Oh my ‘lanta. Market season is finally coming to an end! You guys, when I say finally, I mean I have done 1-3 markets every month since May this year. At the beginning of the year I set some pretty hefty goals for my business. This was going to be the year that I re-branded, found a graphic designer to update my logo, and most importantly I wanted to find at least 1 market to attend each month.
I look back and think, why did I choose to do so many? I really didn’t have a reason other than I thought it would be fun. This year has been filled with many weekends of being busy and late nights spent at the sewing machine, but it really helped me find my Niche in this community. I’ll spare you the details and save the rest of my reminiscing for another post. Friends. I’m not going to lie. This whole, “finding the perfect market” thing is so hard. But I want to give you some tips to make it easier!
“HEY GOOGLE, FIND ME LOCAL MARKETS” … “HERE’S WHAT I FOUND”
Start with a simple Google or Facebook search! You guys, this part is so easy and takes almost no effort. You’ll probably get a ton of results. So take some time to look through them. Here’s a few searches to get you started!
- Local Craft Markets/Craft Shows
- Holiday Markets
- Festival Markets
- Markets in My Area
- Markets in/around ________ (For me, West Michigan)
Alright so you’ve got your list of markets, now what?
It’s all in the Details
It’s time to set guidelines for yourself and your brand my friends!
Start comparing markets against each other to find the best fit for you! Look at how big your booth space is and what the cost of it will be. Something that is super helpful to consider before jumping in with both feet is the cost of your own products. For me personally, I have never spent more than $60 on my booth fee for any market. I know that $60 is an amount that I can make back within a few sales, so for me, this is a great price. Find what works for you!
Most markets usually rent spaces that are one or two of the following sizes: 8×5, 8×8, 8×10, 10×10 or even 12×12. Sizes depend on things such as event location, indoor/outdoor, how many vendors, etc.! I know for me, I always feel super cramped if I try to sell at markets who’s booth spaces are only 8×5. So I tend to stay away from those markets, but I know several makers that feel comfortable selling in a small space like that! Sometimes a mock set up can really help you get a feel for what you’re comfortable with. One of my maker besties has some great videos on how to set up your booth, find them here!
3. Location Location Location
This is really a huge determining factor to whether or not the market will be good for you (at least in my opinion). Look at the demographics found in the area, now look at your products and price points. Do they match? No. Move on. — Yes? Book it!
This year for me was a lot of trial and error, I went to a lot of shows that performed way under my expectations, but thankfully there were many that proved to be good shows! Y’all, don’t hold this against me, but I don’t do camo. I don’t think it’s a very good look. So when I showed up to Cedar Spring’s Red Flannel Days, I felt so out of my element. Also, if you know anything about that part of Michigan, you know it is a lower income community. Looking at Cedar Spring and at my product, they do not go well together. I actually had a customer tell me how stupid it was to have mittens priced so expensively. Don’t book a market just to book a market! That leads me into the next point, do your research!
4. Do Your Research
Personally, I talk to other makers before signing up for markets! I ask if they’ve done the market before, how the turn out/crowd was, if it’s a busy area or if it’s a slower market. Facebook is also a great indicator of how the market will turn out! Check to see how many people are going/interested, look at last year’s stats. Did you hear good things about previous markets thrown by that group?
I like to be so busy at markets that I can’t even handle it! This usually means, I find markets that are in high traffic areas and have some sort of draw to them. Those will forever be my repeat markets. I am finding that my Niche markets are markets that have so much “hype”, for lack of a better word, made about them! Find those, they will hopefully bring you good luck too!
Ash & Ivy’s Favorite Markets
Well friends, I hope those 4 tips brought you some insight into market season! Keep reading to hear about some of my markets this year!
Pink & Frillos – Okay if you live in Michigan, this shop should be on your must visit list! It was seriously so cold this day we had to bring a heater, but it turned out to be such a great show! April makes her markets one you won’t want to miss between the line up of vendors and with just how cute her shop is. She’s so, so sweet!
