Monica and I are often among the first of the vendors to arrive at our regular markets. We have a regular market on Sunday morning and want to get their early so we can more easily unload our truck and get setup without a great deal of stress.
When we arrived at the market on a particular Sunday, we noticed that there was a table already set up with an orange tarp over it. There was no one around so we didn’t know what the deal was with that table. It wasn’t in our way so we set up as we normally do.
Sometime later while we were setting up, the owner of the table arrived to complete her setup. She was a new vendor and wanted to sell her succulent plants that she had grown herself. Shortly after, the market manager arrived and looked at her curiously.
When he approached, he asked who she was. Apparently, she had just shown up early to claim her space and sell her plants. The market manager went into a monologue of how that doesn’t work there and how they have standards. He informed her of the application process and the weekly fee that she wasn’t expecting.
While he let her stay that day since she was already there and we had the space available, she had to move her setup because she was in the spot of one of the “regulars”. Not only that, but she didn’t have a tent and was ill-prepared for the summer day in Houston.
After talking to her for a while, we learned that she was a recent transplant from New Jersey and they do things differently there. At the market she went to in New Jersey, people would stake their claim early in order to sell throughout the day.
She showed up again a week later, but we haven’t seen her since. I think that even though the weekly fee is only $25, she found that selling three plants for $8 each that day wasn’t very profitable.
The lessons to be learned from this are many. First, visit the market before you show up to ensure that any assumptions you have are correct (or corrected as the case may be). Second, get to know the market manager. The market manager can be a wealth of information and they usually want you there as much as you want to be there. The market manager will let you know of any policies in place. Lastly, make sure you are prepared for the day.
Another thing that you may be able to take from this story is that she may have given up too soon. In our first few markets, Monica and I didn’t make much. Looking back, the first six months of markets that we went to were practice. It also allowed us to better understand the dynamics of markets and build relationships with customers and other vendors.
Every market you sell at is a learning experience. Whether it is good or bad, there is always a lesson to be learned.