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Advice about selling at markets  (Read 7481 times)
Na
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« on: July 31, 2009, 04:59:10 pm »

Hi guys,

I'm back from the puppet festival and am planning on getting set up to sell at a local craft market. I was wondering if anyone could share info about how/what they do:

  • How do you deal with the weather if you're outside?
  • How much stock do you take (ie. say I take a bunch of my shadow puppets, how many duplicates of each should I have)?
  • I'm thinking of setting up a small section where people can build their own puppets right there, right then. How much would be a good price to charge - if materials are about $10 per person, is $15 reasonable to ask for?
  • Is it a good idea to only sell one type of puppet? I was thinking of taking all my current products with me (patterns, puppet parts, shadow puppets, maybe build some kits just to sell there) - but since it's my first stall, should I focus on one thing instead?
  • What about advertising? Does anyone advertise their stall BEFORE the event? And if so, how/where do you do it?
  • How much do people sell in order to break even/make a profit? (I know that's hard to answer, but I'm wondering: do people mark up the prices to include the cost of the stall hire, or do people use the same prices as normal - if selling online/elsewhere - and then have to sell more to break even?)
... and anything else you could think of adding, please do. I'm sure I've missed some important questions, but for now this will do for a start/

Thanks guys!
Shawn Sorrell
« Reply #1 on: August 01, 2009, 08:19:37 am »

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How do you deal with the weather if you're outside?
Bring a lot of tarps/plastic cover.  Oh and a dry pair of cloths.  Smiley  If you have it available or they rent them at the fair a tent cover is good to have.

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How much stock do you take (ie. say I take a bunch of my shadow puppets, how many duplicates of each should I have)?
As much as you can fit in the car. You don't want to run out of stock. You really never know what is going to sell at a festival.  Location and the other sellers can impact what you sell. Even entertainment (if the festival has it) can impact what you sell. Keep a record of what sells at each venue for next year if you do it again. Don't forget to think of current trends.  Your client base is not going to be puppeteers but the general public for the most part.  Are mermaids in this year or fish?  What movies just came out for kids.  Unless they are high end puppets that an adult might buy as art, you are going to be selling to children.

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I'm thinking of setting up a small section where people can build their own puppets right there, right then. How much would be a good price to charge - if materials are about $10 per person, is $15 reasonable to ask for?
I would suggest not doing this on the first time out.  Are you the only one running the booth?  Can you afford to spend an hour with someone makeing a puppet and lose the sells during that one hour? Smiley  I've done the make and take in the past, but hired someone to manage it instead of myself.  I always did better at sitting and makeing a puppet myself. It would attract attention (a crowd) and often then sells.

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Is it a good idea to only sell one type of puppet? I was thinking of taking all my current products with me (patterns, puppet parts, shadow puppets, maybe build some kits just to sell there) - but since it's my first stall, should I focus on one thing instead?
See my answer above, remember what your client base might be.  It won't hurt to have the patterns and parts but I think you are more likely to sell finnished products or perhaps the kits.

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What about advertising? Does anyone advertise their stall BEFORE the event? And if so, how/where do you do it?
I don't think this is really needed unless you have an established client base that you want to inform.  I would post on your site the fact that you are going to be there and the information about the event.

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How much do people sell in order to break even/make a profit? (I know that's hard to answer, but I'm wondering: do people mark up the prices to include the cost of the stall hire, or do people use the same prices as normal - if selling online/elsewhere - and then have to sell more to break even?)
Yep you have to take the cost of booth rental into consideration.  It is the same as shipping, web cost, building rental.
Na
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« Reply #2 on: August 03, 2009, 12:33:30 am »

Thanks so much for this Shawn; you really gave me some things to think about, and I'm more on the right track now.

I would suggest not doing this on the first time out.  Are you the only one running the booth?  Can you afford to spend an hour with someone makeing a puppet and lose the sells during that one hour? Smiley  I've done the make and take in the past, but hired someone to manage it instead of myself.  I always did better at sitting and makeing a puppet myself. It would attract attention (a crowd) and often then sells.

Do you mean you sit there and make a puppet, just as something to fill in the time, and that attracts people? ... Also, if I went down that road, I would definitely have someone help me out; probably someone making sales for me, whilst I worked on the building puppets area. But you're right, it's a stretch, and for my first time at a market, I think I'll just stick with the basics for the time being and see how it goes.

I booked myself in today for a market in three months time... so I hope I can be ready in time! I have to start building stock!!!
Shawn Sorrell
« Reply #3 on: August 03, 2009, 01:49:39 pm »

Yep I used to sit and work on a puppet at ren fairs.  It always attracted a lot of attention. People like to watch demonstrations.  Smiley
Na
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« Reply #4 on: August 03, 2009, 11:51:26 pm »

Thanks Shawn, that's what I thought you meant. I think that's a great idea, as well as something that I can easily do to pass the time (better than reading a book at any rate!)

I'm considering the following as my product range: shadow puppets, sock puppets, and finger puppets. I'm currently on the fence about having muppet kits. I think I could probably sell a few (conning a friend into walking the market with one of my muppets would get some sells - the market I'm going to is very crafty, and I think there may be a few people who would buy), but am not sure of what exactly to put in the kits.

