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Some of you may know that as well as blogging about vintage we are prone to selling some too.  When we can bare to part with it!  Last year we thought we would try our local crafters market with our stall – to see how it went.  It is fair to say that our home town was a little perplexed by the idea of vintage.  Not everyone of course and over the last year we have become part of a thriving little community of local traders who put their heart and souls into making beautiful things.  Such beautiful things!

Last week one of those clever people introduced our home town to a new market concept http://www.facebook.com/AgoraEvent?ref=br_tf-Agora

We signed up for a stall at this fledging market and spent two days in the centre of our home town.

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The organiser of the fair kept us in regular contact about plans for the setting up day.  This is quite a big deal for us as we have a lot of stock to bring to put on a table so we need time to get to and from the car.  Having easy access to the location of the fair or market is key to us.  (double check with the t&c’s whether you need to provide your own table – often you don’t).  We needed public liability insurance for this fair – we went through the Market Traders Association for ours but lots of insurance companies provide it.  You would expect to pay £70-120 for it and insurance companies tend to want it paid in full.  That is for a years cover.

Having arrived an hour before the opening of our fair we ferried stuff from the car.  We had a slight disaster and smashed a few things.  We generally do!

We had practiced setting the stall up the night before.  We’ve done this for long enough now to know that what we don’t want to do is just bring back lots of boxes that we never got round to unpacking.  We would rather take the stock that we need for the day.  The stall should look attractive.  There should be plenty to browse over but you don’t want too much so the customer can’t actually see the wood for the trees.

We try to theme areas of my stall, sometimes using colour, sometimes a particular type of item like cookware or glasses.

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Our stall at the Agora was colourful.  We wanted to draw people in rather than see them walk past.

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We have also had a sign made to put on the front of our stall.  And we put out plenty of business cards so if people don’t want to speak or don’t have time to they can grab a card and get back to you later.  We’ve used various companies for this including Vistaprint and Moo.

It’s a great idea to have a notepad with you to note your sales.  We find that useful for our administrative needs but also to reflect on what is selling.  Again we are always looking to make the packing and unpacking as sensible as possible!  We are always the last out…

Remember when you set up your stall you’re also “part of the pretty”.  Don’t forget that what you look like is as important for the customer as what your stall looks like.  You are your brand!  During the Vintage Academy that I am always going on about it was explained to us that putting out a stall could well be considered as part of your advertising.  You are putting yourself directly in the line of sight of your potential customers.  They will be probably judge you.  Smile!  Be engaging without hard selling.  We have found over the years that having a chat generally leads to a sale.  Having your head in your phone tends to end in a quiet day with no sales.  Whilst someone doesn’t buy something today they may well go and find something on line.

We tend to take food and drink with us, again preparing sandwiches before we leave at the crack of dawn.  We really want to try to make some money and buying lunch and cups of tea out tends to eat into that money really quickly!

We take a float, taking an amount of £5 notes and useful change.  It is still usual to deal in cash when running a stall although there is an opportunity to purchase card machines from firms like Paypal (who charge an upfront fee of £99 for the unit and then charge a fee on each transaction) or the bank you have a business account with.  We don’t use one when we’re selling and always take cash to fairs when we’re buying.

The payment for the stall tends to take place before the actual fair – speak to the organiser about this.  The stall fees should be clear and you would expect the organiser to take responsibility for getting as many people there as possible to give you the access to potential customers.  Once the potential customer is in the room with you you’re on your own!  Cheap stall prices tend to indicate that the organiser is just getting you to cover the cost of the hire of the venue.  That doesn’t guarantee you customers and you get what you pay for.  We did a stall last year that cost us very little money – this was quite pleasing to us.  Ultimately though we didn’t sell anything and barely a handful of customers came through the door.  The organiser hadn’t advertised the fair well enough and didn’t understand that this was their responsibility.  We expect to pay a reasonable amount to hire a stall – included in this is an expectation of advertising.  Of course you will want to let your own customers know via your Facebook / Twitter accounts.

Being next to other stall holders can be frustrating if they encroach on your space.  You’ve got to spend a lot of time with these people so try to be friendly but if it does become a problem speak to the organiser.  They have to deal with all the difficult issues!

Use your social networking pages whilst you’re at the fair, posting photos and engaging with your online customers.  We sell a lot after fairs on our Facebook page.

Having become part of this thriving community in our home town we now feel like doing a fair is tantamount to a night in the pub!  We get to catch up with all of our friends and have a good chat.  We all support each other, encourage each other and have to say feel hugely motivated by their presence. We all do such different things but ultimately we all have fun together.

At this fair we all chatted about how nervous we had been at our first ever fair and it is in memory of those feelings that we write this blog.  A fair is nerve wracking without doubt but ultimately it is great fun.  It takes planning, planning your stock and how to present it so that you attract your customers and look professional.  Ensuring that you know what you need (like a table or insurance, business cards and carrier bags!).  But once you are there and set up you’ll love it.  Everyone tends to love what they’re selling so its a pleasure to share their enthusiasm.  And talking of that we thought we would share some of that enthusiasm too.  Here are some of our fellow stall holders…

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Everyone Loves Cupcakes – each cupcake is a masterpiece, a truly proud creation of their beautiful maker, Gunal.  We wish she wouldn’t go because we have to have a cupcake!  They are not only stunning but actually delicious and when do cakes taste as good as they look!!!

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Everyone-Loves-Cupcakes/436880989722151

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Shell’s Driftwood – we love Michelle’s Facebook page so much because she seems to spend her life at the beach so we get lovely pictures of the sea in our feed.  Her signs are really well done and always sell well.

http://www.facebook.com/ShellsDriftwood

Sandy’s Homemade Cards – Sandy is just the loveliest lady in the world and her cards are just amazing.  Her prices are so reasonable bearing in mind the amount of time she must put into making them.  Each card is clearly a labour of love and anyone would be just delighted to receive one.

http://www.facebook.com/SandysCards4AllOccasions

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Emma Jane

The very beautiful Emma Jane who sells lovely handmade items and has just started a fantastic line in cookie stamps

http://www.facebook.com/emmajanesbakery?ref=br_tf

And how about our friend Melissa who makes really eye catching clothing for babies, children and women.  One of our favourite purchases from Melissa was a corduroy bow tie with Mr Wish Vintage wears with pride!

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http://www.facebook.com/ayeayeboutique

So go and book your first fair!  Take the plunge.  And if you need any reassurance or top tips just drop any of us a line via Facebook and we’ll help you out.

And remember, Love Vintage – Live Vintage xx