In this series, Market and Event Selling 101, I want to share tips on how to be successful selling at markets.
First things first, how do you know you're ready to set up at one? It's not as hard as you may think. You don't need fancy signs, table cloths and dressing, props, labels or anything of the sort. You just need...
1) Product Made: Whatever you're selling needs to be done BEFORE you start. I know this sounds like a no-duh, but a lot of beginners (myself included, 10 years ago!) sign up for markets and then try to hustle to make products to sell quickly right up to the deadline! I've used markets as deadline makers, but only when my work is at least half-done and I know I have what I need to finish! Take your time, streamline your wares, whatever those may be, before even thinking of signing up. Take as long as you need.
2) Abundance of Products: Of course there are exceptions, like if you're at a book sale and just need to sell a few of your self-printed books at $50.00 each to make a profit, but in most cases, you need a lot of stuff on that table to do well! Do your inventory and make sure you have enough to make a profit after fees, gas, food, and all other expenses.
3) Basic Signage and Cards: You DON'T have to be fancy or expensive here. I've seen people do well with hand drawn signs on wood, chalkboard, etc. You can hand-write or stamp cards and those will work fine, just be sure to have both to take advantage of your event for marketing purposes.
An under-awning event (yay, no tent needed) we traveled 5 hours for! We made it compact for that purpose. You'll learn to switch things up depending on where you're setting up.
4) Newsletter Ready to Go: Markets are the #1 way we grow our newsletter list. Make a sheet so customers or would-be/future customers can sign up.
5) Basic Table and Cloth: All you need is one table and cloth to cover it to get started. If you're going to be in the sun a canopy tent or even an umbrella may be needed. If you can't afford a canopy some markets offer rentals, have extras, or have space under trees or awnings where you can set up so call and ask in advance for that information.
6) Optimism & Happiness: You may not sell a single thing your first time, in fact, that's pretty common! Each market is an opportunity to learn what people respond to, what they like and don't like. Don't go in looking to sell or looking at people simply as dollar signs. Just go in happy that you have an opportunity to put your wares out there. Take note of people's advice or how they respond and make real connections.
EDIT #7) Have Prices of Every Item on Your Table: Have signs with pricing for each item on your table and/or go the extra mile and also have them on your products. People don't like to ask for pricing and will sometimes just leave out of frustration if you don't have all prices clearly marked. Thanks for this important reminder in the comments everyone :)
These six tips I feel are all you need to start selling at outdoor markets, expos, and pop-up events. Of course it gets more detailed from here and we'll go into that in future posts. Do these events for the experience, learn and grow from it and improve each time! If you go with the expectation to sell out you'll be disappointed, go in only with the expectation to proudly display your best work and have fun and you'll be a success!
Any basics tips for beginners if you're a seller? What about advice for us sellers as frequent shoppers? Let's discuss in the comments!