Whether you are entering into your first market season as a budding creative business person or you are a seasoned craft fair pro, I want to share some of my personal strategies to staying sane while I prep for an event. I am currently in full swing getting ready for two upcoming markets just around the corner in June (The Broke Arts Fair, June 8th, Peterborough NH; and Renegade Craft Fair, June 22nd + 23rd, Brooklyn NY) and I thought there was no better time to share these tips with you than when I am in the midst of it.
This guide kicks in once you have been accepted to an event, though if you haven’t yet applied these things might still be worth thinking about ahead of time too! So here we go!
Upon acceptance, most markets send out an email notifying you that you made it! You are in! At this point you should indulge in a little happy dance and celebrate your victory. Next, you should thoroughly read that acceptance email because it often contains vital information about next steps.
Maybe you need to confirm your participation. Or you need to pay a balance on a booth fee. Or secure rentals from the market like a table and chair or wifi access. Or maybe the event requests certain materials for publicity and marketing. All of these types of details matter and usually have deadlines attached, so make sure you pay attention!
Now that you have read through all the important event details, it’s time to get organized! I like to create a calendar for myself and map out my working days from market acceptance to event date. This is the time to identify what tasks you need to complete before the craft fair—things like sales/inventory goals, marketing strategies, and display and packaging needs.
I’ve put together a free Market Organizer that you can access by hopping on my mailing list here to help you keep track of these details! If you are already receiving emails from me, you can find this resource in your inbox! Look for an email from firstname.lastname@example.org!
Planning your inventory might be the most important step to preparing for a successful market. You want to make sure that you have created enough goods and products not only to turn a profit, but also to maintain a beautiful and stocked display. When you are figuring out your inventory goals, be sure to take into account the costs of participating in the event such as booth fee, material cost of raw goods and packaging, as well as your precious time. You want to have enough product on hand to first pay yourself back for these expenses and second to turn a profit. Having an idea of how much money you want to make at an event can also help you determine how much product you need to create.
And once you have set your goals, DO THE WORK!
You’re in the event. You have an idea of and a plan for what to make. Now you need to get the word out! Use every avenue available to you to let your community know when and where you will be! Do you have an email list? (If you don’t, start one now!) Send an email! Do you use social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram? Tell your followers! Do you talk to people in real life? Tell them what’s up! Your community wants to know whats going on, so don’t be afraid of a little self promotion!
Many markets also provide resources and materials—graphics, event pages, links, etc.—to make spreading the word even easier, so take advantage!
The idea of marketing also covers efforts the day of the event. Make sure you are stocked up on things like business cards (or the more environmentally friendly alternative—a beautiful sign with all your info for shoppers to take a picture of!) and other handouts like postcards, buttons, or stickers (I love to hand these items out to kids because A. kids love takeaways and B. they walk around like little billboards).
Last but not least, plan out your display! Start with the basics: Is the event indoor or outdoor? Do you need a tent? Does the event provide a table and chair? Do you need to rent a table and chair? Do you already have a table (or other fancier display system) and chair at home that you are ready to use?
Next, think about the details of your display: How are your products displayed? What does your signage look like? How can you create the best possible experience for your shoppers?
If you are sharing a space with another vendor, be sure to get in touch before the market and communicate your plans. It’s always a good idea to make an introduction and forge a connection before the chaos and potential stress of load-in!
So, if you—like me—are getting ready for market season, I hope you found some value here and good luck! And if you have friends that may benefit from this little guide, please feel free to spread the word!