Tag Archives: craft market

To Market To Market Part Four – After Market Analysis

Yesterday I attended the Collected and Created Gundaroo Market as a stallholder and am pleased to report that it was a great day!   Not only was the venue lovely (the historic Soldiers Memorial Hall in Gundaroo) but the whole market was well planned, attended by beautifully talented local creators and collectors, and had the whole community supporting it.   All my thinking about attending markets, branding, displays, etc, came together seamlessly and I had a lovely day telling the story behind my products, selling to interested customers and generally enjoying the whole experience.

Of course although I am the face of my business the reality is that it doesn’t happen without the team behind the scenes. My parents provide such huge amounts of support that make it possible.  Yesterday Dad drove over to Gundaroo (about 15 minutes cross country from us) to help me unload my car, then he came back with my two daughters in the afternoon to help with the packing up.  In the meantime Mum looked after the children, tidied my house, and gave me the peace of mind to be away from home for the day.

Now we are the in after market phase and although my first inclination is to sit back and chill for a few days, the reality is that I don’t have time!   Last night after going through and counting my sales, working out the overheads and determining the level of profit (important so that you know whether you truly made money or just had fun) I also sat and assessed stock to determine where the gaps are that need to be refilled before the next market in two weeks time.   A quick online order to supplement my supplies, a list of products that need to be made, and a plan is starting to come together.

After market analysis is important so that you can see what sold well, what didn’t work, what you need to change in your display and what you forgot!    One of the stall holders I spoke to yesterday said that she was surprised by what sold and what didn’t, and I had to agree.  Even with knowing your target audience, and researching what you think will sell best, until you actually hit the event the predictions are just that, predictions.   Things that didn’t move at all at my last market went like hotcakes at this one, and items that I thought would really appeal to the community didn’t move at all!   This doesn’t mean that I will abandon those products but I will think about how to make them more accessible, appealing, and inviting to my customers.

Things to think about before your next market:

  • How do you keep track of your stock?  Is there a better way to track what sold and what didn’t? Do you need a spreadsheet that you mark off as items sell, a notepad that you make notes on as things move, or an inventory system connected to a point of sale that provides a full retail experience?
  • How did your display work?   Where there products that didn’t move because they were lost in the display, or items that customers couldn’t easily see?   Do you need more height variations, more signs, or different ways of showing pricing?
  • How did your stall set up work for you as the seller?  Did you have a place to take money and wrap purchases without crowding customers?  Did you have a place to sit when you had a few minutes break?  Did your cashbox and credit card facility work for you or was it too unwieldy and awkward?
  • Do you have supplies to replenish your stock, and how long will supplies take to arrive?  If you have enough for the next event but none for the event after that, assuming you sell the same amount, is it time to order more now so that they are ready when you need them?
  • How did you feel about the experience?  Were you happy talking to customers or did you feel overwhelmed?  Did you find that people were queuing to pay for items because you were too busy?  (I know – there are worse problems that can happen, but if customers get tired of waiting they will just walk away instead.)  Do you need to have someone else to help you serve customers for the next event?   Were you tired, hungry, thirsty or stressed?  What can you do to change that for next time?
  • What was your most frequently asked question?   If the question was about how much something cost, it is time to rethink how you display your prices.  If it was about what a particular item was, it is time to rethink how you package and display that item.   If it was whether you made all of this yourself then that is a great conversation starter!   Thinking about these questions can help you to be better prepared for next time.

Having now addressed all of those questions myself I am off to conduct another Distance Education session with my son, then start making lists.  There are some packages that need to be rethought, some signs that need to be made, and a shelf unit that needs to be painted to provide more height on one table.   Plus some blue wool and fuzzy green ‘cactus’ wool to be sourced!

I hope that your after market analysis gives you lots of inspiration to keep growing your business.

To Market, to Market. Part 3 – 10 things to remember to take with you

I started this post a couple of weeks ago, when I was preparing to attend my first market (after a long break) but decided to wait until the market was over before completing it, so that I could share my experiences along with a check list.  What I have put together is a general list of things to take with you,  that you can use as a guide for your own market preparation.   And hopefully you will learn from my mistakes!

I can report that I really enjoyed the market.  I sold enough to make it financially worthwhile, got to test out my displays, my packing and my products, and I was able to talk to customers.  I even sold one of the tea cosies that my mum knitted (as well as a few of my own!)  Overall it was a great start on my journey back to markets.   I made a few mistakes but recovered from them, and learnt a lot at the same time.

  1. Shelter

Is your market indoors or outdoors?    If it is outdoors are you going to have shelter provided or will you need your own.  In my case I have a 3m x 3m portable gazebo that I can erect for outside markets, so that is on my checklist.   If you are attending an indoor market it pays to check whether you are allowed to set up gazebos inside as many markets will not allow it.

If you are outside remember to have something to secure your gazebo or marquee in case of strong winds.  (Yes – something I forgot to take with me).   You can buy weights for the legs or make them yourself – just remember them and remember to put them in place because it would be quite disastrous to have your shelter fly across the market ground if the wind picks up!

It also pays to think about whether you need walls for your structure.   I had two walls with me, but as I ended up on a corner site I only used one, as a backdrop.

