Sunday 4 December 2011

The Christmas Fair

   Well, I attended the Christmas fair yesterday with my stall The Littlest Sweet Shop - it's a simpler branch off of Peaches and Pebbles created specifically for the events, where I sell typical polymer clay food jewellery - y'know, like everyone else does :P I made the new shop before I actually put much work into Peaches and Pebbles, back when I was still using pre-made metal charms. I tried my hand at polymer food, since a friend of mine did it for a few years and inspired me to give it a try. I actually think I'm quite good at it - not as good as she is, nowhere near, but I'm not even sure she still makes them anymore. I think I'm adequate. And either way, when I first set up my stall in the summer, I did quite well. Not as well as I had hoped, but I made about £60. Not bad considering everything was priced at £3 to £4. The venue I'm always at is my old primary school, so I'm aiming my products and prices at about 6 to 12 year olds.
   The summer fair usually lasted about 3 hours, and I always used to go as a child, be it with my parents, or just with my younger sister. Last time, though, they changed it to 6 hours. Seeg doesn't really enjoy being around large groups of people and children (the same as me, really), but he stuck it out anyway, and the cold wind. The Christmas fair usually lasted about 3 hours, and this year was no different.

   While at the summer fair I was positioned outside on the top playground, right where everyone walked past, I was in the smaller of the two halls for the Christmas one. This, I knew right away, would be damaging. They built the new part of the school while I was still attending about 12 years ago (still looks no different, same yellow walls and everything), and even then I remember that that was sort of the "forgotten" part of the school. All the good stuff was always around the large hall at the other end - the candy floss, the cakes, y'know, all the edible stuff :P In the small hall, there were the craft stalls, mostly held by old ladies, actually, and there were a few lucky dips and all that. I was positioned in there, in a corner, overshadowed inexplicably by a primary book stand. Walking in, you'd never have even seen me unless you walked up to the books :(
   There was, fortunately, one stall that brought the traffic in. A chocolate tombola. I had my eye on it, and I said to myself  I'd go over and give it a go once I sold something. It was bringing so many people in, it was unreal! Unfortunately, it was on the other side of the hall from me, and, from my perspective, at least, it honestly seemed that that entire side of the hall was filled with people, and no one was over even near us. A few wandered over, and I managed one sale in the first hour.
   Then, the chocolate was gone. After only an hour, those two huge tables covered in lovely chocolate was empty - I wasn't sad that I'd missed out, I was sad because that's all that was bringing people in. And so for the second hour, I made another single sale.

   One hour to go and only 2 sales so far, I was hungry and I had a headache because the speakers were near us and playing loud Christmas music, and there were children running around blowing ear piercing whistles. Seeg was reading his book for the first hour or so so I had no one to really talk to - that was fine, I suggested he brought his book, but I didn't expect to get so bored, or so hungry.
   I lowered my prices at the top of the last hour, only by a smidge, but I figured I had nothing to lose.
   That's when something lurvely happened. A woman came over, she stood there looking like many had before, and just when I expected her to walk away, like the rest had, she peered closer. She took a few minutes eyeballing the pieces, then picked up two necklaces to buy them. As we were packing them up, she then looked to my sweet jars (those are virtually the only things that I sold at the fair that were also in my shop) and picked two of those up too. Oh happy day! There I was having made only £8 so far for two hours, and she buys £18 of stuff for her daughters! It might not seem that amazing, but by that point I'd given up. No one had bought any of the hot chocolate gift sets I'd made, and I'd already figured no one would so I decided I was having one when I got home (I did, and they were really missing out!), so this £18 was a fantastic boost! And, after that, I managed two more sales.

   In the end I think I made £32. I spent £6 at another stall in my hall who were selling skin products, as I was on a budget anyway and needed to expand on Catherine and Lucy's gifts (3 body butters, but one was for me :B).

    Not the most successful event, but this is still a learning process. Evidently the summer fairs are more successful (as they're bigger anyway with more attractions), and perhaps a few of my things were priced a little too high, but I was right when I said to my boyfriend and myself the day before that most of the sales would probably occur during the last hour. I remember when I used to go to these fairs. I was given only about £5 or £10 by my parents, and I was never willing to spend it. I'd walk around, looking at things, finding things I liked, but I'd never buy anything in case I found something better later on. By the time it got to the end, I'd still have most of my money (I'd have parted with some for candy floss ♥ - that's also something, I don't think I helped my stall because whenever anyone walked past with candy floss I found myself staring. Seeg pointed it out more than once...) so I would go back to my favourite stalls. It happened in the summer, and it seemed to also happen this time, seeing familiar faces return.

   I know a lot of people go to fairs and get extremely disappointed with the lack of attention they get. It boils down to a few things:
  1. Time of year - what do people want, what are they looking for? I hoped they were looking for gifts, but only two people (I say two because the first sale I made was to a man who bought a cookie bookmark, and I assume it wasn't for him...) seemed to be.
  2. Where are you? Is it the right place? I think I would have done better if I were in a craft fair as opposed to a school fair. People may have had more money on them, and probably would have been more willing to spend it on stalls. Even today when I go to the school fair I intend to spend my money on candy floss and sweets (say nothing.). I wouldn't go to a craft fair unless I honestly had intentions of buying from stalls, and I'd have more money with me for it.
  3. Are your prices and products suited to your audience? In my case, I thought they were, but from looking at the past 2 fairs, I'm thinking my prices could be lowered a smidge, and I've also found that while polymer food does well online, it might not do that well in a stall. More grown ups tend to buy them online than children will in person, probably because it's something that we appreciate more, and takes a certain person. I think the people in the school were too normal, and no offence to them. Seeg suggested this to me, that perhaps it would do better online. The thing is, I have too much stock to upload it all.

   Bottom line, I'll take all of this into consideration next time. I will try again in the summer, and now I have a better idea of what to expect from both. The upside this time, of course, was that I didn't need the money, whereas in the summer I did. Ultimately, I lost nothing. I made a little cash, and I learnt a few things. One of those things was to ask for my table to be as far from speakers as possible, and to bring some food!

   Good luck to anyone who has any fairs coming up, and thank you to Lynda of PureBathandBeauty for the tips she gave both me and my team members!


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