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Having just attended the Annual conference of the Charity Fairs Association (CFA) and I feel moved to write a bit about the ‘Shop to Give’ ethos that underpins the association.

Shop to Give is surely the most enjoyable way of supporting a charity, whilst indulging in some retail therapy or even doing your entire Christmas shop in one fell swoop! Many of the events where Armadillo has a stall are charity fairs and each year, these events raise hundreds of thousands of pounds for some of the most worthwhile causes.

So how do Charity Fairs work?

Charity fairs are usually set up and run by an volunteers who organise exclusive shopping events at wonderful venues around the country, from stately homes, schools and cathedrals to village halls, hotels and even the occasional barn!

In the early months of the year (and often reeling from exhaustion after the crazy season of pre-Christmas sales), potential stallholders apply to these organisers for a stall. The committees then choose their stalls so they can offer the best variety of merchandise and items priced to suit every pocket; it’s rather like selecting the various products for a very exclusive department store!

Before the event, the organisers are busy promoting the event, to attract as many customers as possible and then when it comes around, the venue is prepared and the stallholders arrive, transforming the space into a wonderful retail emporium.

Visitors who come along will find fashion for men and women and children, toys, china and glass, gadgets (perfect for those hard-to-buy-for teens), gifts for the home, fashion accessories and, of course, beautiful jewellery… all sorts of gorgeousness under one roof. Some of the larger fairs will also have a bag-drop so you don’t need to carry your purchases around all day and cafe area (or even a champagne bar!) where you can rest and recuperate, all adding to the enjoyment of a lovely day out.

At the end of the event, the stallholders give a percentage (typically 10%) of their takings to the charity and this is added to the small fee payable by the customers on entry, money from any raffle or tombola and the stall fees. Any overheads, such as the cost of hiring the venue have to be paid out of this fund, with the balance going directly to the charity.

So next time there is a charity fair in your area, do go:
Meet the designers/makers/buyers;
Try on the clothes/accessories/jewellery before you buy;
Taste the cheese/chocolates/gin before you make your selection and…
ENJOY a thoroughly heartwarming retail experience, knowing that you are also helping a charity with every pound you spend.

The Charity Fairs Association (CFA) is a national organisation and the umbrella body that brings together many of the country’s Fair Organisers and the Stallholders. It supports both parties and provides training and guidelines to help make charity fairs the best they can be.

Find out more about the CFA and Shop to Give http://www.charityfairsassociation.co.uk

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