At the start of 2018 I decided that my main focus for the year with my business was to do as many craft fairs/markets as possible.
I've filled in countless application forms, and been rejected by around half of the ones I've applied for. And with each acceptance or rejection I learnt a little bit more about where my customers were hiding in the vastness that is London.
This weekend I'll be attending my 19th market of the year. By the end of the week I'll have done 27 days trading at markets (some of the markets I've done have run for 3 days at a time). So I thought I'd share a few of the lessons I've learnt throughout my year of doing markets.
1. MARKETS ARE UNPREDICTABLE
It may seem like a cliché but it is true. You can never predict how a market is going to turn out. I've done several regular markets where the outcome was drastically different every time. You can make 3x your stall fee in one day or you might just manage to scrape together the money to cover your costs. What's important is not to let the bad days make you feel bad. I know it's easier said than done, but one bad market day isn't and shouldn't be the be all, end all of your market journey.
2. DISPLAYS ARE EVERYTHING
It really is true, what all those other blogs say. Your display is everything. And though it sounds pretty easy and fairly common sense - after all, your display is the closest thing to a shop front your online store is going to get - you'd be surprised by how many people put all their items flat on a table and call it done. Use height, use props, group similar items together and use clear signage that also brings cohesiveness to your stall. My display has definitely evolved since my first market in Nov 2017 and I am constantly looking to see what can be tweaked or changed.
3. GET A FRIEND OR FAMILY MEMBER TO HELP OUT
Let's face it. Nobody is going to sell your items like you. Nobody is going to have that passion or knowledge about your products like you. But taking someone you trust along to a market is invaluable. There's been times when my husband has made more sales without me at the table than when I was there! The added bonus is now both my mum and my husband are masters at set up and take down. Our current record is 20 minutes set up and 15 take down which leaves me loads of time to browse the other stalls!
4. TAKE NOTES
There is nothing like getting feedback from customers in person. And who knows, they might spark a whole new range of products for you! I have a dedicated market notebook where I can write down all my sales but also any ideas for the future. Sometimes it's just a list of things I need to start remembering to bring (bin bags, bulldog clips, cable ties and a good set of cable tie cutters are now a staple in my market suitcase) but it's good to have it all down in one place!
5. REMEMBER TO TALK TO PEOPLE
Ok, so some people are going to get scared off if you talk to them. But saying a friendly hello when someone looks up at you is just polite. Try to stay off your phone if you can so you can greet customers (oh and there's no reason to stand all day! Sitting and smiling works too and is less scary for customers to walk up to your table). There's been times when a hello has lead to a full blown conversation about my work and I've made a sale out of it. Can I prove that I wouldn't have made the sale if I didn't say hi? No. But having had that interaction I'm pretty confident that my customers understood a little more about what I was doing and became that little bit more invested into my business. And after all, isn't getting ourselves in front of the customers the whole reason we do markets?
So there we have it. That's my 5 things that I've learnt whilst doing markets this year. I hope there was something helpful in there for you!
If you want to come see me at a market then keep checking my Events Page for updates on where I'll be trading. At the minute I'm mostly doing London based markets but definitely looking to expand next year into more parts of the UK!