The thought of doing a vendor event is freaking me out

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Catscankim

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I am not new to selling. I guess its just the thought of selling my own product, maybe, i dunno.

Some of it is new to me...like tents. I always sold at parties at my house, or somebody elses house (think avon, etc).

I have seen all of your tent set ups (trust me, i have saved every picture lol). Guess i just need to get my feet wet for the first time.

I have the tent and a 6ft table. Some risers, props, live plants for props, wooden crates for displays, a BUBBLE MACHINE lol, table cloth.

I bought a bunch of soap savers.

shopping bags, a basket of sample soaps, square reader, i know i need cash.

I talked to the lady tonight, but havent committed to a date. Maybe next saturday? Its a weekly Saturday gig. Sign up for one ($40) or sign up for several at a discount.

I do not have biz cards to let anybody know how to find me. Which is freaking me out, but my phone #, email, and instagram is on my soap labels.

should i get side tables? I only have the one table for the front.

All suggestions are welcome.
 

Babyshoes

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Sounds like you're all good for a first go, you can decide later on details like extra tables etc. I love the idea of the bubble machine! I also think it's worth emphasising the "handmade by you" aspect - can you find space for a photo of you in safety gear pouring soap batter into a mould?

I don't think you necessarily need biz cards these days, a sign with contact details to photograph, and maybe a QR code is enough. Make sure that sign includes a great photo of your soap. If you find folks aren't taking a photo, then having a few cards or flyers might help. If the market is outdoors, think about the wind. Tablecloth, signs etc may need to be clipped/pinned or weighted down. I've seen some great displays which had big milk bottles of water behind them to hold them up...

Don't forget to take drinks and food that's tidy and quick to eat. If you have an assistant, that's always useful even if they can only be there for a short time. Some markets, my partner used to help me set up, then head home. She'd bring me lunch later and watch the stall while I took a break to eat.

I'd say it's worth signing up for a few at a go, maybe once a month to start with if they'll allow that - you want to build up repeat business. Your first time might not be great, but think of it more as advertising...
 

Misschief

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I started out with one table (and it belonged to the market, not to me), a couple of table cloths, a couple of risers and my granddaughter as my helper. At that point, I was only indoors. I didn't get my tent until my third year; now, I prefer to be outdoors.

You'll evolve, as will your set up. You have your basics; start with that. After the first couple of markets, you'll know what you want to change, add, or drop.

I thought about a bubble machine but I have no idea how messy they are and how the bubbles might affect other vendors' displays/products. Let us know how it works for you.

One thing I would suggest is that you practice setting up your tent. Even though we did practice, the first day we used it (and sometimes even now), it took us forever to get that sucker up, even though it should just take a minute or two. If you need help, don't be afraid to ask a fellow vendor for a hand; I've found that most vendors are happy to help out another vendor (at least, they are at the market I attend). Solo vendors often don't even need to ask for help; there's always someone jumping in to help where needed.

I agree with TheGecko about the business cards. I work in a print shop and my boss has told me I don't need to pay for any of my printing but I can't let him do that. Business cards are one of your cheapest forms of advertising. Put them in your bags, give them away, attach them to samples. I have never worked with Vistaprint but I know that we (at the print shop) can get business cards out within a day if the customer has a print ready file and they come in before nooon.
 

Angie Gail

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I was nervous doing my first show but it went really well and the more you do, the more you'll learn what's a good setup and stuff like that. We use three tables and make a U-shape display so people can walk in and look at the products. You can also do a U-shape where people walk around the outside of the tent (just have to make sure there's enough space between booths to do that). My suggestion would be to not over decorate your tables so that you don't take away from your products and also make sure prices are clear and visible. Signs are also very helpful and we got ours from Vistaprint. Good luck!
 

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KimW

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How exciting!!!
I agree to dive in with what you have already, which sounds like a fantastic start, and allow yourself time to figure out what more, if anything, you need as you gain experience. Allow yourself time to get on a roll too, as it might take a season to start seeing good sales.

Also, what always helped my natural anxiety before going to a new market, or before market season start, was a pre-run. I'd run through everything, from packing the products in my car all the way through to full setup that included products. This so I could get a good and leisurely/stress-free gander at my setup and process. If I was going to be inside and it had been a while since I did that setup, I'd do a pre-run then too. You get the idea.
 

cmzaha

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My first question is do you know if there are other soapmakers at this weekly event? In my area there always were and with markets opening back up I can guarantee there will be multiple soap sellers at each market. My opinion is to have more tables. If you have a Costco or Sams Club get yourself two telescoping tables two and put one behind the other. You can use the 6footer down the side of your booth. Of course, this only works if you can fill the tables with products. I found decor does not sell products let your product labels be most of your decor, and a bubble display would be distracting. From the first day I sold soap at an open market I went with a min of 35 different soaps, other products, and 6 tables going up from there. I am sure you have seen pics if you have saved them all.

My biggest advice is not to judge a market after your first day and I would sign up for multiple weeks at the discount. Sometimes the first week can be great or it can totally suck and be great the next week. Also, I found it worked to make a sign with my info that they could take a pic of for my info, people take cards so they do not have to say they are not interested in your product and toss the cards. In this digital world, most will take a cell phone picture. Do not depend on your label for info they tear off the labels and toss the label. I sold a large amount of soap and products, still getting calls, and did not have a banner or cards for over 6 years.

I know my daughter and I went over the top, but when we started out it was a big market we started in with at least 6 soap sellers and we outlasted all of them including the main seller in that market, so our method worked well. But this is if you plan on continuing to sell as my husband and I did for 10+ yrs up to 4-5 markets per week.

