Here are a few things I wish I knew before I started selling bag at markets...
Selling your bags in a market is a great place to start selling your creations. It can be great fun, a fabulous way to meet other crafters, and lucrative (especially at Xmas!) I would advise that you sell your bags in a craft market or fair NOT a normal market where the idea is to pile it high, don't ask where it came from, and sell it cheap!
- the funds to pay the market stall/fair rent, they are usually reasonable but the more busy/successful the market is the more you tend to have to pay.
- a fair amount of energy for lugging your bags, stall decorations, a stool and a flask of tea around.
- suitable transport for the above, doing this on the bus isn't funny.
- plastic bags for your customers to carry their bags away.
- business cards or leaflets is a good idea especially if you don't have labels in your bags (but you really should have labels in your bags - at least so they have your contact details on them).
- I found that having A5 picture frames on my stall were really useful for making information like sales, company name, materials (i.e. hand embroidered)! really obvious.
- good spot lighting - not all markets provide their own.
- a lot of markets only provide a frame and a table with which to sell your goods on. This means that you will need 'dress' your stall. You might want to to have a back drop and sides to your stall so you will need to obtain large amounts of fabric to create 'walls and a ceiling' to your stall. Try going to the craft market when it is in full-swing and walk around it to get inspired by how others have decorated their stalls. It is worth going to the effort of making your stall look pretty and inviting because it will affect the way that people judge your handi-work and it's price (more about that later).
The refab market stall at Greenwich (London, UK). Isn't it happy and colourful?
A few things worth knowing about your craft market customer (most of us have been a craft market customers but to re-cap anyway:
- a lot of them are looking nice and pretty things for presents or treats for themselves, so they are generally not looking for ever day nomal-ness.
- wherever you are price is still important so you have to be able to cleverly balance the cost it took to create the bag, with the cost that you will sell the bag at.
- most people are more shy then more forward, so they are less likely to want to engage with you because they may feel obliged to buy (so they may avoid interaction with you in the first place). It's not like a shop where you can pick up an item, inspect it and put it down if you don't want it. In a market the customer and the seller are separated only by a table which doesn't leave a lot of personal space! So I always felt that it was a good idea to clearly display price labels, have little A5 signs advertising various bits of information, and display items grouped by price. I think that doing things like this makes it easier for the customer to feel more confident in approaching your stall and asking your questions about your bags.
- we are all attracted by bright shiny, and colourful things so your stall should reflect this. Try to decorate your stall to reflect your bags. If you tend to use sumptuous fabrics in your bags, try using luxurious looking fabrics and colours on your stall or, if your bags are very vintage chic decorate your stall using shabby chic fabrics and one or two 'vintagey' ornaments. Remember to keep it reasonably simple though, if it all looks busy, it will look confusing and take the focus away from the all-important bags!
- we all have a short attention span, we all have a short atten...hang on...he! he! Your stall should be able to grab the attention of passers-by long enough for them to stop in their tracks and have a closer look. You can do this in several ways: make an absolutely show-stopping bag and display it prominently, have some cheap and cheerful designs available to buy, have a range of colours, sizes, prices and types of bag available to buy. In this way there is more likely to be something for everyone.
Next time more about what to sell at the market, and specifics on pricing, and a bit of sales patter...