The disappointment of craft fairs

craft fair sign

I popped along to a newly advertised craft fair, in Bristol, on Sunday. It was billed as a Craft and Make It Fair and it sounded great. Buy things made by others or come and stock up on your stash with wools, fabrics and haberdashery…

The reality was very different. And a bit sad. There were around 15 stalls and stands which varied from ‘OK’ to ‘really bloody awful’. Maybe my expectations are too high? Because I’m a crafter, am I expecting to much? I don’t want to buy other crafters makes but I love getting inspiration from them and chatting to like-minded people. I want to buy things to craft with and enjoy the buzz of a market/fair at the same time.

My ideal craft fair is a mixture of unusual, pretty, fun, vintage things to buy – that might be things made by local crafters or reclaimed, recycled, per-loved furniture, textiles, books, haberdashery etc. The Bath Market I went to recently was a great example of this. A cross between a craft fair, a jumble sale and a car boot sale.

There were a few stalls which had some nice handmade bits, too much bunting (do people make much money from selling this? They seem to be everywhere! ) and a couple of stands selling wool and second-hand tapestry and cross stitch kits. But the majority were awful – weird carved wood ornaments, 70’s style crochet pram blankets in the colour of Parma Violets and slight creepy looking cat doorstops.

I’ve been thinking for a while now about having my own stall but would I want to be in this company? Would anyone turn up if they knew creepy cat door stops were the best they could expect?

All this made me think, what would I sell at my craft stall, if I ever had one? My idea of the perfect craft stall would be a mix of things; some of my makes – crochet, stitching, sewing and also a book (photo album maybe?) to show blankets and bespoke things that can be made to order. Books. I’ve been collecting second-hand craft books for years now and think there could be some money to made from these. Haberdashery items – old knitting needles, crochet hooks, wool, thread, maybe some fabric remnants.

I’m a bit fan of supporting local businesses and, of course, craft is an area I have a massive interest in. So, what can I do to get a good craft fair going in my local area? Anyone local (Somerset, North Somerset, North East Somerset) fancy getting together with me to pull together a craft market for buyers and crafters alike? Drop me a line at…


15 thoughts on “The disappointment of craft fairs

  1. I know what you mean about some craft fairs. I agree with you about your ‘vision’. Was the Bath market you went to The Bath Artisan Market? This is a great market, and I know that Catherine, who runs it, puts a lot of thought and effort into it. My own personal take is that even if you put on a fantastic market, and get lots of footfall, in this economic climate it is really, really hard to get people to part with their cash, especially for homemade things, no matter how gorgeous, as they are all, by definition, the nicer things, that we probably all cut back on when money is tight. Not sure what the answer is….

  2. I so agree! Having sold at craft fairs and visited lots as well, there is such a variety and some are just horrible. I would def be interested in having a chat about it. I’m just about to go off on holiday but I’ll have a think when I am away and maybe we can come up with some ideas! I have a friend who might be interested as well! x

  3. I haven’t yet done any craft markets but am hoping to soon. My ideal would be to sell not only things I make but sets of knitting needles and wool perhaps for people that would like to give it a try maybe with the scarf yarn that is popular at the moment that even non-knitters can knit with. I think an album with photos of made to order items is a great idea I think that it makes people feel something is even more special if they can have it made however they like. I don’t live near you but would be very interested in doing a market in your area if you decide to organise something.

  4. Well, I’m not in your area and I’ve no idea what to do to change it but I thought I’d say that I totally agree with you. I have the exact same vision of perfect stalls, beautiful things and loveliness everywhere and then you turn up and see… well. You know!

    S x

  5. ooooh yes I know exactly what you mean about disappointing craft fairs – there used to be a lot of them in the 1980’s and 90s where yellow acrylic was king and knitted twee toilet roll holders were abundant. I stopped going to local fairs and only went to the large ones like the former Chelsea Craft Fair. Now it is so much better and a lot of thought is being put into making them appeal to a wide range of people (including men!). For ideas have a look at Tweseldown Vintage Fair’s FB This is a fairly new market/fair and the organiser has selected a mixed bag of stall holders including those producing food and plants as well as crafters and those selling craft items.

  6. Shame I dont live down your way! I do fairs now and then and have got more selective for the same reasons youve mentioned. They call them Craft Fairs but they feature much of the same kind of thing, frequently duplicated stalls of naff goods and few that are original or creatively intrigueing.
    I think you do have to factor in stalls that offer financially cheaper items though especially now when there is less money to go round.
    I hope you get some local support and wish you much luck!

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  8. I completely agree with you. I once went to one in Swansea that was advertised as a craft and vintage fair and I was really disappointed with the stalls. Saying that, though, I’ve been to others which have been quite good and offered some unusual things. I would happily come to your craft fair 🙂

  9. I know exactly what you mean. Part of the reason I started was because I generally dont like the stuff that people sell at craft fairs, and still looking for where I fit in it seems, after a terrible weekend at a big vintage fair and local craft fair. If I was closer I’d definitely love to team up..
    ..and all that craft!

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