Summer Vintage Market – Rockford – This market was okay, I can’t say it was my favorite. It rained and by rained I mean, it poured. Not only did it rain, while I was setting my tent up, we had a little bit of a catastrophe… it broke. I think this is the most broken hearted I had been all season, but thankfully my hubs and my maker besties were there to get me through it.
Eastern & Alger Pop Up – Reinspired Treasures – This market also didn’t go as planned. I got to take my college bestie with me to this market and it ended up raining! It was seriously such a bummer because I know it would’ve been a lot busier had it been nice weather!
Merchants & Makers @ Vander Mill – I thought my husband was going to dis-own me when I made the impulse decision to attend this show! It was the day after Eastern & Alger. Shyle had to cancel the original date and moved it back a day due to weather, so I was lucky enough to snag a cancelled spot! Friends. If you never go to any other markets, you have to go to Merchants and Makers, they make it so you want to come. At Vander Mill they had a live band, pizza and of course Vander Mill Cider!
Zeeland Peddler’s Market – This show in the past has done us really well! It’s a semi-annual show with one show in the Spring and one in the Fall. I was lucky enough to be accepted to the Fall show this year. They always bring in some of my favorite vendors and a decent size crowd!
Grand Rapids Downtown Market – Michigan Pop Up – I did this market two months in a row on the last Saturday of the month. The first Saturday the weather was so bad they had to delay the start time (what is with all the bad weather?!). This first market was not good for me and the second really wasn’t much better. After attending two of these markets, I can honestly say it not a good fit for our brand. The Downtown Market itself is really great and they have some of the best food inside!
Red Flannel Days – Oh Red Flannel. I strongly disliked this market. There was no rhyme or reason to any of the market, there was no one there to tell me where to set up, it was just rough. Oh, and it poured. We had a steady river behind our booth most of the day. It really was just not a good fit for my business and my products. I had many customers say hateful things about my brand and my products. Do your research my friends.
Merchants & Makers @ Engine House 5 – Again, Merchants and Makers blew it out of the park! It was honestly so cold this night and we ended up grabbing the one heater that didn’t work. But the cold did not stop people from coming out to see the vendors. They had some great food vendors at this show and of course, beer & cider! This was our first experience packing up in the dark, but hey it was well worth it!
Christmas at Countryside – Painted Farmgirl – This was our biggest market to date! It took weeks of prep, so many hours behind the sewing machine, and days to set up! Okay, this set up, was by far my favorite! We built a wall for this market and I just want to bring it everywhere now. This show was the Friday & Saturday following Thanksgiving. While I would’ve almost rather been black Friday shopping all day (trust me, I still got up at 6 and did some), it was a really well put together market! They had so many great vendors and it was so fun being in the greenhouse!
Winter Wonderland – Downtown Market – This market was a total bust honestly. The weather was kind of bad this night (it was a 4-8 show) and it was on a Wednesday. I think the combination really drove people to stay home. This was also the most difficult show I’ve ever done… My space was 8×5 and both of my neighbors were so close to me I couldn’t even get in and out of my booth. My maker bestie Katie did their Saturday market in November and killed it! So it was just a combination of a few things that didn’t make it worth while for me.
Merchants and Makers @ The Trillium – Again, hands down, my favorite market! I can’t say enough good things about Merchants and Makers. Trillium had made food available to purchase for the event and had a full bar as well! Honestly, with this being a Sunday afternoon/evening show, I was not expecting much from it other than a good time with my favorite people, but I was blown away! There was hardly room for shoppers to walk most of the night! My booth was constantly full, I just couldn’t believe it!
Well my loves, that’s all I’ve got for you about finding your perfect market! I hope some of this was helpful and I hope you found similarities about what makes some of my past markets my favorites. Want to give markets a try, but not sure what you can bring to the table? Check out my Sewing 101 post to get your creative juices flowing!