Holiday Gifts & Lifestyle

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Holiday craft fair how-to

Craft fairs and flea markets are a staple of the holiday season. Not only are they ideal places to find one-of-a-kind gifts for anyone on your holiday shopping list, but they also are great opportunities for small business owners to broaden their client base while making a relatively small investment.

Each year schools, churches, senior clubs, and other organizations open their doors to holiday fairs in an effort to raise money for their respective organizations. In some towns, fairs have expanded into temporary shopping markets where shoppers can go from booth to booth to find the perfect gift.

Being a part of one of these events can be as simple as paying the entrance fee and setting up a table. Individuals who have never sold wares at events such as these could find that they do quite well with such a captive audience. You do not have to be a professional sales person or event organizer to get involved.

Research opportunities

Community resource pages or Web sites are often good sources of information about events the city or town will host. Church bulletins and notices sent home from school may also list such announcements. Make a list of the events that are being held and see where they are located, what the cost is for being a part of the event and how much of a crowd the event figures to draw. These deciding factors will help you to gear your efforts toward the fairs that stand to be the most beneficial to you.

It is adviseable to begin your search early so that you will have ample time to prepare for the fair, including conforming to the fair's requirements.

Know the rules and regulations

Each fair asks different things of its vendors. Some events will have booths or tables provided for you, but many will require you to bring all the essentials and simply allot you a space. Fairs that are held outdoors could necessitate the use of a pop-up tent, particularly if inclement weather is on the horizon.

Electricity may be provided with some events, or you may be allowed to bring a generator. The event organizer also may have specific rules about table sizes, configuration, use of tablecloths to hide storage boxes or materials, decorating options and more.

Carefully read over the guidelines for the event before you send in your registration fee. This way you know what you're getting involved with and won't risk losing your deposit for cancellation.

Set the scene

Although shoppers will be there to select among products, and those products should be able to sell themselves, the atmosphere surrounding your booth should be designed to attract customers. Sometimes a little window dressing makes a person more inclined to make a purchase. Keep this in mind as you design your booth.

If you are selling crocheted blankets for babies, set up a rocking chair or bassinet with a doll and display the blanket as it would be used. Those selling body lotions or other toiletries may want to create a spa atmosphere at their boot, complete with some aromatherapy candles and a cushioned seat in which shoppers can sit down and try some free samples.

In addition, decorate with a holiday theme that fits the season.

Be mindful of budget

Your goal is to make money when attending this event. So spend minimally and invest in display items that can be used again or customized for other uses. You do not want to break the bank decorating your booth or table, only to find that your sales are minimal.

When setting up the display, be conservative with how much stock you set out. You want your display to look like you have enough offerings, but you don't want to be left with too many extras at the end of the day. Offer options to shop online or for custom-ordered items so that you do not have to have 200 Christmas tree ornaments made for that day. This allows you to spread out your costs.

Offer a freebie

Who can pass up a free item? A bowl with candy or samples of your product may be all that's needed to draw customers into your booth. Another idea is to have potential customers fill out an entry form that will be drawn for a prize. Not only are you encouraging people to come to the table, but you also are collecting valuable marketing information that can be used at a later date to follow-up with customers and help you make future sales.

Participate with a pal

Many fairs stretch on for hours, so it is adviseable to do it with a friend or family member so you will have someone to talk to and also to man the booth while you step away for a bathroom or snack break. The hours will pass by much more quickly when you have some conversation going.

Be friendly and smile

A warm smile can entice people to stop by. Talk up your products but don't be too pushy. If you are enthusiastic about what you are selling, there's a good chance others will be enthusiastic, too.

Osceola News-Gazette