Selling at markets are not for the faint of heart. It is HARD work! A local market called St. Louis Vintage Market Days is happening April 13-15.
With the market gearing up there are a lot of first time vendors emailing me asking for advice. I find that so so flattering because I think my booth by and large usually is sub par. I know I know, I am to hard on myself but let me explain. Up until last fall we strictly did just furniture at markets. I knew the importance of making your booth look pretty but it was too hard for me to find time to do when I am also running a renovation business at the same time. However, we always had a five figure weekend. This fall, my focus will be making my booth pretty AND successful but I can offer some key pointers to make your booth a HIT!
First, and most important. FIVE figures is not necessarily your profit. In fact, because we have to shut down our business to fully focus on a market for at least 7 days we actually usually just break even in overhead and labor costs BUT breaking even is a WIN for us because if you treat the event like a marketing tool it will pay off tenfold. If markets are your sole source of income then you probably don’t have the labor and overhead costs we do and therefore you can use the below advice to really make a substantial impact on your revenue!
I have heard all the positives and negatives about our booths and others from customers because I make it a point to ASK so I have a few tidbits of wisdom to share.
There are a few important must haves for EVERY SINGLE BOOTH to have no matter what you are selling.
1. A SIGN!
You MUST have a sign, maybe more than one, with your name on it. If you can add the city and state you are from that is even better. Some people like buying things from vendors that are unique and from far away and some like buying local but either way, you will thank me in not having to answer this question 2364 times.
2. BOOTH DIVISION
A clear division between your booth and the next booth. Even a clear division will sometimes still not clear up confusion but you HAVE to try to help make it easy. Customers get frustrated if they can’t figure out booth spaces and even if it seems clear cut to you the market all blends together for the customer
PRICE EVERYTHING. You will do at least twice the amount of money in sales if your pricing is clear and easy to understand. If I have to ask someone how much something is, I usually will pass and I am not the only one. Most people do not want to wait to talk to someone to find out. If items are not priced, you ARE losing sales.
Take Cash and CREDIT. You can get sqaure or so many other ways to accept payment so easily now.
You need to promote yourself leading up to the market. You can use the market’s social media channels and your own. Share lots of sneak peeks! Also, because people may be coming to your social media pages for the first time during the market have your page’s ON POINT with eye catching photos of what you do as the first thing anyone will see. Give them a reason to STAY!
Ok, so those are the obvious things. There are some less obvious tips that are as equally as important!
If you have a 10×10 you will probably not have a lot of room for people, especially multiple people to come into your booth. You have to think of the best way to display as much as possible. If you have a booth that is mainly smalls, crates or shelving in a U shape is usually a good way to go. If you have big items like furniture, coming up with a way to stack items 2 high is best. You don’t want to crowd the space so people feel like they can’t get in so going up is perfect.
If you have a booth that is a 10×20 or larger you want to leave a path. Ideally, you should have space large enough for a stroller to get around. This is the biggest compliment I hear about our booth and most frequent complaint I hear from attendees about other booths. People get REALLY mad about this.
Another great tip on layout for larger booths is to have a set up so that a person can’t see EVERYTHING from just walking buy. You want to force them to come in for a minute if you can.
This is where “smalls” really help. Not only do they decorate your booth but they pull people in – this is something I will be doing more of for sure!
Another reason smalls are good is because markets have ups and downs and sometimes furniture is a hit and sometimes smalls are a hit so be creative with how much inventory you have in each category.
Sadly, I learned this lesson the hard way. I have seen so many vendors lose tents, lose merchandise to unexpected wind, rain, and even tornados. Each night during a market you need to make sure to pull everything in and protect it! Another tip, you may want to check out the surrounding area and think about if sprinklers come on or if there is a rain storm could water potentially run through your booth. Often times people store items under tables and it could get damaged if they aren’t lifted off the ground. You don’t want to lose merchandise!
This is a hard one! I usually like to have enough items to completely fill my booth at least twice. Of course, it is a huge bummer if it doesn’t all sell BUT you want to look full to the bitter end so my goal is to never sell out but to be stocked to entice customers up until the end. I have made A LOT of sales at the end of the market by doing this. I rent a truck (now we own a trailer) and we usually store it close by to refill!
You want to have an obvious check out area and someone at it at all times. If you have the type of booth that you really need someone available to talk to people, you need to plan on having at least one helper so one person is available to check out at all times. You don’t want people to WAIT to give you money.
THANK customers for coming, tell them they can find you on facebook or your website or wherever and have business cards to put out.
We generally go through at least a few thousand business cards at an event and get so many calls and emails for MONTHS after. We put them on every surface so people can grab them walking by. Treating the event like a marketing event for you pays off.
Remember, the key thing is to make your booth EASY for customers to shop. Don’t prevent strollers from coming in. Don’t prevent people from easily finding prices or checking out and GIVE INFORMATION. Banners and business cards are sooo cheap you can’t afford not to do this!
GOOD LUCK everyone