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Cinti's Market Wisdom - Part 1

My Poppet : your weekly dose of crafty inspiration: Cinti's Market Wisdom - Part 1

My Poppet : your weekly dose of crafty inspiration

Friday, 31 October 2008

Cinti's Market Wisdom - Part 1

So you’ve decided that maybe you’d like to run your own craft market stall…lots of fun, but lots of hard work as well.
From my experience here are a few things to consider, and this advice is not exhaustive so feel free to add comments if you think that I’ve missed something people might find helpful. If you have specific questions I’ll try to answer them as I go along, otherwise in part 4.

Part 1 will mainly cover choosing the market that is right for you.
Part 2 Products, Pricing, Marketing and Market Committees
Part 3 Logistics
Part 4 Anything else I have missed, including market politics, and answering specific questions.

When choosing which market might suit your particular product and lifestyle you will need to consider a few things:
Indoor or Outdoor?
Area/suburb? Target demographic?
Style of market, Craft, boutique, mixed? Cost?

There are advantages and disadvantages to all points which will need to be weighed up.
Indoor markets- are a great way to dip your toes in the market waters (so to speak). Here is a picture of mum and I at our very 1st market.

-Inside, so not terribly weather dependant (although visitor numbers will vary at any market with extreme weather conditions)
-usually have the option of having a table provided in the fee (or for a small extra cost)
-Fairly social, usually you are in quite close proximity to other stall holders so you can have friendly chats and make lots of friends.
-Often the space allocated is quite small so depending on your product, you may not be able to display a lot of it. Sometimes there can be a little bit of jostling for extra space (I’ll talk about market politics in part 4)
-As most indoor markets are in town halls or similar, depending on the day (Saturday or Sunday) parking can be an issue. You may have to park quite far away which can be inconvenient if you heed to carry heavy stock or move your car regularly because of parking restrictions.

Outdoor Markets- can be a lovely experience on a sunny day.
-Large sites, most outdoor markets have sites big enough to allow you to erect an umbrella or marquee, about 3x3m, some have an allocated car space as well. This means you can have lots of product and arrange it anyway you like. You can have your car right there so loading and unloading is fairly easy.
-On a sunny day, every man and his dog will be out so visitor numbers may be quite high. You get to enjoy the fresh air and general ‘jeu de vie’ about it all.
-Some of the larger outdoor markets have huge visitor numbers, so sales may be higher than say a community craft market
-Weather! Drizzle, rain, torrential rain! Extreme heat, and the market’s mortal enemy Wind! Underestimate the power of a gust of wind to your peril (discussed further in Logistics)
-The great outdoors ie. Flies, dust, sunburn (sunscreen is essential even under an umbrella)
-You’ll need to bring along your own tables, chairs and some form of shelter. An umbrella is ok in nice weather but a marquee will protect you better if the weather turns.
-Cost, you may need to purchase tables, umbrellas, tents.
-Set up and Pack down may take longer as you will need to put shelter up/down

Choosing the area/suburb-
You may need to consider the distance from home. Most markets expect you to be fully set up at least half an hour before the official start. Others have allocated bump in times depending on the stall layouts which can start as early as 6.30am. So if you don’t like dawn wake up calls, stick to markets close to home.
Some suburbs/areas are more affluent than others so crossing town may be worth while if you will sell more and/or get a higher price for your product.
If you already wholesale to retailers that are nearby to the market, you will need to consider this when setting your prices

Target demographic- some areas are not particularly affluent but have a huge population of young families with kids for example. If you are selling affordable children’s clothing you could do well, dried flower arrangements, maybe not so much. Think about who your product will appeal to and where those people live. If there’s a market there, you could be on a winner

Style of market/cost-
These two things are usually closely linked. Find out what your market fee includes. Table hire, chairs, public liability insurance? Liability insurance is quite important. Most markets will include these in your fee, you can opt out if you have your own, but usually having your own insurance isn’t cost effective unless you do 2-3 markets a month. The markets liability insurance will not cover product liability, so keep that in mind.
I have had to opt out of some local council run markets/fairs because insurance wasn’t included in the stall fee and wasn’t worth organising for a single event. Check the fine print before committing time and money.

Boutique markets- these markets are the highly curated ones with lovely covetable and sometimes expensive items. They may only happen a few times a year, are usually well publicised and have lots of affluent clientele with dollars to spend. They can be quite lucrative if you have the right product. ‘That’s my kind of market’ I hear you say. Well yes, it may very well be if you are prepared to spend $300+ on a stall, some of these markets quote up to $1500 for a larger space. Now that’s a lot of product to sell!
Boutique markets are usually intimate affairs, so being considered to attend one may also be difficult. Some are generally invitation or recommendation only, with no guarantee of a regular gig.

Craft markets- There are craft markets and then there are Craft Markets! This style of market ranges from the nanna’s chenille scarf knitting kind, to the uber trendy inner city type ones, and everything in between. Where does your product sit comfortably. Visit lots of markets before you apply to any to get the feel of what the market committee likes.

Mixed markets- these can be good or not so good. I quite like the markets that have home made food stalls and locally grown fresh fruit and veg. This generates a regular market clientele that comes back month after month to by their bread, apples etc...
The ones you may need to look out for are the markets that sell mass produced imported stuff at ridiculously cheap prices. Beautifully hand made products shouldn't compete for attention with a cheap, disposable made in a sweatshop anything. If you sell hats and the person 2 stalls away is selling hats for half the price, it’s unlikely you’ll sell many even if yours are 10x nicer.

So in summary, visit lots of markets, talk to the stall holders, are they happy with how the market operates? Which markets do you like and feel comfortable and enjoy going to? Why? Consider some of the points above, and you should be able to make choice that suits you. But mainly, give it a go, you’ve got nothing to loose.