Things I have learned from attending fairs …
The higher the table price (and the more exclusive the event), the less people will buy.
The higher the table price, the more likely it is that something will go wrong (you will pitch up on the wrong day, you will forget about it entirely (not me thankfully, someone else who went on a 2 year waiting list for an exclusive event, paid top whack for the table and then … ) or the trains will decide not to run anywhere near your destination, resulting in an expensive dash in a cab. None of this will be made up by your sales.
Laughing audibly in the face of someone who is trying to dredge up business for his Wonderful! New! Improved! Market in a Dingy Carpark™, when he explains that tables are £200 a go, results in a very realistic look of hurt on aforementioned salesman’s face. This will make you laugh even harder.
Kids who behave quite normally out of doors turn into whirling dervishes indoors. There are benefits to being inside, particularly in winter, but these are severely inhibited by the number of children who will kick, scream, run, bash, trash and generally cause mayhem the moment they step into anything with a roof. Sometimes it is better to be outside and freeze than indoors, wanting to commit murder as the same child runs past your stall for the third time, sweeping things to the ground whilst his parents look on indulgently.
The worst behaved children have the most indulgent parents, who incidentally will not stop to help right any chaos that their beloved Tracy or Trey has created.
Anything not in your direct and permanent line of sight needs to be pinned to the table, unless you want to lose it to some light-fingered little tealeaf.
Teenage girls who stand in front of your stall chatting for ages, blocking view, access and sales can be moved without incident by the “fake client” technique. This involves another stall holder coming over, inserting their way between your table and the girls and exclaiming loudly at the beauty of your goods whilst moving backwards and sideways to create room. They will eventually move on. This does rely on (a) a fellow stall holder seeing your predicament and (b) being able to do something about it. Your own attempts to move them on, no matter how pleasant and even-tempered will just result in them swearing and spitting at you and generally being unpleasant. Oh and remaining where they are whilst they continue their abusive behaviour.
Once the above situation has started, you can either call for security (who are generally useless) or get into a heated argument, neither of which will help sales. If you want to stand your ground and win the argument, be prepared for gobs of spit to land all over your stock. And you.
Be prepared to yell, swear and threaten with the best of them if after a couple of minutes the teenagers have not got bored. If bored, they will wander off. If not, they will just escalate and it appears the only thing they understand and respect is someone being abusive back. Don’t worry, a few experiences of this and you will be able to cuss with the best of them. Holding a metal candlestick holder nonchalantly whilst doing so works well. Just don’t threaten to brain any of the little darlings with it or lift it an inch because you will instantly attract the attention of some well-meaning adult who is selectively blind and deaf, cannot see spit, cannot hear their abuse and who will accuse you of being a bully.
Kids under 11 have an over-whelming urge to pull the feathers off dreamcatchers. Just accept it and pack glue and extra feathers. Don’t put the dreamcatchers back out straight away otherwise some little monster who is attempting to do exactly the same thing his brother just did will get superglue on his hands. However satisfying, it is not worth the uphill from the little darling’s parent.
School committees and governors are by far much easier to work with than speciality fair organisers.
Children are always better intentioned and behaved at non-school events.
You will never be able to see a person dressed as a big brown teddy bear at a school fete without thinking of PedoBear. Thanks Internet!
No matter how nicely put away in suitcases and isolated from the rest of the house, your tablecloth will always have cat hair on it. Pack sellotape.
Attending any speciality fair with New Age, Healing or Holistic in the title is likely to have you shelling out double the table money for half the sales. Always.
Demonstrating your product will always result in some wag going “oh that’s easy to make!” even when clearly it isn’t and you are ably demonstrating the amount of effort that goes into it.
People who start conversations with a gushy “Oooooooh, I love dreamcatchers!” will never buy one. The frequency with which you observe this behaviour results in you starting a scoreboard. You will be unsurprised when it reaches over 100.
People who finger just about everything on a stall will never buy anything, the only deviation from this rule is for stick incense. Everyone who picks it up buys at least one.
When you are humping two suitcases, a table, a chair and a display board down the road, the only person who asks if you would like a hand does so at the entrance to the event, after he/she has watched you for at least 5 minutes.
If you sell anything remotely esoteric, your day will be uplifted by at least one person who wants to discuss your religion at length. If female, you will hear endlessly about the curse they are under and their attempts to lift it. If male, at some point they will ask how one goes about setting up a coven full of young women.
If you are very, very lucky, one of the men who saw you and talked at you at a previous fair for some length of time will have an equally boring friend who will take up at least half an hour of your time at this one. He will then, with his friend, come back for a repeat performance later. Just point everyone in the direction of the Pagan Federation who you know will give them very short shrift. Consider it a public service, particularly as none of these people will buy anything, ever.
Do not feel sorry for any sweaty little bloke who circles your table four or five times. He is not gathering up the courage to ask for advice or buy anything. He’s looking at your boobs. Or trying to steal something.
The only sure sales at fairs and markets is food, even when it is tasteless trash. Remind yourself to take up catering in your next life. Repeat often, like a mantra and hope it will stay in whatever memory is left after this life. At the very least, you can accidentally spill hot tea on the teenagers.