Are you a maker or small business looking to get out of your studio, store, or online shop so you can connect with and reach more people? Summer Fair and Market Events are a great way to accomplish this AND bring in more revenue. But I have to be honest, they are A LOT of work. Follow along for my tips and tricks for making sure you’re prepped for success.
First, know that every event is different. If a fair or market event is just starting out, they may accept anyone who applies. If it’s a high-traffic, popular event, it might be juried. This means you’ll have to submit an application, links to your website or social media accounts, and most importantly; you’ll have to submit photos of your products or previous setups. Rejection is hard, but it happens!
When we first started our business, my sister and I applied to a couple of popular events in our area and we did not get accepted. It was disappointing but it also motivated us to make improvements. Not only did we improve our merchandise, but we improved how we styled and photographed them. The second time we applied for each event, we got in!
#2: Set up
You’ll need to think beyond inventory – which will take plenty of time to make or curate. Consider the type of event and venue. Will you be indoors or outdoors? Be prepared for bad weather – will you need a tent? Will you need one table or several tables? If you aren’t sure, read the agreement or contract.
If it isn’t clear, you can do some research on your own. Visit the event’s social media pages or website and look for pictures from previous events to see how other vendors were set up. And if it’s a weekend long event, don’t forget side panels for your tent in case it rains!
#3: Stand out
Standing out is more important and time-consuming than you might think. If you’re participating in an event that has dozens or even 100 vendors, you’ll want your booth to STAND OUT. The first year we participated in The Summer Market, we brought this fan display with us and it definitely caught the eye of many new customers. It also turned out to be a great spot for snapping photos. The more people that want to take pictures or selfies in your booth, the better!
You want to catch the eyes of your ideal customer. Get creative and try to use the space around your setup to your advantage. You’ll want your space to be visually appealing. This can be challenging in a space without walls so you’ll want to build height. This can be done with custom built displays, walls, or by using your merchandise.
Once you know what you need to take with you: tent, walls, tables, displays, merchandise, etc., you’ll have to think about how you’ll get it all there. We’ve seen some people pack an SUV and set-up their entire display alone.
We, on the other hand, tend to have many furniture pieces, dozens of boxes of merchandise, and several display pieces so we’ll reserve a Uhaul truck. We also usually set up a double booth with a large tent, and we’ve learned that we shouldn’t do it alone. Several family members are now always on staff to help us with the setup and take down process.
You’ll find that with each event that passes, you’ll learn something new. But it does help to be prepared as possible for the next summer fair or market event. If you want some more tips on the smaller details, click here to read my blog post about 10 items for your booth.
And if you want to learn how to set a sales goal for your first market event? Click here to read my suggestions on how to set benchmarks for beginners.
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Since founding The Salvaged Boutique with her sister in 2013, Kathy watched her passion grow from a fun blog and hobby with her sister on the side of her full-time job, to a thriving brick and mortar home decor store. After running the store for years, she saw the need for an online community where small business owners could find resources. So she took it upon herself to create Savvy Shopkeeper, a blog and online business dedicated to educating, motivating and building a community of shop owners. From a full-time job to full-time entrepreneur, Kathy helps hundreds of store owners and makers navigate store ownership while running a store herself.