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How to Market Your Products at Holiday Crafts Fairs and Flea Markets

How to Market Your Products at Holiday Crafts Fairs and Flea Markets

By Rieva Lesonsky, Guest Blogger
Published: November 21, 2012


The holiday shopping season is here, and customers are poised to spend more than $586 billion on gifts this year—a 4.1 percent increase over last year. But not all of that action is taking place on Black Friday or Cyber Monday, or at the local mall. For smart small businesses whose products have wide appeal, holiday arts and crafts fairs and local flea markets or other outdoor shopping events are great ways to garner additional sales this time of year. To get started, follow these steps.

Check out what events your community and nearby communities host. Many cities have ongoing flea markets or outdoor “swap meets” that run all year long. Others have special holiday crafts or arts fairs spotlighting products from local companies or individual craftspeople. All of these options can be great ways to sell your wares to not only local customers, but also visitors from out of the area.

Determine where your products fit. Is your product locally sourced, artisanal or handmade? Then crafts fairs or arts events can be a better fit. Swap meets and flea markets are better for products that sell at an “impulse” price point, that lend themselves to demonstrations, or that are trendy (think “as seen on TV”-type items). If you sell food, you’re likely a fit at any outdoor event. Also consider the community where the fair or event is being held and the likely target audience. For example, an arts and crafts fair might attract upscale retirees, while a swap meet is more likely to bring out young families on a budget. If it’s an ongoing event, organizers should be able to give you an estimate of total numbers and even a breakdown of the likely audience.

Know what’s required. Get in touch with the organizers well ahead of time. Find out how much it costs to rent booth space, any special requirements in terms of signage, times to load-in and load-out of the event, restrictions on booth size or vehicle size, and what kind of access to electricity you’ll have (if needed to power demonstrations or point-of-sale systems). If you sell food, ask about any health department restrictions or licensing regulations that affect your booth.

Get feedback. If you’ve never sold at this particular event before, don’t commit until you talk to other business owners who’ve done it in the past. Find related, but noncompeting entrepreneurs and ask them if they got business from the event; if they thought it was worthwhile; and any tips, cautions or words of wisdom they can offer for selling at the event.

Plan ahead. Before the fair or event, make sure you have enough product on hand, an adequate display and bags or packaging. You’ll also want to bring marketing materials such as business cards or brochures for people who don’t buy today, but may want to shop later. Finally, make payment fast and easy by providing several ways shoppers can pay. It’s best to have a tablet or smartphone so you can accept payments via credit or debit card with Square, Intuit GoPayment, PayPal Here or other mobile payment reader. (See Caron Beesley’s article on mobile payments for more details on mobile options.)

Staff up. You won’t want to leave your booth unattended (or customers un-waited on) for a moment, so be sure you’ve got plenty of energetic salespeople on hand. Drumming up business is important at crowded events, so your team needs personality. They can’t be too shy to call out to customers or demonstrate what makes your product so great. Provide snacks and water to keep your team’s energy level high.

Approach them the right way, and crafts fairs or swap meets can be the gift that keeps on giving for your small business.

About the Author:

Rieva Lesonsky
Rieva Lesonsky

Guest Blogger

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and President of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Follow Rieva at Twitter.com/Rieva and visit SmallBizDaily.com to sign up for her free TrendCast reports. She's been covering small business and entrepreneurial issues for more than 30 years, is the author of several books about entrepreneurship and was the editorial director of Entrepreneur magazine for over two decades