There are so many factors that go into picking the right market for your business and some people do not know what to look for. Below are some of the key things to consider before you book ANY MARKET. After all, taking your online store or brick and mortar on the road takes a lot of time, energy, and money, so you want to make sure that you’re getting the most bang for your buck. Just because your best friend said Sally Sue’s market’s are the best doesn’t mean they are the best for your business. I encourage all business owners to take heed to this advice before you spend your hard on money on a mistake.
The Good Advice
Audience. Does the event fit with your brand story? Look at their online accounts, and if it’s an event that’s been run before, look at other retailers who have participated. Do they have a similar target market? If it looks like the other vendors involved will attract your ideal customer base, then you’re in the right place.
If it’s a regularly occurring event like a farmer’s market, go check it out in person before signing up for a table. Or, if you know you’d like to snag a table at a holiday market for next year, do a round of this year’s markets to see which one you like the best.
Timing. Is your product seasonal? Taking your knitwear to a summer fair will probably make for a tough sell. Likewise, selling more expensive products might be a little trickier at a fair that takes place right after the holiday season. Consider whether your product is more seasonal, or evergreen, and how this should inform the timing of markets and festivals you decide to participate in.
Goals. Are you looking to sell straight to consumers? Gain wholesale clients? Build your email list? Your goals in attending a market will help you to decide which ones might be right for you.
Reputation. Has this event been run before? Was it well attended? If possible, reach out to the organizers and ask for some information on attendance and sales numbers, or reach out to past retailers to ask them about their experience. You’ll usually be able to find a retailer list if you Google the event from years past. Or, if the event had a specific hashtag, you can also take a look at its previous Instagram posts to get a better idea of who was there (If there was any BIG IMPORTANT business that attended).
The aforementioned city-specific Facebook groups might also be a great place to ask about which events offer the most worthwhile experience – the handmade and DIY business community is supportive, and more than likely a seasoned seller will steer you in the right direction.
This might be one of the most important overall considerations. If vendors from past years all report high sales numbers, then that higher table fee might be worth it. By the same token, if vendors say that sales were unremarkable, then even a cheap entry fee might not make up for all of the time and effort you’ll need to put in just to be there.
Cost. While cost may seem straightforward, it’s actually one of the more complex factors you’ll need to consider; there are a lot of hidden pieces that play a part in figuring out the true cost of selling at a fair, festival or market.
Jury Fee. Many curated fairs have a juried process to select the best vendors that offer a variety of products, with the right look and feel to appeal to their target market. This fee is usually small but is non-refundable.
Table or Booth Fee. This is an upfront, one-time fee simply to be a part of the market. Some fairs might allow you to split a table with another vendor, so if you’re just starting out, pairing up with another vendor who complements your brand might be a good way to reduce the buy-in cost(Definitely something to consider if it’s allowed).
Actual Table or Booth. In most cases, you’ll be required to get everything you need for your own booth, including tables, chairs, table coverings, extension cords, and signage – plus any other items you need to light and display your products. You’ll also want to add some flair to your table to draw in potential customers. Think of your booth as an extension of your brand. It should grab people’s attention, and immediately communicate the feeling you want people to experience with your product, even from across a crowded room.
Giveaways. Some craft fairs ask vendors to make a contribution to a door prize or swag bag. You might want to do your own giveaway as part of your marketing – this might include branded swag, like a sticker with your logo on it, or a draw that fair attendees will be entered into if they sign up for your email list.
Travel. If the event you’re selling at is close to home, travel expenses might be negligible, but it’s still important to consider things like parking and transporting your product to and from the event.
Your time. Don’t forget that time spent at the selling at an in-person event is time you’re not spending on other things. While technically your time is “free,” it’s still important to factor in when deciding whether a given fair or market is a worthwhile investment for your business.
Help. Chances are, you’ll want to take a break to run to the bathroom or grab food at some point during your sales day. And depending on the market, you might need an extra set of hands to make sure that you’re able to help everyone who comes to your booth. Consider whether you’ll need to hire an extra person to help you out, or if you have a friend who can swing by to cover you for a quick lunch break if you need it.