You have probably spent many (hopefully enjoyable) hours making your handmade products. Now, you could really do with selling them!
There are many ways you can sell them both online and offline.
This article is going to give you 37 ways to sell your handmade items locally. I will cover the online selling topic in a later post.
Some of you may think I am a bit bonkers writing such a post in 2021 with all of us coming in and out of Lockdown. However, I think this is still very valuable information, as these events will all be back up and running hopefully in the next few months. They may be slightly different than they used to be, but they will be back.
I think one thing that The Pandemic has taught us all, is that we need to look after our independent small businesses as much as we can, as so many have been lost due to Covid. I am confident that local events will be better supported when they open back up again.
When people think of selling offline, there are a few places which everyone goes to, for example, the good old craft fair. You need to be much more creative in your thinking here. There are so many places you may not even have considered that I will tell you about. I have personally traded at every one of them. I have had varying levels of success but have made a profit in them all. 4 of these places I regularly made 4 figures at, and one of them I would take hundreds of pounds in just 2 hours of trading. I will tell you which ones these were later on.
Some of the places on my list will be dependant on what your creative niche is, for example, you wouldn’t get away with selling craft beers at a school fair. However, there are many places listed below where selling something a little bit random can be very profitable for you.
Related post: How To Start your own Craft Business
This list is in a completely random order by the way. I was going to be all official and put it in alphabetical order but got side-tracked by a hungry 12 year old and it then went out of my head!
37 Places to Sell Handmade Items Locally.
- Golf Clubs
- School Fairs
- Convention Centres/Arenas
- Supermarkets with Atrium Space
- Swimming Galas
- Gymnastics and Athletics Events
- Village Fetes
- Large Public Events
- Agricultural Shows
- Children’s Play Centres
- Dance Competitions
- National Trust Sites
- Animal Charity Events
- Charity Fundraisers
- Call Centres
- Shopping Centres
- Large Buildings with Multiple Businesses
- Local Council Markets
- Artisan Markets
- Holiday Camps
- Theme Parks
- Local Parks
- Local Community Pubs
- Local Business Basket Drop Offs
- Garden Centres
- Empty Shops
- Farmers’ Markets
- Retail Concession Spaces
- Independent Gift Shops
- Local Related Businesses
- National Conventions
- Ask Other Traders
- Shopping Party at Home
- Set Up Your Own Event
Golf clubs are worth looking into. The Ladies’ Captain is usually the best person to contact. As well as organising things like charity shopping events throughout their tenure, she also has to provide prizes for various competitions throughout the year. You should be able to find the Captain’s details on the club’s website.
School Fairs are brilliant for selling your handmade items, as long as you are selling the right thing! Anything child related, cake related, or low cost gift items will go down a storm at a good school fair.
This is THE ONLY TIME you don’t need to be too precious about what your stall looks like. You obviously want it to look good, but if it’s a busy event, it will only look good for 3 minutes at the most. School Fairs can be insanely busy. They usually last for approx 90 minutes, and a lot of that time will involve picking up sweets and drinks that have been left on your table, telling the children your items aren’t free, and no matter how long they stand in front of you clutching 10p and giving you serious puppy dog eyes, it’s not enough for what they want!
I find my school fairs by asking friends who have children at different schools to mine, and also by looking at the school websites. The fairs are usually organised by the PTA (Parent Teacher Association)
Convention Centres/ Arenas.
There are always various events going on at Convention Centres and Arenas across the country. If you specialise in a certain niche then it is well worth checking out. I find a lot of dog related events this way. It is rarely the centre itself that hosts the events so you need to find out who the organisers are and contact them directly.
Supermarkets with Atrium Space.
Some of the larger supermarkets tend to have large entrances where you will sometimes see people stood advertising various things. I have held pop up shops in a number of large stores by speaking to their Community Manager and asking if they will rent the space out to a local business for the day.
Whether they will allow you to trade will be mostly down to what you make, and if it is in competition to anything they sell.
Most supermarkets support local charities so offering to have a collection bucket on your stall will help your cause as well.
