In this blog post I shall talk through what I have learnt during my first two markets, what mistakes I made and why I enjoyed it so much I have decided to run my own market!
A bit of background...
I have been running my business Abigail Wastie for 2 years teaching sewing and weaving workshops and selling Eco craft kits. Until this point all my sales happened through Instagram and Facebook directing customers through to my website.
I was curious to see how sales would be IRL at a market rather than on social media where you can polish and elaborate your product photos to an audience that already knows you.
Its quite a different experience to selling your eco beeswax wraps kit to a stranger who isn’t particularly bothered about whether they use clingfilm whilst both standing in the rain! Ha!
How did I prepare
Practically... I needed to set myself as a ‘mini shop’ with paper bags, card reader machine and gift wrap. All this cost around £80 but the market was free, so it was my only cost apart from stock and amended PLI.
I decided to redesign ALL my packaging and guidebooks for my kits two weeks before for the market- not something I recommend doing in such a short time frame! But I am much happier with how my kits look and feel now and felt proud to sell them.
I simplified all my craft kit prices, most kits are now £20.
What worked and what didn’t work?
Demos! They were my key to selling! The kits that I demo'ed sold 4 times as many as the kits I didn’t. It also kept me busy and chatting to customers.
Signing customers up to my mailing list if they were interested in workshops or sewing courses. I am new to email subscriptions so at first, I felt embarrassed to ask people if they wanted to sign up but when they kept asking me if they could I decided to stop feeling embarrassed and get on with it!! I downloaded mail chimp on my phone so could add subscribers there and then.
Plugging the market on my social media pages - having friends and customers visit the stall was great, such a mood lifter! And created a nice opportunity to see friends and customer face to face after such a long time in lock down. And increase the footfall!
What didn’t work?
I overestimated how much I would sell and left the market with excess stock. I thought my selling pattern would be similar too October/November online, but my sales were less at the market. I guess this is a tricky one- how do you estimate what you will sell at a market when you have never done one before…I have no idea!?
No one was interested in gift wrap, so I didn’t offer this again.
There was very little interest in my more expensive kits or more expensive tapestries £50+ so for the second market I just sold products around the £20 bracket.
I took way too much furniture and props to the first market (including my own sewing machine!!...I know…what I was thinking!) This made set up and pack down arduous so for the second market I made my table much cleaner using large, printed graphics rather than props to demonstrate what I teach and sell.
The best thing about the markets was getting to know the other stall holders! I enjoyed that so much I am now co-organising my own market; Derby’s Ethical Christmas Market on 6th of November 2021 10:00-16:00 at St Werburghs, Friar Gate Derby.
We have already signed up lots of wonderful local sustainable makers and foodies.
I am really looking forward to the Market and having the chance to celebrating some very special businesses in Derby who are pushing the boundaries of business to find new ways to manufacture, recruit and design more ethically and sustainably.
Thank you, Mainframe, for giving me the opportunity to do something different it certainly has been inspiring and productive for me personally and my business!
For further information about Abigail or her ethical christmas market, then you can find out more/ get in touch with Abigail here: https://www.abigailwastie.co.uk/