Market Evolution

I am about to enter my third holiday market season I wanted to take a second to reflect on how far I have come from my first few table set ups to the market display I will be using this winter. I’m kind of blown away by the transformation!

I’m hot off the heels of a successful weekend spent vending at the Etsy Canada: Nanaimo market at North Nanaimo Town Centre and I got some good photos of my full indoor set up. I received quite a few comments over the two days on how great the display looked, including compliments on the shelf construction, the branding, and the look in general. Lots of compliments on the shelving unit my husband built for me especially, which is really the star of the piece.

Let’s look at where I started 3 years ago (before the tarot and when I didn’t even know what I was selling hahaha)

This half table display was set up on a rented table and used all vintage/thrifted furniture pieces including a side table, spice rack, and serving dish. I split my table with a few different people over this holiday season including my sister who does gluten free baking.

The next series of displays included my own folding table and no more need to share. I finally figured out that the table cloth should go all the way to the floor for better optics and that I should have a sign with my business name. I also had a much better sense of what I was selling so the products were more cohesive and interesting.

As I started selling more and more product this table became problematic as I discovered that people will literally not reach past the first 12″ of the table to view anything at the back. Whatever was placed front and centre is what I sold the most of (I tested this by sometimes putting the oils out front and sometimes the candles) and it didn’t matter how amazing the products at the back were (I stacked my tarot cards in the triangle shelf) people just did not notice or buy anything from back there. I had assumed people weren’t buying the Tarot because of the higher price point but it really was because people just couldn’t see them at the back or even at the side. After a while it also became apparent that a simple table with a cloth is a bit rinky dink and so to stand out I would have to design something more eye catching.

Sooo how was I going to make the display more ‘shoppable’? I thought if people don’t look at items that are behind other items, maybe what I needed was a display where single rows of products could be displayed so everything was up front and visible. The shelf also needed to be easy to set up as well as transport and this is something I have noticed about the displays of other vendors. At the end of the day I literally can’t get out of there fast enough so I wanted a display that could tear down in 5 minutes and fit into my hatchback. It pains me to watch vendors with really elaborate set ups have to spend an hour taking things apart and require a truck for transport. My dad always reiterated the KISS principle to me as a kid (Keep It Simple, Stupid!) and I suppose I really took that to heart haha.

The three board shelves slide out and the frame structure closes down to a size that fits perfectly between the seats of my Hyundai. All my product then goes into two large clear plastic bins (get clear so you can see your additional products and you won’t have to rummage as much). For outdoor markets I have a 10’x10′ tent that collapses down to fit beside the shelf.

After my first test run of the shelf I added an outdoor carpet to make the booth look a bit more substantial and inviting. On the gravel of the farmers market it works great, but once I set it up indoors for the Etsy market I made some interesting discoveries; the first three people into my booth tripped on the edge of the carpet, so to fix it we taped it with clear gorilla tape. Then the next two people into the booth slipped on the plastic strip of tape. Haha. We added a strip of masking tape over the wider gorilla tape and that seemed to solve things. Now I have two rolls of tape in my bin to make sure this is dealt with next time!

I also got myself a custom banner from Vistaprint that was super effective in the mall. Lots of oncoming traffic looked at the banner and then came around to look at the display. It collapses down into a little carry case that is super easy to toss in the car. This purchase was definitely worth it to reinforce the brand, grab customer attention, and also make the business look more established. Doesn’t hurt to have an image showing the products in use as well.

It has been a really fun journey so far and I’m excited to see where I end up in another 3 years. I hope anyone else out there wanting to join the market scene is inspired by this transformation. It is so fun to do these events and I’m happy to share what I have learned about what works and what doesn’t.

Who else does markets?? I want to see other peoples set ups!

2 comments

    • True. I think it is also customers not wanting to engage with the person running the booth, ha. If I stand at the back no one wants to get too close to the items directly in front of me. I initially had my lunar calendars set up on the far left of the shelf next to where I was sitting and the first day I only sold a couple. The next day I shifted them into the middle shelf and suddenly I sold four times as many.

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