Those of you who have children that are swimmers will know just how busy the Swimming Galas are. I live close to a very large sports centre and they will close for the whole weekend if they are hosting an event as it is so busy.
Some sports centres will rent reception are space out for the events, or you may need to speak directly to the organiser.
The same as with the Swimming Galas. Find out who the organiser is and get in touch. The Athletic competitions tend to be outside so could be weather dependent.
These tend to be in more rural areas but they are always very well attended. The best way to find out about these would be by looking at information about any large villages in or around your area to see what events they organise. Village Fetes are very popular in places like The Lake District and North Yorkshire etc.
Large Public Events.
Large, usually council run events, such as Christmas lights switch on, Pride events, and Christmas Markets all require traders. They tend to be very high pitch fees but very high footfall as well, so you would need to weigh up your options about an event like this.
These are massively well attended, whatever the weather! I love these events as there is always such an eclectic mix of things going on. Each show will have it’s own website with contact details of who is in charge of the trade stands. Alternatively, there is a website called UK COUNTY SHOWS where you can find all the information in the one place.
The majority of the Agricultural Shows have massive craft marquees which usually cost quite a bit less than pitching your own gazebo up. They get a lot of footfall throughout the day as well.
Children’s Play Centres.
If your niche is child or parent related then get in touch with your local indoor play centre and see if you cant rent a little space for the day to sell your items. Even if they say no, it would be worth asking if you can leave some flyers instead.
Dance competitions are another favourite of mine. There is a whole other weird and wonderful world out there that revolves around dance! Majorettes, Morris Dancing, Ballet and Street Dancing are just a few I have been associated with over the years.
Some of them have weekly regional competitions which are hosted on rotation by each troupe as a way of raising funds. Spend an hour on Google and find some that are local to you. Contact the Troupe Leader and ask if you can rent a table at their event. I always offer raffle prizes in addition to my stall fee. What I found was when I got into the first event, the other troupe leaders would invite me to theirs as well. They like their events to be as varied as possible so people stay all day.
Most of these dance leagues will host a massive end of season event somewhere. This usually lasts for a whole weekend. The organisers for this are usually the people in charge of the league, rather than the individual troupe leaders. They can be found at the weekly competitions, but choose your time to approach them wisely as they spend much of the day judging the competition.
National Trust Sites.
Each individual National Trust Site holds many events throughout the year, for example, Summer Shows, Christmas Shopping Events, Family Fun Days etc. Check out The National Trust Website for up to date information on any upcoming events.
Animal Charities/Dog Events.
Dog events are a very good and stable income for me, mainly because I make dog accessories. However, I have seen many stalls at these events over the years that have nothing to do with dogs. I see the same ‘none dog related’ traders at the same events every year, which tells me that they must do well at them. I have always found dog charity events very well attended (especially in nice weather), so there is nearly always a good footfall at them.
Local charities will usually want traders when they are organising their events. Look on their websites or social media pages for more information. Regional and National events are usually a lot busier than the smaller, local events.
Many large call centres let traders set up in the staff restaurant or in their reception area during lunchtimes. This is always very popular with staff as often these buildings are located in quite out of the way places, making it difficult for staff to pop out to the shops during their break. The larger call centres tend to be near busy motorway junctions for easy access.
The best way to find any call centres within your travelling distance is by using Google. Make a list of the big banks, supermarkets, insurance companies, mobile phone network companies etc, and look for their Head Office or contact centres. I found loads by typing in something like ‘Barclays call centre’ then seeing what would come up underneath the search bar, eg, ‘Barclays call centre Manchester’. I would then find the landline number for them. You have to do a bit of detective work to find the landline number. It’s a waste of time calling the freephone number as often that will take you to a call centre abroad. I found most of the landline numbers from their website, under ‘calling us from abroad’. I have found that you need to speak to someone in the Facilities department when trying to book. If they don’t deal with the bookings directly, they will know who does. I always ask if I can email a poster over to be put up in the staff restaurant so people know we are coming.
