These days, it’s so easy to buy just about anything you need on websites like Amazon (as well as a whole bunch of very nice but definitely unnecessary stuff!) Still, while it’s awfully nice and convenient to get your shopping done from your comfy couch, there’s nothing quite like the fun of going to a market or a fair and picking over the stuff in person rather than scanning it on a screen.
There are all sorts of markets, and actually they seem to be getting more and more popular in the UK despite the rise of online shopping. You can get so much great stuff at markets and fairs, from organic products and food to locally made wine to hand-crafted trinkets to pretty plants for your garden. A lot of the stuff is higher quality than what’s on offer at your local chain shops, and your chances of finding a unique piece are much higher. Luckily, local councils are doing a great job of supporting and promoting these markets to strengthen a sense of community spirit to lots of UK towns.
We’re going to talk about some of the most popular types of markets and fairs, then we’ll give you some practical tips for how you can promote your own brand and these types of events.
Farmers’ markets have been on the scene for a while now, farmers and producers could sell their fresh produce to people at great prices. The overall idea is to support local businesses that might otherwise find it hard to sell their products. The low prices of the large supermarket chains make it hard for smaller producers to compete, so farmers’ markets are an easy way for people to support their local businesses and buy fantastic food at the same time. The other benefit of these food markets is the reduction in food-miles, i.e. transportation, storage and distribution costs, which all have a negative impact on the environment.
At a typical farmers’ market, you’ll find a selection of cheeses, fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, eggs, jams and chutneys, homemade cakes and biscuits and even locally made wines. Many of the products are organic and free-range. Most of the time, you’ll be able to try the delicious stuff before you buy.
Traditional craft fairs have been taking place up and down the UK for years, and we’re guessing this won’t change anytime soon. Aside from a chance to buy all your crafty bits and unique gifts, craft fairs can be a great day out. They are a great place to have a chat with friends while you enjoy a relaxing lunch or tea and cakes. There are often plenty of activities on offer for the kids as well.
Craft fairs sell some beautiful items including hand-made jewellery, photo frames, pictures, toiletries, toys, home items, candles, plants and stationery. Fabric goods are also popular, like cushions, quilts, throws, table cloths and bed linen.While your stereotypical handmade stuff isn’t always to everyone’s taste, there are almost always lots of different styles to suit your style at craft fairs. Have a good poke round and you should be able to find something you love.
Attending craft fairs is a full-time business for some people, and it’s possible to make a good profit if you know what you’re doing. If you’re interested in some tips, check out the end of the article for our best suggestions.
You don’t have to travel to Germany or Prague anymore to see a beautiful Christmas market –they’re now right on your doorstep in the U.K.! These markets are the perfect excuse to get into the festive spirit with a mince pie or two accompanied by a few glasses of mulled wine. After the wine, you may feel inclined to spread the holiday cheer by singing a few Christmas carols around the market. Ah yes, and you could also get your Christmas gift shopping done too!
Many of the UK Christmas markets are inspired by the continental ones that you’ve probably seen on a holiday travel brochure at some point. The markets are lit up with twinkling lights and stall holders dress in traditional costume. There are nativity scenes, Father Christmas makes an appearance and you’ll find gastronomic delights to sample from all over Europe and the UK (like mulled wine).
Other UK Christmas markets are more Victorian-themed to create the real feel of the old-world British Christmas. Many have traditional English fairgrounds, carol singing and music (and mulled wine).
If you want to exhibit at a Christmas market, remember that this won’t be a large money-maker as the markets are seasonal, so you have to weigh up whether it’s worth paying an attendance fee for the money you’ll make. Still, people manage to do it!
If you are thinking of selling your wares at your local markets or fairs, here are a few tips to make your stand a success. They can be a really good place to promote your brand if you know some of the basics.
1. Have samples of your stuff on hand. If you’re selling food, have some that’s cut up and on plates. Don’t wait for people to ask. Also, free samples can be a good way to attract shoppers to your stall. Even if they’re only interested in a free snack or cool postcard, they’ll have to get up close to your stand and may find something like they there.
2. Be prepared to chat about how your stuff is made, whether that’s how your organic produce is grown or the production processes behind your clothing. People who like to shop at markets and fairs are often really interested in the process.
3. If you can, get a stand near the front of the market. Shoppers sometimes just stick to the stuff and the front and never end up making their way to the back. If you can get in front, you’ll be in a great position.
4. Make your stand attractive with colourful table cloths and clear signage. Less is more here – don’t crowd the stand with too many products!
5. Keep products at eye level and above – people don’t like to bend down. And it’s also easier to steal things when they’re out of your line of sight.
6. Connect with people, both customers and other vendors. Chat about how you may be able to collaborate, what your favourite parts of the business are, how you could supply a local business with your stuff – the networking possibilities are endless.
7. Take some products out of the packaging to display them. It’s easier to see what the products actually look like when they’re outside the package.
8. Let people touch and feel the goods on sale. Say you’re buying T-shirts — wouldn’t you expect to be able to feel the nice fabric the piece is made of? They also might like to pick the shirts up to see how they hang.
9. Show prices clearly. Nobody likes being confused about prices. Keep things simple and straightforward.
10. Prepare your display plan beforehand so when you arrive you know where to put everything. It doesn’t have to be complicated, but it’ll save you a lot of time fiddling with stuff on the day of the event.
11. Be friendly and smile, but not over-powering. A really hard sell is often the quickest turn off to potential customers. It may be cliché, but it’s true – just be yourself.
12. Give your stand a focus point. In other words, a product that is really different from the rest. Show off to your potential customers what makes your stuff special.
13. Have business cards ready so people can contact you in the future or stop by your store (online or otherwise).
14. Prepare plenty of change and bags. Waiting for change is a hassle for both the seller and the customer. And you’ll want to have lots of bags on hand for them to take their purchases home in.
15. Offer freebies to encourage purchases. People love free stuff, and it can be a great way to encourage them to actually buy your products.
16. Give customers a way to pay by credit card. Yes, people will probably have cash on hand at markets and fairs, but for many it’s more convenient to pay by credit card. You wouldn’t want to lose a potential customer because they’d run out of cash.
17. Visit a similar market or fair before setting up your own stall. You can chat to people who are there to get some more information and tips about the process, as well as check out what other people are doing to get inspired.
18. Do a bit of research on who attends the market you want to sell at. Some markets almost certainly better fits for your products than others just because of who tends to go.
19. Hire help! You may run your business by yourself, but you’ll definitely want more than one person on hand at the booth. Pick someone who’s friendly and comfortable talking to lots (and lots!) of people.
20. Afterwards, think about how the market went. Did you sell as much stuff as you wanted to? Did you sell more? What stuff sold the best and worst? What did other people do that you wish you’d thought of? What could you improve for next time? Is this something you’d like to do again?
Whether you’re buying or selling at one of the markets or fairs in your area remember that you’re supporting the local economy and helping bring back the tradition of community spirit. Enjoy!
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