Yesterday we were at the Somerset West Country Craft Market, and our neighbours were a couple selling baby products and wooden toys. We hadn’t met them before and, as one does, ending up chatting quite a bit. The husband told me that they weren’t doing particularly well at the market and thought they’d give it up. I’ve been thinking over our conversation, and here are some thoughts about trading at markets (for what it’s worth!) And to avoid a boring text-only post, I’m chucking in some arb pics of the day….
1. Don’t give up on a particular market until you’ve traded there at least three times. It takes customers and other vendors time to get to know you and remember what you are selling, and that’s the only way to build up sales over the long term.
2. You might need to try more than one market in the same general area, because there are so many variables. If a particular market in, say, Rondebosch isn’t working for you (after 3 or more tries), it doesn’t mean that you won’t do well at the Baxter market down the road, which attracts a different age group and is on Saturdays instead of Sundays.
3. Try a market in a different area. For example, in Cape Town, customers who come to the Kirstenbosch Market in the southern suburbs don’t usually also visit the Country Craft Market in Somerset West, which is in the northern suburbs, and has a completely different customer profile.
4. Don’t get despondent if you have a bad day. Yes, much easier said than done (trust me, I know!), but you CANNOT LET THAT BRING YOU DOWN. If you’ve planned your stall and given it your best, then bad sales could be due to the weather, to a public holiday, to a range of things you have no control over. That’s just the way it is. Believe that the next time will be better. Everyone has bad days, even traders who’ve been doing it for fifteen years!
5. Avoid the temptation to pack too many items into your stall. We fell into this trap over and over in the first few months of trading. Yes, you are a creative genius and all your products are stunning, so I know you want to display every single thing you’ve ever made — but don’t. An over-busy display will mind-boggle the people just strolling past, and they won’t be able to focus on a single item. They will walk past. If you can attract them your way with something really eye-catching and striking, then you can tell them about the other colours and sizes, and your ideas for crocheting a rocket ship.
6. Use blackboards or printed notices to display prices or what the item is. People wandering around markets are distracted by all the activity and bustle, and may also be trying to keep an eye on their rug rats/spouses/dogs, so you need to make things really easy for them. For example, on one side of a row of house slippers, I put a little blackboard that says “House slippers, 100% cotton and slip-proof”, and on the other side “R135 = perfect xmas gift”. A lot of people don’t like to ask the price of an item, and some people don’t even want to engage much with the vendor, it makes them feel pressured. Make it as painless as possible!
I have many more thoughts, but really don’t want to bore you. Maybe I’ll do a ‘Thoughts #2’ post later in the week?
Back soon x