Monday, 21 April 2014

A life update: Things I learned from selling at a vintage fair

Hey everyone! I didn't mean to go on a mini hiatus but ended up having a little Easter break with my partner in which I was barely online (my internet connection has been practically non existent as of late and I can't wait to get a new broadband provider) and generally did nothing too taxing or stressful! I ended up eating a lot of pub food, going on random adventures, and watching bizarre cosmetic surgery programmes (what all regular couples do I'm sure...). I'm back now, though, and realised that I never wrote about my first experience of selling items from my brand at an event.

I decided that for a first timer like myself I should probably start off small, as it would be a learning experience more than anything else, and I didn't want to end up spending lots of money just so I could make big mistakes! I ended up choosing a tiny local vintage fair. There are no set table/stall prices, and you are simply charged a set percentage of whatever you sell. The idea is that you don't end up paying a big fee even if you sell barely anything. I wish more events worked in this way, but I guess it would be too hard to monitor anything bigger than this as people would probably just lie about the day's takings, plus there probably aren't an abundance of cheap or free venues to rent out.

Anyway, I spent the week leading up to the event making last minute bits and pieces, and practising my table layout. I expected to get a small table as previous fairs I'd been to had been extremely short on space, given the fact the fair is held at a bar. However, this time the venue had been renovated and dramatically changed, so when I arrived, I ended up having a massive area to myself. There was a leaflet display awkwardly placed behind it that I wasn't too sure what to do with, but I figured it didn't matter too much as this was a very casual affair.

The fair was held from 12pm until 5pm, but boy did it feel like a long day! I only knew one person already, and I am not great in new social situations, so I felt too shy to go up and talk to the other vendors, who all seemed to be friends already. I fidgeted a lot and wandered around a few times, before deciding that slowly eating my packed lunch would be the best way to waste time and look occupied. Oh dear.

During the entire day, I only sold two items, and the organiser took pity on me and decided not to charge me a fee for being there, which I thought was very kind.

Things I learnt from this experience (and other things which will hopefully help me and any other vendor newbies in the future):

  • If you're going to be selling at an event, you definitely need to have someone to be there with you for moral support, to watch your table if you need a toilet break, and to make the time go faster. I knew this already but simply didn't have time to sort it out. Make sure you plan this out well in advance.
  • Try to make your table look as full as possible (though not cluttered). My table looked sparse, and I didn't have enough items at the time to improve it. Next time I'll be better prepared.
  • Make your space look unique. Use a nice table cover (and make sure it's massive! Mine was way too small) and use different levels to add depth and interest. 
  • Make your space look touchable! I need to improve on this. People want to feel as if they can pick things up and have a proper look, so don't try to create an art exhibit people will be too scared to come close to in fear of disrupting it.
  • Talk to people who walk past, even if just to greet them. I know that nobody likes being harassed, but at the same time, I think my complete silence was off-putting! Be personable and approachable.
  • Think about your target market when choosing an event to sell at. Mine is the Japanese street fashion scene, but I was at a vintage fair. There's a slight crossover there, but it's a thing of chance. I would like to try a small convention or an event specifically related to kawaii fashion in the future, as it seems more likely people will be interested in the things I make.
  • Get a banner of some sort. I was just using a piece of card on top of my jewellery display, but it was small and unnoticeable. Business cards are also important, and they should be displayed on your table, and placed in with customer purchases so they know how to find your stuff again!
I wore a very casual lolita coordinate for this day, as I wanted to be comfortable.

Although some of the problems I had really were down to the nature of the vintage fair (as you can see it wasn't just a regular convention/craft fair table, but clearly some part of the venue's bar/some sort of bench... not even sure what my table was at this point) I do think I learnt some valuable things about selling to people in real life. Online, you just leave the customers to browse your shop and read descriptions and examine photos. In person, it can be more down to you and what you bring to your table. I'm going to work harder on dealing with my anxiety and being more confident in myself. Hopefully I can do better in future!

I hope you enjoyed reading this post, even if it's a bit more of a personal/life update sort of thing. Perhaps someone out there can get some use from my experience. Feel free to comment and I hope you all had a wonderful Easter 


  1. Its a shame that you only sold two items at this fair, but its seems to have at least taught you a few lessons on how to improve sugar trampoline! :)

    I think that you've gained a lot of info on what to do next time and I'll be eager to see what you do with this new found knowledge! :)

    1. Yeah, it was a bit of a shame but still... two happy customers! :D

      Thanks for the encouragement, hun! Hopefully my future events will go better. I'm just going to stay positive and keep learning and improving :)