Starting a small business can be daunting in itself, then throw in marketing, social media, finances, and all the things - it'll make your head spin. However, markets can be extremely valuable if you are just starting out. It gets your name out and helps to bring your products to people who might not have seen them otherwise. 

I just had my second market today and each time I have learned more.

I am part of an art association in my town and was offered a spot at a market for $35. I jumped on the chance to test it out with little cost to see if it was something that I wanted to do. I skimmed through a few books, checked out Pinterest for some ideas, and scoured the internet for things I was supposed to get for the market to be successful. I really wanted the aesthetics to be right so I spent a lot of time getting my set up to be on brand and easy to set up and take down. I put the tables up in my living room and played around with the look of the products, trying to vary the height and make it inviting. The Target $5 section had some great finds and so did Amazon. Most importantly, I went to a few markets in my area to see how other people set up and asked about tents and payment systems, and everything else that I could think of. I learned that because I have a Shopify store online, the easiest POS system to use was through Shopify because it would keep track of my inventory. I pull from the same inventory I have for my online shop so this was key to keeping it simple. Most of the people I met at the markets were so kind and helpful. They all remember what it was like to start out. 

I made sure everything on my Shopify store was updated and the inventory, pricing, and photos were up to date and correct. I would have saved myself a lot of time if I would have done this from the very beginning and was diligent with it, but you live and you learn (sometimes the hard way).

My market day was quickly approaching so I asked a friend if they could help out the day of the market, really just to be there to help manage things and keep me company. I am so glad I had someone there with me. I started out small, without expectations and was extremely surprised by how the day went. The only major hiccup I had was with my hotspot. Lucky for me, the brick and mortar storefront I was set up in front of graciously allowed me to use their internet. That was lesson number 1. Lesson number two was having cash on hand. I didn't think anyone used cash anymore and I really didn't want to have to deal with money. However, my very first sale that day was cash, so a friend stopped at the bank and brought me some smaller bills and quarters. HUGE props for that! I was surprised how many people actually used money, so now I have a little fanny pack (never thought I would say that after the 90s) and I have cash and coins. The Shopify app is so easy, because you put in the dollar amount and it tells you right on the screen how much change to give back. This was great fun for my daughter who was the cashier almost the entire day. 

Overall it was a great day with lots of sunshine and it made me realize how much I love being out and interacting with other people, telling them about my work and just hearing stories from them. I have also met so many amazing people who have lots of advice to share. I think the overall take away is just get out there and DO IT. Start small and learn along the way. Everyone else is or has done the same. As tiring as markets are, I am hooked. Now I just have to find the markets that seem like the right fit for me. 

A few take away pointers:

1. Visit other markets and ask lot of questions from the sellers there. They are a wealth of knowledge and most are so excited to help.

2. Work on an inviting tent space. Ask yourself, "Would I stop by this tent and take a look?"

3. If you have Shopify, use the Shopify POS app and simplify your life.

4. Keep an active list of things to bring with you to your markets. I started bringing Band-aids and ibuprofen. 

5. Cash is still used and can save you a few bucks by not having to pay credit card fees.

6. Just do it and learn along the way.


Here are a few other ways I have set up my space, depending on the market or home show, it is always evolving.

June 18, 2022 — DANIELLE BELIN

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