MY FIRST MARKET EXPERIENCE – Getting Past Fear and Lessons Learned
After going back and forth (and back and forth…and back again) over whether or not I should apply to a market to sell my wares, I took the plunge. I told myself, “What’s the worst that can happen?”
Rejection. Rejection is the worst that can happen.
Although the folk who choose vendors for events will likely have a very valid reason to not accept someone to their market, it’s easy to get caught thinking that not being accepted = my creations are trash. I believe in myself as a maker, and I thought, “Girl. You’ll never know until you try.”
2-3 days later, I got the email that Daydreamer Customs was going to be a vendor at The Boho Market! I was ECSTATIC. It would be my first “real” market (I’ve set up a table at a neighborhood shebang last November, but it was much smaller in scale), surrounded by people who had never heard of my shop before. It was time to get to work! I’d only really given myself about a month to prep (I will go on more about prep in a moment), but ya girl got it done! I wanted to share my first market experience from prep, to the market itself, and things I learned that I will take with me to future markets.
First and foremost, let me just say I am not a calendar/planner person. I’ve become MORE of a calendar person as more time passes as a shop owner, but my go-to thing to do on a daily basis isn’t to mark things on a calendar. However, I knew that if I didn’t stick to a fairly strict “creating schedule,” my good friend Stress would come creepin’ in, and we all know that’s never good. I had about 4-5 weeks until Market Day, so each week I had a deadline for when things needed to be done. Keychains done week 1. Ring bowls done week 2. Start jewelry week 3. Finish jewelry week 4. Final touches the week of the event. This creating schedule SAVED ME. Preparation was so stress-free, and everything was actually done about 5 days before the market!
THE BOHO MARKET
The Boho Market is an outdoor market held at a few different locations each month throughout the Dallas area. I’d been wanting to attend this market for quite some time, and I was finally able to check it out the month before my event. I wanted to 1) shop local vendors, duh 2) get a feel for what the market was going to be like in terms of traffic 3) see if my products would be a good fit for the market. After eating delicious food from local food vendors and snagging some cute finds from a mobile boutique I’d been following on Instagram, I decided that it wouldn’t hurt to apply (and questioned that decision before applying… and then decided to apply anyway).
Fast forward to August 24, 2019, I arrived at the The Hill in Dallas for the market. I was surprisingly not nervous at all about the event until I pulled into the parking lot LOL I had never been to this shopping center before, and I knew that in a couple of hours I would be showing off things I MADE in front of TOTAL STRANGERS. It’s a nerve-wracking thought!
I struggled through getting all my stuff from my car to my assigned area for about 45 minutes – I didn’t bring any bins, I didn’t have a dolly or a cart, and my helpers arrived late. It was VERY apparent that I had never been a vendor for a market before, but I smiled through the sweat, continued to struggle putting up my canopy for the first time, and FINALLY I was able to start setting up! PRO-TIP: do a mock table set-up before your event and take a pic. Doing this sped up my set-up process tremendously!
At last! Everything was set up and ready to go! The weather was great (at first. It got very hot by the end of the afternoon), and everyone was in such a great mood. I welcomed each person as they walked into my booth to check out my creations and encouraged them to touch the wood and feel the textures in the designs. Lots of ladies tried on jewelry, and a lot of pieces from both my jewelry and woodburning collections found new homes! I was most excited about this baby getting sent away early in the day:
My background is in retail, so I was very comfortable greeting customers. PRO-TIP: welcome people in, maybe let them know a thing or two about you, what you’re selling, or your process, but let them shop in peace. Be attentive and available for questions, but no need to pester people. Nobody likes being pestered!
I had some of my lovely friends stop by to shop, and I had my mom, sister, and aunt by my side to help when needed and for moral support. I loved getting to chat with people about my woodburned pieces, and I adored seeing customers find their new favorite pair of earrings. By the time the market was over at 3pm, my heart was so full! I truly felt like being at the market with my creations really put me in my element. I couldn’t wait to do another (after a much needed break, of course)!
All in all, I would say my first market experience was a total success. Yes, a lot of things went really well that helped contribute to that feeling of success: it wasn’t pouring rain, people actually bought stuff, and I had an amazing support system. But the main thing that made it so successful in my eyes was that I even went. I went, and I had FUN. I got to share my stuff with people who otherwise wouldn’t have known about my shop. How could I NOT see that as a win??
Even though it was a FANTASTIC day, I did have a few life lessons learned the hard way. They go a little something like this:
- Get a damn wagon or a cart or SOMETHING to wheel everything in. I didn’t realize how much time I would waste carrying things from my car to my booth, and I didn’t account for the fact that carrying things is tiring LOL I saw others wheeling in all their stuff in 1-2 trips and I wondered why I didn’t think of something so obvious! Work smarter, my dude. Not harder.
- Maybe possibly perhaps consider giving yourself longer than a month to prep for a market. I got it done! I was proud of myself! But I wouldn’t have had to dedicate all of the spare time I had to prep if I had a little more wiggle room in my timeline.
- WEAR COMFORTABLE SHOES. I don’t know why I chose to wear the particular pair of sandals I wore, but my legs/knees/ankles/feet were totally against me by the time the market was over. If you wouldn’t wear them to work, don’t wear ‘em to a market.
- Get a cash box. A lot more people paid with cash than I THOUGHT (clearly all of my thoughts have been incorrect lol), and all I had was a little paper envelope I got from the bank and a small tin box for coins. It “worked,” but a cash box would’ve been WAY better. Ideally I’d like to have a checkout area at the next market I do!
- Did I mention getting a cart to carry my stuff?
Moral of the story is: do things that scare you. Take a risk occasionally. Believe in yourself and your talents, and GO HAVE FUN! You’ll never know if selling at markets or fairs is your “thing” until you try. I know that there will probably be times when maybe sales won’t be great, or maybe it’ll rain, or maybe people won’t be as pleasant, but I loved selling in person! I loved expanding my business in that way. I can’t wait to do it again, meet new people, learn more, and continue to grow not just Daydreamer Customs, but to grow as a person as well.