Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Tips for the Farmers Market

This year has been my first year participating in craft shows and farmers markets, at first I was hesitant to do so because it just seemed so daunting, carrying stock is hard sometimes, especially when I make so many diffenet products in so many different scents. Then there is the issue of loading up the jeep (meaning I have to make sure I have at least two of my production tables cleared off and ready to use), setting up the tent, working from 9-2 at a market that may or may not be good, then driving 30 miles home only to have to unpack the jeep again! So, yes, it was awhile before I convinced my self to commit to working markets.

And now that I have participated in them since May, I have to say I love them! And I am growing really sad as end of the season nears (November 21st).

I have made some good friends and loyal customers through working the markets. The opportunity to meet and talk with other artisans/crafters has been priceless, and it has been great to be able to receive customer feedback real time.

Looking back on when I first started, I cringe thinking about the set up/display (or lack thereof) I used the first 2 months. Since I didn't know if I would last all season I didn't want to invest a ton of money up front. So my initial set up consisted of:

- 1 8 ft table
-1 ugly bright striped plastic table cloth
-2 small wooden trays for soap
-about 2 dozen candles
-2 dozen glycerin soaps
-folding chair

Now don't get me wrong, I did ok at first and there were even some days that I did great, but as the weeks grew on and I realized that I enjoyed doing the markets, I decided to start investing in a new set up- and it's only been in the last month that I'm finally happy with the way it looks, my set up today consists of:

-2 tables, 1 8 ft and 1 4 ft (set up in a L configuration)
-tent and 2 chairs (never know when a friend will stop by)
-2 taupe colored cloth tablecloths
-a banner that hangs on the front of my big table (company name, products offered & website)
-2 vintage looking blue cabinets/shelves
-2 wooden shelves
-numerous baskets in different shapes and colors
-business cards & holder
-product & pricing signs (nicely printed and either clipped to baskets or in frames)
-credit card swiper, paperbags, calculator etc.
-8 dozen candles
-60-100 bars of soap (and I now individually fully wrap each bar)
-speciality item (salves, creams etc)

Since I made the investment in myself (or my booth I should say), sales have become consistent and increased (nearly doubled what they used to be). I'm not telling you this to brag, but to share, I know of many crafters/artisans out there that are thinking of working live shows and I hope sharing my experiences can help. The minute I took my shows/markets serious, so did my customers. So some simple tips:

-Make the most of your available space, the more stock/ variety you have, the better chance at better sales.
-Business Cards! I did not get these until about a month ago, customers love them, and I have gained repeat business, wholesale accounts and facebook fans because of them.
-A banner for your table. Many times people walking by may not know what it is you sell. In the days before I had my banner, I would hear people walk by and exclaim "oh look lotions, I don't need any of that" - I didn't even have lotions there! They were looking at my candles and from far away they thought they were lotions- having a sign that boldly states "Soy Candles & Handmade Soap" has helped alleviate this. Also if you are in a busy market (on Saturdays our market may have 50-60 vendors and thousands of visitors) and you are not in a permanent booth, a sign will help your repeat customers recognize you from afar.
-Product & Pricing signage. Most of the time I am able to talk one one one with customers concerning the product, but inevitably there will be that time when you have several people at once in your booth and having signage that talks about your products, explains it usage or origin and tells what your pricing is, you have a better chance at turning lookers into buyers.
-Get set up to take credit cards. If you are an Etsy seller, you can sign up through ProPay for their premier account for only $29.95/year and it is so easy to use! Even though I use an old school knuckle cruncher machine, I have been lucky and not had any problems (and yes taking credit cards your sales numbers will increase!).
Well those are some of the tips I have from my first season, I am sure by the start of next season I will have some new ideas :) .

Here are some pictures from todays display:


  1. Thanks for posting this and sharing your experience. I was just accepted as a vendor at a fashion + art market, and having no previous experience whatsoever in this type of event, I am a little nervous as to what to expect. This will be my very first time setting up a table anywhere, so your tips are extremely helpful.
    By the way, great looking tables.

  2. thanks blueberryjunkie! congrats on getting your first market, they are a blast! For me I found great baskets/table accessories at hobby lobby and Big Lots (for cheap). One thing that might help too, is set your table up in your house first and take pics, that way when you get there you remember how you had it set up! Good luck!

  3. Thanks for that post. That is some great information! Now that we're moved and settled in Colorado I think I'd like to try some farmers markets/craft shows next year. In Kansas City I was always afraid to try!