My set up at an outdoor market with the back wall up.

2. Display furniture

How are you displaying your products? I will be taking a table, some shelves, a screen and some boxes that provide different heights for displays.   Doing a run through at home is always good so that you know how things will look on the day.  Make a list of all your props so that you can check them off in your packing.   Then be prepared for changes.   My stall was moved to a corner position on the night, so it would have been useful to have a second table – something I will definitely be taking next time.    I am also thinking about floor covering – it makes a difference!

The shelves worked well to display the tea cosies but I wasn’t happy with the rest of my display – tweaking is required!

3.  Cloths and props

A table cloth that reaches the ground is an important part of a good market set up. Apart from making your table look good it also gives you an excellent storage spot that is out of sight. I find it handy for hiding the storage boxes that my products are carried in so they are at hand for packing up at the end of the market.

If you are using props for your display these need to be on your list. Most of my props are teapots for displaying my tea cosies so I need to remember these otherwise there will be some floppy crocheted piles on my shelves!

It is a bonus when your props double as storage

4. Lighting

Lighting is important whether you are at an indoor or outdoor event.  Events indoors can sometimes be gloomy so having some lighting to brighten your display is a great way of attracting customers.   Outdoor events that go into the evening will definitely benefit from lighting, and even daytime outdoor events can be gloomy so some lighting to brighten your space will help.

The range of possibilities for lighting is wide.  If you don’t have access to power during your market then the range of solar lighting is large and affordable these days.  I have some rice-paper-style globes from Ikea that are solar powered that cost about $15 and add light in a nice way.  Another option is battery powered lights – rechargable or not.   I have a rechargable flourescent light that gives great lighting (from the auto section at a hardware shop) and fairy lights from Big W that run on two AA batteries.  All of these provide flexible lighting solutions……if you remember to pack them.  Ahem.   If the bright light is still plugged into it’s charger on the bench at home it isn’t much use when night falls…..

If you do remember to take your lights, make sure you know how you are going to attach them to your display and pack cable ties, bluetack, hooks etc, depending on your needs.

5. Signage

I have a banner with a stand lets people know who I am and what I am selling.  One of the best responses I had to my banner was from a man who said ‘I know that name, ‘a little bird made me’.   Let me think – your mother is Elizabeth, and you are Theresa and you live out in Bywong.’   It turns out he is the local courier who delivers my parcels – that my mother always signs for.

6. Bags and packaging

When people buy your products it pays to be able to package them so that they will travel home from the market safely.   Paper bags with handles suit most items, but have a think about the size of your products and make sure you have bags that suit those items best.  I have carry bags that will accommodate cups and saucers, and tea cosies but a pair of earring would be lost in them, so I will have smaller bags for those small items.    If you have a fragile product it is good to be able to wrap it in tissue paper or bubble wrap to cushion it on it’s trip home.   Having your packaging branded is good to do before hand too – in my case I use a stamp with my logo to mark the bags as being from my business.

7.  Admin Box.

This is the box that holds all the things that you will need for each market, so that you don’t have to find and pack them everytime.  The admin box is where you put:

     (a)  Business cards or fliers

People like to take a card so that they can look you up when they next want a product like yours, so having a pile of cards or fliers is an easy way to ensure return custom.   They also provide a great discussion point with customers who are asking whether you sell on line etc.

     (b) Float

You need to be ready to give change to the first customer who comes along!   And it helps if you remember the KEY to your cash box and don’t leave it sitting on the bench at home, 20 kms away.   Ahem.   Luckily my parents willingly drove home, found the key and returned it to me.  After all of that I didn’t have to make change for any customer – they all had the right money or used my card facilities!

    (c) Credit card facility

Again – if you have the facility for people to pay by card they are more likely to purchase from you.  Make sure you have any connecting hardware, that you have tested it and that you know how to operate it.   If your eftpos facility gives paper receipts carry a spare roll.

   (d) Notebook and pen

For taking orders, fo writing reminders to yourself about what has worked and what hasn’t, for writing out notes for customers, or taking down phone numbers, this is important to have.

    (e) Repair kit

Accidents happen, both to your products and to your display.   Having a small kit with sticky tape and duct tape, a screwdriver, scissors, pins, and whatever else you might need for your set up is sensible.

    (f) Chargers

Because there is nothing worse than running out of battery on your phone, your eftpos facility, your lights etc.   Having the right charger cords and plugs, plus a power bank if there is no power provided, takes a lot of stress out of managing your stall.

8. Price tags

The best way to ensure sales is to have the prices for your products clearly marked.  If people have to interrupt you serving another customer to ask how much something is they will often walk away instead of asking. If you can’t put a price on each item, make sure that you have clear and easily visible signs that announce the prices.   Ikea picture frames are handy for making your signs look professional without breaking the bank.

9. Drink bottle and a snack

Keeping hydrated helps you to maintain your energy levels while you serve customers. A low mess snack to help keep your energy levels up is important. High protein snacks like nuts are a good option here.

