This month I will be starting my journey into the beginnings of a storefront business with opening a booth at my local flea market on the weekends. I know I am not alone when I say, “HELP!” Hehe.
I reached out to my fellow Christmas in July Etsy Team members for some advice. I wanted to know things like what they’ve found easy to make and good sellers, suggestions for merchandising/displaying the goods, and how packaging and custom orders were handled.
Here are some great words of advice!
Owner of StockLaneStudio says, “I participated in a few local fairs last year and was really frustrated with the results. It’s a lot of work so it has to be worth it. I decided to rethink my craft fair approach. I first scouted out local fairs and markets to see if they were worth it for me and then decided on which ones to return to next year. I feel bad resolving to not participate in some of my local fairs, but I actually lost money, and felt depressed.
I had a pretty cool looking set up that was a lot of work to haul and took a lot of time to set up, so I am rethinking my booth space also to make it easier on me, yet still look polished and professional, unique and attention grabbing.
You really have to check out the venue to make sure:
– it is well attended and advertised and geared toward your niche market
– will you make more than your booth fee
– is it a ‘vendor market’ or a craft fair
– are they attenders buyers or gawkers (or cheese and wine samplers)
I have also decided not to do any outdoor markets for the moment because I can’t afford a tent. I have printed material that I just don’t want to risk getting damaged.
I do still think it’s worth it though. It’s a good way to advertise and network and fun to meet locals and support the economy.”
Belinda of BillieMakes says, “I am a newbie to the craft markets. I signed up for several at the same venue last year. I had a pretty successful time there, although turning out every Saturday from October to December got very tiring in the end. I picked up quite a few custom orders, which were really what I made the most on. Not sure I will do the same again this year though, as the football coming up to Christmas was very poor.
Best seller was children’s reversible waistcoats and machine embroidered grandparents house rules.
I had merchandise priced from low to high and there was a huge amount of publicity, but would have liked to have sold much more than I did. Looking around at the other sellers, jewelry did reasonably well as did candles and chocolate items.
I tried varying my table each week, but I didn’t find an exact science to what sold and what didn’t.
The table space was quite expensive, so I’ve looked at other events this year at a far cheaper rate and have my fingers crossed that these may be well attended and I sell lots of things. First is next week.”
Alicia of AliciasFindings says, “Most shows I do are $50 and under for a table, and have had very good sales. I don’t always find that more expensive venues equal better sales. I would say, make sure and have a wide array of price points – high to low. This will mean you have the potential for more sales.
I also have a wide range of items (earrings, necklaces, bracelets, rings, etc).
I would also try to make sets, kits of the like for those interested. I would say my most widely bought items are earrings and sets.
Make sure your items are clearly priced (either tags or on boards) as well as different heights for visual interest. You can achieve height by using boxes covered in fabric, picture frames, risers, etc.
Since I sell jewelry, I package in an organza bag, but I do bring boxes of varying sizes (just in case). I would say keep it easy in terms of packaging, but also branded (if possible).
I always bring a pad for keeping track of sales as well as custom orders. I also started using one for people to sign up for my email list.
Get yourself a checklist so you don’t forget anything. My first show I had all kinds of things, but no paper or pen. Having business cards and signage is a great thing to have also. Even if they don’t buy, you still have another potential sale.
I do accept custom orders at shows. I make sure to get their info and exactly what they want. I will go so far as to send photos in stages to make sure it is how they want it to be. I also let them know the timeline for completion.
There are so many awesome finds on Pinterest about craft shows (case in point my whole board on show ideas) and these really did help me and I feel I am still learning.
I also don’t do them every other or every weekend as I feel it is just too much for me.”
Alison of Mettaville says, “I usually visit the craft fair at least once before deciding if I wish to apply, that way you get to have a look and feel of the place and see how the set up of stall holders, especially to get the table size so you can at least know how much stock to bring along. Do a mock up a home (I did this before my very first craft market). If you have a table to do it, great! If not, clear away a space in the house, tape it with masking tape the table size and display up your wares. Saves the panic on the day.
Have a list of “stuff to bring” and check them off the day before the fair so all is in order. Don’t forget some snacks and water.”
Rose from RosesWorkshop says, “I have a regular summer stall, and some days I sell nothing priced over £10, then sometimes people are buying multiples of my top-end products. As a result, I tend to take everything. Last year, I sold more woolly hats in July and August than in the rest of the year combined!
I would recommend making yourself a stall essentials kits, whether it’s a biscuit tin or a briefcase, so everything is ready to grab as you run out the door.
Into your kit put obvious stuff like a change purse, receipt book and pens, UV note tester, credit card machine, business cards, as well as mini tools and fixing stuff such as scissors, sellotape, blu-tack, safety pins, maybe a spare screwdriver or allen key if appropriate to your display. A few personal items such as tissues and painkillers might help too.
Try to top-up anything that’s running low as soon as you get home because you’ll forget by next week.”
Heather from ArabellaBlossoms says, “Your thread takes me back to my first market where I had endless lists, too much product but a desire to learn from the experience! All was well, and I am pleased to say I very much enjoy the few markets I attend. I am selective and check out requests to attend, and other opportunities thoroughly before participating as markets are a lot of work before, during and afterwards!
I cannot advise about your product range as I make fabric gifts from bags to spectacle holders and lots in-between. My range is ever-changing, and my customers sometimes return to ask what new items I have been designing and creating which is appreciated. I have items available in a wide price range to cater for those who wish to spend from $5 (sometimes less). The Holiday Season (Christmas), especially is when larger-value items sell better.
I offer to package a purchase in a bag for my customers. Many politely decline as they have their own.
Smaller denomination coins and notes for change are important as some people may call past an ATM on the way to the market and the machine may issue only large value notes. My stall essentials kit is in a small carry bag and I sometimes add to it and up-date it.
Have a safe place to carry your phone and money (preferably on you). A waist bag, neck bag or a large pocket helps to save any extra worries. It is also a good idea to have a notebook and pen. You can record transactions (so you know what sells well), items as you de-list them from Etsy after they are sold, record custom orders, etc.
I sometimes take a photo of my display if I am setting one up at home so that it’s on my phone as a memory jogger when the pressure is on! I also take a photo of my display at the market, as soon as I have it set up and before the market starts to share on social media.
I am selective with markets but I look upon each on as the most cost-effective form of marketing. A market stall provides great public relations and promotional opportunities. I’ve met some delightful and supportive people including organizers, customers and fellow stallholders. Each market is a learning experience even when takings may have been less than expected.
A business card is a good memory prompt for customers and it’s amazing how your handmade message can be spread and the people can find you months later (sometimes via your Etsy shop).
Have fun and I hope you enjoy your local market!”
So much awesome advice and stories shared here!
I also reached out to a friend of mine, not part of this team but with great advice and a cute set up idea!
1.) Promote! Don’t leave it in the hands of those running the craft show.
2.) Display. “A hat that’s propped up is way more likely to sell than one laying flat on the table.” I relate this to sales online – people want to see what the piece looks like on, versus just a flat product.”
3.) Have “universally eye catching pieces”. Even if you think the pieces won’t sell – bring them anyway! You need items that will bring people to your table.
I just love the set up found in the above image. Though the craft fair is over, this image is a fantastic example of table set up. Check out more in her Craft Fair Recap.
If you have any tips or suggestions to share, we’d LOVE to hear them! Drop us a line in the comments below.
Good luck in YOUR craft booth from the Christmas in July Etsy Team!