A vintage fair is part craft show, part antique sale, and all fun. Unlike antique shows that primarily deal in old valuables, vintage fairs celebrate the common goods of bygone eras. Whether it’s a 1970s sweater upcycled into a pillow or an old bed spring turned into a garden gate, these vintage items are given new life for the right clientele. Hosting your own fair requires a bit of planning to ensure its success.
Step 1: Find a location.
In warm weather, outdoor locations may be the best choice for your fair. An empty farmer’s field or a local outdoor plant nursery can provide a quaint location for your fair. Antique malls may also offer up a parking lot or space for a vintage fair if they think it will bring in business. For an indoor fair, event centers, churches and community centers may be your best choice.
Step 2: Calculate your costs.
The three main costs of a vintage fair are:
Renting the event space.
If you want to turn a profit on your fair, you need an accurate estimate of these costs so you can determine the vendor fees.
Step 2: Attract your vendors.
Your fair is a bust without vendors. You can advertise online or in the paper for vintage vendors and crafters to fill out your space. Before you begin to take applications, map out your space and arrange the booth sizes. Most booths average about 10-by-10 feet, but you may want to offer half-size booths at a lower price point for smaller vendors. You don’t want to book more vendors than you have room for.
Step 3: Advertise wisely.
Your fair won’t have a second showing if you can’t bring in the customers. Begin advertising your fair at least one month in advance. Places to advertise that will attract lovers of all things vintage include:
Ads in the antiques classifieds in your area.
Fliers at antique or vintage stores.
Advertisements at local Victorian-themed tea houses.
Social media – including Facebook and Twitter. Don’t forget to post to local vintage groups.
Signs and billboards. It may be outside the budget to rent a highway billboard, but you can have nice professional signs made that local antique shops may display for free.
Step 4: Bring in the crowds.
The best planned fair can run into issues if your customers can’t find you. Invest in well-made signs that can withstand rain from a professional sign maker, such as Prairie Signs (2000) Ltd. Vinyl banners also add a nice touch. Drape the entrance with one showcasing the name of the fair. Make sure you also have professional signs onsite to direct customers to parking, entrances, and the restroom.
Skip the entrance fee for customers during your first fair, if possible. A free event is more likely to bring out people so they can see that your fair is worth it.
Brand your signs and advertising. A memorable logo with a vintage flair shows that it’s a professional endeavor.
Jury all potential vendors. You don’t want someone to show up selling cheap modern sunglasses when your customers are looking for vintage goodies.
Finally, learn from both your mistakes and successes. Keep detailed notes on what works and what doesn’t, so you have the information handy next time.