Should I try to sell at a tiny FM where I live

SoapMakingForum

Help Support SoapMakingForum:

Kari Howie

Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Feb 25, 2019
Messages
650
Reaction score
564
Location
Goldsboro, North Carolina
...and where there is already a soap vendor there. I looked at her website and she has a huge variety of fragrance soap, plus shower steamers and bath bombs. She does simple swirls and layers, but nothing fancy. I only make soap so far, but I think mine is a little fancier, e.g. mica lines, Taiwan swirls, polka dot, mosaic, hanger swirls. I just don’t want to create an awkward situation since I think she’s claimed this FM as her turf. Like I said, it’s a tiny FM and we’d probably be staring at each other the whole time. But, I want to know if y’all have any advice or is there any etiquette I should know. TIA! Kari
 

shunt2011

Staff member
Admin
Joined
Apr 2, 2012
Messages
14,768
Reaction score
8,941
Location
Michigan
I say go for it. If your style is different. Different things appeal to different people. I do a couple shows where there’s 4-5 soapmakers and I still make really good money. You just need to build your own client base. If it doesn’t work put you can try somewhere else. Put yourself out there.
 

Kari Howie

Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Feb 25, 2019
Messages
650
Reaction score
564
Location
Goldsboro, North Carolina
I say go for it. If your style is different. Different things appeal to different people. I do a couple shows where there’s 4-5 soapmakers and I still make really good money. You just need to build your own client base. If it doesn’t work put you can try somewhere else. Put yourself out there.
Thank you for the words of encouragement, shunt. I’ve really been struggling with this because I have no experience.
 

dibbles

Supporting Member
Supporting Member
Joined
May 6, 2015
Messages
6,038
Reaction score
5,896
Location
Minnesota
I say yes! If the other soap maker has been doing this market for awhile already, she has her client base. Will she lose some customers to you? Hard to say, but if someone that has been using her soap and tries yours - and likes it better - then maybe she will lose some of them. I don't know how someone can think that this is a market where they are the only one that can sell the product they make, whether it is soap, cheese or quilts.

A friend of mine wanted to take some soaps to a very large, year round market here. There is only one soap vendor. She was informed that the other soap vendor has a signed agreement to be the only one selling soap there. Smart lady!
 

Kari Howie

Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Feb 25, 2019
Messages
650
Reaction score
564
Location
Goldsboro, North Carolina
Thank you all! It always helps to talk to fellow soapers. After I put out my query I stopped by a cute store on the main drag of our little downtown. I had my soap samples with me and the long and the short of it is she’s going to start carrying my soaps! Yay! Y’all must’ve sent some powerful thoughts my way!
 

KiwiMoose

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 16, 2018
Messages
2,704
Reaction score
4,884
Location
Hamilton, New Zealand
Do it! There are several people selling soaps at the market I go to - I'm the 'new kid on the block' having just introduced it into my stall ( previously I just sold my painted stones). There is one other lady who is palm free, as I am, so that gives us a point of difference. I do make sure I engage with people though - and 'talk soap' with them. Most of them appreciate my knowledge of the process - but some just want to smell the soap : )
 

Kari Howie

Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Feb 25, 2019
Messages
650
Reaction score
564
Location
Goldsboro, North Carolina
Do it! There are several people selling soaps at the market I go to - I'm the 'new kid on the block' having just introduced it into my stall ( previously I just sold my painted stones). There is one other lady who is palm free, as I am, so that gives us a point of difference. I do make sure I engage with people though - and 'talk soap' with them. Most of them appreciate my knowledge of the process - but some just want to smell the soap : )
Thanks, KiwiMoose!
 

Misschief

Supporting Member
Joined
Aug 26, 2015
Messages
3,472
Reaction score
4,413
Location
Kelowna, BC, Canada
Our market has a maximum of 60 vendors (on a full Sunday like this weekend's Christmas market); there is one other besides me who sells soap as part of their wares. They're a "collective" and sell a variety of products including photography, concrete planters and other things. I've gotten to know them and even though he makes soap, he's also bought from me because I inspire him. Last week, there was another soaper but her soaps were all M & P. I would say go for it!
 

