Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Craft Fair Tips

Oh, I love craft fairs....if you've been reading for any length of time that should come as no surprise.  While at the playground recently I heard two trendy mamas talking of doilies and grandma's knitting craft fairs with disdain.  Not me my friends.  I love old fashioned and new and trendy craft fairs.  The "old" style ones offer important things things like knitted cotton dishcloths, wool socks that warm your feet made by bent over & crinkled ladies, jams, homemade pies, and occasionally gems of trend setting crafters who are starting out.

Buying at craft fairs is really smart on several levels:

  • you are supporting local artisans
  • you often find one of a kind items
  • it forces you to think "outside of the (big) box" for gifts
The Lower Mainland of British Columbia is full of craft events.  Every year more and more fairs are popping up.  I see this as a great sign but have also noticed that the quality in some of the fairs that I visit each year is going down.  Perhaps vendors have more choice of high end markets now and so the smaller markets may struggle a bit to fill their tables.  After spending years attending craft fairs I have a few pointers to share about them that should help you get the most out of your experience:

Look at everything before you buy anything.  This is really important if you have a limited amount of cash or you are looking for something that could be found at more than one booth.  If you buy the first earrings you like and find some further on that you love you'll regret it.  So stroll, look and then make a plan to return to your favorite tables.

1. If you find a vendor that you really like make sure to get their card and/or contact info.  You never know when you may want to commission something or buy another and then realize you can't find them again.  Often vendors return to shows that they did well at the previous year but there is no guarantee.

2. Smile and say hello to the vendors.  They are putting  themselves out there and that can be a rather daunting experience.

 3. Eat before you go.  It is never smart to shop on an empty stomach.

4. Search out the fairs in your area over the whole holiday season.  Many fairs begin in November and carry on until the last weekend before Christmas.  If you can get to more than one in one day you can maximize your time and childcare if you need it.

5. Remember not to get a crafter grudge.  Many times at many fairs I've thought to myself, I can do that.  I'm not going to buy something I could make myself.  While that is a valid point it is more important to think of how much time you have to make gifts and if you are really going to make it this year.  Making a hectic trip to the mall on Christmas eve because you didn't have time to make that thing that you could have bought two weeks ago....save yourself the headache.

6. And finally make a list before you go.  Write out who you need to buy for, any ideas you have for what to get them and stick to it.  It is very easy to be distracted by lovely handmade things and blow your budget on something that you could get later or isn't necessary.  Unlike the mall you can't return things a day later when your head clears.

Have a wonderful holiday season!

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