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Arts and Crafts Market Essential: Part One.

A while ago many of us were having discussions at the team’s Yahoo! Group on a potential arts and crafts market that we might join in as a team. Though we didn’t make it this round, we’ve got some really great ideas around. I realised that many of us (which include me myself) are not frequent vendors at arts and crafts markets, and some are first-timers. So I’ve asked around for a few seasoned sellers at markets to share their tips and experiences with us, and hopefully get us all ready when we are joining our next market, either individually or as a team. Today, we have Nadiah from nukilan. Together with her partner, Nadiah had participated in Arts for Grabs organised by and held at The Annexe Gallery, Central Market for 6 times to day, with their first time ever in May 2008.

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Here’s some tips for participating in markets, based entirely on our experience at Arts For Grabs, and in no particular order:

1. Team up with a friend
Teaming up with a friend adds more product variety to your booth, and a booth with variety tends to attract more people as you have more options for everyone. We started with 3 products – Nukilan cards, a very small selection of Funkytiles, and decorated chip board alphabets. Now, our booth includes all those items – although less of the alphabets, as well as decoupage jewelry, pretty necklaces, notebooks, mixed media, water colour pieces and more! Teaming up with a friend also gives you an extra pair of hands when you need to go to the loo or when there’s a whole bunch of people who suddenly appear at your booth – and of course it also means that you should help your friend out if the same situation happen to him/her too. It’s also nice as you’ll have someone to talk to during slow/quiet hours (hopefully NO slow/quiet hours! Wee!).

The Vortex hand painted tile by funkytiles.

2. Make your booth interesting
We’re creative people, so be creative in the way you display your products. It does not need to be complicating. In fact, simpler displays are better as it’ll make setting-up heaps easier, as well as make it easier to transport your items here and there. And if possible, get extra hands to help you set up. Our booth is made up of a few simple elements, but because we have so many small products, it always takes us awhile. If you have a back wall – use it. If your work is not the kind that can be hung on a wall, then make an interesting banner with your name, etc, on it. If you know the dimension of your booth beforehand, sketch a rough layout before you set up, especially if it’s the first few times and you haven’t quite gotten the hang of it yet.

3. Make full use of your time
If you can set-up your booth the day before, do it. Be there an hour before it starts right up til the end. I have seen many sellers who came at the last minute and left before the time is up. Not only is this unprofessional, you also lose out on potential customers and exposure. We have had quite a few good sales before the market officially starts, as well as in the last hour when almost every one else has packed up and gone home.

4. Pricing and Change
Arts for Grabs has a price ceiling of RM100, other bazaars probably don’t, but it’s good to have a range of ‘cheaper’ to more ‘pricey’ items so there’s always something to suit someone’s budget. This of course does depend on the products you create. And speaking of money, petty cash is really important. Depending on how your goods are priced, keeping small change of RM1’s and especially RM5’s and RM10’s is really good idea. We keep our petty cash at RM300, and always try to avoid coins as they get really annoying. Also, it’s up to you if you want to offer discounts, but we generally don’t. We find it can become a pretty bad habit later on. If you want, you can throw in ‘freebies’ to customers who really spend a lot in your store, or round the figure down.

5. Get to know your customers
Talk to them, say hi, or smile. You’ll be surprised at how many new friends you’ll make and repeat customers you’ll end up having – even a few who bring other friends to your booth the next time around! The people who don’t seem like potential customers almost always are, so do not ignore anyone. Some customers are more talkative, some are quiet and will take their time and even go round the hall several times before making their decisions. Just be pleasant and open at all times. It’s also important to let your customers take their time to check your products out – don’t breathe down their necks! If you’re super busy at a particular moment, don’t be afraid to say ‘please give me a minute while I attend to this customer’ or something along those lines. It’s better to do that than juggle several different customers at one go and end up losing focus. Oh and remember to have your business cards on standby too as many people will ask for your contact information.

Old Letters greeting cards – set of 3 by nukilan.

6. Not all markets are for everyone
Different markets have different clienteles and styles and types of good on offer. So explore them and see which ones suit you and your products best.

7. Get to know the organisers
You don’t have to be buddy-buddy with them, but getting to know the organisers and being helpful in your own way will help establish a good and positive working relationship.

8. Unique selling point
In all circumstances, having items no one else has is certainly a plus! If you have packaging, make it interesting if possible, but do always ask if the customer needs a bag as many market frequenters carry their own bags.

9. Keep track
Have a notebook or receipt book handy to keep track of your sales as and when it occurs.

10. Make an effort
Think of ways to attract people to your booth. Invite your friends and family over. Visit the other sellers and support their work if you see something you like.

11. Keep it clean
Many sellers leave a mess after the day is over. Throw your rubbish in a bin or plastic bag. Show some respect to the organisers and the people who have provided you a venue for showcasing and selling your goods.

12. Have fun
It’s a great fun way to showcase your items and meet people, so don’t take it overtly seriously. If you’re having fun, your customers will have fun too. :) Oh and don’t forget to eat/drink because not having enough food will certainly zap your energy halfway through the day!

Sweet Temptations greeting card by nukilan.

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Thanks Nadiah for the detailed tips and experiences! Are you a frequent vendor at arts and crafts markets? Do you have any experiences to share? Comment and let us know – or if you have lots of tips enough to make a blog post that you wanna share, email me at huey [!at] nottypooch.com.

5 Responses

  1. Great & informative post. Thanks a bunch, Nadiah for sharing.

  2. Nice post! Thanks, Nadiah.

  3. Love Nukilan’s stuff. Good post, thanks for the tips!

  4. Thanks guys! Hope you found the post useful.

  5. Thanks for sharing!!!

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