Sunday, April 21, 2013

Get Ready for Vending 2013: The Before

The first week of May is fast approaching, which means the start of Vending season!  By that I mean all flea markets, farmers markets, craft fairs, and summer festivals with vending opportunity.  I'm currently booked every Thursday at the Media Farmers Market, every 2nd & 4th Saturday at the Lansdowne Farmers Market and remaining Saturdays at The Creative Collective Craft & Fine Art Show or other festivals/events.

Last year was my first Vending season and I'd like to share some tips that I learned in the hopes to help others just starting out.  Since it is a lot of info, I'll divide it into 3 posts: Before vending, On Vending Day, and After Vending.  Keep in mind that I sell perfume and other bath & body items, so adjust this info for yourself as needed.  So here it is!

Akima Botanicals at Lansdowne Farmers Market


1. CHOOSE THE RIGHT VENUE FOR YOUR ITEMS -  I've made the mistake of vending at a flea market twice.  For my retail bath & body items, it is not the right venue.  People at flea markets tend to be looking for second hand garage sale type things and vintage goodies at inexpensive prices.  If you're not sure try out an event once (if it's not too expensive).  If it doesn't work, don't do it again.  In my experience retail items are best sold at farmer's markets, craft fairs, retail stores, and other events where the product fits in well.  If you need to book a hotel be sure to do so well in advance.

2. HAVE ENOUGH INVENTORY - Whether you make it yourself or buy to resell be sure that you have plenty to offer your customers.  If this is your first time vending it's always better to have too much than not enough.  Gauge what your customers will want too, though they will surprise you every time.  When I sell at an event 12hrs or less I make sure to have 6 of each perfume oil, 5 of each room spray, 10 of each lip balm... you get the idea.  The more you vend the more you will see what sells the best and worst, and will be able to estimate inventory needs for next time.  If you make products that can be made on the spot (knit wear, jewelry, etc.) bring supplies along to keep you busy during the slow times.  Customers will love to watch you creating the pieces too.

3. MAKE A CHECKLIST - I can't stress this enough!  It is a horrible feeling when you realize you've left something crucial at home - especially if you're too far away to go back.  Create a simple checklist of things you need to bring before your vending day.  And for goodness sake, if you have testers for your product don't forget them (I've been guilty of this!)  You can find a sample checklist I made here.

4. HAVE PLENTY OF CHANGE - Be sure to get plenty of ones, fives, and coin change in plenty of time before the day of your event.  Based on the prices of your product I recommend to have at least $150-200 in change for a one day event, more as needed for multiple day events.  (I'm embarrassed to say I have ran to the bank in the morning and waited for it to open to get change, making me late to an event.  Don't let this happen to you!!)

5. BE SURE YOUR EQUIPMENT IS IN GOOD WORKING ORDER - I arrived to vend and found out the backup tent I was using had a broken leg, so I had to vend in the hot sun all day.  This did not make my meltable lip balm happy!

6. PACK THE DAY BEFORE - If at all possible this is the way to go.  There's nothing worse than waking up at 6am and having to load the car before you go.  If you load up the day or night before its one less thing to do the day of vending.  Most importantly, if you forget anything when loading up the day before you are more likely to remember it the day of - you can also go over your checklist again to be sure you have it all packed up!  Don't forget to bring water/drinks and snacks for yourself, and pack sweaters, jackets, sunscreen, etc as needed.  Vending uncomfortably due to hunger, thirst, heat, or cold is just the pits!

7. KNOW WHERE YOU'RE GOING - You don't want to be late because you got lost.  Have directions or your GPS ready to go.  Make sure you have the address, phone number, and name of a contact person just in case.  Be courteous and call if you will be late so the organizers don't think you are ditching - this could determine if they want to have you vend with them in the future.  Know where you are supposed to park and set up if possible.

Good luck, and look for my next post "On Vending Day" in the next day or two!

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