Craft Fairs were my main source of income so its not surprising that a very great deal of thought has gone into the way I am now set up for them, both to sell my goods and services and to put on a good show to bring folk back in years to come.
Now that it’s a living I have to be much more cold blooded about choosing my venues. I really begrudge paying a promoter 10% or more of my takings, 10% of my profit is more reasonable. When the performance of a venue falls below this figure I don’t go back. To put this into context I am looking to sell a weeks production. I have venues that have done this year on year with pitch fees of £10 and less. (5% fee!) As I only carry £2000 to £3000 stock I will not consider any venue of over £100 per 6ft pitch.
I also now never go to venues where the promoter offers me a pitch for 10% of takings because I know he or she is responding to craftworkers who are frightened of not selling anything. Such venues soon fill up with such sad folk and the buying public are quick to endorse their poor self evaluation. Those fairs are doomed!
I am often asked part way through a fair if I have made my pitch fee and when I answer yes the response is “ you’re all right then”. If only making the pitch fee was likely I would be better off by that much stock, not going. An associate of mine once said “ I’d rather throw that much stock in the bin and stay in bed than effectively give it to the promoter and waste the day” If I only make the pitch fee I haven’t broken even, I’ve lost a day’s hard work and a load of stock which is probably a second days work in real terms.
A similar problem often shows up with lower school shows, the organisers look at all their various receipts and decide they’ve had a good show and do it again the following year only to find no craftworkers are interested. Their profit was in the pitches and virtually nobody came.
The bottom line to this is to look at the pages you can click on below and decide if I can be an asset to your show. On past figures I can make between 50p and £1 a head through the door the variation is part locality and part seasonal. To make it pay I need to take 10 times the pitch fee MINIMUM if you want for example £20 a pitch, live in an area dominated by young families and don’t realistically expect 200 to 400 people to come, then please don’t ask as a refusal can offend.
Conversely if you are a village hall or secondary school etc. with good support, do the sums and if it looks good call me. If the sums come close give me a ring I might be able to help improve it, after all its very much in my interest for us all to succeed. I have a lot of contacts and experience, I’ve helped run the very successful Elsenham show for many years.
There is now a very strong movement amongst craft folk away from the large scale promoters and the better craft guilds are supporting it. As the monster venues have got larger and promoters have packed ever more pitches in, fees have actually gone up. (and so have the extras) Crowds have not increased but with much duplication of crafts, potential takings have to spread much thinner. When then promoters started cutting back on things like security then as far as I was concerned that was it. I now will not do big professionally promoted shows. The biggest shows I do are those run by The Guild of Essex Craftsmen