When you own a small business finding the right markets & pop-ups can be tough. In this blog we’ll walk through what I look for in a market & how to determine if they’re the right fit.
I’ve done dozens of markets & pop-ups now across multiple states, and let me tell you they’re not all created equal. Some things to keep in mind: location, time, number of vendors, and who’s organizing it to name a few.
Before we break those points down, how do you find them in the first place? Best place to start is a good old Google search. Maker markets, craft fairs, art festivals, small business market, local market, farmers market are all great searches.
Another place to look is Instagram, better yet at other small businesses in the area. They are definitely posting when & where they’re going to be. Take a look at those events organizers websites and see if you think you’d be a good fit. If you can, visit the market itself beforehand. There’s no better way to get a feel for an event than being there.
Some other places to look are event guides/posts. For example, here in Dallas there’s an IG page called Dallassites101 who is always posting about local events & activities in the city. Other cities pages would be a great resource too.
Alright, now that you’ve found some market options how do you know it will be a good fit? Honestly this one is part trial and error. I’ve done several markets that I thought would be great that turned out to be… not so great.
Here’s the criteria I use to determine if a market is a good fit:
- Is it in a part of town where I know my target market frequents? This seems so simple but it’s easy to forget. Location is everything. How’s the parking there? Is it walkable? Etc.
- Along the same lines, a market theme can improve a location. For instance, there’s an dog & cat adoption event that happens at a park near my house. A friend of mine makes homemade dog treats. A perfect fit for her audience. The location becomes less of a factor then.
- Time of year & weather
- If you have seasonal themed products like I do, time of year is an important piece. Building your market schedule to match holidays & seasons will help your revenue. Have a lot of Valentine’s Day/Halloween/holiday/etc. items? Fill your schedule out during those seasons more.
- Weather. It can be such a gamble but this one is mostly common sense. If the event is outside and it’s a zillion degrees or freezing cold? People aren’t quick to leave their house then. If it’s indoors then you don’t need to worry as much.
- What is the caliber of the vendors? Is their level of quality similar to mine?
- Every business is at a different stage so quality is going to vary. You want to be at an event where to overall quality of vendor matches your own. Not only will is elevate the level of your shoppers but it gives you more credibility.
- Did I make a profit?
- Some markets have all the bells & whistles except for what, at the end of the day truly counts, making a profit. This will vary every time; no matter how often you do the same event, no two events are alike. But being in the green is always an indicator that an event is a good fit. It means you’re in the right area, talking to your target market, and converting sales.
- Were the event organizers professional/impress me
- I’m relying on this one more and more as an indicator lately. Consistently, the markets that impress me have organizers who are invested in my business’s personal journey, do ample marketing efforts, educate their vendors, conduct themselves professionally even when presented with ill circumstances, and above all are kind people.
- True story, I did a market once where the organizer was no where to be found. Then showed up at the last half hour and clearly had had multiple drinks. How do you think that event went?
- Last, and most importantly, what is my gut feeling?
- Contradictory to all that I’ve just said sometimes you just have a feeling and/or know that if you do the same event at another time it will be better. Sometimes you have to try a couple times and either prove yourself right or wrong.
- Similarly, if I know in my gut that it’s not worth it, I won’t do it again. As much as you want each event to go well there WILL be bad ones. It’s part of the game.
There we go - my top tips for finding and determining if a market is a good fit! There’s no science to this. Like I said, a market can have all the bells & whistles and still turn out negatively. So stay flexible and stay diligent. Markets are so much fun! Lots of work, but lots of fun.
On another note, what are you waiting for? Go sign up for a market! By the end of the week okay? Sign up by the end of the week, then report back. Deal?