You’ve researched, sourced, made, prepared, baked, packaged, priced and thought about how you want to promote your fantastic new product. You may even have put your name down for a local fair.
What sort of things do you need to know or do before you attend your first fair (and for any future fairs you may do) Here I give some top tips to help new (and regular) traders!
Do your research
Before you even think about exhibiting at a fair, you must get Public Liability Insurance. This covers the cost of legal action and compensation claims made against your business if a third party (a member of the public?) is injured or if property suffers damage while you’re at a venue. In essence it helps protect you in the unlikely event that something happens at a fair and a member of the public or owner of the venue makes a claim against you. It’s easy to get cover and it’s no different to getting your home or car insured!
There are many rules on selling food at fairs. The minimum requirements from most organisers will be evidence of your Food Hygiene rating as scored by your local authority. The organiser may require you to have a minimum 3* star rating before being allowed to stand. You may choose to display your star rating anyway. You’ve worked hard for it!
Find out about the fair and the venue.
Find out where the fair is being held – is it indoors or outdoors? If it’s outdoors, do you need to provide your own gazebo? What are the access times for you to set up? There’s no point turning up at 7am if no one is opening up until 8am. If the fair is not on the ground floor, find out if there is a lift. Don’t assume that there will be someone available to help you.
You will need to park your car after unloading. Check parking arrangements and take spare change just in case.
If you haven’t been to this fair before you may want to find out where the loo is and if there are any kettle facilities available! Find out if there are shops nearby, if not you can be prepared & take food with you. When you are spending the day at a fair, believe me, some of these things may seem obvious but knowing ahead can make a big difference!
It may be useful to know how many people the fair attracts? This could be particularly useful especially if you are selling food. Or just so you know how much stock you need to bring.
What space will you have?
The space you pay for is most likely on the booking form but if you need extra for a rail or additional table its worth asking – and if there is any extra cost? Tables aren’t always provided and if they are, check what size it (they) are – not all tables are created equal!
If you haven’t been asked on the booking form and you need power, make sure you speak to the organiser as soon as possible. The organiser can then aim to accommodate this when planning the layout. (if power is available at all)
Many of your questions could be answered by reading the Terms & Conditions provided at booking, don’t just tick the box on the booking form to say you’ve read them.
Who else will be there?
You might find it useful to find who is going to be there. There’s nothing worse than arriving at a fair and discovering there are 5 other people selling similar things to you.
Tell people where you are!
There is only so much the organiser can do to promote the event. You may already have a few regular customers, even if it’s friends and family that can help you promote where you are going to be. If you have a Facebook page, use Twitter and Instagram or any of the other social media tools available, use any or all of these to let people know where you are going to be. You could offer an incentive to your followers, tell them they will be entered into a prize draw……..
If the organiser sends you a flyer – digital or paper, don’t forget to use it!
Turn up on time
On the day, make sure you’ve planned enough time to get there and set up. That doesn’t mean arriving 5 minutes before the fair opens to the public. Not only is this annoying for the other traders but also can cause Health & Safety concerns if people are needing to step over your boxes as you set up.
If you are going to be late, call the organiser and let them know as soon as you can. Leave it too late and the organiser may have reallocated the space. And you may not get your money back.
Cancelling or not turning up!
If you need to cancel, let the organiser know as soon as possible. Cancelling a couple of days before an event or simply not turning up is very bad form.
Give as much notice as possible, at least two weeks if you can. The organiser will have the opportunity to try and fill the space. Cancelling at short notice or not turning up may mean that you will not get a refund (depending on the T’s & C’s) or if you haven’t paid, that you are still sent an invoice.
From the other traders perspective, having lots of empty space due to cancellations or no shows is a real headache and not great for encouraging the public to come in and take a look.
What if it turns out to be a quiet day?
Sometimes in spite of all the planning and advertising, the public just don’t turn up or if they do, they are not in a spending mood. As an Independent Phoenix Trader I know how that can feel. Don’t blame the organiser. We all need to take responsibility as traders for engaging with the public that are there. Sitting behind our stands, head down, ignoring people is not a good way to make a sale. Read my blog Shopping – the Rule of Engagement for my observations on selling behaviour! Click here to read more.
Don’t forget – enjoy the day!