Friday, 18 November 2011

The difficulty of knowing what to do....

Any of you who make and sell stuff will be familiar with 'the difficulty of knowing what to do' when it comes to selling the things you have made. Online shops- yes, they are useful and do sell some stuff , it takes time to build custom, but I am yet to be convinced that etsy and folksy are indeed the wondrous market places they would like us to believe they are. I am a little cynical perhaps, but all an umbrella organisation needs is lots of people to sell very little and it makes lots from those many tiny sales...not so good from the seller's point of view. Folksy seems to be making much more of an effort to be seller friendly and to woo purchasers, but I find etsy's constant encouragements to spend hours marketing, networking etc through them a tad unconvincing and annoying. And then there is the knotty question of Fairs. Which Fairs are worth it and which just aren't? Large two or three day fairs require a huge investment -financial and in time- to build sufficient stock and as for the stall rental,well, name your price.

I had the unfortunate experience of trying out a local "craft' Christmas Fair yesterday.The organisers ( a local school who, in theory, should have been running a well publicised, smoothly organised and well-attended event) just wanted to take their stall hire money and clearly, couldn't care less beyond that- you can see from the photo above that there was scarcely enough room for stall holders to stand behind their stalls, let alone move around behind them and that, I fear, was the least of it. I won't be back with them, and neither will any of the other stall holders I spoke to yesterday. Fair and Event organisers do seem to forget that stall holders always exchange information on what's worth doing and what isn't and that makers are trying to make a living, they aren't there for charitable purposes.

I want to sell my stuff myself if I can, I got fed up years ago with galleries and shops wanting to knock my prices down to rock bottom so they could charge up to a whacking 100% commission on sales ( L*****y of London, I'm thinking of you...). To an extent all online market places and event organisers have makers over a barrel- you have to sell somewhere- but finding the RIGHT somewhere doesn't get any easier with the passing of the years! In case you are wondering, I managed to make a massive 50p profit yesterday....I know, 50p...many stall holders weren't so lucky, but the school made at least £1,000 from our rental and probably half as much again from the value of the free raffle ( most certainly NOT voluntary) donations. Cynical? Me?


  1. I feel for you, Kate. Organisers really need to see beyond the money. I think it's probably nigh on impossible to make an actual living from crafting. Thank goodness we enjoy it, hey?
    Hen xxx

  2. I know where you are coming from... these days it is really hard to find a gallery that wouldn't rob. I don't have any experience renting a stall, but from what you're saying it's better not to even try? I hope you can find some other effective way to reach your customers.

  3. If you manage to find the right fair/event it can be good, but finding it is a nightmare!