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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Why persistence is necessary when doing fairs and markets

All of us know that some things take time, and doing fairs and markets is no different, sure, you can have the most fantastic work and it sells like hotcakes on your first outing, more likely though is that it takes a while. When I first started on little arts and craft markets, I was so new that even one sale made me happy - someone wanted to pay for what I had made, and that's lovely, although not really why I spent a whole day packing up and getting ready and then another day at the actual market. As I went along, showing up in the same space every Saturday, my sales started taking off, and I found that I had to get to know the people who came to the market, they would come by my stall, look, maybe even comment, and then walk away, and I sat there thinking "come on, come on, buy something......"
Eventually they did, but it took me more or less 6 months to really get started. If you think about it, a new shop opens in town and you go and have a look, maybe you buy something small and go home thinking -what a cute shop, I'll go back when someone has a birthday etc..... your market stall works much the same way, except you don't open every day, so it can take even longer. Be patient, most of us shop for a reason, sure some of us just shop, but most of the time, there is a reason, birthdays, Christmas, anniversaries etc..... be persistent and consistent, and people eventually know you are there, and come specifically to buy something from you. Often something they have seen a while back, and really liked, so don't change everything every time you go to a market. Try to be in the same place or near the same place every time you go. When you live in an area, and take part in the various fairs and markets, you'll discover that it is mainly the same people you will see..... by being there, they will start to find you and start to shop. When I first started I was told this over and over, and I am glad, because I think I would probably have given up before it "started happening" if I did not know that sales takes time, and persistence pays off.
To go back to a point I made before, this is why bringing something small ( and by small I really mean inexpensive) gets you known. We all like to be congratulated on a nice card we give for someones birthday..... and we'll come back for more. I print cards, not because I make money from them, I don't, all things considered, but they have over and over again served as an introduction to my prints. I can't tell you the many times I have heard that my mum/friend/sister/inlaw etc loved the card I bought from you, and from there we, the client and I, progress to something a bit bigger, a small print..... that looks so cute on the wall, framed, that it needs company........ all this takes time.... so be there for your clients and they'll be there for you!
I'd love to hear from you, if you do fairs and markets, how long it took for you to feel that it was worth your while?
I have decided, in a moment of bravery, to try and do a post on the art of pricing...... the trickiest bit of all... to get it right.... !!!


  1. Great Post you probably know I've only done one fair and it was kind of a lot of work for not too much...there aren't too many opportunities over here. I think it sounds like a fun way to go. Are you going to do more of that now you've moved? I guess it would be a good way to get to know your immediate clientele. Me, I've decided to try to concentrate on my little boutique shop on-site here.

  2. This is such a helpful post, Mariann. I don't have the chance to try a regular stall/booth/fair just yet, but I will definitely remember all this wisdom whenever I do start... Like the commenter above, I have only done one fair so far, with very little sold - I covered the cost of the table, so that was ok, but I was disappointed. However, as you say, people will have seen that I was there. If I do the next one, maybe some people will expect me to be there... who knows, they may buy something then!

  3. Thanks so much for your comments, and I am so glad, that someone else might find a nugget of something helpful in my experience!

  4. Lots of helpful advice but I do find it so frustrating sometimes!

    My lovely printmaking course has been cancelled due to a bad car crash for the tutor - 5 broken bones & 3 m in hospital - I can't possibly complain! So I will visit your wonderful videos often 7 another artist on the couse & i will get together & carry on printing!

  5. You are so right about the importance of persistence. Usually if I make a sale, its on the last day of the show, usually about an hour before the show ends. I'll see lots of people packing up early, but I always wait. That last hour is usually when I finally break even or even make a profit.