Today we're talking about three things you need to know to sell at any market. So someone who has hosted over 20 different markets and have attended probably around 30 as a business owner myself, these are like the questions that I get a lot and the information that I feel like every vendor needs to know to be successful.
The first is what type of checkout the market will have. So generally we see two types of checkouts at markets.
If it's a self checkout, you'll need a few different things.
I usually recommend that people have a QR code for customers to scan to pay via Venmo. That's a really popular way to pay and accept payments. It's also a good idea to have a card reader. I personally use Square and I really like it. Generally as I have sold at markets, I see less and less people paying with cash, but it's not a bad idea to have some change, like some fives or ones if a customer does come and want to pay with cash. At these types of markets, you'll also need information on how to pay sales tax. Now this can vary greatly just depending on what state or what city you're in. I'm in Utah and when I host markets, I usually have to reach out to the state tax department and then I collect personal information like address and name, email, phone from my vendors. Then I send it to the state and the state sends the paperwork directly to my vendors. If you are in charge of taking your payments at a self-checkout market, you'll want to talk to the market host about taxes.
The other big format for checking out is a centralized to checkout. These are markets where you're set up indoors over a period of a few days and the market host has all of the sales go through one checkout. They will assign you a vendor ID number, and then they often take a commission. You will get your earnings at the end of the event.
Usually the market host will pay, you through a check, through Venmo, PayPal, or even a direct deposit. It's really important to know what type of checkout your market is because it'll change what sort of equipment you need and the time commitment.
The next thing you need to know is what your space will be like. Usually the information for that will be listed on your application or your acceptance email. When I am planning and applying for markets, I like to make a note in my calendar of what size of vendor space I've signed up for.
That way I'm not digging through a bunch of old emails or their website to try and find the information. It makes it super easy for me just to remember, but if all else fails you can always send a quick email to your event organizer. Vendor spaces can vary greatly just depending on the event, but some of the most common sizes that I've seen are 10 by tens or two and a half by four, two and a half by six, or even three by four.
Three by six, three by eight. Some markets will just have one size of vendor space for everybody and other markets will have like a tiered system where you are paying a little more for more space if you need it. I highly recommend that you do a mock-up of your setup before your event, especially if you are new to markets. Make sure that you set it up, that you measure, and that your space and your furniture and your table or your clothing racks stay within the allotted space.
It can be very stressful for vendors and for market hosts if your space doesn't work the day of the event. Doing a mock-up beforehand also helps you pack because then you know exactly what you need. Sometimes I have vendors that are like, oh, I'll throw this in cuz I might need it and it ends up just taking up space in your car and not being super useful.
It can also be helpful to ask the market host if your space is going to be against a wall, if you can hang things on the wall or if it's going to be on a corner or back to back with another vendor. Basically, as much information as you can get about your space will really help you optimize the shopping experience.
The last thing that you want to know before you sell at a market is how much inventory to bring. This topic can get tricky and can vary greatly on your business and what types of markets you are selling at. But here are some of the like principles that you need to make sure you have enough.
You'll want to reach out to the host or to vendors who have participated in the market in the past and get an idea of how much traffic or how many shoppers get there. That is something that can help you have an idea of how much inventory to bring. You'll also want to make sure that you bring enough inventory to make your booth fee back and also to make a little more.
The goal of attending a market is to make money. Obviously it would be very hard to make a hundred dollar booth fee back if you only set up $75 worth of product. You also want to consider if your items are seasonal or perishable. So for example, if you sell cookies, then you really want to avoid ending the market with 30, 40 leftover cookies. You can always do some sort of flash sale or sell them on your website or Instagram, but you wanna avoid having a bunch of perishable product. If you are someone who sells toys or bags or clothes, it's not as big of a deal to have leftovers because you can pack those up, take them home, sell them on your own website, or save them for your next event.
Those are some things that I would recommend considering when you are trying to decide how much inventory to bring. Another tip that I have about inventory is it never hurts if you have non-perishable or non-seasonal items to have extras. So when I participate in multi-day markets, I like to have bins of extra inventory under my table.
Often the market hosts will restock or I will go visit the market and straighten my booth and restock. If I'm at like a one day outdoor event, I like to keep like an extra box or two of inventory in my car or under the tables. That way if I do happen to have a really great sales day, I know that I have More inventory to pull through.