Lessons Learnt from Craft Markets

craft marketThe crisp sea air breezed in on Sunday, as the traders all unloaded their car to make their way to the back of Glencarin Hotel. The air was full of promise of potential customers for the various goods on sale, from soaps, salts to delicious Dutch Doughnuts. As usual, Michelle and I were one of the first to set up. Being a little out of practice, as it’s been about 2 months since we have done a market, I forgot our displaying bookcase. But we made do with what we had and soon the Reading Pillows were out, the Travel Sketch Books were opened and the Sketch Prompt Jars were lined up.

I was very pleased as my new little sign moved slightly in the wind on our table cloth and the sun glistened through the colours in my Sketch Prompt Jars. I badly need breakfast, but otherwise I was hopeful for the day. Last time we had done well at this market, but last time it was just before Christmas with lots of tourists. I wasn’t sure how we were going to do at this time of year.

My small concern started turning into a larger one as the day went on. I sold one or two items, enough to cover the cost of our stall, but not really enough to justify us being there.

Today’s lesson: During off-season only Locals come to ┬ámarkets, and if your market is at a craft-beer-selling hotel, then only locals who want to come and drink craft beer will pitch. While those selling greasy food, hot drinks, and children items (something to take back to the kids when they got home) did alright, the rest of us twiddled our thumbs a bit.

I was hoping that since the area was known to be ‘crafty‘ and ‘arty‘ that those would be the people coming through. I was wrong on that front as well. The endless blank faces that stared at my Travel Sketch Case was a large amount. Michelle and I tried various ways to try and show what it was. We had some opened and some closed, hoping people would put two and two together, but for some reason (maybe because it was Sunday). We had several people who saw The Atonement Child cover and told us how they loved the book. Their hands would then fondly slide over the book, then the look of surprise when they realised there was no book, just the cover. They would look at the open version, look at the example I had open on the stand and slowly the light bulb would come on.

We eventually balanced the books on their sides so you could see the front and inside at the same time. Another lesson on how to display our new product was coming into light. We had endless people tell us how it was such a clever idea and that their friend, Sharon or Beth, or even Susan would love something like that. But Sharon, Beth and Susan weren’t at the market.

We have definitely had better markets and better success, but it is also good to talk about the ones that don’t work – to talk about the lessons learnt during these times.

If you are planning to try sell items at a craft market, it is good to know what sometimes you win, sometimes you don’t. It is also good to predict the type of people that will be there – are they your target audience?

It is also good to eat breakfast before you go.

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