7 disadvantages of participating in a handmade fair

7 disadvantages of participating in a handmade fair

I have already talked about the pros in this article. Now let’s talk about the minuses. Each position should not be seen as a limitation for participation; each minus is a necessary point to consider.

1. Rentals.

In social networks, we can sell our products without paying for our site presence or renting a page. Often, the sites themselves with a sufficiently developed level of blogging pay us for content (YouTube, Medium), and with them comes a portion of our potential customers ready to buy our products.

You have to pay to participate in the fair, though. The fee includes rent and necessary equipment (tables, chairs, lighting), advertising services, and organization. Sometimes for 2-3 days of participation in the fair, you have to be prepared to pay a decent amount, depending on the conditions of the organizers.

Of course, when we work internally in social networks, we spend part of the money on our promotion, periodically investing in advertising. The monthly amount of advertising on the network platforms may equal the amount of participation in the fair for 2-3 days.

The main difference – selling in social networks, we gradually calculate and allocate the budget for promotion, being able to sell “without investing anything in return.

Participation in the fair has opposite tendencies: if you don’t pay – you don’t participate; if you pay – you spend a lot at once.

2. Conveyor production

First, you must have a large volume of work in stock to participate in a fair. There is no point in going to the fair with ten pieces – you won’t recoup your rent and make a profit.

Secondly, all works should be united by the same idea or style. At fairs look great and different but similar in style, toys, jewelry, or something else. They are all the same, but there are a lot of them, and that creates a mass effect.

High volume is, of course, a relative term. It seems to me the minimum number should be 50 pieces or more. Otherwise, it is not profitable.

The human capabilities of a master, unfortunately, are often limited. There are types of creativity where the master, for one day, can do several works (for example, my friend can knit a day two pairs of mittens or two toys). In this case, making the products within 1-3 months before the fair is not difficult.

And such creativity as artistic embroidery requires a lot of time. Thought out sketches and the embroidery process, designed it into a finished product – very laborious work. Such people prepare for the fair, which takes six months to a year.

Here it is important to assess your resources and capabilities properly. Ask yourself:

  • Can you make 50-100 products with a single concept?
  • Can you convey in one meeting with your customer WHO YOU ARE AND WHAT YOUR WORK is about?
  • Can you set up production for the fair?
7 disadvantages of participating in a handmade fair

– 7 disadvantages of participating in a handmade fair

3. Risks

You’ve made a lot of products and paid your rent and other expenses. You’re almost good! But can you sell everything? Did you consider the needs of your target audience and create what they need rather than what you want? Have you been able to attract the attention of buyers and communicate the value of your work?

It may happen that your sales do not recoup the cost. The risks can be associated with many factors:

  • rented space is on the outskirts of the fair, and buyers do not notice you;
  • the design of the sales area does not attract attention and loses in comparison with competitors;
  • inconvenient payment system for the buyer;
  • seasonality and buyers’ needs are not taken into account;
  • you have not prepared packaging and handouts;
  • difficulties in communication with customers, etc.

Risks are associated with a large financial investment in participation in the fair, which may not pay off. You must be prepared for this and have a “safety cushion.”

4. Calculations and documentation

By participating in the fair, you should have documentation ready for your products. This can be summary tables with the catalog of products, accounting for the individual cost of each product and the total amount of all work, accounting for costs and revenues.

Imagine you don’t have any records. You come to the fair, and from the ceiling prices, you do not understand what was sold and what was left; you have no idea how much you spent and got. I hope that happens only in the nightmares of all artisans.

You have to know what merchandise you are selling, how many units, for how much, and other things. Participating in a fair is a special responsibility with significant risks and costs. To make a profit, you need to be smart about your project’s calculations and documentation.

5. Communication Problems

Handmade artist ≠ seller, crafter = introvert: how to be?

At the fair, it’s essential to communicate with the buyers and to be friendly and approachable. You can be anything you like on social networks because you don’t have direct contact with buyers and are limited to exchanging messages. Still, at the fair, your sales depend on your ability to sell and make yourself approachable.

You can make brilliant, flawless creative work and nurture your creativity and know everything about it, but what good is it if you can’t sell? For example, a friend of mine is a creepy stilted introvert who hides under a shell around many people. The best she can do is a smile and a brief job description. She can’t sell, she can’t communicate, and she can’t be different. She’s a crafter but not a salesperson.

If you don’t know how to sell, you can hire an assistant – a sales professional or just a disposable, open, and friendly person from your acquaintances.

7 disadvantages of participating in a handmade fair

– 7 disadvantages of participating in a handmade fair

6. Reduced product life

Your work will change hands. Everyone will touch, measure, try to deform, smell, and crumple. If you participate in a fair in a big city, hundreds of people will pass in front of you, all of whom will want to come into contact with your products. This can lead to a reduction in the product’s life or even its damage by careless buyers.

Ceramics can get broken, embroidery can get dirty, and mittens can get stretched.

Customer contact with your work increases sales but carries risks.

7. The hustle and bustle

At a fair, being alone with yourself and your art is impossible. You must be prepared for the noise and being in the crowd. Some people find it very exhausting. But for some people, it can be an enjoyable environment.

So, participating in the fair is a lot of work. Before you decide to participate, weigh the pros and cons. I hope that my considered pros and cons will help you make a choice and, if so, prepare for an effective handmade journey of offline sales at the fair!

What would you add to my list? And what would you refute? What challenges have you encountered? Share in the comments.