Another Market, Another Experience

So, last Saturday Babayaya’s Handmade Creations attended the River Market Artisans Market. If you read My First Craft Market post from December you will know that I am fairly new to this market business. I wasn’t very successful at that market and this one was another bust. After the Christmas Craft Fair I also tried the Cloverdale Flea Market which also wasn’t successful.

I decided that the Christmas Craft Fair, which was held at an elementary school, and the Flea Market were probably the wrong venues. The first one wasn’t well marketed so therefore, wasn’t well attended and the second one was more geared towards people looking for the deal of the century (and not so much quality artisan goods).

When I came across the Artisans Market I was a little doubtful being that it was in January which is probably not a great month for markets being that Christmas is only just behind us. However, I did notice that the market would be held in conjunction with the Royal City Farmers Market. This gave me hope. I previously lived in New Westminster and while I had not attended any winter markets I had met the people who run the RCFM and was impressed by their passion. New Westminster also has a very community spirited community. The table fee wasn’t too expensive so I decided to give it a shot.

The farmer’s market was set up on the main floor and the artisan’s were set up on the upper floor. There were probably 10 artisan’s in total. Throughout the day it seemed to me that there was far more traffic downstairs than up. We did have people come through but it seemed there were more looky loos than people wanting to buy lovely things.

It seems to me that markets are a tricky business. In speaking to a couple of the other vendors all I really heard was “you never really knew when you would do well or not” and “it’s really hit or miss”. One lady even said that often she would decide she was giving up then suddenly she would do well.

So, of course, all I have are questions  running through my head: “There are 4 more Artisans Markets, is it even worth trying again?”, “Is it because it is January?”, “Would the market right before Valentine’s Day be more successful?”, “Can I justify spending another table fee to see?”.

And nobody can answer these question so I have to follow my gut. And my gut is telling me to wait until the summer markets.

To add to the trickiness there are a number of specialty markets coming up. However, their table fees are much more substantial. So far, my market experience has been abysmal. Perhaps the fact that they are specialty markets means that they are well attended by people intending to buy things there. I can only hope so. I have been accepted to the Town and Country Vintage Market in June and am really excited about it. However, there are other fabulous markets to apply to that look like they would be great to be a vendor at, too. But, without having the experience of knowing how well I would do it is hard to determine whether I should apply to them all and spend the high table fees if I am accepted. Of course, they would be worth it if I did do well but I can’t necessarily afford them if I don’t sell anything. There also is a certain value to getting your name out there the more you attend markets but that is impossible to gauge.

And, of course, you have to apply now for markets that are in a few months. Hopefully, I will figure out more before the Christmas applications are out in late spring/early summer (although there is already one Christmas market you can apply for now!).

I also want to apply to be a vendor at the White Rock Farmer’s Market (my local market). Applications have opened up for the 2015 season but I am stuck at trying to figure out how many markets to attend. You get a reduced rate if you commit to half of them and a further reduced rate if you commit to all of them. But even committing to more than one can be a little scary without having historical data on how well I might do. I think I have decided to do one a month just through July, August and September. Even so when I finally send the application in I might not get accepted anyway.

This whole market business is a bit crazy making. There is a balance you have to find in finding markets you will be successful at versus being actually accepted to those markets (because I have actually applied to some markets and not gotten in either).  I will be happy when I have more experience and less wondering.

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My First Craft Market

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My display at the craft market. I was given the table and table cloth to work with.

 

Well, today I attended my first craft market as a vendor. I learned a few things along the way. Previously I wrote about how as a newby I missed a lot of the deadlines to apply to be a vendor at Christmas markets (If you missed that post you can read it here). Then, I applied to a couple but didn’t get in. And eventually I decided to do a market at an elementary school. The table fee was low so I figured I didn’t have a lot to lose and, if anything, it would be good to get some experience with being a vendor at a market.

I think I did pretty well in terms of getting a market checklist together and making sure I had everything I needed. Hubby woke up early with me and drove me and all the stuff (a lot of stuff!) to the school. Hubby only had to go home to get two things I forgot (luckily it wasn’t a far drive). Even so those two things I could have lived without if I had to. (Hubby also surprised me with a handmade rustic business card holder this morning. You can see it on the far right corner of the table. It’s gorgeous. Isn’t he great?)

