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Top Tips for Craft Sales

Updated on April 19, 2013

Hosting Your Own Bazaar: Top Tips

Running an awesome fairtrade-handmade-craft sale-fundraiser-bazaar is more of an art than a science. However, we have pooled together the knowledge and experience of some of Azizi Life's past craft selling champions and come up with a list of Top Tips.

So if you are entertaining the idea of holding your own handmade craft bazaar, check out the advice of our experts.

Work with people who care
Work with people who care

Top Tip #1

The source matters.

Get your products from a genuine and caring source - a company you trust, that provides plenty of information and photos of the artists, as well as a wide range of high quality products.

At Azizi Life we pride ourselves in providing the highest quality products with full details on the Rwandan artisans who made them. For more details about what we provide to people running craft sales for us, please do check out the 'Host a Bazaar' page on our website.

Advertise well
Advertise well

Top Tip #2

Plan and advertise your event early.

The sooner you get the word out about your event, the better. If you leave it to the last minute to tell people what you are doing, then you risk the chance of people being busy or those customers who would love to come not hearing about it in time. You can generate much more interest in your event if you can get people talking about it to their friends and family - so give them the time and tools to be able to spread the word.

With all the social media out thee nowadays, it has never been easier to get people talking, all they need is a memorable story to pass on. Get one person excited about the reason for your event and they will tell others and so the word spreads.

Invite key people
Invite key people

Top Tip #3

Schedule well.

Nowadays people's lives are very busy, so try and make sure to pick a day and time for your event that won't have a lot of competition with other things. The exact timing will vary depending on who you have invited. For example you do not want to hold it on a Saturday morning if most of your friends are soccer mums and there is a big match that day. So think about who is most likely to come to your event and then choose a time that will most likely work with their schedules.

So identify your 'target' customers and then make it as easy as possible for them to be there. The easier it is to get to an event the more enjoyable and relaxed the people will be.

Top Tip #4

Don't go it alone.

Find a friend, or a couple of friends, to help you out with preparations and with running your event. This cuts the work load and increases the potential customers you can connect to. Plus it is just a lot more fun to share the experience and satisfaction- and laughs- of running a great bazaar.

The more fun you are having, the more engaging you will become with the customers and, the more they will enjoy their shopping experience.

Be prepared before the customers arrive
Be prepared before the customers arrive

Top Tip #5

Be prepared.

Keep in mind all the practical stuff: having small cash on hand to make change, providing paper bags for customers who buy lots, having an extension cord so you can show artisan photos on your laptop. Bring pens and a notebook so that you can stay in touch with customers interested in more info. Tuck a water bottle in your bag too- you'll get thirsty sharing your cause all evening!

Good preparation and planning will make for a much less stressed and enjoyable experience. Before the day, have a quick think of all the things that may possibly go wrong on the day and then make sure you have the tools to deal with those eventualities. That way no matter what happens you will be ready!

Be seen!
Be seen!

Top Tip #6

Be visible and Draw them in.

If you are hosting a table at a community event, make sure people can see you with a nice big sign. Choose something large and eye-catching that makes it easy for people to know who you are, and gives them reason to pause at your table instead of just walking by. Azizi Life actually offers our fundraisers a fabulous African fabric banner that can be purchased as part of the bazaar package.

If you can add some “wow” to your display, customers will be drawn in.

Think of your display like a shop window that you want people to stop at. Add creative elements that engage people’s curiosity. One pair of Azizi Life bazaar hostesses set a life-sized recycled-paper ostrich behind her table, with ostrich eggs setting in one of the woven bowls. Guests at the event loved it! They also filled a couple of woven bowls with sand and desert plants.

Top Tip #7

Engage the senses.

Incorporate music and photos into your display. If it's possible, set up your laptop to play music and photos that compliment your products. This will draw your customers in and bring them closer to the heart of what you are representing. If you're hosting an Azizi Life bazaar, we'll send you a beautiful photo slideshow which features the artisans and their work. We also love the Rwanda Rhythms album.

Even if people do not purchase something from your sale you want them to have an enjoyable experience so that they go away and tell others. The more people engage their senses the more they will be connected to the products. If they can see pictures of the artisans working, hear music from that country, whist touching and appreciating the beautiful handicraft, they will not only appreciate the product more but be drawn into wanting to discover more about the communities where those products where made. A craft sale is the perfect opportunity to help open peoples eyes to things outside of their normal life.

Get the perfect spot for people to see your wonderful crafts
Get the perfect spot for people to see your wonderful crafts

Top Tip #8

Location, location, location!!!

