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Selling at Fairs : Why NOT to Get Discouraged

I’ve been working really hard on close to all my spare moments on my side business that I’m slowly trying to shift more and more into the public eye. I have spent hours researching tips to business success. I whittled away hours on Pinterest for advice on craft fairs, booth set up and what people wished they had known going into their first fair. The irony of it all?

It didn’t really matter because the fair its self was just the wrong one for my product.

Wrong audience. Wrong focus. Wrong place.

And there is NO WAY to know that fact unless you are planning years in advance to scout out one particular fair and how they handle their vendors, where they put them, watch how interested the targeted crowd are in shopping with the art vendors. And guess what? Events are usually switching things up each year. Very rarely is it the same thing every year so it’s nearly impossible to predict what to expect the next year.

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My products are wine-inspired and focused, geared towards people who love wine and want to show off that fact. The fair I attended was a county fair in Napa Valley. This seemed like a great location. It sounds it, just going off of the idea of Napa. However, it wasn’t. This fair was most definitely intended for the locals, whom are not really the people you run into at the wineries. The majority of attendees were families with their children, only interested in the carnival rides and waiting out the heat for the firework show once the sun set. The majority of people didn’t even want to LOOK at what the crafts vendors had to offer.

The “crafts” vendors were all off in a corner where the majority of the traffic we received were people whom were heading to the restrooms. Even the vendors ourselves were a very odd and unusual combination of non-profits, hand made craft items, photo booths AND wholesale sellers. With no particular arrangement or grouping. My booth was right between a non-profit energy awareness booth and a women’s defense and safety wholesale booth. In such a spot, my products really stood no chance.

I made a whopping two sales the entire eight hours I was supposed to sell at the fair. I wouldn’t say I was discouraged, although I’m sure many would be, and I’m sure I looked pretty defeated by the end of the night. I did feel it, but I also knew this was just one event and I shouldn’t give up with the one. I think I was more frustrated than anything. I could tell within three hours of it’s start, that this was not going to be the event I hoped for. It was more upsetting that other vendors kept swinging by, confident that I was going to make lots of sales (nearly everyone was struggling with sales, enough that we were all able to comfortably check in on fellow vendors to converse without concern of loosing or missing a sale).

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The fair was not a total loss. I got to meet fellow crafters whom were very generous in sharing their knowledge and experience and giving advice of their own. At a busier fair, I might not have had the chance to make such connections.

In regards to sales, it was a bust. In regards to experience, it was excellent and I cannot wait for the next one to come around!

My advice to anyone aspiring to go out and try their hand at a craft fair is this: Do not let the results of one fair discourage you from continually trying to get out there. The results of one will not be the results of all. Don’t let the one time be your defining moment.

I’m already signed up for another fair that actually encourages its vendors to provide wares that are in the same category to what I provide and I will be joining another later on in the fall as well to see if that will fit to my business’s target.

All you can do is keep trying.

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