Dawni

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 15, 2018
Messages
2,887
Reaction score
4,101
Location
Philippines
Thank you all! It always helps to talk to fellow soapers. After I put out my query I stopped by a cute store on the main drag of our little downtown. I had my soap samples with me and the long and the short of it is she’s going to start carrying my soaps! Yay! Y’all must’ve sent some powerful thoughts my way!
Wow yey! That's great news :)
 

TheGecko

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 22, 2019
Messages
810
Reaction score
951
Location
Oregon
...and where there is already a soap vendor there. I looked at her website and she has a huge variety of fragrance soap, plus shower steamers and bath bombs. She does simple swirls and layers, but nothing fancy. I only make soap so far, but I think mine is a little fancier, e.g. mica lines, Taiwan swirls, polka dot, mosaic, hanger swirls. I just don’t want to create an awkward situation since I think she’s claimed this FM as her turf. Like I said, it’s a tiny FM and we’d probably be staring at each other the whole time. But, I want to know if y’all have any advice or is there any etiquette I should know. TIA! Kari
Unless she has an exclusive contract, it’s free enterprise. When I did the craft fair earlier this month, I went around to all the other booths and introduced myself, passed out my cards, picked up one of theirs. The gal that runs the fair makes soap...she makes a rustic goat milk soap from her own goats and we traded bars. She said she was glad to see another soaper...more variety brings in more customers.
 

cmzaha

Supporting Member
Joined
Sep 19, 2011
Messages
11,016
Reaction score
9,733
Location
Southern California
Now that everyone has given their opinion I will give mine and no one will like it. I do a tiny market, less than 25 vendors with about 10 being fair trade crafters, and fortunately for other soapmakers after 1.5 yrs of a new market manager he has figured out not to bring in other soapmakers. I say fortunately for other soapmakers is because they just lose money. When I would not be able to attend the market for a week or so he would try to fill my space with an alternate soap seller. I asked him how that worked out and the answer was it did not go well. While this may not be the same for everyone and not everyone will agree to this, this is my market. It is a market I have been attending for at least 5 years and have outlived several soapmakers with many bragging how their soap does this and that, fancy soaps etc etc. Customers are faithful, once they like yours, it is yours they will purchase even if you are missing they wait until you return.

I am another that does not make fancy soap. All my soaps are the same size 2 or 3 swirls with a selection of 40+. That is what sells for me. When I first started selling I tried the fancy tops, different additives other than oatmeal and salt and they just did not sell. So now simple Oatmeal, Salt Bars and no exfoliant soaps are found at my booth.

As for making a soapie friend you may or may not. If she has been attending the market long enough she probably is comfortable enough knowing a new person is not going to affect her sales I may very well be friendly. Hard to say. I do question a market manager that will bring in another soapmaker when they already have on in a tiny market. We all put in the time and money to attend these markets to make money and it is Hard work.

So if you have to pay much for this market you need to decide and be prepared to not make much. The decision has to be yours and not ours. We are all in different States so different circumstances and different types of markets.
 

Kari Howie

Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Feb 25, 2019
Messages
650
Reaction score
564
Location
Goldsboro, North Carolina
Now that everyone has given their opinion I will give mine and no one will like it. I do a tiny market, less than 25 vendors with about 10 being fair trade crafters, and fortunately for other soapmakers after 1.5 yrs of a new market manager he has figured out not to bring in other soapmakers. I say fortunately for other soapmakers is because they just lose money. When I would not be able to attend the market for a week or so he would try to fill my space with an alternate soap seller. I asked him how that worked out and the answer was it did not go well. While this may not be the same for everyone and not everyone will agree to this, this is my market. It is a market I have been attending for at least 5 years and have outlived several soapmakers with many bragging how their soap does this and that, fancy soaps etc etc. Customers are faithful, once they like yours, it is yours they will purchase even if you are missing they wait until you return.

I am another that does not make fancy soap. All my soaps are the same size 2 or 3 swirls with a selection of 40+. That is what sells for me. When I first started selling I tried the fancy tops, different additives other than oatmeal and salt and they just did not sell. So now simple Oatmeal, Salt Bars and no exfoliant soaps are found at my booth.

As for making a soapie friend you may or may not. If she has been attending the market long enough she probably is comfortable enough knowing a new person is not going to affect her sales I may very well be friendly. Hard to say. I do question a market manager that will bring in another soapmaker when they already have on in a tiny market. We all put in the time and money to attend these markets to make money and it is Hard work.

So if you have to pay much for this market you need to decide and be prepared to not make much. The decision has to be yours and not ours. We are all in different States so different circumstances and different types of markets.
This is why I put the question out there. I had a bad feeling when I found out about the other established soaper. Fortunately I discovered the downtown shop who has no soaps and she is excited about carrying mine. So I think it best to stick with that.
 

cmzaha

Supporting Member
Joined
Sep 19, 2011
Messages
11,016
Reaction score
9,733
Location
Southern California
This is why I put the question out there. I had a bad feeling when I found out about the other established soaper. Fortunately I discovered the downtown shop who has no soaps and she is excited about carrying mine. So I think it best to stick with that.
Congratulations on landing the shop business which is probably your best sure-fire avenue. I wish you the best. Sometimes my opinions get me in trouble but I tend not to sugarcoat. It saddens me to see vendors lose money just so the market can make money even though it is business for both sides.

