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The Market Life

Ever feel like a travelling salesman (or saleswoman)? Make the product, pack the product, unpack the product, display the product, hopefully sell the product? Repack the product... It can be a little tedious sometimes, especially when you put your heart and soul into every aspect and then there are no customers!

This is my market story, one year on...

Just over a year ago I did my first market. As a complete novice, I clearly didn't choose the right 'market' and signed up to any market. Mistake number one!

But how do you know which is the right market, right area and right customers coming through? Only one way to find out, go there as a customer, chat to other stallholders who have done that particular market. Google the market and find out what the footfall is, location, advertising and what else is being sold. If it's a school fete, ask if there is anyone else selling the same products.

I was once put next to a bath bomb stall (I sell natural skincare products for eczema and psoriasis, so a niche market). We were both busy as our products were different, but because I new the bath bomb stall were next to me, I chose not to put out any of my bath fizz.

Try not to double book yourself- they will not invite you back if you cancel!

Mistake number two... I had no idea about the pricing of my products and didn't want to rip anyone off and felt guilty charging people for my product (I look back now and know that is was a lack of self confidence but I wasn't covering my costs!)

Only recently I found the crafter's guide to pricing:

Time + Materials= COST (£4)

Cost X2= WHOLESALE (£8)

Wholesale X2= RETAIL (£16)

I've been complimented on my displays since the beginning, so at least that's been a success! One thing I do is change my display every few markets, least of all because I'm easily bored with the same. But it has evolved and I have added a lot of height.

But the mistake (number three) here is that there is too much on offer. Too overwhelming- possibly. I can't not take everything (just in case!) but I do only put two of my four salves out on display now and if a customer asks- or has a specific need- voila, 'I do have a sample/pot/ which you can try/ purchase now'.

My PR and Marketing Guru (aka a very good friend) has given me a lot to think about and a lot of homework. One thing that I was definitely getting wrong, mistake number four (sobbing) was my brand identity. I was not consistent with colours, themes, ideas and even my labels on packaging was inconsistent (I wanted to use up the old labels first). That can lead to a confused customer.

It is difficult to get it all right from the onset, when you have a great idea/ product but the other aspects of the business is winging it and 'suck it and see' approach because you haven't the money to pay someone who knows.

I've been to some terrible markets BUT I will always chat to other stallholders and use the quiet periods to network share experiences and useful tips, advice. I recently met the lovely David and Jane from YARTY who had a stall near mine. They are now on year six and doing extremely well. (Not surprised as their products are awesome!) The advice about how to progress and whether to outsource production as well as local government grants was invaluable.

You meet some lovely people at markets ( and not so lovely too) but on the whole it's very rewarding- even though it's hard going on your feet. I have a passion for markets and wish there were more good quality handmade markets about.

And Lastly, Some Honey&Rose Tips of the Trade:

*Don't eat at your stall, unless it's a mint! As I shopper even I'm put off by that. And when it gets messy, it gets embarrassing!

*Know your prices and know your ingredients.

*Clean display cloth is a MUST and no-one wants to see your mess under your table.

*Keep your display cloth plain and modern or if selling vintage- use an appropriate one rather than any old floral. Use a sheet if you must, but don't show the label- I get the image of your bed and unless that's what you're going for, make sure it's on the right way up.

*Not only can it be pricey to be at a market- but taking your own meal, snacks and water is a must. I was at a market recently that sold teas and coffees in the cafe and that was all. Don't worry, I ate plenty of fudge that day so I won't fade away.

*Sunny vs Rainy days. Both can be problematic. Gazebo taking off in the gale force wind, you madly holding on to it and the customer demanding your full attention. Or watching your products melt in the blazing sun! Be prepared. Which was is the wind blowing, put your weights onto your gazebo and have plenty of fabric to screen off the sun (or at least know which way the sun is travelling - well earth really- and set-up accordingly.

I have purchased shower curtains in my branding colours to put up with shower curtain hooks at strategic spots on my gazebo to shade my products.

*And always have your BRAND NAME/ LOGO visible.

for more inspiration on displays you can head over to Honey&Rose's Facebook page.

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