Consider carefully the context for your craft sale. At a craft fair or holiday event, you will have more potential customers, but there is also a lot more competition and alternative products. It may actually be better to set up a table at your church or school, or to host a sale in your home (or your friend’s home!). Although there may be fewer customers, they will be much more focused on your products- and your cause.

Choose a strategic spot.

Depending on the sale site, go to the venue early and choose a location in a high traffic area. Think outside the box on this one. During one sale hosted by a partner in Ireland, they set up their booth in a corridor away from other groups, and we were the first and last stop for every event guest. It worked really well.

Top Tip #9

Show the products in use.

Customers might not always be able to envision how a craft product can be incorporated into their lives- provide them with a few ideas! Put books between bookends, some fruit in the bowls, napkins in napkin rings, and even a few photos inside the photo frames. If you have bracelets and earrings, try and match them together and display them on a stand, making sure you have a mirror nearby, so people can see for themselves how wonderful they look whilst wearing them. Anything that helps people to imagine the product inside their own home or incorporated into their wardrobe will increase its desirability.

Top Tip #10

Go vertical and consider color collections

Displaying products at different levels makes your layout much more eye catching, and shows off the products better too. One way to do this on a table is to use different sized boxes covered by fabric, changing a flat surface into one with more dimensions and interest for your customers.

A tip about set-up from the experts at Ten Thousand Villages: “Color is the first thing the human eye comprehends. This makes color the best way to group product into collections for a nicer shopping experience.” For example, we like grouping reds together: Large and small red & white baskets, a little cluster of red earrings and bracelets, and zebra bookends with red, white, and black books.

Top Tip #11

Highlight the impact & Connect customer & craftsman

If you have followed Top Tip #1 and chosen a good source for your products, then it is true that every purchase matters. After 4+ years working with artisans in Rwanda, we can testify first hand: craft income makes a huge difference in the lives of the artisans and their families.

People want to make meaningful purchases and to give meaningful gifts. Sharing just a little bit of a story can open people's eyes to a product's value and impact. Seek out information to enable you to highlight the impact of your customer's purchase.

If you are doing a fundraising event selling products from an organisation like Azizi Life, then know a bit about that organisation, what they do, and how that is making a positive difference in the lives of people around the world.

Help customers get to know your products and the people who made them. When someone picks up a product to have a close look, tell them about the artisans or about how it was made. A little boldness to speak up is actually a beautiful way to serve both your customers and the artisans. Look for ways to show the customer photos of the artisans and how they make the products. Point out the artisan's name written on the product tag- if you have wifi, you can even show how to look up the artisan online!

Top Tip #12

Create a welcoming space & Spread the word.

Whether or not a person buys something, make sure they come away from your table having had a positive experience.

Even if someone is "just looking," offer a bit of literature or a catalog for them to take home. Be sure to tuck some literature in with every purchase so that the buyer can share the story too. Azizi Life's "Connections Cards" were created for just this purpose. Have information on your table (in a frame is nice) to share photos and information about the organization and artisans you are representing. If your location has wi-fi, have the organization's website up and running so you can show more to interested customers.

Top Tip #13

Cluster, don’t clutter

Don’t feel obligated to put out all of your products at once. If you have multiples of various items, try putting one or two on display (especially the larger items), and tuck the others away to pull out once the first have been sold. When you do group products, remember that things look best in clusters of 3 or 5. Think boutique- you don’t want your products displayed like at a big box store or a thrift shop. You want to give your customers a sense of discovery, without making your space too cluttered.

A great way to display small products like ornaments or bracelets is in glass containers. A tall cylindrical glass vase adds a vertical dimension to your set-up, and shows off the colors and designs as well.


Top Tip #14

Wear the accessories - everywhere you go

Accessories come alive when they are styled fashionably. As you wear them, you might be surprised by how many people ask you about them.

Handmade unique products are a brilliant talking point and a great way to spread the word about your project. The more people you can get talking the easier your marketing is.

Let the products sell themselves.


Top Tip # 15

You don't have to be a salesman

Let the artisans' stories sell the products!

It's the person behind the product - and their story,

not your ability to "talk someone into buying" that sells products.

And take it from me there are some amazing stories behind the people who make the products.

Click on Martins Photo and go and check some out!

Other Books on the topic

We do not claim to have all the answers. Here are a few books that can provide more help with ideas and tips on running an awesome craft sale.

Have your say. Let us know if you have any ideas for how to make an arts & craft sale go with amazing success!

Any other tips???

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