This past Saturday, November 5, we participated in our first craft market as a vendor. This was a very exciting first step for our company as it took us off the sidelines and into the game. It was a really fun and successful day, but also a HUGE learning opportunity! I've been involved in marketing for over ten years now with many of those years spent behind the scenes organizing trade shows or helping get vendors ready to attend them. These of course were corporate events mostly in the oil and gas industry. Why do I mention all this? Because I think it is important for me to illustrate my background, so that you can understand how humbled I am when I say I was out sold by the elderly lady at the table beside me selling dish cloths.
Before you pity me too much, I should point out again that for all intents and purposes the event was a success. I sold enough to cover the cost of my table while still being able to pay my vendors and made numerous contacts that will hopefully result in increased website traffic as well as hopefully some great new vendors. Saturday was a success but it also illustrated how far I need to go if Thea-Bel is going to be the success I know it can be. Despite my knowledge and some pretty awesome items to sell I made some rookie mistakes. I've always operated on the "learn from your mistakes" mantra so wouldn't have changed anything, however I did learn some things that will hopefully make the next market much better.
While I encourage everyone to learn from their own mistakes, I also suggest that you learn from mine.
What Not to do at a Craft Fair
Don't clutter the table
Presentation is everything at a craft fair. You have only moments to catch the attention of the person passing by. In the split second they see your booth, they should know exactly what you sell and then whether or not they want any of it. This was an area that in hindsight I did not do as well as I could. I love the products that we sell, they are all unique and wonderful and each item has such an amazing story to tell. I may have gone a little overboard with filling the table so that it wasn't clear exactly what we do. There were too many items so that it was confusing to the person shopping. Just because you have lots of inventory does not mean that it ALL needs to go on the table, show some restraint.
Don't display one of's
Unique items are awesome but having lots of really random items that don't seem to go together is not good. Instead, it is better to stick to a theme so that although the items are all unique, there is a cohesion to the table. Don't do what I did and randomly put items together that don't make sense. Next time I will pick items that follow a similar theme. For example I could put all the Harry Potter items together (wands beside the Christmas Balls). These items are unique but the Harry Potter theme ties them together and will attract fans of the book. The same could be done with baby items. Put the baby cards beside the bandanna bibs and burp cloths. Pick only one theme though or you will run into the issue of having a cluttered table.
Don't blend into the crowd
At the market I was at there were around fifteen vendors. It was a smaller show than many out there but was an excellent mix of vendors. That said I should have stood out rather nicely. Unfortunately I probably didn't stand out in the way I wanted. I'm sure to passerby's I looked unfocused and many of them probably didn't realize that I was unlike many of the other vendors in the fact that I am online based. I was not a really talented creator of a wide range of products, I was in fact the face of a collective. This unique feature should not have gone unnoticed. At future events I will do a much better job of focusing on what makes us unique.
Don't forget why you are there
Make sure that the table presentation and your sales pitch are all in line with your goals. I can attest that once you start having potential customers come by, you only have a moment to let them know about you. I chose to focus on selling items and letting people know that I was representing multiple people. At the time this seemed like a good approach as my goals were to move some inventory. This short sighted thinking got me some sales but didn't sell people on the bigger picture that all the amazing items they were looking at were also available online anytime of the day or night. My goals for future shows should not be moving items but getting people onto the website so that I can continue to sell to them not once but multiple times.
That said, I also did some great things at the market. I talked with some really nice people and made some contacts that over the long term could really benefit us. So while I may not have sold as much as I had hoped, the experience alone was worth it. I am really looking forward to participating in our next market and having the opportunity to make some changes to my table set up so it is even better!
Thank you mom!
I would love to send a big thank you to my mom who was my assistant at the market. I could not have done it without you! Thank you!
What did I miss?
Have you done a market before, what did you take away from your first one? Please let me know below in the comment section below.