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Funding your hobby? - Market Tips

Another season of markets has ended with Christmas and the fall rush to fulfill honey orders behind us. After about 6 years at this, I realized some BIG mistakes I see vendors at local markets are making. Maybe this is a bit of a rant, but I really want to share them here. I hope this helps someone!

So, you've either made the jump into beekeeping or are contemplating whether your finances can handle dropping $1500+ on some insects. If you're anything like I was when we started, I needed to pitch not only getting a few thousand stinging insects for the back yard, but why it was:

A) a good idea, and

B) something we could do that wouldn't break the bank

Let's set aside the ins and outs of making products for this blog and let's say you're past that stage now. You've settled on a few products and want to begin getting out there. One great way for the locals to get to know you? Markets! After 6 years attending and selling at markets, we've picked up on a few tricks to help you increase sales that have no additional costs to you and are guaranteed to help get your products into the hands of new clients.

1. Say hello!

I know, this seems simple. Really simple, right? Truth is though, I can't tell you how many times I have sat across from a vendor who's having a bad day and it was almost spelled across their forehead. They did all they could to avoid conversations or waited for those in attendance to make the first move. Most people won't go out of their way to make conversation with you. You're there to sell your work, and if they don't see or understand your product from a distance, they likely won't want to make the first move to engage unless something on the table really piques their interest.

It's not hard. A simple, "Hey! How are you?" or a "Hi there!" will break the ice enough to begin engaging with those walking by. Friendly openings will often lead to more opportunities to either sell or inform those willing to listen about your work.

2. Put the phone down!

This one gets me, as I am sure it does our clients. Nothing will cause you to lose a sale faster than sitting down behind your booth scrolling through social media. Let's face it, your head is down, and anyone with any interest in your products are walking by without something as small as eye contact and a smile to open up the conversation. The client will often feel as though they are bothering you to purchase some of your goods and will move on the majority of the time.

One particular instance I can recall of this was a market we attended in our 3rd year doing this. It was a new market we hadn't been to before, and we were the new guys on the block.

Still learning, we we're doing our best but had a killer first day thanks in part to a couple vendors around us. Throughout the day, we had hundreds of people trying out products and engaging us to ask about what we do, and where we were located. Those vendors around us were sitting, head down and on their phone.

There was one vendor I recall that only sold a couple small items to some friends who stopped by. After some time without sales, and no engagement with attending patrons, it only got worse. It's in us to connect with one another. When this doesn't happen, particularly when you're hoping to sell enough to cover the cost of the table fee and lunch at the least, we often begin a bit of a spiral. This usually consists of frequent clock checking, and even further disengagement from those around us. As the feeling of disappointment continues, many begin to shut down and just want to go home. Some even leave early.

All that to say this. If your head is down, your eyes don't see who's coming. If you don't see who's coming, the table next to you has already said hello, and captured that buyer's attention.

3. Stand up, and be open!

Communication will always begin non-verbally. There's a reason people feel more welcomed when your body language suggests a more open and confident pose. Sitting down behind a table and pile of goods gives a cold, closed feeling as your customer approaches your booth. This will hinder someone from even beginning to approach your booth. Standing and showing the approaching clients have value gives them the association of your brand with welcoming confidence. They may not buy something today, but the last thing they see will be you standing, smiling and your logo.

4. Get a Logo! - Stand out!

We have all seen it, tables with beautiful items, skilled crafters and no signage. People love the goods but have no idea who you are. Even worse, if you have someone walk by, and you take the time to do all the steps of standing, smiling, saying hello, they walk by without any memory of who you are. We see thousands of people at markets every fall and some buy on the 1st trip through, while others wait.

One specific interaction we had with a lady at a market we attended over a 12-week span. She came every week, and every week she walked by. That is, until one day she walked in the doors of the market, circled around the tables and came directly to us. Her first words were "THE BEE PEOPLE! I have a brother who has a birthday coming and I know he will love this stuff!" Every week we smiled and every week we stood as she walked by greeting her as she did. When it came time that a family member had a significant event, she thought of us! Simply associating her trip to the market with a smile and a small bee logo was enough to trigger her memory when it mattered.


Now, none of this is groundbreaking news! It's not like these 4 tips are a part of some hidden treasure trove sure to make you rich. I'm not selling them for a fee. They're pretty common sense if you think about it. I can guarantee you yourself, have either not done these, or seen attending crafters not doing them though.

Sometimes we have bad days, and it can be hard to put yourself out there. If a market isn't busy or there is no one around, grab your phone and get some pics for social media. Keep selling digitally and notify those who follow you of where you are at, and what you are up to.

This may be a tip 5, but if it isn't busy, don't feed into the negative energy that other vendors are creating. You've likely been a part of or seen vendors using phrases like "waste of time", "why do they run the market until xx:xx time", etc. Enjoy the time you're there! Discover new products, meet new creators, and form relationships. You're all better because of the network you are building in your community.

Let me know... Am I out to lunch? Have you seen anything like these actions in my tips?

What's your market pet peeve? Let us know in the comments below!

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