Farmers Markets, Flea Markets, State Fairs
Farmers Markets, Flea Markets, State Fairs are our topic today. What are these ? Why utilize them? How will they help me ? Should I consider selling at them ? What’s the out of pocket expense ? What tools or items do I need ? These were all questions that I pondered when considering selling locally. Lets look at each of these more closer.
A Market place in a Town or City that has physical vendors selling retail items to the general public. The Farmers Markets will have booths, tables and or stands. The cost to set up isn’t much to display your wares. These stands sell fruits & vegetables, meats, baked goods, crafts, plants, much more. The size of the market place will vary by location.
A Market place in a Town or City that has physical vendors selling used as well as new items. Flea Markets are both indoors and outdoors and function much like a Farmer’s Market. You’ll see more physical items then food vendors. Things like tools, crafts, handmade items, wholesale to retail items. The booths are set up the same and the cost to attend a Flea Market in minimal.
State & County Fairs
State and County Fairs are another great place to sell your fabricated items. These fairs will have more variety of vendors then Farmers Markets and Flea Markets. You’ll see exhibits, shows and animals at your local County or State Fair. Farm equipment, livestock, food vendors, craft vendors, Rodeo events, midway for the kids, clothing & apparel and the list goes on. These events run in the Fall and can last from a couple days to a week or more. The cost of a booth though is costly to set up and can range from a couple hundred to thousands depending on location and desired space.
Farmers Markets, Flea Markets, State Fairs all have rules. These will decide on who’s allowed to sell, what items can be sold, operating hours, selling procedures and marketplace procedures. Farmers Markets have an appointed market manager to handle any problems. Should problems arise then they are the ones to address such issues. Never try to resolve an issue yourself, things go bad then you may be faced with being banned from the marketplace.
Farmers Markets, Flea Markets, State Fairs all require the necessary tools to sell your wares. You’ll need a way to transport everything safely to the marketplace. Trucks, trailers, box vehicles and vans all work effectively. Having the ability to keep items dry in the event of inclement weather is a major bonus. Basic equipment is listed below.
- Tent (E-z up or similar)
- Tent Walls
- Folding tables
- Table Coverings
- Sign or Banner
- Folding Chairs
- Cooler ( Anything perishable you buy)
- Money Bag
- Lots of $1 & $5 dollar bills
- Mobile Card Reader (taking credit cards)
- Business Cards
- Pricing materials (price tags, labels, stickers)
- Hardware & Tools
- Secondary items ( Cribbage pegs, dice, playing cards, etc.)
What do I fabricate ?
This is the blue ribbon baby of all questions asked. Before that determination can be made proper research has to be done. Travel to other local markets and see what other crafts people are making themselves. I started my research by attending a local Farmer’s Market. I made notes to what everyone else was selling and watched what was selling on their tables. The one thing I wanted to avoid was selling duplicate items. Other woodworkers items could be copied but my cnc engraved items could not. This would be my strength for the niche items I wanted to sell.
What do I fabricate that I will sell as a vendor to my audience ? This is no easy question with no one answer. What you make can come down to demographics, clients age, clients sex, seasonal and current economy. Here’s a link to multiple ideas that are great for woodworkers as well as us cnc engravers and fabricators. Below I’ll give you some more ideas to think about.
- Patio furniture
- Adirondack chairs & Benches
- Chairs & Tables
- Picture Frames
- Cutting boards
- Keepsake boxes
- Wood bowls
- Salt & Pepper shakers
- Coat Rack
- Garden Items (Row markers)
- Whirly Gigs
- Squirrel feeders/Houses
- Planter box
- Building blocks
- Small childrens furnishings
- Toy Box
- Wooden Toys (trucks, cars, animals, etc.)
Marketplace Selling Tips
Here’s a few different ideas that I used when selling at my local Farmer’s Market. Results will vary from place to place but I feel these are good practices to implement for any vendor. Nothing will replace the amount of time you invest researching products prior to dedicating to a product line. Not all things sell equally, so understanding your marketplace is very important.
So you have decided to sell your fine crafted items at a local market place. This is a great idea with lots of unforeseen potential. First of all, the other vendors you’ll work alongside are your allies. Making friends with all these like minded folks is a pleasure and they’ll have your back. Their word of mouth will help your cause and vice versa. I’ll personally recommend a fellow farmer or crafter before I would ever a large retail store.
How do we combine products as vendors in the marketplace ? Let’s imagine for a minute it’s the lady of the house attending the market. Your Wife makes the most incredible quilts ever seen. Now you’re an accomplished woodworker/fabricator so what can you do to help your wife’s business. How about fabricating a beautiful quilt rack to sell to display these lovely quilts. This is what I mean by product combining.
Advertise your new undertaking with social media. More people will be reached this way than any other. Let all your friends and followers know where it will be, who will be there, what products and services are being offered. Flyers that are hung around town is another way to expose an event. Markets will also advertise their venues and new and upcoming events.
Organize, organize, organize. Keep your items accessible to be loaded and unloaded quickly and easily. Load your vehicle the night before, you will thank me for this. Being able to wake up and just go is a great start to your day. Having a system to load and unload at the end of the day makes the experience all the more enjoyable.
Offer up free little extras to the general public. Put in a watering station for pets, cooler filled with free bottled water, extra place for a senior individual to sit. Complementary items, pens, stationery pads, pocket calendars, magnets. Any item with your company name and contact on it.
Payment options can’t be overlooked. The more ways you have to take a potential customer’s money the better. Good ole fashion cash works great but not everybody carries money today. Checks not drawn locally can be an issue for some vendors. Set a limit that you’ll accept on an out of town check, mine was $20.00 dollar. With cellular technology today comes the ability to take credit card payments right over our phones. The card readers are available online and most are free. These devices can be used on non-contract phones as well.
Farmers Markets, Flea Markets, State Fairs are all great opportunities for woodworkers and fabricators. These places offer up niche opportunities that won’t be found elsewhere. You’ll be exposed to the niche individuals who frequent these events. Not everyone attends these markets so you’re already ahead of the game. The people that do go to the Markets know what to expect and the types of things found there. Just narrow down what sells and what doesn’t, so things will be more readily available that do sell.
Thank You for taking the time to read
~An Engraver In The Woods