Hand-Made Market Tips
Learning from my first hand made market.
I did a lot of research before signing up for my first hand made market stall. I worked hard and stressed myself out preparing for it, but on the day I learned a lot. Some of what I learned wasn't covered on the blogs and other websites I read, so I have compiled my tips and experiences here.
Firstly, it's not nearly as stressful as I made it to be. I ended up stretching myself too thin trying to cover all possible things people might want to buy. Sure, that would be great if I had a lot of time and wasn’t jamming all the prep work into the lead up to the market.
Having worked in retail I thought people would be grumpy, rushed and generally in foul moods, however many came and had a wonderful chat with me. The atmosphere was light and friendly and people seemed to enjoy looking over my products. One or two people were short but that’s par for the course when working with people really.
Its only as stressful as you make it, being organised in the lead up and packing is key to a good day selling at the market.
Have multiple price points. People bought a lot of the cheaper items as stocking stuffers, it was the bulk of my sales. It was lovely to have people look at my larger items and purchase one on occasion, but I loved having things fly off my stall and they did so because they were cheap. They were still making me a profit: quick and easy things to make, priced accordingly, were great to have. My mid-range priced items sold the least which I found odd - I may have to tweak something there while my large items, which did take a lot of time to make (and honestly should have been priced higher) did quite well, but in saying that it could be because people saw the quality and the fact that I undervalued them. In saying this though I found stalls that had a very narrow price range did not do as well as they could; ones with only cheap things, people thought the quality wasn’t good; and ones with only expensive things created a very narrow market for themselves.
Having prices marked on items seemed to help me. Others around me had a lot of people stop and look but they didn’t seem to want to ask for the price, and I feel they may have lost a sale or two.
The biggest challenge for me was the display of the actual items. I had a range of things from woven baskets to screen printed tea towels, but the majority of my stock was jewerly. Laying them flat on the table was not as eye catching as having them hang. I found an old picture frame and used some hessian material as a backing to hang them from - it looked a bit rustic but the jewelry stood out beautifully. Another way I found to display them that was quite striking was by using black velvet jewelry busts, however they took up more room as you can only really display one, maybe two per bust before it looks too cluttered.
Setting small, achievable goals for yourself will help keep you motivated.
Remember to set achievable goals: going into a market with the mindset that you are going to sell everything at top dollar in an hour will not help you get through what could be a long day, and really dampen your enthusiasm for your next stall. Seeing those small sales pushing me towards the goals I set throughout the day was a great motivator, and as I hit one of my goals I would set another one up. It started with something as basic as I will sell one of X item then moved to I will sell $50 worth of product, then $100 and so on throughout the day. If you don’t reach that last goal at the end of the market you still have a number of them you’ve reached throughout the rest of the day.
Something I was really happy about was the fact that I thought to bring a project to work on. Not only did it keep me busy when it was slow (the weather was awful so there were less people than expected) but it was also a great way to start conversations with people. I had a finished piece on the table and the fact that they could watch me in the process of making a similar one seemed to create more of a connection with people.
Having lunch, snacks and water on hand was a lifesaver. I could feel my energy waning and myself getting grumpy, but having a treat on hand really brought be back into people-person mode.
Bring a friend! Someone who can have your back when you need to go to the bathroom or to make the slow times a fun experience. If you can rope in a significant other, or get an amazing friend to give you some of their time - even if it’s only 10 minutes for a bathroom break - and a quick chat will lift your spirits and relieve a bit of stress.
All in all this was a good first experience in a relaxed atmosphere. I have a lot to take away from it as I go forward to other markets.