I get a lot of questions about vending at farmer’s markets or setting up booths at wedding shows. I think that so many things get overlooked or not considered at all when it comes to being a vendor or having a booth. There are also many things I’ve learned along the way!
Things to do before deciding to become a vendor:
- Attend the market or event at least once before deciding if it’s something for you. You really need to see if there’s even a potential for sales.
- See what the area offers. You don’t want to set up to sell a product that everyone else is also selling, especially if it’s a smaller event or area. Sure, there’s room for all of us, but if there’s a vendor that has been there and has built up a following, it will be harder to convert those customers over. This applies especially if you’re selling the same type of products.
- Check the pricing of the others that are selling the same types of products. I know we all set up our own pricing (as we should), however, at an event or market, you’ve got to try to stay in the same range.
- See what the laws and regulations are regarding your products and business. Some areas allow cottage law bakers to participate in markets, but some don’t. I keep this in mind especially for shows or indoor markets that are held in event centers. Some event centers don’t allow cottage bakers to vend to private events like weddings, but will allow cottage bakers to be at markets or shows. Why does that matter? You will see a lot of brides or people planning events, but if you aren’t even able to provide products once they rent an area at that center, then it pretty much defeats the purpose.
Plan your set-up:
- How are you going to display your products? You really need to make all of these decisions and figure out if it changes your pricing on your products. For instance, you may need individual packaging (and possibly labels) for each cupcake. This will obviously add on to your packaging cost, which will raise the price of your product. These are things that you definitely want to figure out sooner versus later.
- How are you going to accept payment? You have to know if you’re only accepting cash, or if you can also process credit cards. Some areas also require you to have a sales tax permit. This is another thing that needs to be calculated.
- How many items are you going to take? This is a huge question I get. The first thing to consider is, how many other vendors will be there offering the same types of products as you? Let’s say there will be 3 vendors offering the same type of products, and the person managing the market or show says they’re expecting 1,000 people to attend. I always start my calculations with needing 1/4 the amount of product as people. Why do I do this? For one, no one can know exactly how many people will attend. They base numbers off of how many people attended last time, or an average of how many usually attend. Things happen. Maybe bad weather hits and only half of what they thought show up. There are so many things to consider with this. So with the thought that I need 1/4 of what the projected attendance is, that means I need 250 products. The next thing I consider is, how many other vendors are attending that are selling the same thing that I am? Let’s say there are going to be 3, then what I do is see what kind of differences we have. When the differences are well noticed, then I stick with my calculation of 250 products. If there’s not really a noticeable difference right away, then I will lessen the amount of product I’m taking. I’d honestly much rather completely sell out of my product and pass out a ton of business cards, than take a lot of product back home. Again, this is why I advise attending the show or market at least once before vending at it.
- Are you going to offer samples? I have very mixed feelings about samples. When it’s a specialty product that people really may not know much about, or have never tried, then a small sample can be beneficial. Again, something small (one bite). You want to just give them a taste. If your samples are large then they have no reason to buy, and you will just be giving out samples. For free. That’s not what you’re in business for!
Things that you should always have on hand and know:
- Business cards- Business cards are an absolute must! No, you don’t have to have your address on it. I also know people who don’t even put their phone number. You definitely need to have your social media on it and a clear indication of the products you offer. I always use Print Runner for my marketing materials. They always do an excellent job, offer proofs before printing, and aren’t expensive. I’ve used several companies and Print Runner’s service and quality is unbeatable.
- Stickers for your products- This is especially important if your cottage laws require labels. Even if labels aren’t required, I always suggest a sticker of some sort. Something that says what the product is, and your business name. This may just be me, but even if your cottage laws don’t require labels, having any allergy info displayed it something everyone should do. Knowing that certain products are used (even if it seems like basic knowledge info to you) is important.
- Know your business and your products- I know this seems like something that shouldn’t need to be said, however, you’d be surprised. You can end up getting some questions you never thought you would. Even if you need to keep a cheat sheet on hand, you need to know your prices and your products. You will get potential clients that will ask all sorts of questions about events or products they need in the future. Now, with that being said, don’t get so consumed with one person that someone goes without being noticed. Especially at bridal shows, you will get potential clients that will want to have a full blown consultation right there. Make sure that you’re prepared to set up future consultations. Just make sure that anyone that is stopping by your table or booth gets noticed, even if it’s a simple “Hello, how are you?”.
Here are some pictures of my setup as well as links to where I purchase everything:
- Tent, Sidewall, and Sandbags-
- Banners, Stickers, and Business Cards-
- Macaron Clamshells & Slider Boxes-
- Poly bags, Tablet Stand, Display Boxes, Shred, Sample Cups, and Chalkboard Sign-