Most of all Have fun, markets are hard work if you want to make money, but meeting and talking to people is a lot of fun. That is the part we miss the most. We made some nice friends at our markets that we are still in touch with.
 
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Catscankim

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I am not sure if their are other soap makers there. I belong to their fb page and their advertisements dont say anything about soap. I am going to head over their this Saturday and check it out.
 

Babyshoes

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I am not sure if their are other soap makers there. I belong to their fb page and their advertisements dont say anything about soap. I am going to head over their this Saturday and check it out.
Always a good idea to check it out in advance, though of course there may be occasional vendors that aren't there the week you go.

I'd suggest you ask the organiser, and if there is one other soap maker, ask to be placed well away from them, ideally in a regular spot. Folks will get to know which soap they prefer, and will say things like "I like the soap stall in the back corner", for example.

If there are already multiple soap stalls (or in fact more than 2 of any type of stall), it might be better to find a different market, since the organisers clearly don't care about having high quality, regular traders. They just want the stall fee and will let anyone in, which brings down the quality of the market, lowers the numbers of repeat customers, reduces prices and perceived quality of all the stalls. You don't want to be a regular at a market like that, except at Christmas perhaps.
 

lucycat

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Have fun and realize this is a big learning experience. Pay attention to other booths and get to know other vendors. Decide on your first attempt what your booth should be on your second attempt. Consider using an apron for your cash box so there is one less item to keep up with. It seems awkward talking to someone sitting down so stand as much as possible. Likewise I will walk by a booth when the vendor is on the phone so limit phone time. Take advantage of learning from customers and their likes and dislikes. Have fun!
 

JoyfulSudz

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@Catscankim I so empathize with you as I'm in the midst of my own freak out. I'm doing my first vendor event this Saturday. Will it be the first of many or the first and last???

I was hesitant to do it, but the organizer assured me it was focused on small local hobbyists, but it seems to have grown beyond that and I'll be there with the Big Kids. Not sure which is bigger -- my excitement or my nervousness...

Sending you wishes for much personal calm and professional success!
 

amd

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I do not have biz cards to let anybody know how to find me. Which is freaking me out, but my phone #, email, and instagram is on my soap labels.
Make a sign with your contact info. I started doing this 2 years ago - very literally the sign says "Need a business card? Take a pic!" I discovered that more people will take the picture and come back for repeat business. Or when they're talking about the great soap or sugar scrub they bought, they remember they have the pic and send it to their friends. If you get in someone's phone, they are more likely to come back to you because they don't have to spend a lot of time looking for you. I've had more referrals from people sharing the pic than sharing a biz card ever got me.

should i get side tables? I only have the one table for the front.
Only if you need the space. It is nice though to have a small table in your area for you to set your drinks on, food, and personal items. I was constantly yelling at my husband and kids to keep their crap off my display tables! I bought a small fold up craft table and problem solved. This one here:
1620941842133.png


The other advice I have, especially if your displays are not very tall, get bed risers to put under your table legs. This brings your table height up and gets your product closer to the customer's face. I've noticed that if customers have to bend down or over to look at something, they most likely won't. Make it easy for them to see your product. I use shelves to help with this, but still use 3" bed risers to bring up the height even more. Some tables do have a higher adjustment (one of my 4ft tables I can adjust to closer to a countertop height). Benefit is this gives you more space for storing underneath your table.

Speaking of - make sure your table covering goes all the way down. No one wants to see your totes and boxes.
 

Catscankim

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I think I want to get craft bags instead of the plastic ones I bought. Any insight on which ones to get? What size is ideal?
 

lucycat

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Keep your plastic bags for your first show. They are the norm and cheap. Plastic takes up less room behind your table and the loop can be safety pinned to your tablecloth. Reconsider for your 2nd show after you see how easily it is to pack and unload. I wouldn't want an extra box just for sacks.

I use Kraft bags from Nashville wraps for Xmas and for individual sales but the best prices are in boxes of 250. The size called Cub that is about 8x10x4 is probably the most popular but you will need to think about your product size and shape to really pick a size. I keep two sizes, the Cub and a smaller size called Rose.
 

Catscankim

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ok, i got my table and tent today. WAAAY heavier than expected. I will definitely need a helper for set up and break down. I can do the table by myself, but not the tent.

I am pretty strong...i lift and move humans all day long. I guess its the awkward shapes (non humans) of the tent and table lol.

I am positive that i can get my friend to help me for at least my first event. Do you pay ppl to help you normally?
 

Relle

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I am positive that i can get my friend to help me for at least my first event. Do you pay ppl to help you normally?
My first tent I put up on my own, unloaded, put up 3 tables and set up, all on my own, then moved my car, when I got the concertina one I had to rely on other stall holders to help which was a pain as they were setting up also, or Dh when he could. Paying others wasn't an option for me as I didn't make that much. One of the reasons why I don't do markets anymore is the put up and pull down and the packing of the car 4 times in less than 24 hrs. It wasn't worth the hassle anymore.
 

Babyshoes

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ok, i got my table and tent today. WAAAY heavier than expected. I will definitely need a helper for set up and break down. I can do the table by myself, but not the tent.

I am pretty strong...i lift and move humans all day long. I guess its the awkward shapes (non humans) of the tent and table lol.

I am positive that i can get my friend to help me for at least my first event. Do you pay ppl to help you normally?
If a friend is helping for the first one, I wouldn't likely offer a monetary payment, but I would probably offer a choice of something from the remaining stock at the end of the day. You should also buy their food and drinks through the day. (or pack enough for both of you.)

If it becomes a longer term thing, then you will need to decide on payment. Depending on your minimum wage rules, it might work out cheaper to hire a teenager to help with just the set up and pack up at the end of the day.
 
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