A couple of days ago I operated my first market stall! Awesome! It was a tough and stressful time for the past two months I’ve being doing a Cert. 4 in small business management which I finished only a few days before the market. Half way through the course I received information that I was accepted into the stall and had to pick up the pace on making products, completing the course, working, and working on design work: it just all seemed to be happening at once. But I got through it.
For my stall, I was selling origami/paper craft products, as well as some awesome plaster objects. For a while now, people/friends have encouraged me to sell the origami I make, and I thought that this market would be a good opportunity as it is specifically a craft market at heart. (Ballarat Design Exchange craft market).
For my first stall; the one major experience I got out of it was the experience itself. I’ve worked as a cashier for the past 5.5 years, but this was different in the sense that I was selling my own products that I had made all by hand. It was also really nice to talk to people as well when they were interested in what I did, or liked knowing about it. Even talking about anything in general. The owners of the stalls around me were also very nice, so I felt very happy.
But for my first stall, not everything goes to plan as we hope it will – and I knew that this would happen. Firstly, it was raining, so when I got my plaster insects from my car, I dropped the tray and it went straight into the gutter! (Ahhh!) But I still sold them, for a bit of discount. I also didn’t sell as much as I thought I would in the end. I had made up an inventory list, and estimated I would sell at least half, but I probably only sold close to a quarter – not even that – in the end. I was hoping I would as I don’t have any room in my bedroom to store all this 😛 . Also, people’s reactions to some on the prices were a bit awkward to be around. Some people understand how long origami takes (and believe me, it is time consuming for what you get, but exquisitely beautiful at the same time.) But some other people are shocked at the prices – in fact, there was this one girl who saw the price of the most expensive item I had (round bamboo frame paper crane mobile @ AUS$20) and it was like she had an allergic reaction to the price. It was very embarrassing to watch. Considering the bamboo frame cost me AUS$5 on its own, let along how long it took me, plus a bit of a profit to cover the stall, I thought $20 was an alright price. Anyway, it’s all in what you’re willing to pay I suppose. I also heard many people “whispering” that they could make it themselves. I love it when people do this because I think to myself ‘yes, you probably could, but then you still have to buy everything and actually make it if you even get that far :P’. But that’s the way people are, and as a store person, I’ve got to accept this.
Half way through the day, I reduced most of the prices just so I could get rid of it. I did end up selling the $20 mobile for $12 to a lady who was going to be having a baby, so that was lovely. There weren’t as many people after lunch coming in, so I didn’t make much after that. And then it was over.
In summary: I made a loss, but the experience I gained, as well as confidence in knowing perhaps what people want over other products. For this stall, I made a lot of different things just to test the market, but it probably appeared to be a bit of a mess. But hey, it was my first stall.
I believe that markets are a place where you go to buy things cheaper than in store because you’re cutting out the middle person, however a lot of markets like this one are more expensive due to that the stalls operate as businesses and whenever you put ‘craft’ or ‘farmer’s’ market into the name, the price goes up. With my stall, it is a hobby; hence my prices were just at supply plus a little bit of profit. My friend encouraged me to price it at the time it took me and not to under-valuate myself, but I’m glad I didn’t price them at this because I don’t think I would have sold half as much.
But as I said, the experience was worth it, and now I’m progressing with setting up an esty store to sell what I have left over and progress into different products.
- Testing market
- Talking to other people/customers who were thinking of setting up a stall and letting them know of the process I went through.
- Understanding my own strengths and what I can offer the community.
- Networking with other stalls and sharing experience with each other.
- Selling products that put a smile on people’s face.
- (There was this one little guy who brightened my day when he kept coming back, and told me that my stall was his favourite!)
- The AUS$155 price tag for the stall site itself. It’s just a bit too much. I know that we’re inside and probably covers insurance and council rates plus the organiser’s fees, but it was still a bit too much to try and break even. Plus, extra if you wanted to hire a table. (I bought my own instead).
- People not quite understanding the reason for my pricing – even though sometimes I was a slave to my own passion.
- The long hours putting into this – so exhausted! But first time, so I’ll learn from it.
What I shall do for next time:
- Have a better display system. I honestly didn’t have the time to focus on the presentation as much as I would have liked to. With stalls, you’ve got to make it an experience and have a theme to your stall decoration. I’m definitely going to look into packaging my products better, but as I said, I only had a few days to do everything this time around.
- Price products at an even much lower rate, so I’m really only selling them at supply level, because people are scungy and won’t pay for something that is fragile like paper – even if it did take forever to make.
- With the products, I will probably lessen the range, but make more of that items. For this stall, I dabbled in everything to see what it was like, but what draws people in is neatness and mass effect of products.
- I still want to experiment with other products that I didn’t get around to making, so it’s just finding out what people will like. And doing even more research.
I had a great time and now looking into other markets around the region to sell what I have leftover at.