Behind the Market Table: Part Four

(I know, I know, I’m tardy.)

So. I have a market this weekend. And because I have a full day tomorrow, I had to get everything done today. Who’d like a wee peek into the craziness that is the last day before a market? Good, because that’s what you’re getting!

3:45am
*wakes up and sees the time* Nooooooooo… *rolls over and tries to go back to sleep*

4:30am
Okay, so sleep isn’t happening. I’ll play on my phone for a while.

5:45am
Goddamn bladder. I’m up, I’m up.
Puzzle: YOU WOKE ME UP!
Me: Uh-huh, okay.
Puzzle: I AM SO MAD.
Me: Do you want pets or something?
Puzzle: YOU WOKE ME UP!
Me: We’ve covered that. Not sorry. *heads downstairs*
Puzzle: I WANT OUTSIDE RIGHT NOW.
Me: Right now?
Puzzle: RIGHT NOW RIGHT NOW RIGHT NOW!
Me: Okie-doke *opens door*
Time to be productive, with my caffeine and muffin and fruit.

6:45am
Time for a break/stretch. Check the door, let the cat in.

7:00am
Make a list of everything that needs doing.

7:15am
Panic just a little (because my motivation, and the anxiety that goes with it, is nil.)

7:20am
Get started on one of the strings of tasks, finishing the short stories I plan to debut at the market. This involves editing two short stories, printing ten copies of each, and writing/printing/cutting/gluing envelope labels for the second story (since I did the first one yesterday.)

8:30am
Run up and down the stairs a few times, from basement to second floor, because I go upstairs for more paper but get distracted talking to/about the cat.

8:40am
Add more tasks to to-do list.

8:45am
Realize that the ten labels I just printed are the wrong ones. Argue with laptop before figuring out a way to save and print the correct file. Instead of cutting and gluing the labels while the stories print, now I have to wait until the labels print last.

8:50am
Gather up Shaman’s Trinkets bracelets, ruler, box cutter, and new boards. Let the printer work its magic while I cut the boards to fit the bracelets onto them

9:30am
Realize the printer has been done for a while. Collate printed stories.

9:45am
Start cutting and gluing envelope labels for second story.

9:50am
Stick freshly-glued envelopes under a pile of books, because dollar store gluesticks are crap. Start folding and stuffing copies of the first story into envelopes.

10:00am
Resume putting bracelets on boards. Goodness, it’s tedious.

12:15pm
Need. Food. Time for a stuffing my face/playing on my phone break.

2:30pm
Oh crap, still more stuff to do, and at most, five and a half hours before I crash.

2:40pm
Gather up all stock that I’m taking to do a final inventory and add the necessary items to my payment app.

4:00pm
Finish packing up stock bag.

4:05pm
Begin running around and up/down the stairs, hunting for display items and stock box items.

4:15pm
Is the cat outside? Can’t remember. Check the door. No cat. Must be inside.

4:20pm
Sit down and unpack back entirely, sorting through all items. Write up list of stock box items, so I can type up a printable list later.

4:25pm
Puzzle: I HEARD THE DOOR.
Me: Sure did.
Puzzle: I WANT OUTSIDE.
Me: I’m sure you do.
Puzzle: MOVE OFF THE STAIRS.
Me: I’m busy right now. You can go around.
Puzzle: NO. MOVE.
Me: Nope.
Puzzle: I WANT TO GO OUTSIDE.
Me: Then learn to open the door yourself. Actually, no, don’t do that.

4:40pm
Realize the card reader needs a charge. Oops!

5:00pm
Realize the Big Fancy necklace stand is…dunno where. Uh-oh. Time for more cardio.

5:10pm
Find Big Fancy. Yay!

5:15pm
Start re-packing market bag.

5:30pm
Zip-up market bag. Lights and card reader are still charging, but they can go in later.

5:35pm
Holy crap, I’m done. Whaaaat. What am I forgetting? I’ve got time to remember. Type up printable stock box list for next market.

5:45pm
OH CRAP, MY APRON. I AM NOT FORGETTING THAT AGAIN. And I should get my stock bag and the ammo box (yes, the ST bracelet cards are in an ammo box) upstairs, so I don’t forget them. Same with the three lights that are charged. And the papers that I need for my appointment in the morning. And I really should toss the rest of the hot-cold packs in the freezer. And get the insulated bag ready for whatever snacks I’m taking…

And that’s how it goes when I’m not rushing to make extra stock…

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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.

Read Part One here.
Read Part Three 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.

Read Part Two here.
Read Part Three here.