When I visit craft fairs, I am so often disappointed by the lack of creativity when I walk into the room. I’m not talking about the items available to purchase; I’m talking about the stalls themselves.
Am I wrong in thinking that people who sell at craft fairs are creative people? Surely they must be if they can design and produce the pretty bracelets, scented candles, tasty baked goods and hand-painted artwork that fill tables. So why is it that 80% of the stalls I see at craft fairs are so poorly presented and dull?
At the last craft fair I sold my cakes at, one of the requirements was to have a full length table cloth. Easy. We bought a roll of pale pink scrap material at our local fabric shop (I think it was about £6) and cut it into a neat tablecloth meeting the requirements. It’s so horrible to see untidy storage boxes or grubby table legs beneath a stall! Now, we were very lucky with our positioning in the hall, because the lady opposite us was selling glass jewellery and had set up spotlights to highlight her work. The spotlights cast a lovely lighting effect onto our stall as well!
Particularly if you have to pay to visit a craft fair, it is nice to see pretty, well-thought-out stalls, and not just classroom tables with random pieces for sale on top. The glass pendant stall I mentioned was incredibly suited to this lady’s style. She used a dark blue material to cover her table, and set up black velvet stands to display the pendants at different eye levels. The spotlights then picked up the lovely gleam and individual colours in the glass, making the whole thing look dazzlingly spectacular, not to mention professional.
Contrast this with another jewellery stall further around the hall. This stall had nice bracelets and necklaces, but there was no flare in how they were displayed. Laying a long line of necklaces on a table is not nearly so attractive as draping some of them on stands or even wire or pretty string draped over the table!
However, what I really want to talk about is cake stalls. I love to see a well thought out cake stall that is both functional and attractive. I appreciate that cake stalls at school fairs or fundraisers are perfectly within their rights to be minimal, but I believe that to sell cakes successfully at a competitive craft fair, you need to show some flare.
I knew that there were several main features that my bake stall had to have as I was preparing for my first craft fair. I also knew that there were going to be other cake stalls in the hall, and so I wanted mines to stand out. I came up with a basic list to work with:
- Table cloth – layered with two colours
- Cake stands – different heights and colours to draw the eye to the cakes
- Blackboard – to list the cake flavours and prices
- Sample plates – to provide a taster of my cupcakes
- Packaging – boxes and sweet bags for the cakes
- Business cards – just in case!
- Balloons – to add height to my stall and to capture attention
- Bunting – to add a traditional craft ‘fair’ element to my stall
I did all of this fairly cost effectively, because I obviously did not want to work at a loss. We made our cake stands ourselves and I got free cake bags from a bakery that was closing down. We bought cupcake bunting at another craft fair and the table cloth was end of line and heavily discounted. Instead of a blackboard, I bought a much cheaper canvas board and painted on the menu. I already had a wooden easel to sit it on.
Everything I did to prepare this stall made a wonderful impression on not just shoppers, but on the other stallholders as well! The most satisfying part of my day was being able to arrange my cupcakes, which I had put so much effort into, onto a truly deserving stall. The first thing that was said to me at the fair was: “It’s so nice to see someone who actually takes pride in what their stall looks like, rather than just draping a sheet over it and leaving it at that”. All day we received compliments on our stall and our cakes and took just under £220!
When I was designing my bake stall, I took a lot of my inspiration from event tables that you can find everywhere on event planning blogs such as Sweet Designs. They are not profit making stalls, they are usually for weddings or children’s parties, but the subtle ideas they use on their tablescapes are what really stand out.
My Tips For Making Your’s the Belles of the Stalls:
- If the fair is indoor, use a full length, ironed table cloth to cover unsightly table legs and storage boxes.
- Make sure shoppers know what everything is – use labels, blackboards, menus, pictures…
- Have a theme, even if it is eclectic – roll with something and stick with it!
- Use varying heights to draw shoppers’ eyes across your entire stall.
- Make your stall function properly…so if you are selling cakes, provide samples. Likewise, if you are selling jewellery, hats etc. provide a mirror.
- Use business cards or leaflets, they make your stall look professional.
- Clutter free is best – don’t have your coffee cup or phone sitting on the table!
- If you are selling cakes, be presentable. We wore quirky aprons, clear food handling gloves and had our hair tied back with cupcake print caps on!
- It is nice to provide some kind of packaging for shoppers, you don’t want to inconvenience them or put them off buying if they have something awkward to carry.
- Display your business name, or if you aren’t a business, display a simple title like ‘Home-baked Treats!’
- Most importantly – smile! Be inviting and don’t sit looking fed up. If possible, it is good to be standing or moving around your stall and to be engaging with shoppers.
For me, bake stalls are more about the fun rather than the profit, because I am not an established business. I love to see people enjoying what I have created, stall included!