I am excited to post some photos of a wonderful outdoor market I took part in at Cricket Alley Boutique a few weeks ago. This time of year there are lots of opportunities to become a vendor selling your wares locally. There are great tips on blogs everywhere on setting up a successful booth.
Top 15 Tips:
- Read all vendor set up requirements and notices for the show. Follow policies!
- Mark (price) your items clearly and securely. If possible, label your items with contact information or your logo.
- Bring a stocked tool kit and personal kit to to assist you through set up and to ensure comfort through the day. Packing list & set up tips:
- mark your boxes or totes with removable tape and permanent marker – if you know what is inside each tote, set up and repacking is fast
- money pouch and change that is comfortable to wear throughout the day- the moment set up starts, some people do start shopping!
- zip ties for loose cords and keeping things in place
- hammer, nails and wire
- wire cutters, screw driver (Phillips and flat)
- cording (nylon or twine)
- tape (masking, painters and duct)
- tags and pricing materials
- various heights of boxes and fabric to create different levels on your display tables
- business cards,flyers and promotional items
- cell phone with credit card attachment (I use Square, it’s easy – no affiliation – it’s just what I know) and stylus for signatures
- sacks, packing materials
- tape measure
- clothes pins and safety pins
- sharpie marker, notebook or paper for receipts, notes and keeping track of ideas,etc.
- drinking water and snacks, maybe even breakfast and lunch – some sites have no food trucks!
- wet wipes and hand sanitizer – some sites have no running water or very limited facilities.
- comfort items like chap-stick, sunscreen, lotion, band-aids, nail file, tissues, hat, sunglasses
- money pouch and change that can be worn while you work
- comfortable shoes and clothing!
- comfortable chair
- additional shade or blanket – weather appropriate gear, umbrella, gloves, jacket
- aspirin/Motrin tablets or cream and your best attitude – set up is hard, tear down is hard, but your customer doesn’t need to hear about it.
- Use an amazing prop to draw in customers – but make sure it is for sale! No one likes to be teased.
We took a 1960 Chevy station wagon and got tons of curious visits. It sold the week after.
- Take photos of your booth. The work you have put in it is priceless. Many of the items will sell and you might want record of them on display. Take photos of the event itself – you might want to blog about it or remember it later.
- Take plenty of packing supplies and sacks of various sizes. And, be willing to hold items in a safe place for shoppers that don’t want to carry heavy items around while they shop. We kept these items safe in the front of the station wagon.
- Have help in your booth for packing and for helping customers load the items they buy. We took a sink that weighed over 100 pounds. If I had been alone, I could not have helped the customer load her purchase.
- You know to display items just like a retail environment – that means take items that you can use to create variation in display levels. Pinterest has some fun ideas if you type in “Vintage outdoor Market”. Refresh your displays frequently. When something sells, rearrange a bit.
- Use signage, cards, packaging and “branding” in your booth, if possible. When I see a unique element or display that took extra time, my curiosity draws me in. We used fabric banners to set ourselves apart from other tents. Be sure your customer can find you again in the future via website, Facebook, email – a tag with this information or a business card in each sack will help ensure this.
- Accept credit cards and debit cards! More than half of my sales were debit cards. People stopped that didn’t know about the market and had no cash. Don’t lose a sale because of transaction fees. Price accordingly!
- Know that some customers will want to bargain, so pad your prices just a little to offer a discount when it is requested. This padding also helps when you have to take a hit on the credit card transaction you might pay. Visit with your customers. Let customers know there is no pressure to buy, that you are open to bargaining. Some people love to dicker, and others are new to it. Start a dialog that most shoppers are intimidated to start. Consider the Bundle offer – if they buy X, then Y is marked down….
- When an item sells but is not taken buy the purchaser, remove it from your display. It is tempting to leave it to preserve “the look” you have created, but customers are disappointed if an item is displayed, but not for sale. You can display items “SAMPLES”, but keep in mind, people impulse buy and are leery of paying in advance for a special order.
- After lunch is a slow and unpredictable. Traffic slows down as people run out of money & energy or might be overstimulated by the sale. Morning is your peak time for sales. Be fresh and friendly and prepared – and start bargaining the moment you have a live one!
- Anyone that returns to your booth more than once wants to take home something you are selling & but might be having a hard time deciding- or price may be an issue. You have an opportunity to make a sale: either deal on price, or at very minimum – give the repeat visitor a way to contact you in the near future. I would personally rather take a small hit on profit than lose a sale completely. I consider it advertising and promotion expense. I have some leeway in price since I have not paid extra for advertising.
- Be an amazing booth neighbor! Introduce yourself short and sweet and let them work their booth. These are small spaces; loading and unloading is tight and fast. You will be next to your neighbor all day, or for several days, so be kind and be generous whenever possible. Often potty & lunch breaks or help with heavy lifting is at the generosity of your neighbor. Faith in humanity is often renewed/restored at these shows for these reasons, be a part of the positive vibe! Often your nearest vendors are your best customers- they have been staring at your stuff for hours! If you plan to be a vendor at future markets, you are likely to see your neighbor at future shows- act accordingly.
Now, this advice comes from someone that is more of a hoarder that needs to sell than from a vendor that needs profit from each item. These tips are simply what I have observed over the past few years selling at vintage and handmade markets.
I made some pillows, some paintings and a few tea towels. All of the items that were hand made sold well, which was exciting to me. A few sewn items remain in inventory – but they also make great gifts at Christmas.. So I feel like I am ahead!
The tables were covered in white linens to show off the colorful dishes and jewelry.
I love to see a mixture of handmade and vintage items in a booth. If you are not one to make items, consider sharing your space with someone that does!
My dear friend is an artist, Rosalia Pereira, who makes her own jewelry. We shared our booth and had a wonderful inventory of unique items to draw in a variety of customers. We helped each other in the booth and offset our costs overall by sharing space. Because there were two vendors and we had a large automobile, we opted to rent two spaces. I feel like customers spend more and shop happier when they are not crowded!
The biggest part of my inventory: An awesome vintage station wagon – in aqua and white!