omg – what an amazing venue. I love old stately homes, and this one is just stunning. What a gem to have near you! (The Christmas events there look fabulous, too!)

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  2. Sorry it wasn’t that successful. But I’m sure your products are not to blame in any way. It must have been the low footfall. Too little publicity? Hope you had a nice day anyway with some uplifting talks. Hubby’s pie must have helped a lot.

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    • It could have been the relative lack of publicity. Afaik it was only advertised on social media. THere were a couple of sandwich boards outside the venue, but that was all. The day was nice, nevertheless, and in itself an experience that is is valuable.

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  3. Sorry to hear the market wasn’t a success. Maybe the ads were not visible enough or there was another major happening at the same time. I bet they sell better in Etsy ❤

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      • This happened to us too! My friends who were with me in the booth also had their wares sold in a different event at the other end of the city and boy was the venue packed! That also helped them recover the money spent on travel fare and fatigue they endured of the holiday traffic. Sigh. (Sorry to butt in in this convo, I’m guess i’m still a little down about the experience ><)

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        • Sorry to hear you also felt a bit down about your fair. But everything that has been said here, applies to you, too – don’t be too discouraged; take it as a learning experience. And a nice day with your friends.
          BTW – have you got a website/blog/instagram where you show your work? I am curious now 🙂

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          • Yeah, you really do have to keep trying to find the market that works for you, refining prices and wares, and meeting fellow artists and makers 😀 I hope to join next year too, but would probably need the first half of the year to make merch!

            Most of my work is in my instagram: @krinkledoodles i mostly do stickers and prints. No formal online shop for me (yet) though, i can’t seem to make the plunge to set it up 😅

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  4. Yes, well done! Sometimes, it takes more than once and I LOVE your junk journals. I”m having a hard time putting Flat Richie in the box right now. Home made stuff over here goes like hot cakes. Here in the South, we have all sorts of crafty stuff set up during fairs and what not.

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    • The US is *great* for home-made things! I mean, I get giddy just thinking of your craft super stores in the US. Michael’s, JoAnn’s, Hobby Lobby and the like. And when I researched craft fair tips, there were so many videos from crafters in the US who had lots of lovely things to sell and brilliant suggestions.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Guylty, fairs are really hit and miss. In the years before I had a shop, I did lots of fairs… some were good, some were ok, some were disastrous. There was no real rhyme or reason between the three outcomes. And now, in my established shop, in the weeks leading up to Christmas, nothing has changed – it’s still up and down. So don’t judge success or failure on one market. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • That is really interesting, Helen. Thanks for this – it actually makes me feel a bit better about the whole thing. And you are right – *one* fair doesn’t make a representative picture of *how* to sell or *what* sells best. What I forgot to mention in the post, was that the market was a success in the sense that it had provided me with a project that I needed when I was feeling listless and depressed a few weeks ago. I signed up because I wanted something that I had to create something for. And I managed to do so, under a bit of pressure, in limited time. That in itself was actually uplifting. So, yes, not really that disappointing at all.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Your venue reminds me of part of the Rochester victorian fair, a regular destination while our eldest girl was at university, a night club was pressed into service , the carpet was smelly and sticky
    smoking was banned, but the smell of cigarettes lingered in the carpet.
    Anything to do with food and drink was a seller but not much else.
    Have you considered the small shops attached to museums etc they may take things on a commission basis only , once people know where to look for gifts they will return at appropriate times ( ie birthdays)

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    • Thankfully, this nightclub had no carpet 😂. The venue was a bit dark, but OTOH it was also cosy. I’m wondering what sold well at my market – there was no food afaik, and all the people around me seemed to be struggling like I did.
      The museum shops are a great idea, Yve! They just opened a brandnew museum of Irish literature around the corner from me. They have a nice shop (which I visited on Saturday) that also carried gifts. It’s worth exploring…

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  7. Oh wow, I totally feel you. Me and my friends also had a booth in an art mart last weekend and yeah, it wasn’t worth it. It’s in one of our business districts but there was hardly any foot traffic in our area. We also had low expectations, as other online friends have commented when they boothed in that particular place. Sometimes you just get lucky when people actually do walk by and buy stuff. We also had a hard time going in and getting out of the area, as public transpo was NONE and taxis/grab cars were expensive and hard to get. I only made a little over to pay for our booth rent but it’s okay. We just wanted to try the venue ourselves. Luckily some of my friends were able to earn enough to get home.

    I think it also helps when you have a variety of items, which is something you can build over time. People like options, and promos (get 4 for this price!) It is true that you can never determine how well you do in a fair, even if it’s well attended and popular. I hope for all the best for your works and that you keep on making! I’ve also followed your instagram so I can keep up on your craft 😀 Hope you have a fun Holiday season this year!

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    • Ah, a fellow “sufferer” 😉. Sorry to hear that you also had too little footfall. At least you got your investment in terms of the stall fee back, and I am sure you had a fun day manning the stall together?
      Those are valuable suggestions, Nix – variety is important, as are different price points etc. I had been thinking about 3-for-2s, too, but just didn’t have the motivation to do it.
      I might try again another time – because one of the benefits of the whole thing was the motivation it gave me to do some crafting and to refine my work.

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      • Yup, we had fun too! We also have a nice little tradition of trading wares with the other booths at the end of the event! It’s a nice way of getting to know the other artists too 😀 Cheering you on with refining your work, and getting into more fairs in the coming year!

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  8. I think Rachel’s comment about the Rochester Victoria fair is very valid. I could imagine your stuff selling in a gift shop attached to a stately home or a museum. What about literary fairs or specialist doll/ victoriana minature fairs? Or even a flower show given floral decoration on your books? Keep persevering, you may have to think laterally about the ways you could market your goods, perhaps as props for a period show? (cue Margaret Hale opening her journal….😆) Have you thought about selling on Amazon?
    Kudos to you for having a go, I find it very inspiring.

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  9. I think it’s wonderful how you challenge yourself to try new ways to showcase your creative talent. I hope you find this was a good learning experience overall and will try again. This time of year there must be loads of competition out there with all the Christmas markets. With the right timing, venue and a different crowd you might be surprised to see a more positive outcome. I thought your presentation was lovely and would have been drawn to your table in a heartbeat. I can imagine you’d do well at a literary/book fair or any period themed market. I like the suggestions made about something attached to a museum or stately home. Your creations are so beautiful I hope you keep trying.

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    • Oh yes, I like the challenge. I am lazy by nature, and only by putting a bit of pressure on, do I actually ever get things done…
      Nice ideas – literary/book fair. I will definitely keep my eyes open and see what there is in Dublin.

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  10. Sorry the market wasn’t so successful for you. Maybe a busier market would do more? Your stall looked lovely, though, so it can’t be that. 🙂 Good for you for trying this and maybe other markets in the future could be more successful?

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