Welcome to Part 2 of my Craft Market Tips & Tricks!!
Hopefully you've already read part 1 here and found it useful! Please let me know if you think there's anything I missed out and I'll make sure to update it :) Thanks to everyone that left comments under the post and on my Instagram page, glad it was helpful!
In this post I'm going to cover prepping for an event; what to bring and what to leave at home; display tips and vendor etiquette.
Onto the tips!
Prepping for a Market/Event
Your event prepping routine will be individual to you dependent on the kinds of products you make and how you're planning to displaying your items. I'm a chronic worrier and prone to bouts of anxiety, so my event prep can begin up to a month beforehand and I usually try to have everything packed up 1-2 days before. I ALWAYS have trouble sleeping before an event/craft market so I prefer to spend the day before relaxing and focusing my mind on other things to ward off the inevitable bout of insomnia.
A question of stock - Do you have to order a lot of products? Have you given yourself enough time for manufacturing errors or delays? Are you hand-making a lot of products yourself? In the event that you don't sell out do you have the space to store all the excess stock?
Figuring out how much stock to bring to an event is a science that I'm still figuring out and you'll just have to figure it as you go along. I like whole numbers so tend to bring 5-10 of everything within each style. If the market falls over 2-3 days; you can bring a limited amount of stock for the first day, see how sales go and either take some stock home with you or bring additional pieces the next day. In general events that fall on a Sunday tend to be very busy and Friday and Saturday can be hit or miss. Footfall tends to depend on the weather, the area, whether the ticket prices are affordable etc. You should take this all int account when planning the amount of stock to bring.
Aside from stock it's good to have a "market bag" to hand - fill this bag with random bits and bobs that you might need such as scissors, cellotape/masking tape, blue tack, double sided tape or double sided foam, string, pens, a sharpie, scraps of paper or a notebook, additional cloth, plasters, mints, chewing gum, hand-cream, and if necessary sanitary towels. Trust me, when you're stressed and frantic you'll be happy you prepped these things beforehand! Make sure to top this up as and when, even if you don't have any upcoming events, so it's one less thing to worry about and ready when you need it.
Taking payments - My first ever event I brought about £100 as an initial cash float split across £1 coins, 50ps, fivers and tenners. This was WAY too much considering it was for a small market. For larger events I'd recommend just taking card payments only. It's easier and you don't have to worry about running to the bank beforehand to make sure you have enough change, or running to the bank afterwards to deposit your takings! To be honest nowadays it's not unheard of for a business to be card only especially as there are now an abundance of card readers on the market. I'll go through some of my favourites now.
iZettle: I'm currently using iZettle and aside from a few connection issues from time to time, I've found it easy to use and their fees are quite reasonable. PRO TIP! Don't ever pay more than £30 for the reader - there are so many deals online for you to get the reader for between £19-£30 instead of paying the full RRP of £79, and these deals roll over month to month. Save your £££s!
It's really straightforward to sign up on their website and create your account. They also have a few account options dependant on what works for your business. On the app it's easy to set up a product directory including product images which makes it easy to monitor sales and inventory.
I do know that other traders have had issues with their iZettles and have since moved onto other readers. I myself have not, so I'm happy to recommend it, but as with anything it's good to get a wide range of opinions before you make your mind up.
Sum Up: Whilst I haven't used my Sum Up reader yet; it's a good alternative to an iZettle as you can use it abroad! Their transaction fees are very low - approx 1.69%. If you'd like to use it abroad you have to contact their customer service department beforehand to let them know. It's currently on offer for £19
Square: I've heard good things about Square from other trader friends. It's super simple to set up an account, and their transaction fees are a very reasonable 1.79%. The reader itself is £39. Whilst it is contactless, it doesn't have a display for people to type in their pins; customers are able to do this via the app that you'll download onto your phone.
Whilst there are other card readers on the market; these are the three that most UK based traders tend to use. If you're still on the fence about which reader is right for you, I'd recommend talking to a few trader friends to get their unbiased opinions or checking out reviews via Google Reviews or Trust Pilot.
When choosing your card reader, take into consideration:
- The transaction fee
- Ease of setting up your account
- The time it takes the money to be deposited into your bank account
- Battery life
- Can you set up an inventory/product list easily
- Can you connect the app to your online store
- Strength of the wifi/bluetooth connections
If you're taking cash payments: make sure to bring enough small change and small notes. Typically I bring about £50 worth of change in 50ps, £1 coins, and five pound notes. Your product prices will dictate how much change you really need to bring. My prices range from £2.50 - £30 so having enough small change is important for me; but if your items run higher, you may not need as much 50p's or £1 coins. Might even be better to skip cash altogether and just take card payments.
I'll be honest. I'm so blah when it comes to displays. As long as my products are clean and look somewhat presentable against a colourful background then I'm happy. But this is definitely something I'm choosing to work on as I've seen first hand how creative displays can draw customers to your stall. How you choose to display your products will of course depend on the amount of space you have, the amount of space your products needs and what you can realistically bring to the event.