No matter what others think you really can own a market when it is small or even when it is large. In a market I did with over 150 vendors, in it's prime, I was the main soap seller. I know of another weekly market that is 5 blocks long in Palm Springs there is the main soap seller out there who has been there for many years. I consider that her market even though I have counted up to 10 other sellers. Then there is a main m&p cupcake soap seller who has been out there for many many years. No, I have never sold in the market, but we wonder out there once a year or so to walk around.
 

Nanette

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 8, 2019
Messages
508
Reaction score
402
Location
Tucson AZ y
Any possibility of talking with the soap maker at the tiny market? I dont know if thats even appropriate....or how you would feel if she said Oh H###no....but she might say oh sure, great to have more variety here! Just a thought.?
 

cmzaha

Supporting Member
Joined
Sep 19, 2011
Messages
11,016
Reaction score
9,733
Location
Southern California
Any possibility of talking with the soap maker at the tiny market? I dont know if thats even appropriate....or how you would feel if she said Oh H###no....but she might say oh sure, great to have more variety here! Just a thought.?
I am sorry, it is pretty unrealistic if they think it is nice to have competition. Most will sell because they need the extra income, some may sell as a hobby but soon find it is very hard work to lug around the heavy containers of soap, set up tables, etc so why would we want more soap sellers in our markets? We supplement our retirement why would I be happy to share? Also, the fact where I live sales are shaky too begin with and actually my biggest sales are crochet hats and hoods. While I am always friendly with any soapmaker/ seller that shows up in my market/markets I grumble to myself and husband.
 

Lin19687

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 20, 2018
Messages
4,054
Reaction score
2,452
Location
not for FB to know
Devil's advocate here .....Not sure how long you have been making soap, if you just do a few 2# batches a year or if you have 100's of stock ready to sell, so this is generalized answer.

For all the 'new' soapers, you better know how your soap does with a tried and true recipe BEFORE you start to sell. This means that you need to know how it does for all skin types in all seasons. Been making soap for more then a year.... yadda yadda yadda there are many posts on that subject.

Also know that if you make a Sub-par soap and there are other soapers there (who have the experience, put the years of learning in and a Good soap) they will be a bit p.o'd that you brought in crappy 'newbee' soap. It makes OTHER SOAPERS look bad when someone does this.
I have heard this many times in my booth. "oh I don't buy those because the last one I got scratched my arm...dried out my skin....turned orange spotted....lost the scent when I opened it a month later... (worst) felt like it burned my skin afterwards (this could be lye or EO's, who knows :eek:)

If it is truly a small FM, like under 15 vendors I would say skip it. More then 1 soap isn't worth it since they have been there for a while. Unless you are making M&P an they are making CP/HP , HUGE difference in these.

I have walked through some Craft Fairs and FM's and seen soap from a 'Bee' person that looked like crap. Others overly pretty and toppings that are $8.00 and M&P. Do they sell these? Sure but they don't stay except for the Bee person as her main thing was honey so the 8 bars of plain honey soap was no extra thing for her. Oh and it was wrapped in saran wrap :rolleyes:

Get everything under control first. Changing packaging, signs or looks is fine but you need to make sure the soap you make is perfected.

Flame away, it doesn't bother me. I was chomping at the bit when I came back to soaping and asked about M&P just to get some soap to make for a market fast. I didn't end up doing the market as I hate M&P feel I found out. Wasted $$$ buying M&P..... that is still sitting here unused along with pounds of CP that didn't turn out to my higher standard. They are fine but not the look I wanted or shape or under sized. Which is fine because I will use it and I also donate to local homeless shelters.
 

Kari Howie

Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Feb 25, 2019
Messages
650
Reaction score
564
Location
Goldsboro, North Carolina
Don’t worry, I’m not going to flame away. I do appreciate your wisdom. I have been making soap for about 5 years, so I feel confident in my products. I get lots of positive feedback, praise from my customers. However, I mostly sell to friends and folks at our local horse shows where my daughter used to show. I haven’t done many farmers’ markets. That’s where I lack experience and why I asked the origihaven’t put in much effort on that front. I’m 65 with terrible arthritis and carting everything around is probably too much for me now that my daughters have moved away. After I first posted my question, the opportunity arose to sell my soaps at a local shop, so I jumped on it. Still I truly appreciate what everyone has had to say. Thanks, y’all!
 
2
Top