When you get in touch and book a day to go in, try and find out when the staff get paid. You may have to go and do your first pop up, then ask someone who buys something from you. I would also suggest avoiding a Friday as it is a notoriously quiet day in places like this, due to people working part time or working from home.
It is really important that you have a way of taking card payments at call centres. Only some of the centres have a cash machine in them. These are mainly the banking call centres and it is amazing how often they run out of money!
Hospitals have always been my most successful pop up shops. I have taken 4 figures during a 6 hour day in the run up to Christmas at some hospitals. Not all hospitals allow it though.
There are usually 3 main departments to ask when trying to book at a hospital: Facilities, Fundraising, or the restaurant. I have found that the hospitals that allow you to trade in the busier areas, like the main entrance, are always a lot more successful than if you are in the restaurant. Pop up traders in hospitals are always a favourite with staff and patients, as they are always unable to get out and shop, so they love it when the shops come to them!
You have to take into consideration what it is you sell when approaching a hospital. Many hospitals will not allow cake or sweet stalls as it is not in keeping with a healthy lifestyle. You may also struggle if you make and sell cards, as many of the hospitals will have a shop in there that already sells them. Always let the organiser know exactly what it is you make and sell, and don’t miss anything out. You don’t want to risk not being invited back because you were secretly selling cakes!
Some hospitals who do not have regular traders will sometimes have seasonal market days so it is always worth enquiring about them too.
There can be 3 different pop up opportunities in shopping centres. Some will rent out their empty units on a daily or weekly basis. Many shopping centres also have casual spaces to let, in the form of carts or mobile units in the walkway parts of the centres. A third way you can enquire about would be for any festive events. The best people to speak to would be either Facilities or the Centre Manager. Some of the larger shopping centres will also have monthly or bi-monthly handmade markets for local traders. These are usually run by an events company. You can usually find information on posters, online or from the Centre Manager.
Large Office Buildings with Multiple Businesses.
Here in Liverpool where I live, there are many large buildings in the city centre which are occupied by multiple businesses. They share the main entrance and reception area. If you know any buildings like this where you live, go in and see the person on reception, and ask if they allow traders in the communal area.
Costco sometimes hold local business days where you can set up a table within the store to promote your business. You need to speak to the store manager to see if it is something they do.
Local Council Markets.
Most large towns and probably all cities will no doubt have more than one council run market. Many of these markets will have casual spaces available which means you can try it out for a few weeks before committing to a regular pitch. Contact your local council for more information.
Racecourses regularly host large shopping events or family fun days throughout the year. Check their websites for event information.
A well organised Artisan market is like a posh Craft Fair. However, these can still be a bit of a minefield so it is VERY IMPORTANT that you do your research! Visit the market before you book on to see if it is well attended, and if anyone is selling anything similar to you.
When I first started out, I went to some really rubbish markets where the organisers didn’t advertise it properly or took bookings from people who just bought things in and sold them cheaply, which then makes it impossible for the other traders to do well (well done me for being so calm and diplomatic describing some of the events I have been to-I promised my mum I wouldn’t use swear words in my blog…)
Holiday camps can sometimes have casual retail space available throughout the summer months. The camps are often used as hosts for End of Season dance and sporting events, which can be another opportunity for a pop up shop. I have done quite a few End of Season weekend events and they have been very busy as well as a lot of fun.
Exactly the same as Holiday Camps really. Have a look on their websites for any upcoming events or casual retail opportunities.
If your local park is large and run by the council, they could hold events throughout the year. I attend events at my local park at least 4 times a year, from dog shows to Summer and Winter Fairs.
Look for posters in your local park or if they have a ‘Friends of’ group, check out their website or social media pages.
Local Community Pubs.
Local community pubs will sometimes host Family Fun Days and/or charity events throughout the year. Speak to the manager. If they don’t do anything like that, suggest they do as it’s good for their business too!
Local Business Basket Drop Offs.
OK, so this isn’t strictly an event, but it’s still a very good idea!
