07 Feb How to choose the right craft market for your business
We often hear that online sales will be the death of markets but with the world at your feet, it’s always great to start with a local customer base.
Craft markets don’t come with any guarantees though. A great one will attract lots of footfall and you will enjoy the thrill of people picking up your products, giving you feedback and some will even buy from you on the day….or at your online store afterwards, but you have to pick the right ones.
I’ve done my fair share of selling at craft markets and while some of them have been fantastic, many more have been beyond boring and likely as not have cost a pretty penny on the way. My days of selling where long before the advent of social media however and the wealth of information that can be found online about a market operator is invaluable when deciding which markets to attend and which ones to avoid like the plague.
It’s a delight to have been asked by #FolksyHour to talk about ‘How to choose the right craft market for you’. It is without doubt that market traders, be they crafters or selling other products, need an online platform from which to complement their business and Folksy and e-commerce in general are as important these days as the ability to accept credit cards.
With the benefit of some hindsight, I hope you find the advice below returns some dividends.
Check out the market online
Any market operator worth their salt these days will use social media extensively to promote the market you are going to be spending your hard-earned pitch fee on. Have a look at their website and find all their social media pages.
Are they promoting their customers (you) on Instagram? Have they set up a Facebook Event page and have lots of people been invited? Are they active on Twitter, engaging people in the local area as well as finding exciting new products to sell alongside yours?
You can find out a wealth of information this way and the process should also let you know quite quickly if they are engaging with local press. Have they shared press articles or highlighted other media coverage? If the answer to any of the above is no, then it is unlikely they are going to get customers through the door for you.
But I could be wrong, so don’t take my word for it. Find their past events on Facebook and see what people are saying, either customers or other crafters. Or check out the multitude of Craft Forums online and ask around.
Pay them a visit
Providing you have asked all the usual questions about regular visitor numbers before you apply to a craft market and are happy with the answer, it may be time to check them out in person before you finally commit yourself.
On your approach to the venue, can you see signage and banners? Maybe stop off for a local independent coffee first…..this is just the kind of place that should have leaflets about the market or a poster in the window.
When you get near the entrance, is the market clearly signposted or are people just walking straight past? Depending on the location, it might also be necessary to have good transport links or car parking close by.
When you get into the market itself….do you walk through the door and think ‘Wow, I could stay here for a while’ or do you just want to turn straight around again. A great craft market should not only have good footfall to be successful but should be able to increase dwell time, where customers experience a heightened sense of enjoyment.
More than just a market
There is a common recognition within the market industry, not just for craft markets, that customers are increasingly on the lookout for more than just a place to shop.
Markets offer a meeting place for a community and can create a compelling visitor attraction and each and every crafts person or artisan on the market has a story to tell…..about themselves, about their products, which is just one of the reasons craft markets can be so popular. But does this market organiser go the extra mile for you?
When creating a market offer for the craft community a good place to stop and rest with great coffee and cake should also be available. Inviting local buskers or singers can make the venue more appealing, though some traders often worry about being heard. It is always a bonus if the organiser has taken the time to find a crafter that works around children, so parents can relax and buy your products.
Creating an inviting atmosphere in a market is really important and you could get this vibe from the craft makers being part of an already established general market. Many market halls and street markets have additional space that can be set aside for a speciality offer, so don’t write off craft markets organised by local authorities.
And finally, there’s chairs
At the risk of upsetting a lot of folks from the crafting community here, I’m going to go out on a limb and talk about chairs.
If as part of the application process for a craft market you may be looking into, the organiser suggests you can bring a chair, be wary. I know that some people need chairs rather than standing for long hours, either in or outside and I am sympathetic to their needs but sitting in a chair when you are on a market to sell yourself and your products creates an immediate barrier between you and potential customers and gives off entirely the wrong image.
This is fine if your craft is a hobby and you can go back to the day job on Monday to cover your costs but if you are serious about turning your craft into a career, then don’t alienate your customers and do your research before committing to a market.