We set off today for adventure and to research another farmers market. My friend told me about the farmers market at the OC Great Park in Irvine. She said that the first Sunday of the month they also have an Antique Fair. It sounded like something I had to see. I’m still trying to figure out which farmers markets in the area will let people sell prepared food and crafts. I’m hoping to put together a schedule soon of places I can sell at and research booth costs, etc.
The OC farmers market DID have both prepared food booths and some crafts/handmade products. I was impressed by the amount of foot traffic going through and the food trucks for people to eat at. It felt like more than the usual farmers markets I’ve been to in the area. It got pretty hot by 11am so I recommend getting there early (on the first Sunday the hours are 8-2 but normally 10-2). A hat and sunscreen are imperative!
I really appreciate that the vendors get to pull up to their booth so there isn’t a lot of schlepping your stuff from the parking lot! I also liked the fact that they had a shaded eating area and, in the antique area, they had a flop section with umbrellas and chairs (presumably for all the tired husbands). There were several good booth ideas such as pop-ups with vents, cute little shelves on the table to make things more vertical. I think the best lesson I received today is offering samples. I was already planning on doing that, but I really saw the psychology of it today. By offering a sample you are engaging with the customer, making eye contact and opening up a conversation. It also plays on the idea of reciprocity. You have just given them something and most people feel the need to reciprocate by buying something (if they like it). I noticed that some people just sat in their chairs as people passed and no one was coming to their booths. I was thinking that even if I wasn’t selling food items, I could still offer samples of hand lotion or something. It’s good to remember that it’s not just about putting your stuff on a table, you really need to be engaging with customers to make sales.
Last weekend I went to the Torrance Craft Fair to do some research. Specifically I was looking for ideas on how to set up my booth and display my products. I was also interested in talking to the crafters and see how they felt about the fair and running a handcrafted business in general. I got some great tips on easy ways to make my booth attractive and lay things out – go vertical. I saw several booths where they had used little shelves to add some height to have more room to display products as well as create visual interest. I also learned that if you are set up outside, clipping your business cards together keeps them from blowing away (hey, anything practical helps).
I was talking to one crafter about pricing as that seems to be a roadblock for everyone on the blogs (and myself). She said that she uses pretty pricey fabrics and once you add in the time it takes her to make, the price gets up there – but she has to charge enough to make it profitable. I’ll be dealing more with this subject in future posts as it is the biggest struggle I’ve faced in this whole process.
Another good idea – several of the crafters got free business cards online at VistaPrints. Unfortunately, you have to choose from one of their pre-designed cards so that won’t work for me – but the designs are nice if you need some free cards to get started. I was surprised that the crafters I talked with don’t have a website. The booth I thought was the best branded – Lanie’s Lathers – does have a Facebook page that she’s good about using – https://www.facebook.com/soapfarmsoap. I bought one of her goat’s milk soaps and I love it! Also, several have Etsy shops but aren’t selling anything on them right now. I thought it was interesting that these crafters are mostly focusing on the face-to-face craft fair market and not doing much online. I don’t know if that is because they don’t have time to do it or aren’t at that level yet.
I am definitely interested in doing this fair in the fall. I didn’t see any products like mine there so I think I would fit in well. That might be my first craft fair as I felt comfortable there and that would give me a good six months to get everything in place before I had to sell anything.