APPLYING TO MARKETS: 101
Since so many people have been asking about markets, I figured we would do a “Market Tips” series! So follow along in the next few weeks and soak up some of the knowledge I found out by trial and error – aka learn from my mistakes!
So you’ve made a kick ass product or service, you’ve perfected it and now you’re ready to show it to the world – but don’t own your own store front. Welcome to the wonderful world of Craft Markets. Do you hear those choir bells singing? For my knitting company Knitatude, craft markets are where I make the most bang for my buck – or the largest amount of my yearly income. That being said after doing over 20 shows in the last 3 years I can tell you that not every market is the same, and each one has their own quirks.
GET YOUR GAME FACE ON
First things first, you need to find your perfect market! Just like picking a best friend, picking a craft market that fits you is just as important when sending out applications. I must add that not all craft markets are created equal! You have to find the ones that are the best fit for you and your product. The best mindset I suggest to go into the market application season with is: “Not every market is going to be the right one for me“. With a table fee on the line you don’t want to be wasting your money or time on a lousy market where you don’t sell anything and sit there with your thumb up your ass…
DO YOUR RESEARCH
When looking at craft fairs and markets I suggest doing a ton of research. Start googling “craft fairs/markets in X city”, stalk facebook events and meet other vendors and see what shows are their favourite each year. Then start asking a bunch of questions like; How many shows have the organizers put on? What was the response like? How many people went? Did they have an facebook event page so you can creep these stats? What type of people are going to this event? Are they your target market? How much is the booth fee? Are they doing any advertising? Do they have an application process, or is it just first come first serve? These questions really come in handy in the long run since you want to be finding the markets where your product or service will sell the best.
*PS first come first serve markets may sound great, but they often are not. Curated shows that are juried are in my opinion the best because you can be guaranteed to not be up against too much competition. Example: It would suck to be a jewelry artist and land in a market with 50 other jewelry makers because there wasn’t a cap for that product.
WHAT’S THEIR VIBE? ARE THEY YOUR TRIBE?
Just like you have a target market, so do craft fairs. Whether it’s super artsy fartsy, vintage and barnyard chic, upscale or hipster or just a community flea market, each one attracts a certain type of person. When it comes to this, I like to say that you get what you pay for. If you’re paying $25 dollars for a table, expect for the outcome to be $25 dollars worth… or for the buyers to only want to spend $25 max. If you’re paying $800 for a booth, you should expect $800 dollars worth. With the larger spend you should be expecting the show to do advertising, have a large and big space for vendors, large social media etc. Pair your markets with your line of products as well. If your items are more costly, don’t do a flea market – people are only going to haggle with you on your prices. Go to the markets that attract the people who value your work.
NAIL THAT APPLICATION
So if you’ve found the perfect market and your ready to apply, my biggest advice I can give you is treat your application with the utmost respect and like a business deal. Make sure to apply in the specific way they have asked (whether that’s in an application form on their website, or an email questionnaire) and be ready to go into detail of your product, answer all of their questions and check your grammar! Bring your A-game and make them visualize what you are going to sell – and don’t skimp even if you know the market coordinator! Whether you get in or not is going to be based on your application as well as your products, so show your best – which includes great photos if they ask for them. Professional photos can really make you stand out in the crowd!
NEGATIVES AND POSITIVES
Let’s not beat around the bush, there are definitely negatives when it comes to markets. Markets can be really draining. They take up a bunch of time to a) create enough stock to fill your booth, and b) the physical market days, the table fees add up and you can get some pretty nasty comments from people saying asinine things to your face. (Want to know a few regular ones and how to respond? Check out this previous blog post!) That being said craft markets also have really great positives like the opportunity of viewing your target market in person, doing market research on your best selling inventory and of course where you get to meet your “fans” face to face. There truly is nothing better than seeing someone light up when they try on your product, or the amazement when they say they follow you on social media and feel like they know you. It’s such a rewarding experience.
Have you done a market before? What was your experience? Did any just suck and you realize they didn’t fit your brand? What did you do to try and accommodate your situation?