Wednesday, June 10, 2009

To Flea Market...? It Depends on if you can Adapt

To Flea Market Or Not- The Answer is, “Really, It Depends”

Recently I wrote a blog trying to determine whether the advice everyone gives me about not using the flea market as a venue for selling my bath, body, and gift items is true or not. I was really hopeful that the flea market would serve as a great outlet for my products. So, I went ahead and signed up for one of the biggest flea markets in our area and did the show this past weekend.

It was really windy, cloudy, and cold. It rained a little here and there (just sprinkles), but I have a tent so that wasn’t too bad. There was a LOT of traffic, more than I had ever had at a show, but a lot of traffic just walked right by my booth without stopping. That became disappointing really quick, but I did not give up. Instead I started talking to every person who walked by about the weather, the day, the deals they were carrying or walking away with from other booths, etc. That got people to stop and talk for a minute. People tend to get really excited when they have found a bargain.

Typically at a show I make several small sales. My flea market day was opposite, in that I made fewer sales, but the sales were for several items each time. So, that has perks. The fee for the booth was higher than I normally pay, and I barely broke even. But, I did meet several people throughout the day that led me to future venues. I met one women who sells purses and Avon products. She linked me up with a few church bazaars that are coming up. These will be a new venue for me, also. But, I figure everything is worth a try. One or two people who buy the product, but then get on my web site to buy more, become return customers. And those are the customers I really want to make my business successful. I also met another man who sells birdhouses, he gave me a list of upcoming craft markets and their fees. Because he has done these before, he was able to tell me what to expect, the traffic, the type of people (is it a economically deprived area, is it an Amish area, are there other dealers with my types of products, etc). So that information will be very helpful in setting up my calendar for the next few months.

I took someone with me (in case I had to go to the bathroom, because it was an 8 hour day!). so, I had my friend watch my booth so I could walk around and check out other people’s set up’s. I learned that the typical set up and display I do for a show is not the best approach in a flea market setting. Generally, I set out my items in a way that shows the individually decorated boxes, puts items of like scents in groupings, post information about the high grade skin essentials and the benefits they have (i.e. shea butter, cocoa butter, list out essential oils, etc). People shopping at a huge flea market are looking for a deal, and they have a lot to look at in a short period of time. So, I noticed that most vendors had their items grouped by prices, or by category. For instance, glass ware on one table, pottery on another table, etc. etc. So, I wrote down several ideas for my next flea market (I am not ready to throw the towel in yet!). I came home and decorated shoe boxes with pretty papers and scrapbook embellishments. Each box will contain a different group of items when I flea market. For example, fragrance soaps in one box, lined up with the scent written on the end of the soap box and easy for the customer to see. Another will contain herbal soaps, etc. I also decorated some large baskets with bows and these will house my lotions in one, my hair care products in another, etc. Another idea for the flea market is to offer a deal of 3 items for a discounted price, and ensure that the sign states the savings for the individuals. That is what the flea market is about – the deal.

So, the conclusion from my experience is not to say that the flea market is a bad idea for the crafter. Rather the flea market is another opportunity for the crafter to network, meet people, get their name out there, hand out flyers and cards, get people to sign up for the email list, and to sell. However, the crafter must adapt their presentation to the setting by making it easy for the shopper to see the products quickly, easy to recognize the bargain, easy to access the information about the products that they need and the focus needs to be on the savings! So, I have another flea market on 6/20 and I will let you all know if these changes to my presentation make a difference in sales! Wish me luck. If you have any more ideas on how to make sales increase in this setting, let me know. I love comments and feedback!

Come back to my blog next week- The topic is going to be “How to get people to sign up for your contact-email list”

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