If you have been following my on my social media, you may have seen that I have done my first market ever back in November of 2019. I wanted to share some of my experiences with this market on what I learned and what I will do differently for next time. I hope that this post will bring you some insight on what to do for your first market, or help you decide to take the dive and attend one yourself!
Disclaimer- my photos for the posts are grabbed from my Instagram, because at the time I wasn’t going to write a blog for the experience.
The Polkadot Roadshow November 2019
This was a work in progress for me, as I heard about the Polkadot Roadshow back in 2018, before I even thought about starting a small business. I wasn’t able to attend their fall/winter boutique, but I was able to go to their Spring 2019 one, where I wanted to get a feel of the event. I highly recommend attending markets and fairs that you are thinking about becoming a vendor for. This sounds like a long to plan as you may have to plan a year in advanced to do these events. I was super impressed from the get-go of the event and want to say a huge thank you to the event coordinators, Lisa and Maryann, for putting on such a well put together event and including me in your line up!
Preparations to the Market
I totally was last minute applicant to their market and am super grateful that they took me into consideration and accepted me into their show. I applied at their cut off time at the end of July and found out I was accepted in the beginning of August. I had from August to November to begin Market Prep. Now, did I fully take all the time to sit down and serious prep from August to November? You bet your bottom dollar my procrastinator took to the final few weeks to do all the big finishes. For the first few weeks I took to social media on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest to get primarily my ideas.
The Makers Who Have Inspired Me
@TaylorLynnCrochet was one of the first ones I took to internet searches. Her website has a whole section on her market experiences along with her live streams over on her and @ACraftyConcept Facebook group where they have Tuesday Talks. They will have a general theme to talk about during those streams, and the days where they talked about market prepping and market tips, I was there with a pen and paper writing down those notes. Also, Toni of @TLYarnCrafts has a youtube series that she posted up of her previous live streams about some craft show advice and tips. Toni has a whole amazing blog about craft show advice that I absolutely highly recommend you check out her information. You will absolutely fall in love with Toni and just everything about her. A HUGE thank you to @AlabasterPurl for being such an amazing maker friend for answering questions I had along the way about anything market. I was feeling so clueless asking her some of these questions, but Laurel was so incredibly selfless answering these questions I had. We would joke about how mannequins were a little creepy but such a big recommendation for the shows.
I think the hardest part for anyone trying to prep for their market is WHAT THE HECK DO I BRING!? My biggest advice is to write it down. Pick some patterns out that have been a hit for you sales wise or even with people loving it. I first wrote down maybe 20 patterns that were hits for me previously with friends and family, and then again, took to social media to find what is selling. Then once you get that list down, cut things out. Really hone into what you want to bring. I brought 5 beanie designs in sizes from baby to adult, 1 headband design, 1 size pumpkins, scrunchies, 1 cup cozy design. From these, I did various colors to add a broad spectrum of options for customers. Bring items that are in EVERY price range. I had items that started at $5 and went all the way up $350 (being a luxury merino wool arm knit blanket). Having this broad price range meant I hit an audience from someone on a budget, to those ready to buy that day.
What Did Well and What Did Not?
Let me start out with what did not do well for me. Scrunchies were way low on the selling list, but I feel like that has to do with my placement. I had a scrunchie wall with the cup cozies and hand dyed yarns. However, this wall was shoved to the back of my booth and was mostly covered to the general public when people were inside my booth looking at other items. I do know that another vendor was selling crochet scrunchies at a much lower price than mine, which I do feel like that hurt me too. Which that can happen, especially if in your show, someone else has the same type of items. Headbands were an okay sell. I primarily have headbands left over from the market. Now, I feel like the remaining headbands didn’t sell, do to the color. They are very loud colors that are very bold that not everyone would like to wear. Those cute to look at, but not to wear colors aren’t for everyone. I would next time stick to a color theme for these type items
Items that did well during my market were the chunky knit beanies. Cable knit beanies to the color work beanies were a hit. I didn’t come home with 1 of those left. The cable knits were my highest priced beanies and those all sold within the first few hours of the market. I actually had a lot of custom orders of my own Rising Tide beanies [Pattern available for purchase over on Etsy and Ravelry].
8 Foot by 8 Foot Booth Layout
I was super fortunate to attend a market that had a booth spaces starting at 8′ x 8′. They did offer table rental services, but I had 3 tables in storage that I was able to use. I highly recommend taking 2 to even maybe 3 weeks prior to your show to play with your booth display. What I did at home was mark out what would be 8′ by 8′ on the other side of my bedroom. I basically had a shop inside my bedroom. My initial plan was to have all 3 tables making a U shape in the space, thinking that my tables were 6 feet long by 2 feet wide. This is why I recommend doing a live mock up of your booth. After cleaning up the tables and getting them up, I realized by tables were in face 6.5 feet by 2.5 feet. Making that U shape not plausible without going into my neighbors booths. I ended up talking to @AlabasterPurl over on Instagram where she helped me figure out a layout that can work with my booth, using the tables I already had. Laurel [AlabasterPur] showed me to just take 2 tables and put them on each side of the booth and to stick my peg board in the back.
Let’s Talk Signage
Now, I wasn’t able to get a full picture up with my booth and it’s custom sign made by the lovely @KnottedAndCorked who I hit up very last second to make a sign for my booth. I highly recommend it as, you can tell in the booth photos, it looks incomplete. I really urge you to get some signage to show who your booth is. Otherwise, people may be looking for your booth from adverts from the event and walk right past you without knowing that it is you. It also helps for future customers or returning to know who you are. Aside from my main brand sign, I also have 4 smaller picture frame signs that let people know where to follow me on my socials; one for pricing for only the pumpkins, cup cozies, and scrunchies; one to let people know what payments I accept; and one to let customers know I take custom orders! I didn’t want to flood my booth with those word-y type signs, because face it, people don’t read. I tagged every item and wrote prices on everything [except the pumpkins, cup cozies, and scrunchies] so that customer’s wouldn’t feel the need to ask me for everything, overlooking a sign.
TAGS TAGS TAGS
The biggest thing for me as a customer is having items tagged for what they are and how much they are. I have really bad social anxiety when it comes to shopping. Usually I have a budget in mind and I really try to adhere to those dollar signs. I HATE having to ask someone for a price, because what if it’s too much and I can’t buy it but I don’t want to offend them because I can’t pay for what they deserve? I tagged EVERYTHING. @TheKnottyBoss over on Etsy has AMAZING templates to choose from to help you tag your items for your markets. Ana [@TheKnottyBoss] even has a very easy market tag bundle for you to grab.
When I was in the thick of market prep, I kept saying how I didn’t want to do this again…. BUT, then I did the show and really enjoyed my experiences with it and all the things I have learned from the market. So much so that next year in 2020 I already have scoped out a few markets to try and do 3 during the fall/winter time. I think it was a little tedious to work the same patterns over and over again, but being able to see how excited people were over the things I made, and were happily paying the prices I thought were fair, I made me feel good about being able to do some thing like this. I have a lot of plans for the 2020 markets that I will be prepping for throughout the year so be sure to stay in touch with me here to find out what steps and changes I will be making for the next season.