Don't be discouraged by a small table space. Use the walls if you can - hang things up using blue tack or removable double sided tape. If you've got floor space, bring a rail for clothing items or a stand for customers to flip through your art work. If you've got string or twine maybe suspend things from the top of the stand. Play around with height when displaying your products. Have some things at eye level when you're sitting, and other things at eye level when you're standing so that your display doesn't look too flat.
Remember also to leave some space for you to package your products when you make a sale. Keep this area clear and tidy if it's visible to customers.
Chanelle of Studionelle is the absolute QUEEN of building incredible displays. Every event I do with her, she has a new display that she's whipped up herself, putting to great use her amazing DIY skills. Even if you're not particularly handy, you can still use your maker skills to amp up your display.
Switch up your display from time to time, taking into consideration the scale of the event you'll be selling at. For a large event like Africa on the Square I had a large walk in space, so decided to make my space a mini "pop up" shop. I brought some extra tables from home and also some plastic drawers to house all my packaging supplies and extra stock. I wanted people to be able to walk in and around my products instead of just having a table in the middle of the space.
I'd advise against expensive display equipment and encourage you to either use your DIY skills to make your own or think outside the box. Yes you can spend £10+ on a faux milk crate, or maybe you can get one second hand for a lower price or even free. I always find some interesting (and cheap!) boxes or trays in Tiger that I usually end up customising myself with some acrylic paint.
Think about how you want your customers to interact with your products. I also find it helpful to think about how you'd want your products to be displayed in a retail space and how you can replicate that on a stall.
Pinterest is an AMAZING resource for display inspo. It can also be helpful to take pictures of store displays that you like and try and apply that to your stall on a smaller scale.
For me, one of the best things about doing events is meeting and getting to know the other vendors. I'm sure I've said before I can be quite reserved and quiet, but the more events that I do the more I'm forced outside of my comfort zone and I've found it easier to engage in conversation. I'm no chatty Cathy, but its a lot easier now for me to connect with people versus when I first started.
It's important to at the very least "not" piss off your stall neighbour as you'll be spending the whole day with them! I've made so many good friendships based off either sharing a stall with someone or meeting a fellow vendor at an event and whilst this will not always be the case; it's also great to meet new people, share tips & ideas and grow your creative community.
One thing I'd like to bring up is how to manage your emotions when the event isn't going to plan sales wise for you. Maybe the foot traffic is a bit slow. Maybe the crowd are just not interested in buying your products. Whatever the reason, when you're having a slow sales day it can be really tempting to spend the day wallowing with your fellow stall holders and creating an atmosphere of negativity and resentment. Don't do this. Focus instead on using the time that you have for something useful. If your items are handmade and you've brought some supplies maybe get a head start on your production for the week (this could even entice some people to your stall) Get chatting with your fellow stall holders and talk about something that'll take your mind off the day. Plan your tasks for the upcoming week. Read. Create content for social media e.g. take some photos or videos/boomerangs for Instagram. Walk about and check out the merch from other stall holders. Go grab yourself a snack or some lunch. Take some creative product shots that you can use on your website. Meditate. Do whatever you need to put yourself in a more positive mindset.
Not every event you do will be great sales wise and you have to accept this. Sometimes you'll meet an important person that'll have an opportunity for you a few months down the line. Sometimes you'll meet future customers/clients. Sometimes you'll meet someone with access to Press/PR that can help your business. And sometimes you won't meet anyone that can help your business in any way but that's just the nature of selling at markets. Some days are good. Some days are a bit shit. Be prepared for those days.
How to be a good stall neighbour:
- Say hi!! Introduce yourself. No one needs your life story at 8.30am in the morning, but just a friendly "Morning, I'm Jane" should suffice
- Are you running off to grab a quick coffee or get something to eat? Ask your neighbour if they'd like something too
- If you're sharing your stall - DON'T BE LATE - even if you're sharing with someone you know
- Don't be too pedantic about space. Yes we've all paid for our individual spaces but if your neighbour needs a few extra cm's of space that you don't, then let them have that extra space.
- Don't hog the power supplies. If you know you'll need plugs for your phone, card reader or tablet etc then bring an extension cord
- Clean up after yourself! Don't leave your rubbish lying around
- Even if the day has been a bit shit; try and stay positive and focus your mind on other things. Discuss that trash tv show you inexplicable love (cough Love Island.....), compliment your neighbour's products and ask them about their process, talk about anything you have coming up that you're excited about. Trust me even if the day hasn't been great sales wise, you'll still have enjoyed yourself if you choose to banish the negativity
Annnnd that's it! Hope you've found this post useful. If there's anything else you'd like me to cover, feel free to comment below and I'll knock out another post soon :)