Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Market Newbie - Part 1: What Should I Sell?

marketOne of the goals the Northside Makers committee shares is making the market experience fun and easy for first-time stallholders. In that spirit, we bring you the Market Newbie series. We hope we can put our own experiences to good use.

In our first advice column I'm going to look at what kind of stuff you might consider putting on your market stall. It seems like a dumb thing to talk about, doesn't it? Obviously you're going to have a stall full of stuff you're good at making. But one big step towards a stall that makes sales is thinking about what's going to sell.

You possibly have a 'signature' item - the first thing which inspired you to make your craft more than just a hobby. It might be a particular style of bag you designed, or soap made to your own recipe, or some skillfully altered images from your last overseas trip. But have you thought about different ways you can present your signature item to make more sales?

Let's take the example of a bag. Your bag is gorgeous, well made, and your taste in fabrics is fabulous. But not everyone who admires your bags will be able to afford one. How about using some of the fabric offcuts to make small purses, or fabric buttons, or hair accessories? There's a bunch of scrap fabric projects on Instructables.com. You'll be making use of leftover materials and offering your potential customers a way to support you even if they don't have the cash for the object of their desire. And if they can take away something little that reminds them of the something big they really want, they may well pay a visit to your online shop or next market as soon as they've saved up their spare change.

What if you already make something small and affordable, like soaps? Putting together gift packages creates another option for shoppers who are searching for a handmade gift for a friend. Put together a few complementary items and wrap a ribbon around them, or arrange them in a box or sheer bag. You could look up a recipe for bath crystals and expand your line, offering several products in the same scent. You could learn to crochet face washers (here's one method) and make them in colours to match your soaps. Or if you make baby shoes, you could buy some singlets and applique them with matching fabric as a gift set. Have a brainstorm and see what you come up with.

What could a photographer do with their images? Framed, unframed, mounted. Prints stuck on blank greeting cards. Images printed professionally as postcards. Images on teeshirts, stationery, calendars, tea towels. There's so much you can do with an image. Cleaning up the other day, I found a whole pile of greeting cards I've bought from artists when I couldn't afford a large picture but still wanted to take something home. I plan to frame them and put them on the wall, really.

broochI have my own story of expanding my signature item into a larger range. I started out with the idea of cushions that look like old trams. They took a long time to make so I had to charge (what I consider to be) a fair bit for them. I wanted to offer people a cheaper option, and thought I could expand the tram theme to other products. I came up with appliqued felt brooches, 1 1/4" button badges and screenprinted postcards and diaries. At markets I always get a lot of comments about how much I must love trams, but the truth is I took an iconic object and used it in as many different ways as possible. The disadvantage of sticking to a theme is obviously that your theme won't appeal to all people, or perhaps even to most people. But it's very rewarding when tram fans spy my stall and exclaim over every tram-emblazoned item. And even nicer when they pull out their wallets. I've sold more brooches and badges to former public transport employees than anyone else!

My last bit of advice is to think up a 'pocket money item' - something for around $2. Many shoppers bring school-age kids to markets, who want nothing more on a Saturday than a way to spend their pocket money. Lots of kids like button badges because they're collectible and cheap. An assortment of leftover craft items is very attractive to creative kiddies. Those are actually the only two pocket money items I've got in my repertoire. If you're feeling generous perhaps you could leave a comment and share your ideas!
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

1 comment:

Northside Makers Collective loves to hear from its readers! So, come on, tell us what you're thinking.