Not my usual type of post but one I have meant to write for a long time. I love attending local markets. You get to meet the faces behind the products you may have bought already. Find new products, especially handmade ones. Support local businesses. While many of these are juried and you need a decent booth layout to get accepted, not all are and there is always room for improvement. So, from a shopper’s point of view, here are my tips!
Note: I took most of these photos during set up time at a recent show. So they may not be indicative of the vendor’s final display, but show my point.
Tell Me Who You Are!
I can’t tell you how many times I have wandered around a market two or more times looking for a vendor listed. I’m interested in your product. I am trying to find you. Make it easy for me! Show me who you are! Remember that the busier the market, the harder it will be to see small signs.
You want people to remember you even if they do not buy anything that day right? So have signage that is memorable and clear. This display is really well organized but no clear signage. I have bought from them on previous markets. But they are the “pet people” to me because I couldn’t remember their name. This particular market limits competing vendors so it was easy to look up, but that is not the case for many markets.
Make the sign noticeable. Go for large text that tells me who you are. Remember there may be people standing at your booth while others pass so a table top sign as well as one hanging may be best. Colour screams but text is key. Go for clear fonts. Make it large. These booths have similar sized signs, but which would you remember?
Boosh Lipsticks stood out. They were still setting up when this was taken, but the standing sign was clear from the door and the mirror tells you both the name and website easily. They also had cards with their information. Even with a crowd at their booth, you would see their name.
Make your product do the work for you. 3-Teas also had a large sign behind their table (seen on the left) but the logo is easy to spot on their tins when walking by. The different colour table cloth matching the product labels helps them stand out too.
Don’t rely on show signage. They are often just a piece of paper to show you where to go. This booth had a sign above, mostly cut off in my photo but many other markets have vendors that do rely on just that slip of paper from setup. Same goes for ones that supply tablecloths. Spend some cash and go for something different looking (and iron it to look neat).
Get some business cards printed and give them to people even if they don’t buy. A small discount on your website can encourage people to keep that card and remember you for later.
Stand Out From The Crowd
You can’t miss Nerdbiskit at shows. Her brightly coloured products just scream look at me from the other side of the room. Not everyone has such colourful products, but go for more than plain black or white for your booth to stand out.
I have absolutely no interest in baby stuff but this display caught my attention anyway. Completely neutral, but the different set up catches your eye as you walk by. Plus, the shelving maximizes space for product. Their sign was high enough that you could see it even when they had shoppers at the booth too. Don’t just throw everything on a table and hope.
Show Me The Prices!
Honestly, if I have to keep asking you how much items cost, I am likely walking away. Be clear in your pricing. I love Bella Buddha Beads’ display in general. The flowers and colours draw you in. There was easy to see signage and pricing and it was nicely presented. But the clear pricing can really help when it is busy.
It doesn’t even have to be expensive. LUNAH uses big rolls of brown paper as a table cover to write her prices on. Works well and you can easily change it show to show.
Show me how to pay you and make it simple. With Square and similar payment options, it is easy to take more than just cash. It will maximize your sales. A vendor once took paypal but you had to send her the payment by entering her email address. Instead of a simple email@example.com type email, it was her long name. I checked it several times before sending, she only had it handwritten on paper making it even harder.
Show Me The Product
OK I am a sucker for cute packaging. But handmade goods can differ a lot in quality between makers. So show me what you are selling. Let me handle it. Test it. I once stopped by a handmade mug stall where the mugs looked gorgeous, but the maker didn’t want you to touch anything in case it broke. I want to feel the weight. I want to see how it would look in blog photos from different angles. They lost my sale immediately.
Have your product easily handled. Especially for beauty and candles etc, I want to smell it. I want to see the consistency. If you sell makeup etc, have some baby wipes to clean up swatches.
Then give me one from the table. I am always a little suspicious of stalls that have a tester out but give you product from a box. Sure, the majority of the time it is fine. But mistakes happen. I then have to unwrap it to make sure it is the right shade/flavour while standing there blocking your next customer.
Know Your Customers
I don’t mean remembering all the faces from markets (although as a blogger with early entry to some for press purposes, I appreciate when they remember me so I don’t get the “why are you taking photos of my stuff”). But get to know the type of person who is browsing and actually interested. The ones who want to chat and the ones who don’t. The ones you can push into a bigger sale and the one who will drop everything because you pushed.
When just shopping and not at a market as a blogger, I still have a list of vendors I want to shop at. Often it is one of my faves advertising the event that got me in the door. So do hype the market yourself. Meet your online customers and they may become even more loyal as they see a face behind a business.
- Your kid may be cute but them handing over the purchase with a “thank you for helping pay for my ballet classes/hockey/whatever” only works on some customers.
- People are there to shop in person, meet the face behind the business. Greet them, explain your product but watch for the ones who will flee if you talk too much.
- Have some bags. Not everyone shops with their own. Put your logo on them (just a sticker works) to help remind them who you are.
- Remember that people shop with kids and it may be crowded when designing your setup. Nothing worse than seeing the whole thing crashing down.
- Make your display customizable for each show. The stall placement, lighting etc can all make a difference. You may want to move meltable items out of direct sunlight etc.
- Bring a friend or business partner. If it is really busy, they can help so customers do not leave after waiting but it is nice to have someone to chat to in down times too.
- Remember that even if someone does not buy now, they may buy from your website. Make it easy for them to remember who you are and how to shop later.
A reminder that some of these vendors were not 100% set up when I took photos and do the things I recommended. So my photos should not be considered their final booth, Many do cover the points I mention when using them as an example.