Making it at the Community Markets

So you think you can market stuff? Before you quit your day job, load the car boot with collateral and set them eyeballs to dollar signs: STOP! Put down better yet, shred that resignation letter return your car keys to their hook and take off those rose coloured lenses. Marketeering might be a business, but it won’t make you rich in a day. It can, however, turn into a bit of a money spinner with some talent, hard graft and the right attitude. Here’s how to ensure all three.

WHAT YOU WILL NEED

  • handmade or vintage stuff to sell (clothing, nicknacks, old books etc).
  • a foldable table if none are provided borrow one, (or pick up a cheapie) and a comfy chair
  • display items to show off your goodies in their best light
  • stickers/tags for pricing
  • notebook to log sales
  • a fanny pack for cash, and some small change to start the day off
  • cute paper bags or similar for packaging
  • BYO food and drink (so you don’t spend all your dosh on the day)
  • flyers to advertise your website, or an email signup sheet
  • friends for moral support and /or to cover loo breaks
  • a good night’s sleep beforehand – you’re getting up early, dude!

MARKET RESEARCH

Before you start anything, do some research. Take a trip to your favourite market hangout with a trusty pen and paper. Take some notes on stalls that appeal to you then ask yourself why and how. Market research is all about knowing thy target market and finding thy consumer. As you’re wandering about, try and spot someone who you think looks like your ideal customer. Build a little profile about who they are where they come from, what they like to eat, their fashion styles, the bands they listen to and why they won’t be able to live without your wares. Constructing a portfolio on your ideal customer will help you choose which market to be part of, how to price your goodies, packaging choices and the aesthetic of your items. This is called stalking, and it’s legal unless you follow them home and start going through their rubbish bin which while being quite helpful could also be fairly awkward and scary for those involved. Mandy from The Freedom State, which started from humble beginnings on the Gold Coast selling gypsy style kimonos, flare pants boho dresses and other bohemian clothing items recommends visiting all the clothing markets in your area to make sure you pick the one that best caters to your market.

LOCATION

Once you know exactly where your customer shops, apply for the market. Some markets may ask you to prepay for a spot. Sure it may be a financial outlay, but it could be the difference between scoring a sweet sun dappled spot under a large tree or a space beside the toilet block that nobody’s used since that gruesome incident in 1993. Would you buy sweet hand pressed badges FROM A FORMER CRIME SCENE? I don’t think so.

Some niche crafty markets will require an application. For these remember to put some thoughtfulness, earnestness and charm into your request. Most markets will have a web presence with a number to call if you have any questions. Be brave and dial! Have your questions in hand. You’ll get more information from a person on the phone than an electronic reply. We spoke to Brisbane marketeers Fly Peacock, who started off with a small selection of men’s fashion items including t shirts, v necks, singlets and shorts. Their advice for selling their range of festival t shirts and singlets was a positive attitude and a loud voice if you are not in the best spot. They also always wear the t shirts and shorts the are selling to further promote their clothing label.

MONEY

Before you set about making your finery, make yourself a budget. There is no point outlaying money creating pieces that you won’t get a solid return on. Consider creating what’s known in the biz as “bread and butter” items or work that will spin you some extra revenue should your larger and more expensive items not happen to sell that day. An array of items priced at various points will move quicker. Add a small percentage on top of your profit margin in case of haggling. And if a customer does try and bargain with you, treat it as a game. Stay polite, don’t rip yourself off and don’t get PISSY. Also remember when pricing to factor in things like rent for your pitch, materials, petrol costs and damaged or stolen items. On the day, make a note of each piece you sell and what price it went for. Then when you get home you can do the sums and work out how many sweet, sweet dollars you’ve made.

FAIL TO PREPARE, PREPARE TO EPIC FAIL

Always arrive at the market early (that will mean not another one for the
road the night before). Have a positive and upbeat attitude (even in the face of having your stall position changed last minute) and make sure you’ve packed comfortable shoes, clean clothing and plenty of food (we’re here for the long haul, baby). Also be certain to confirm that the market provides tables and chairs there’s no point turning up with oars if you don’t have a boat. If you do need to BYO table try to borrow one at first (one that fits the space!) or try and find a cheap trestle table at one of those big DIY stores. Most shoppers will appreciate an authentic homemade display fashioned from vintage tins or stacked 70s Tupperware over newfangled generic plastic fittings. Make clear labels and price points. If you’re selling clothes use timber hangers that match. Be sure to keep the area around your stall clean and tidy, and if you are selling crafty stuff, why not plonk yourself behind your table and make something while you wait for customers? It’s probably more fun than just sitting on your arse, and it will give passers by one more thing to look at, and maybe even talk to you before you sell them something.

A FEW BONUS TIPS

  • Stand up. No slouching in a chair with your head buried in a book
  • Be practical store excess product in clearly marked plastic tubs
  • Beneath your table. Keep everything within reach
  • Remember to pencil in a trip to the bank! You will need a float
  • Display items tags and themes that fit into your brand
  • Invest in a market umbrella or pop up tent

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