After running one of Denver’s most popular markets for six years, this couple wants to help new sellers avoid some common mistakes
Let’s say you have a successful Etsy page, and you’ve often wondered how that business might translate if you tried selling your goods in person. Say, at some sort of live version of Etsy. That’s exactly what Horseshoe Market founders Amy and Doug Yetman envisioned, when they founded the quarterly craft and vintage fair in Denver six years ago.
The market has grown over the years and others like it exist in cities around the country, making them a critical part of many makers small business plans. But they can also be a lot of work, and at the Horseshoe Market, being selected for a booth space is competitive. So Doug and Amy shared a few things they’ve seen set the most successful vendors apart in the crowd.
BE PREPARED FOR WHAT YOU CAN’T CONTROL
Namely, the weather. Doug compared outdoor markets to camping and said good vendors plan for any contingency. They bring shade and water for hot weather, extra clothing for cold weather, something to keep their wares from blowing away in the wind and keep them dry in the rain.
But Amy points out there’s something else need to plan for – tech troubles. “What are you going to do if your Square reader fails?” she said, referring to the credit card processing device many sellers use in conjunction with their smartphones. “You have to have a back-up plan.”
DO A SET-UP DRESS REHEARSAL
Amy says she’s seen sellers really up their game over the years when it comes to booth displays. The signage and the aesthetic of booths are almost as important as the products vendors sell when it comes to catching a passing customer’s eye. But 6 a.m. on market day shouldn’t be the first time you try setting it all up. And as much as the market organizers may want to lend you a hand, they’ve got more than 100 other sellers just like you vying for their attention, so don’t take it personally if they can’t spare a minute or an extra zip tie.
EVEN FARMERS AND CRAFTERS NEED AN ELEVATOR PITCH
Doug says he’s actually seen sellers sit behind their booths glued to their phones, and they always seem a little shocked when someone interrupts them a wants to buy something. The most successful vendors are the ones who engage with market goers.
“Practice what you want to say, because you’re going to say it 500 times,” he said. “You can practice and still be authentic.”
GIVE YOUR HELPERS A JOB — AND A MESSAGE
Most vendors rely on help to staff their booths, so Doug recommends making sure everyone knows their “talking points.” What are the answers to the most common questions about products? Is there a particular item or deal they should be promoting? Where else can customers find your goods besides this market?
BONUS TIP — GET A TASTE OF A MARKET BY VOLUNTEERING
Not sure if you’re ready to take the plunge and apply for a vendor spot at a market? Amy and Doug suggest volunteering at one first. Market organizers are often grateful for a few extra hands on market day, and it’s an opportunity to see veteran vendors in action from start to finish.
RELATED: Doug and Amy do more than work with entrepreneurs – they are entrepreneurs. Read their story of business ownership and how Horseshoe Market was born at the height of the economic recession in a funeral home parking lot.