This year I decided to grow my business. I felt I was ready to seriously do outside events and had been slowly purchasing items. I applied to the downtown Farmer's Market as an occasional vendor. In my asking others what to expect they said put the most dates you think you can do. They will give you some of them. I applied, got in and then got all my dates. Nine in all from May to October. Oh boy...
It has been an amazing experience and I plan to keep on applying but, as in my motto, I learned a few things.
1. Make it work - nine shows with other shows thrown in (because I did not know I was going to be in Farmer's Market), it has been insane. You go with what you have. The Farmer's Market is a different crowd so that has saved me in a few where I take my actual artwork to the indoor events. But you do what you have to do.
2. Layers - Even if it is going to be 90 degrees bring a hoodie and rain jacket. You never know.
3. Make the most of your space - display wise. Spend the money to do the displays that break down easy to take less space and set up as well. Pack wisely. I get my whole tent in the back of my Scion. I am so glad I learned my packing skills from my father.
4. Shade is nice but there is always a disadvantage to where ever you set up - for me birds. No matter where you set up you have a challenge. Inside or out. This is no different. I have a great space. Shaded, cool and under a tree. The latest challenge is birds pooping on my tent and when the wind catches it, it hits inventory. I am still working on this one. I have plans but will keep you informed.
5. Have a helper or a back up plan - My husband and sister has been my helpers this year. They have enjoyed it so far. But I am working on what to do if they can't.
6. 4:30 am is really early in the morning - go to bed early. Make yourself go to bed early it helps. Then take a nap in the afternoon. But you get a lot done in that day.
7. There is a pattern for Farmer's Market. This panicked me the first time. I have hardly sold anything by 9:00 am. Then the pattern emerged. From 7:00 am to 9:30 am is the regulars. The one who have a pattern themselves and don't deviate. Food, walk and done. From 9:30 am to noon are the viewers, the walkers and families. That is when I sell. Those first few hours my husband and I take turns watching the booth. I go walk and grab something to eat. He goes off and gets his breakfast and then we come back ready to sell. I am sure with other vendors they have their work patterns to do.
8. Have small and large items. My large animals cost more because of more supplies and more time. But I have a simpler version of items for $7 that people can have all the way down to sock balls for $2. This seems to work. Same with my cards, prints and now buttons. Have a wide range of items and prices. Every little item helps.
9. Follow the rules - please. They are pretty strict to this and I am okay with it. It is very frustrating when people don't follow the driving path and block your way so you can load your car and get out of there.
10. Have fun. My husband and I have a game where we try to figure out what will go first... or what type of crowd it will be... or what is the big seller... or what is the most unique thing a person did. People watching is fascinating.
11. Be happy with what you sold and the connections you make. Some days you are going to have a stellar day and others I am just happy to make my 30% rule. Let me explain. I paid so much for my table if the table ends up being 30% of what I made that day, I am okay with that. If I get down to 10% I am ecstatic. Some days you may just make your table back and sometimes not even that. But I have learned that sometimes it is not what you sell then but the connections you make during. On a couple of those bad selling days I make a connection that comes back later and purchases or gives me a lead. Sometimes it is about the teaching you give to others. I have had bad selling days but I have never had a bad vendor day as long as I keep this in mind.
This is just the start of what I have learned. I am sure more will be added to this list. So more to come as I keep on learning.