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Posts Tagged ‘fair’

Christmas Bazaar

Last week was nothing if not hectic, partly because of a two day fair I did in Clapham in the most beautiful house near the common. After the recent spate of rather depressing fairs (wrong customers, credit crunch, wrong time of year, pouring rain, that sort of thing) where we sometimes didn’t even cover the cost of the stall, this one was a huge success.

I suspect that’s because it was very specifically targeted; the lady who organised it does this every year and has built up a very specific mailing list of people who know what to expect and keep coming back.

I think the most important thing I learned (because there is always something to learn, like with anything in life), was that my table is possibly not focused enough. Looking around at the other stalls, they all sold ‘one thing’ – Indian shawls and kaftans, or wire sculptures, or embroidered children’s clothes. Although my ‘one thing’ is gifts, that is a very diverse area, and I do feel it looks a bit overwhelming and uncohesive (is that a word?). I will of course keep the diversity on the website, but it’s something to think about for future fairs.

All the stall holders donated 11% of their takings to the Changarawe Project in Tanzania, so there was added feel good factor!

I hadn’t realised though what an absolute sloppy student tramp I looked until this delightful picture was taken. And those boots? Those are not just boots. They’re M&S slippers. But don’t tell anyone.

 

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I wasn’t going to post about the fiasco that was the Horsham Eco Fair on Sunday, especially after I’d hyped it up so much, but then I thought, this blog is supposed to be a behind the scenes look at a growing eco business, and that doesn’t mean just the good bits! I also thought, you learn far more from the mistakes and misjudgements than you do when everything’s going smoothly, so why not share what I learned and prove that something good can be found in everything.

Here is me at the beginning of the day, looking really quite cheerful and optimistic I think; sun shining, everything looking promising….

 There isn’t an after photo because I had a slight sense of humour failure at the end, and besides, the table looked exactly the same….

The main mistake I made was not researching the inhabitants of Horsham properly. My target market is ABC1, and without wishing to cast aspersions, the people in the park that day didn’t fall into this category on the whole. So my mistake for just assuming.

Secondly, as you will see behind me in the photo, I was one of the very few who didn’t have a ‘roof’ for my stall. This meant that we didn’t look as professional as some of the other stalls, and aside from the people who had gazebos which tended to try and blow away with every gust of wind (of which there were many), lots of people had sensibly bought proper market stall set ups, with scaffolding-type poles and canvas covers. My mum, who came to help on the day, did some research, asking other stallholders how they did things, and it turns out if you google ‘market stalls’ you can find some good ones. Worth it for the initial outlay if you do enough fairs.

Which leads me to another key lesson; from now on I will only be doing Christmas fairs. People simply aren’t looking to buy gifts in the summer generally speaking, and with the credit crunch in full swing, impulse buying is not high on the agenda. I do think people need gifts all year round, but placement is very important as is targeting the right customer.

I didn’t even take enough to pay for the table and chairs I hired (I don’t own my own table so had no option), but on the upside, I made a new friend in Shona, who owns the lovely www.howonearth.co.uk, and was offered a chance to do a Christmas fair, also in Horsham, which was apart from anything else a far more affordable opportunity. I also managed to give out a lot of flyers, and learned some important lessons about pricing.  And it didn’t rain!

I would also say, don’t be too near the organic bhaji stand, because apart from the smell, people tend to wander past eating them and dripping bhaji juice all over your products.

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