Booking‎ > ‎Tips for traders‎ > ‎

At the fair

Clocks and phones by TinTrunk.

Now that's a landmark!  The star of June's Jewels by TinTrunk.

Dealing with the public

The following points might seem boringly obvious but they’re all worth emphasising:
  • Acknowledge all your visitors.  Smile and say hello, perhaps tell them that if they need any help they only need to ask.  After that, you can quite easily leave them in peace to browse, happy in the knowledge that you are aware they are there and will help them if required.
  • Be open and ready to chat, if people want to chat of course.  You’ll meet a lot of very friendly people and they will appreciate your friendliness in return. This is one of the pleasures of doing a fair!  If you generate a positive, welcoming atmosphere, people are more likely to linger and have a good look at everything.
  • On the other hand, if people are clearly reticent or reluctant to look you in the eye, be friendly but leave them be until they ask you directly for help.
  • You could ask if the customers are looking for anything in particular, especially if they have been browsing for some time.  This shows they are genuinely interested in your stock and will probably welcome you pointing out some things they might not have seen.
  • Some of the more extrovert sellers might try to suggest specific items to their customers.  This can work if you’ve judged your customer correctly, and he or she is already receptive, but be aware that it can look pushy too.
  • Be conscious of how you look.  If you’re a bit bored or tired you might be frowning.  Put your face straight!  You will literally scare people away!  Try to look engaged and approachable.
  • Always keep an eye on everyone at your stall, in a discreet way.  Nobody likes being watched like a hawk, but on the other hand someone might be trying to attract your attention for help, or waiting to pay, and you’ll never notice them if you’re busy on your mobile checking your Facebook updates.  Someone naughty might also see this as an opportunity to pinch something.

I'm so tired of smiling by TinTrunk.

Other things to consider

Here's a few other tips which are worth bearing in mind:

  • Try to look as presentable and appealing as your goods!  This is an event that you are attending - not a car boot sale! - so it definitely helps if you look smart/cool too.  Not only does it add to the sense of occasion, but it shows respect to your customers.  Don’t feel you have to doll yourself up as if you were going out for a night on the town though!
  • If relevant, wear examples of your stock.  It shows you have pride in what you sell and gives confidence to your potential customers.  You’ll never see a make-up saleswoman without make-up!  For example, if you sell jewellery, wear something from your selection.  You could win a few extra sales that way.
  • Keep your stall tidy throughout the day – every now and then have a quick scan of your display, rearrange things as gaps appear - from your sales, hooray! - check your clothes rails and pick up things that may have dropped on the floor.
  • On the other hand, don’t fuss around your stall too much either.  If you’re constantly standing in front tweaking things you’re in the way of people wanting to look, and you might make them too nervous to touch anything!
  • Check all the banknotes you are paid with.  There are forgeries in circulation.  Be extra cautious about large denomination banknotes such as £50 notes - you can refuse to accept them (I certainly would!)  Find out about current banknotes, and the security features to check for, at the Bank of England website.
  • Be security aware.  Keep your cash and personal valuables with you - or very near you - at all times.  This is particularly important when setting up and breaking down your stall.  It's easy to get distracted in the rush.

If you've read this far, thank you!  These tips were compiled from suggestions and observations made by visitors, and some of our own experiences.

Its all about making the best of your day at the fair.  If we can sum it up in a sentence, that means ensuring you are properly prepared, providing the best customer service, and most importantly of all, enjoying yourself!

Setting up

At our fairs, we provide you with big sturdy tables, but you need to 'dress' those tables:
  • Check the size and find a suitable cloth or cloths to cover your table with (and you will need to cover them - they're not pretty!)  Your best bet is something plain coloured or with a bold and simple print.  Fussy/small prints will distract from the items placed upon it, especially small items such as jewellery which can get lost among the details.
  • Do you have something/s to add height and break up the flat plain of your table?  Folding/collapsible shelves, stacked boxes or cases and the like can be used to provide a variety of levels on your stall and help to create a more inviting 'landscape' to place your items upon.
  • Arrange your items with care.  Make sure everything is clearly visible and not too cramped.
  • Always have a few eye-catching ‘feature pieces’ in prominent positions - this will attract people in to your stall.  Having something eye-catching will also serve as a 'land mark' making it easier for people to find you again if they need to.
  • Some people consider it better to group similar objects together, and this does help ensure that browsers are less likely to miss something they might want to buy.
  • Be cautious about using too many ‘props’ that aren’t for sale.  Its often these items that will attract the most buying enquiries, and that can be frustrating both for you and your customers!
  • Put your most valuable items where you can easily see them at all times.
  • Make sure there are no trip hazards around or in front of your stall.  People coming up close to look at your stock might not see obstructions such as a box near their feet, and an accident in front of your stall could cost you a lot of money if the injured party decides to sue.
  • Keep the walkways clear enough for a wheelchair or mobility scooter to get through easily.  We want everyone to be able to access all areas of the fair without hindrance or bottlenecks. This may be monitored towards the end of the setting up time.
  • Respect your neighbours.  Do not encroach on their space with your display or obscure their goods with your own items.

If you would like some further advice about creative ways to present your stall, Toni of Lady, Behave! has suggested this article from Folksy: Craft Fair secrets - how to make a great craft fair display.

Make your customers feel welcome!  Bowler hat salute by TinTrunk.

"I'm not sure that's quite 'me' . . ."  From TinTrunk.

Customers can be nervous and flighty!  Here’s a few examples of behaviour we have been told about by visitors which can put people off coming near your stall:
  • Frowning or looking grumpy.
  • Staring at people as they approach your stall.
  • Staring and frowning at people as they approach your stall (that’s a double whammy!)
  • Being deep in conversation with your stall colleague, or friends/family who have stopped by your stall.  It doesn’t hurt to remind your friends/family that you are at work, and your customers are your priority that day.  If you need to break off a conversation, just say something like “excuse me a minute” and deal promptly with your customers.
  • Whispering to your colleague/friend in front of customers.  Those customers will assume you are talking about them.
  • Hunching over your phone, or lurking behind a newspaper, for extended lengths of time.
  • Complaining, moaning or showing anger about anything or anyone in front of customers.  Bad vibes are very off-putting and people might assume you will be grumpy with them too.
It is a bit like being on stage!  You are part of the show, and the show must go on!  It's worth remembering that you are under scrutiny as much as your goods.

C'mon chaps, make an effort!  Two Victorian 'tramps' by TinTrunk.