Thursday, July 25, 2013

Top 20 Tips for Selling at Craft Shows & Flea Markets

Most vintage sellers and upcyclers / repurposers (like me) participate in flea market type shows. I only do about 2-4 shows per year, but other sellers often do 1 show per month. These shows can be very profitable, but they require a lot of work. Here are some tips that I try to follow to make these events run smoothly.

1. Have a plan - I normally start planning a month or more in advance for what I am going to sell and how I want me booth to look.

2. Get organized - Get everything tagged / priced and packed the night before.

3. Have an attractive display - This does not mean that it needs to be organized to the T or need to have expensive props. But if the customer doesn't want to look at what you have then they won't come over and make a purchase.

4. Have a balanced sellers personality - You need to be friendly, but your mind needs to be on making the sale. Don't be overly loud and aggressive because that will scare the seller away. Be sure that if you have room to come down on the price, then accept the buyers offer.

5. Be nice - You want to make sure that you are engaging and polite. Many people will make a purchase based on your interaction with them.

6. Change your display - If you are selling the same item at each show / event then make sure to change your display. If you display is the same every time people may get board and not stop by. You want your buyer to be excited about your product, want to look at it, and want to purchase it.

7. Restock and have new merchandise - If you are participating in a 2 or 3 day show make sure that you have plenty of inventory that you have bring out as the days go by. Having a trailer or U-Haul is important.

8. Sell what people want - I already know what you're thinking "how do I know what others are going to want?" Well after doing a few shows you will start to see what people are buying, especially if you have done the same show more than once. I can tell you that at smaller flea market / vintage type events smaller items are better. If you are at Alameda or a LARGE show then larger items might sell better.
9. Price reasonably - Don't be greedy -  Make sure to price your item with a profit, but you cant expect that your buyer is going to pay through the roof when they can get it two spaces down for less.

10. Advertise - Most shows / event hosts will advertise, but that doesn't mean that you cant do a little of your publicity. But an add on craigslist or contact the local paper.

11. Social Media - This goes along with advertising - post sneak peeks and event info on twitter, facebook, instagram, etc, etc. Using social media might get you sales before you even get to the event!

12. Enlist the help of your friends - You cannot do a vendor show by yourself...YOU WILL NEED HELP! Plus its always more fun when you have someone to talk too! And that way you can shop!

13. Get there early - There is nothing worst then getting stuck in a line of cars and cargo vans all trying to get to their spaces and get get their early!

14. Be flexible and embrace change - Nothing every works out exactly like we think it will, so be flexible and embrace changing the plan or changing the design.

15. Take notes - Take notes along the way. Whether it be about what other vendors are doing, what you want to change the next time, or what you might learn from talking to customers and other vendors.

16. Keep good records - You want to make sure that you are keeping track of your sales. You want to do this so you know what's selling, how you are making, and in case their is a problem. I use The Square and sometimes its a little finicky so I always keep a note pad with the customers name and the amount of purchase just in case.

17. Have business cards - You don't want to have stacks of them laying out everywhere because you pay for them and it adds to the bottom line, but if you want people to call you or find your shop / Etsy then give them a card. I also give keep customer that purchases a card.

18. Use a canopy or pop-up tent - This will protect you and your buyers from the weather and give your space a more store like feel. You don't want you buyers dying in the heat or getting wet if its raining.

19. Signage - You want to make sure that you have a sign clearly showing your name or company name so people remember you. Have repeat customers at an event is very important and since you might now always get the same space you need to have signage.

20. Have FUN!

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