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The Market
You’ve given it a lot of thought and decided you want to try your hand at being a vendor with a booth. You could pull that old folding table out and cover it with a table cloth or you could take it a step farther and make it look like you really mean business. Try vending first with what you already have or what you can borrow until you know is this truly if for you, and you are ready to invest time and money in a booth.
My first trip to an event was with a borrowed canopy, table and chair. I planned where everything would go before I got there and was so pleased. The truth was, it looked like I was a newbie. I only made 30 dollars that first day and the feeling that someone actually and truly wanted to pay me for something I made, was indescribable. I was hooked.
Here’s what I learned since then through my own experience and through advice from others about the basic set up of a booth:
• If you are ever going to be outside, read my blog, ‘The Wild Wicked Wind’ for advice.
• Know the size of the space you’ll be allotted. It is often a 10′ by 10′ space but not always.
• Figure out if you prefer to have a walk in booth or a walk by booth with tables in front of you. It will depend on your product, the room that you need, and how you display your product.
• Now make a floor plan. Where will your tables be? Where will you sit? Where will your check out area be?
• Plan your booth to reflect who you are, obviously by highlighting but not distracting from your product. Are you elegant, country, whimsical, western, modern, eclectic, sleek, or whatever. I tend toward the shabby chic. Pick your colors and design all of your display to fit into this. This becomes your signature style or brand.
• Pick table covers that are simple or plain that fit into your color scheme.
• Next plan your product display. Think about both the design style you chose and how it would best show off your product. Your product is most visible from the elbow to shoulder height, so plan to build your display upward.
• Put flashy or attention getting product near the front to bring the eye to your booth and something really interesting farther back to bring the customer in closer.
• Set up your display at home before that first event so there are no surprises. Bring a bag with extra tape, pins, pencils, a calculator, extra paper, first aid kit, or whatever you think you might need for an emergency.
• Name your business and then make a sign that fits your theme or brand to display. Try to make the name memorial. The size and placement is up to you, but let the sign show you care about your business. Business cards are a nice touch, they can be printed at home on card stock until you are sure you want to go farther.
• Price everything. Don’t make your potential customers ask. Label each item with a sticker or tag or place a small sign near a group of like items. I was once told to never hand write anything unless it is done artistically.
• Giving multiple prices might be a good idea if it fits with your product and prices. Everyone loves a bargain. i.e. $5.00 each or 3 for $12.00 or buy 3 and get the 4th one free. Consider having less expensive items as well as more expensive items.
• Money, Oh My! Decide how you are going to take money and give change. some people use a money box, while others wear their money. It will depend on you and what you know about yourself and how your booth is set up. I wear mine only because I like to talk, I mean talk a lot.
• How are you going to keep track of what you sell? Will you use a receipt book or write it down in a notebook. Figure out what will work for you.
• Most places require you to collect and pay sales tax. Check with your state and get a tax number if needed. You can add taxes to each purchase as you sell, in which case you will need to bring change. Another option is to include taxes in the price and figure out the total in taxes as the end of the event.
• Lastly, as you start out, consider vending as a learning experience, so you are always think of ways to become a better vendor. If you don’t expect miracles, you won’t be disappointed. Don’t forget to bring your smile.