10. Product!

No point going to a market if you have nothing to sell!    Make a list of your products and then tick them off as you pack them, so that nothing is missed out and left behind,   Then check that you have packed all your boxes in the car so that you haven’t left one behind either (not my mistake but a very common one for other people I know!)

Having a box for each product category helps keep track of what you are packing

 

If you have other ideas that you think should be added to the list do let me know!

To market, to market. Part One – 5 things to think about before you hold a market stall

In preparation for my return to the world of being a market stall holder in a few weeks time, I am going to publish a series of posts on preparing for a market, and attending a market.      I have spent the last few years working on the other side of the fence, supporting designers to hold stalls themselves, and giving advice on how to maximize their sales, their business and their brand.    Now that I am back on the designer side of the fence it is time to remember all my good advice and apply it to myself.  By writing a series of posts I hope to help myself remember all that good advice, and share it with you at the same time!

  1. What is the purpose of you having a market stall? 

This might sound silly but actually there are lots of different reasons for taking your products to market.   These can include testing your products, marketing your products, taking orders for future delivery of custom products, attracting wholesaler buyers, and, of course, making money.  Your purpose might be a combination of all of these reasons, but it is good to be clear with yourself why you are doing this, as it will help guide your decisions about which markets to apply for, what products to take with you, how to display your products and how to design your stall presentation.

2. Who is your target customer?

While it is easy to say ‘anyone who wants to buy my stuff’, actually knowing who your target customer is can help you with everything from which stalls to apply for, to how to display your products and how to market them.    When I was holding market stalls selling my bags I had a description of my target customer that I wrote down – it included the sort of job my customer might have, the things she liked to do in her spare time, and where she lived.    While my target customer never actually presented herself to me and said ‘Hi, what you have is perfect for me, let me buy it all’, having a clear idea of who I was aiming my products at helped a lot.  It especially helped a lot when someone who didn’t fit my target market criticised my pricing, or when someone who didn’t fit my target market started a conversation with me that ended up with them learning more about my product and buying it after all!

My target customer is more than someone who likes tea.   My target customer also includes people who are buying gifts, who like quirky ideas, quality materials, and unique, one of a kind items.   This means that they probably aren’t going to be found in abundance at a garage sale set up in the carpark of a shopping centre, but will definitely be found at a market promoting handmade or local makers.

3. Do you know your brand and how you want to represent it?

Describing how you develop your brand is a whole separate post, but the question is, do you have a brand, and do you know how you want to use your brand to sell your products?   Knowing your brand can help with things like how you want to display your products, what you will wear while working on your stall, what colours and styles you will use in your signage, and how you will ‘dress’ your stall.   For example, if you are selling a product that is organic and earthy in nature, your brand is likely to be one based on nature, clean lines, and healthy.   Having a market stall dressed with flashing coloured lights and blaring 80’s rock is not representing your brand or telling your story.

My brand is more than just a logo (although my logo reflects my brand).   It is about handmade items made with care using quality materials to create unique, one of a kind, products, and products that are kind to the environment.  My stall set up needs to convey this, so there will be no flashing Christmas lights, or hawker style inducements as they don’t reflect my brand.    (There probably will be a few cups of tea happening though!)

4. Do you have a range of products that will appeal to different price points?

If your products are all handmade, unique or artisan items they are likely to have a higher price point.   Not all customers can afford large purchases, but many are attracted to your stall by the promise of beautiful things, so having a range of items with differing prices can allow them to buy something that gives them that sense of being part of your story, without breaking their bank.   At my first stall at the Handmade Markets, selling my bags, I also had a box of fat quarters for sale.   My bag prices started at $40, but the fat quarters were $5 and $6 each.  Part of my brand at that time was about sharing a love of beautiful fabrics in each piece that I made, so selling some of those fabrics stayed with the brand, but allowed for smaller purchases too.    I also had smaller pouches and pencil rolls priced between $10 and $25, again providing a range of prices for those attracted to my brand.

5.Is there a cohesion between your products and how you are displaying them?

The ways in which you can display your products at a market are many and varied and range from the simple to the elaborate with everything in between.  I will write a separate post about the options with displays but the question I am asking here is a little like the question about branding, but has a different emphasis.   A designer who I know and respect changes her display props regularly, always looking for a point of difference between her stalls and her neighbours.  However there is one key point that always remains, no matter what her props – they are always re-purposed objects that subtly highlight that her products are ethically made from recycled clothing.  The cohesion between her products and her display means that the display doesn’t overpower the products but enhances them.

Knowing your brand helps here, but also knowing how your products will stand out helps with this question.   Now that I am focused on quirky tea paraphernalia using large shelf displays where teacups will look lost in proportion to the shelves isn’t going to work. I need to have smaller displays that won’t dwarf the products, and will allow them to  be clearly seen.   A flat shelf full of teacups has much less impact than a tiered display where each cup and saucer can be seen fully.   Tea and all it’s paraphernalia lends itself to a cosy indoors feel, so having an industrial style display shelf would be incongruous.

 

My next post will be all about the list of things you need to do prior to attending a market, and then I will follow it up with a list of things you need to take to the market.    With all of this writing I am sure to be organised for my first stall!   I would love to hear any advice you have about things to think about before you attend a market!