Why not fill a nice basket with some of your items, print out an order form with your logo on, and speak to schools, doctor’s surgeries, banks etc to see if you can leave it in the staff room for a few days? This has worked very well for me in the past (especially in the schools). It’s very good for small, inexpensive items, and if successful, you could pencil in a drop off 3 or 4 times a year.
Some local garden centres welcome local traders in to sell their handmade items, especially if they compliment anything that the centre sells. Garden Centres have evolved greatly over the past few years. So much so, that garden related items is only a small part of what they actually sell! My local garden centre has a massive pet section, as well as clothing, gifts and children’s sections.
Some local councils will let out empty units on a month long basis as a sort of ‘try before you sign up’ basis. I think this is a great idea if you have been toying with the idea of opening your own bricks and mortar shop. You have to be imaginative in how you set this up, as you want to entice people in, but don’t want to be spending money on making the unit look nice, or looking lost in it if the unit is big.
Traditionally, a Farmers’ Market is where Farmers sell their produce which they have grown, raised or produced themselves in the local area. The markets have evolved slightly over the years to include local artisans who can sell their handmade items. You have to be local to trade at these markets. However the definition of ‘local’ could vary from place to place.
Retail Concession Space.
This is a fairly new concept where local handmade sellers can rent a space within a shop which is full of other local handmade items. You rent a wall, or a shelf, or a stand, keep it stocked up, and the shop staff look after the sales of everyone’s rented spaces.
Independent Gift Shop.
If your niche can be considered as a gift, then approaching a local independent gift shop would be a good idea. Take some of your items in to show the owner and enquire about renting a shelf, or offering commission sales.
Local Related Businesses.
This is quite self explanatory depending on what it is you sell. I rent space in some local dog groomers as I make dog accessories. I also sell wholesale to a large ‘all in one’ shop for dogs. Have a think of any businesses that compliment what you make and go and have a chat with them
Conventions are one of my favourite types of events to trade at. There are so many to choose from; Comic (my all time favourite), Car, Pet, Craft, Tattoo, Dog Grooming, Caravan….the list goes on and on! They tend to be a bit pricier for a stall, but they are always well attended and people are there to spend!
Ask Other Traders.
The majority of us artisan folk are a friendly bunch, and are only too willing to share information on any good events, as well as any crap ones to keep away from.
When you start attending events, make friends! You will get some of your best info from your fellow traders. They may not be as open if they are in the same niche as you, so try and ask people who aren’t.
There are 2 ways of doing this. Have a shopping party at your house, or, better still, get one of your friends to have one instead! These can be very popular in the run up to Christmas. I tend to give the host a gift plus money to spend for themselves, depending on how much money I have made on the night from their friends.
Set Up Your Own Event.
You could get together with a group of other sellers and organise your own event. This is nowhere near as easy as it sounds if you want to run a successful event (although it’s really easy to run a rubbish one). I will cover this in another post. You have 36 other ideas to be concentrating on for now.
Related post: The Ultimate Guide to Trading Successfully at an Event.
The following are websites that advertise events needing stallholders:
www.stallfinder.co.uk – This website is very popular so there are always lots of listings for different types of events. You can type in a theme or keyword and how far you are prepared to travel to make your search even easier.
www.bookastall.com – Very similar to Stallfinder, although it seems to be more focused on events in the South of England.
www.ukcountyshows.co.uk – This is the website where I find my Agricultural Shows. They provide links to each individual show’s website.
www.appearhere.com – This website provides pop up shop opportunities in well established shopping areas. It is very pricey but is still worth a look.
Facebook Searches – All you need to do is go to the events section and put your main keyword in the search bar. Once you have shown an interest in a certain type of event (for example, dog shows), Facebook will then show you others that are coming up in your area.
I promised at the start of this article that I would share with you the events that I had most success with.
And The Winners Are…
The events where I regularly took 4 figures were:
- Call Centres
- Some of the charity events
- Comic Conventions
The events where I would take a lot of money in a very short space of time were always the busy school fairs.