Monday, 20 December 2010

Lessons I've Learnt 7 - Craft Market

Now we've identified the 3 main types of markets how do we decide which one is best for our product? As I said in the last post there is no magic formula for this. In fact if you decide that you really want to try either 'Event' type then your best bet is to do what an old boss used to say to me "just suck it and see". This was his version of trial and error.

If you decide that you are going to try a 'regular' market then there a few tipsand hints. Before I get to them though there is one thing you need to remember about markets. This is a Lesson I Learnt early on. All Markets are retail. Customers follow their same shopping/buying rules at a market as they do to buy groceries etc.

Stop for a moment and consider these questions. Everyone's answers will be a little different based on their individual circumstances and preferences. Just like your potential customers.

Do you shop for your weekly groceries at a large shopping centre complete with cinemas, large dept stores or do you shop at the smaller centre with one chain supermarket, a butcher, newsagent, chemist, fruit shop and bottle shop?

When you need to top up on milk and bread do you go to the chain or pop out to the corner store?

Do you buy your meat, fruit and veges at the supermarket or do you prefer to support the independant stores?

Do you visit the larger shopping centres just for an outing?

For me I never go into large shopping centres unless I'm going to the movies. I prefer to shop at the smaller supermarket, buy meat & fruit from the independants and top up at the local store. As for clothes , shoes etc you are more likely to find me on the high street or opshop than shopping centres.

Your potential customers make these same decisions about shopping at Markets. Some will choose small local  flea markets looking for a bargain, some will choose the market in the upmarket suburb happy to tell people how expensive the item was, some will want to visit only handmade markets where they can engage with the maker, some will visit a market just to get out of the house.

Some tips and hints to help you make your decision:

1. Visit some different markets.Seems obvious but you would be surprised how many people pick up a copy of Markets & Fairs, phone and make a booking sight unseen.

2. Leave the kids and your wallet at home. This is research you are not shopping. The kids will get bored and you will end up leaving without finding what you need to know.

3. Have a look at stalls selling similar products. How are yours different? Is there a lot of stalls selling similar items? How do they display their items?

4. Find a spot to sit and watch customers habits. Does every customer stop at every stall? Do they all buy something? How many come back on their way out to purchase?

5. What makes them buy? Is it the price? The product? The interaction with the stallholder?

6. Resist the urge to speak to stallholders. You will either get the stallholder who says everything is wonderful all of the time or the ones who are always complaining. If you visit a well known market in a popular holiday area near us the incumbent stallholders are notoriously rude and nasty toward newbies.

That's your onsite research done. But you're are not done yet.

7. Once you are home have another look at your product? Is it a good match for the market? Can  you reconsider your pricing, packaging, display to make it a better fit?

8. Will your product be suitable for an outdoor market or would an indoor venue suit better?

9. Do you have to supply your own marque, tables, lights etc?

10. Can you leave you car at your site or do you have to move it? How far are you carrying your stock?

11. Are you capable of erecting a marque on your own?

12. Can you keep  your stock level up for a weekly market? If not a fortnightly/ monthly market might suit you better.

13. Will you have the same stall site everytime? This may have an impact on how you set you your display, how you let customers know where to find you.

14. Do you have to book and pay for your site before the actual day? Do you pay upon arrival? Later in the day?

15. Do you have to have your own insurance?

Only you can answer these questions. What will make one person say 'no way' will be a definitive 'yes' from another. I'm sure there are lots of things I have missed that would help a new stallholder make a decision. If you have any hints and tips please add them to the comments and I will incorporate them into the next post.


wimcee said...

Excellent guidance Trish - the only thing I can add is that I've found that often market success depends on being prepared to show up regularly for several markets before really being able to see how well customers have taken to your product. Preferably, can you secure the same spot or same general area for repeat markets, as customers seem to like that consistency? This can mean quite an investment - say three markets to really see how well you are going to do, but maybe even more - so a market with a cheaper site fee may be more feasible.

leyla said...

So much to think about - I definitely identify with the bit about incumbent stallholders. I'm new to doing craft markets and I've experienced about that.