I also think I did fairly well in terms of setup. It is difficult to set up a bunch of signs on a flat table so I brought a couple of props along, basically things I had on hand, to raise some up off the table to make them easier to look at. Linda from Cottage Living (the shop where I have some signs displayed …if you missed that post you can read it here) kindly lent me a tree from the display in her shop so I could display my ornaments (how awesome is that?!). I may need to rethink a few things for next time but overall I think it turned out okay.

So, we managed to get up early, get there and set up just in time for go time. And then …nothing happened. There were no people (except for the other vendors). Now I will say that this market was run by the PAC (parent advisory committee) of an elementary school and as I found out it was their very first year. However, I was a bit concerned when I noticed earlier in the week that the event wasn’t advertised in the craft market section of the local paper. I know I had seen other school craft fairs in there.

Also, when my son came with his girlfriend he commented that there were no signs on the street leading up to the school. From the outside you would never know there was a craft fair going on in the gym. I think that the main people who came were friends and family of the vendors. I didn’t expect a huge, huge turnout like some of the bigger craft markets get but I guess I at least expected the parents of the students to attend.

On the upside I had lots of time to visit for the friends and family who did come to see me. (Thank you so much for coming to those who did!) I also enjoyed talking to a couple of the other vendors. I got some experience in and won’t be so overwhelmed preparing for the next market. And, at the very end a lady came to ask me about a custom order and took my card. If that order follows through then it may just make the day a win. I think the biggest thing I learned is to ask what the marketing plan is before committing to my next market. That, as I found out, makes a huge difference!

On the downside I am a bit disappointed after putting in so much work to prepare for this market. And, I have lots of stock! Anybody want to buy some Christmas ornaments?

 

What it Means to be a Handcrafter When it Comes to Christmas

As soon as Halloween is over the Christmas markets start up in abundance. Have you ever thought “what?, already”?! What if I told you that as a handcrafter you need to start thinking about Christmas in the Spring?! I know … and you thought it was bad that people didn’t even wait until Rememberance Day was past!

I opened my shop last March. It was July when I realized that I had already missed the deadline on some applications to be a vendor at Christmas markets. Wow. I also had the opportunity to apply to a couple of markets but I didn’t feel confident that I would have enough inventory to be a vendor at one market let alone multiple. As someone who crafts around the schedule of my 4 year old it is difficult to know if I will have guaranteed time to get things done. So, I passed on the opportunities.

Shortly after (maybe end of July beginning of August) I came across another opportunity to be at a Christmas market so I took the plunge and applied. I wouldn’t find out until mid-September if I was accepted. I wasn’t. Which was fine but at the same time it’s hard to know if you should apply to more markets when you don’t know for some time which ones you will be accepted to. I suppose one should just apply to a bunch with the notion you can say no if you are accepted to two on the same day.

After I wasn’t accepted I found a couple more to apply to and in the end will be at the Sunnyside Elementary School Winter Market Fair on December 6, 2014 (details in the photo below). I am happy with just doing one this year as I learn the ropes of the handcrafting world. It certainly is a crazy time of year with lots of extras already thrown in …shopping, decorating, events, the list goes on. I don’t think I would have been prepared to do more than one market anyway. I would have had to start preparing last spring! I should have been making my Christmas items then so I could spend the time now updating my shop etc. It’s really amazing how much time it all takes.

I have a friend from high school who does markets pretty much every weekend throughout the Christmas season. I am in complete awe as to how she does it and stays sane! (Her shop is Home for the Holidays if you are curious). Perhaps it gets easier with time and experience.

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www.virtualbazaar.ca, A Virtual Craft Market

The Twisted Stitcher, a fellow local (well somewhat as she is only 45 minutes from where I live) artisan has come up with the idea of having a virtual craft market. Basically, together with her techie husband, she has come up with a website where artisans can set up shop by renting a space on the page. The big difference between this and advertising on Facebook or Pinterest or other similar sites is that your items don’t get lost by all the other newer posts that get posted after yours. Also, as a buyer you can scroll quickly through the shop images to find what you are interested in quickly without having to scroll down through pages and pages of posts. The Twisted Stitcher plans to use funds received from the rent for promoting the page through google adwords and other similar paid advertising sites to get traffic through to the site. She will even put ads in newspapers under the craft market sections. I think this has some great potential for both buyers and sellers so I have had my shop added for her soft launch and plan to continue with it for her August 1 official launch.

Check out the virtual craft market at www.virtualbazaar.ca!