The issue is mainly fleece and some of the other materials; making even 5 kits would be very expensive for me, and I'm not sure I have the budget for it at this stage. Is it worth even attempting to sell a kit with the following: a CD of the pattern (plus some bonus videos or something on it; stuff you can't get currently with my downloadable pattern), a pair of eyes, a pack of noses? I can extend it to include the mouth plate materials, which are cheap, it's just once I add foam and fleece it gets expensive.

What do you think?
Billy D. Fuller
« Reply #5 on: August 04, 2009, 06:20:51 am »

How about selling your pattern................. Could be that folks just might like to make there own puppet. You could sell your eyes as well.( at least take a few pair of everything) folks can always order from the website. Don't forget business cards.

Billy D.
Shawn Sorrell
« Reply #6 on: August 04, 2009, 08:06:13 am »

What about takeing orders for your kit?  While it may not be as successful as haveing them made up and available for take home it would give you an idea of how many folks might be interested in one.  Have one you can display with a notice saying "Orders Being Taken"  or something like that.
Na
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« Reply #7 on: August 04, 2009, 06:08:39 pm »

How about selling your pattern................. Could be that folks just might like to make there own puppet. You could sell your eyes as well.( at least take a few pair of everything) folks can always order from the website. Don't forget business cards.

That's what I mean: I'd have the pattern to sell, but don't think it will sell very well on its own. So I'd package it up as a kit. (Sorry, maybe I wasn't very clear) But my concern is how many items I can put in a kit without making it look half-assed, and without spending too much money. - And yes, I'll be having lots of business cards with me Smiley

What about takeing orders for your kit?  While it may not be as successful as haveing them made up and available for take home it would give you an idea of how many folks might be interested in one.  Have one you can display with a notice saying "Orders Being Taken"  or something like that.

I'm not sure that will work; the craft market is pretty popular here (they were booked out three months in advance!) and large, and I think if people see 'orders being taken', they'll just assume I've got nothing physically to sell right there and then, and move on. Without actual kits in front of them, I don't think anyone will actually order them. I think I'll have a ponder on this one, maybe make up a small kit as a prototype, and see how enticing it looks.
Shawn Sorrell
« Reply #8 on: August 05, 2009, 08:08:44 am »

Don't make it a big sign, just make is something that they see when the look a the example of the kit. Smiley 
Billy D. Fuller
« Reply #9 on: August 05, 2009, 09:19:52 am »

Why not assemble kits while you are there. It would be giving some what of a demonstration and you would be getting work done at the same time. I had a TV at the market when I was selling and always kept a video playing. A lot of people would stop just to watch............ which gave me time to strike up a conversation.
I would sell the patterns separately as well as the kits.

Billy D.
Na
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« Reply #10 on: August 06, 2009, 12:24:29 am »

Don't make it a big sign, just make is something that they see when the look a the example of the kit. Smiley 

No, I definitely wouldn't make it too obvious - but again, not really sure how it would do.

Why not assemble kits while you are there. It would be giving some what of a demonstration and you would be getting work done at the same time. I had a TV at the market when I was selling and always kept a video playing. A lot of people would stop just to watch............ which gave me time to strike up a conversation.
I would sell the patterns separately as well as the kits.

Billy D.

Funnily enough I had another, slightly similar thought: I was planning on trying to run some muppet building classes towards the end of the year, and if I had a basic 'floor model' kit (ie. eyes, noses, pattern, etc), maybe I could take deposits/bookings for those classes. I can have a half-made puppet with me and build between (hopefully) sales, and that should entice people to sign up for the classes. Sound good? - Plus, maybe some packs of eyes and noses and patterns just in case.
Nikole H.
« Reply #11 on: August 06, 2009, 03:57:31 am »

I sold at a few fairs and I found success in only selling one or two types of puppets and performed with them to grab attention.  I purchased an inexpensive outdoor craft tent.  I put a few out for people to play with because I found that the more people touched/played with the puppets, the more willing they were to buy it.  I kept my prices the same as my online store for buyers who later wanted to buy but didn't have the cash at the fair so be sure to have your card out and ready to give to people.  I like your idea of doing a class type thing.  I would keep it very simple.  I like how scrapbook stores attract new buyers by making free make and take items to showcase their products.  If you are selling patterns and supplies, this might be good to come up with a very inexpensive demo.  I just did a free make and take at a scrapbook store over the weekend.  They were offering potential buyers to make a free tag.  I made the tag and ended up buying over $100 worth of products in the shop....lol.  This marketing ploy worked on me.  I always fall for this kind of stuff.  The problem with me with selling at fairs is that I would inevitably spend all of my profits on OTHER seller's things.  I have quite the shopping habit.  But it IS fun!  spin

GOOD LUCK with the fair.  You are going to be great.  Take lots and lots of pictures.
Na
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« Reply #12 on: August 17, 2009, 03:23:02 am »

Thanks for the advice Nikole, it really helps.

I think I will keep my puppets the same price as online, so as not to confuse people if they visit and see a price difference (there's already confusion in that online everything I sell has to be in US dollars, thanks to the fact that etsy, etc. all default to US).

In the end, I have decided on the following: selling my shadow puppets, some 'puppet bags' (ie decorated bags with furry features, but possibly - hopefully - can also double as a puppet), perhaps sock puppets (or some recycled-toy puppets, I haven't decided), plus a display of a kit or class that I'll offer later in the year.

My sister has also decided to get involved and will be selling her own handicrafts along with me, which should be fun!

Thanks for the encouragement guys; as always, the best place for advice!
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