Behind the Market Table: Part Two

(I know, I know, I’m a little late on this. I’m sick, and my brain gets all boggled when I’m sick.)

Okay, so you’ve packed up you necessary stationary and personal items and food and so on.

But what products are you going to bring? That’s the real question, isn’t it? That’s what customers are going to see and care about, not how many kinds of tape you have in your kit.

Whether you keep plenty of stock on-hand or need to make it, you’ll still have decisions to make. Themed markets can be easy. Upcoming holiday? Bring matching items. But you’ll still have some things to consider.

You’ll want to have one or two larger, eye-catching displays. For me, that’s fancy necklaces or necklace sets. But these tend to be expensive and take up lots of space on the table, so don’t bring too many. And while it’s wonderful when they sell, their real purpose is to draw people to your table and get them looking and asking questions. Once they’re looking at your table, chances are they’ll buy one or more of your lower-priced items.

Focus on mid-priced items. I find $20-40 is a good sweet spot, but this may vary depending on what you make. Obviously, don’t under-sell yourself. The majority of my table is somewhere in that mid-range. I find that most customers are coming in to spend their money at a variety of places, so while they may be walking around with $200 in their pockets, they’re not willing to spend it all at one table.

And then I usually have a few items in the $5-10 range, too. If your items are geared towards kids, you may want to have some things that are even cheaper, so kids can use their own pocket money to buy things.

Okay, so you’ve got your price range figured out…but how do you know what to bring in that price range?

If you already sell online, start with popular items from there. But if you make customized items for sale online, bring only ready-made stuff to your table. Have a sign about custom options, but don’t expect a lot of custom orders at your table. Most customers are going to want to buy items they can walk away with right then.

Planning for a theme is always fun. It could be an upcoming holiday, or you could bring products that tie in with the market’s theme. Think of what the customers are going to expect. Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Easter, Halloween, the holidays, back to school, the seasons. Tailor your offerings and signage to whatever gift-giving event is coming up. You can also just make up your own theme. Have a new product line? Do up a special feature on your table for it.

I also make some items specifically for markets. The hair accessories, namely. They’re too big and bulky for shipping in an envelope, and I don’t have a steady supply of appropriate-sized boxes, so I don’t list them online. New items I usually launch at markets, too, to drum up interest. Like this shiny new thing? Better come to the market to snap it up first.

How much stuff should you bring? Some vendors I know pack their tables with stuff. Personally, I like a little blank space in between displays for balance. That part is up to you, and something you may experiment with over time. And if you want, feel free to draw up a scale chart and plot out your displays. I tend to arrange stuff as I go. I have preferences for certain things (like my tall necklace spinner, that goes off to one side, and the Shaman’s Trinkets bracelets go next to it, since the ST bottle necklaces are on the bottom row) but everything else? It all depends on what I’m feeling at the moment. Maybe it takes longer than coming in with a set plan and just setting things out, but it’s what works for me.

It’s always worth it to bring some extra items. If it looks like things have sold from your table, customers are more inclined to buy. What I do, with my Shaman’s Trinkets bracelets, is I have several on display and sell from that. And then I have extras in a box. I don’t restock the display until I’ve sold several. Customers will often ask me which ones are most popular, but they will sometimes just look at the display and see that, say, Protection has sold the most, so they want a Protection bracelet. I’ve seen the same thing working in retail. Customers will often assume that the item with the lowest available stock is the most popular and therefore worth buying. But you definitely don’t want your table getting so bare that you have nothing.

I hope that gives you some idea of how to plan out your market table.

New Listing: Twee the Beaded Spider

Twee

The adorable Twee is here!

Twee is a petite darling of a beaded spider, made of glass beads and wire. She has a swirly blue and white abdomen with a gold-coloured flower on her bum. She wants nothing more than to sit in a sunny window where her pretty blues will catch your eye. You can pose her dainty legs so she’ll stand steady on uneven surfaces.

Buy here.

Behind the Market Table: Part One

I’m part of a few crafting groups on Facebook, and I’ve been seeing a number of posts from crafters heading to their first markets. They’re looking for tips.

There’s lots of people offering tips on how to set up your displays. You can check Google or Pinterest or whatever tickles your fancy.

But people tend to forget about what you’ll need behind your table. Some things are obvious. Bags, or some other packaging so customers can carry your products. A cash float (tip: if you don’t have to charge sales tax, make your prices all whole dollar amounts, so you don’t need to bother with small change.) But let’s go over a few other things you might want to bring that no one seems to think of. These are general things that any crafter will find useful, for indoor or outdoor markets.

Scissors: Yes, the humble scissors. They don’t have to be large shears. I actually have dog grooming scissors in my box, because they were handy. But most markets I go to, someone asks to borrow scissors at least once, but no one else has any. Don’t be the person scrambling for scissors.

Tape: I pack four kinds of tape in my box. Yes, four. Scotch tape, double-sided tape, packing tape, and dry-erase duct tape (it’s really cool, y’all.) I bring so many because there isn’t one tape that’s good for everything. I’m actually considering packing masking tape and regular duct tape, to make sure ALL my bases are covered. Anyway, again, people ask for tape all day. And I wind up using it pretty often, too.

Sharpies: Bring at least a black one. This isn’t as commonly asked for as tape and scissors, but it does happen.

Notepad: Someone may ask for some paper. But more likely, this will be something you’ll use. One of the things I do at markets is take notes. What people are looking at but not buying, what is selling best, what people are asking for, what took too long to set up, what displays are unstable. Any ideas you come up with while you’re sitting at your table.

Portable Battery and Charging Cords: These are a must if you use your phone to process transactions. The last thing you need is to lose sales at the end of the day because your phone’s battery died. Make sure the battery is charged a night or two before (I don’t recommend charging it overnight, in case you forget to pack it.)

These are things you’ll need at any kind of market. Other things I pack are an assortment of pens, some dry erase markers, paper clips, binder clips, sticky tack, and post-it notes. I use the calculator on my phone if necessary (another reason to keep that battery charged.)

Of course, you should also pack necessary personal-use items. I keep a bottle of Aleve in my box, because my joints and tendons are crap. I also make sure I have lip balm and my Fiddlestick. I always forget to pack a hair elastic. So make sure you pack anything you need to get through a long day standing and lifting.

I keep all these things in my market bag at all times, so I don’t have to think to pack them (the exception being the battery. I cart that around in my purse.) It makes the night-before prep a little easier.