I’ve always had a love for flea markets and craft fairs and the face to face time they allow you to have with customers. When you are selling handmade items, these are some of the best-selling opportunities to open yourself up to new audience. After all, people are getting to see and touch your work right in front of them! This is a huge benefit if you are more commonly an online shop owner. On top of that, it’s an awesome chance to network with other sellers and make connections within your local maker community!
So, with several different markets popping up on the calendar, how the heck do you decide which ones are worth investing your time and money in?
You may be planning to sign up for a few per season or maybe one weekend per month but either way you want to make sure you are choosing the right ones to participate in. You want to do what you can to ensure you are going to see some ROI (return on investment) from the ones you choose. Deciding if a market is a good fit for you and your business sometimes is half the battle.
Here are 5 questions to ask yourself before signing up for a craft show or flea market.
1. Who is the ideal customer for the market?
Just because a craft fair or vendor opportunity is going on doesn’t mean everyone attending is going to want to buy what you’re selling – even when you have amazing inventory. You need the right people! Knowing the general aesthetic that’s most common at each market and who their typical shopper traffic is important. This can help you know ahead of time if your idea customer is going to be shopping that day. For example, If you’re a comic book artist or Disney cosplay designer I might suggest you signing up for a vendor table at your local ComicCon. Maybe finding a Shabby Chic Furniture Market if you sell homemade chalk paint or crochet table runners. You want to set yourself up for success by participating in events where you know your customers will be the most.
2. What are the setup requirements/where does the market take place?
It may sound funny but knowing what the setup is like at each event can play a huge part in your day as a vendor. Before signing up and paying that vendor fee you should know the vendor booth requirements as well as where the market is being held. Is this an indoor or outdoor event? What is provided vs. what do you need to bring yourself? If it’s an outdoor market is electricity provided? What is the tent size/booth size restrictions and do you have the supplies to meet them? I’ve known lots of business owners who have run into issues regarding their set up for a show and had to spend extra money last minute purchasing things like white table cloths or a smaller tent not realizing what was needed beforehand.
3. Does the market or host have a social media presence?
Have you seen a Facebook event page set up? Is there any marketing for it on any community pages? Can you find conversation going on regarding the upcoming event on different platforms like Instagram or Facebook? Facebook tends to be a wonderful place to get buzz going about events especially for the local crowds. Seeing that there are people excited about coming and being able to look at the number of attendees that have selected “going” or “interested” can be very helpful in knowing what to expect the day of the event. One of the worst feelings is being set up and ready to sell only to realize as the hours pass by that there really isn’t a lot of foot traffic coming through. Trust me, I’ve been there! Of course, there are different scenarios that can account for low traffic during a market, but not seeing anything up on social media is definitely a red flag when signing up that often contributes to this.
4. How did you hear about the event/does it have a good reputation?
While social media is still a huge factor, word of mouth is a pretty big advertising resource even in today’s digital world. Many of the flea markets and craft fairs I’ve participated in were from a friend or fellow seller giving me a heads up. When I moved to North Carolina from Florida, I heard about several of the markets I love to shop and sell at now from coworkers and friends. If it is your first time signing up for a particular market reach out to other sellers who have sold at it before or people you know who attended the last one. Ask them what they thought about the setup, the amount of attendance, what kind of merchandise they saw the most? Find out if sellers felt it was a successful show or if they think your product would be a good fit. It’s good to hear people’s opinions who are familiar with the event to get a genuine idea of what kind of event you’re looking at.
5. What’s the cancellation policy? Is the event rain or shine?
Several flea markets and craft fairs will have a cancellation and weather policy listed in their application. Depending on the time of year you are signing up, there may be a larger chance of inclement weather getting in the way of you making that cash! Knowing If a show is rain or shine is good information especially if your booth set up is not really ideal for a day outside in the rain. Some markets have a zero-tolerance cancellation fee which isn’t always an issue when deciding to sign up but still something to think about before committing. If you have small children who tend to get sick for instance, knowing how far in advance you must cancel to get a refund on your vendor fee is important to know. If there is no refund offered at all for cancellations and the fee is a little on the high side for that market, maybe you’re better off skipping out. Ask about these kinds of policies ahead of time before making a commitment.
My biggest advice when deciding to sell your product at any event is to always do what you can to set yourself up for success. Sign up for things that make you excited and push you another step further in your business. Find markets to sign up for where you feel you and your brand will be a good fit and your products are bound to do their best. Run down the list of questions above to help you decide if you aren’t sure but then once you commit – go for it! Have a great time and enjoy meeting people and sharing your amazing work with them.
You can download my free market checklist by clicking on the above link or head over to the One Crafty Miss resource library to check out other checklists, templates, and tools for your business. This Market Checklist walks you through all the steps to cross off your list to have an amazingly successful market. Use it once or every time you have a fair to make sure you have all your bases covered!