Everybody wants to ask the question, but no one wants to actually say it. “How much do you make at a market?” or “What makes a good market?”
I’m glad you asked. That is why I am here. I ask the questions that others are afraid to ask. Okay, you caught me. I never asked the question, but I listen really well to other vendors as they talk to each other.
The answer to the question of “How much can you make at a market?” is “It depends”. I know! I have have ALL the answers to every question you could ever think to ask. But I never said that my answers would be helpful.
The truth is that it does depend. It depends on what you are selling, where you are at, and to whom you are selling. Some vendors make many thousands of dollars per day selling vintage items. One couple we met had an almost $10,000 weekend selling really cool wooden crosses.
The way they do this is by first having an excellent product. Second, they display it in a way that is appealling and attractive. Third, they know their customer base and go to where these customers are highly likely to be. They also build relationships with great market managers to be vendors at their markets.
Most of us are not at this level. I know we aren’t. Our first market we collected $46 in sales. After booth fees and lunch, we were able to pocket $15. That was awesome!
As we have grown, we have a better understanding of what makes a good market versus a bad market for us. Keep in mind that what might be a bad market for us, might be a great market for you. You have to understand your customer base and go to where they are likely to be.
You should start your calculations with how much you want to sell at a market. Of course the answer is going to be $10,000, but you may not have the inventory or right product yet for that market.
When you get started, you will probably be looking at local markets, craft shows and church shows with relatively low booth fees. These booth fees are usually in the range of $25 – $100. For any market or show, a good result is to sell 10 times what you spent in booth fees. So if you paid $25 in booth fees, it is a good market if you make $250 (before any money spent on all the cool stuff there). For a market with a booth fee of $100, it is a good market if you sell $1000.
If is it is a multi-day market, such as a church show on a Friday and Saturday, calculate the cost per day to be there. A $100 fee for a two day show means that you pay $50 per day to be there. It would be a good show if you sell $500 per day. At a multi-day show, it is likely that you will exceed the 10x factor on at least one day. We love most multi-day shows.
Out of Town Markets
Determining if a show was good or bad for markets that you need to travel to is essentially the same as local markets except that you should include your travel costs as well.
For one market that we did recently, we spent $600 for booth space for a two day show. We also spent $150 in gas, money for food, and $150 for parking. Grand total in costs was about $1000. We had a great time, but it was not anywhere close to a good show in terms of sales. We would have had to sell $10,000 of product for it to be a good show. Actually, I probably would have called it a good show if we sold $5000, but we were nowhere close to that number. In fact, we don’t even have that much inventory to sell to make that number.
The reason that we did this particular show was to explore the market in Austin, Texas. We seem to be burned out on our local market because we see the same people at all the markets and there are so many competing markets in Houston every weekend. This makes it easy to find a market, but more difficult to grow a business.
After you get some experience with markets and are looking to grow, start with the amount of potential sales you want to make. From that, determine what the appropriate booth fee should be. For example, you are a baker who specializes in really awesome cookies (like Underwater Oven here in Houston), and you decide that you have enough inventory to sell $750 in cookies over a weekend. That means that you should target shows that will cost you $75 or less to ensure that it is a good show. Your booth fees ideally should not be more than 10% of your gross sales.
I hope that helps some. While I don’t know what you can expect to make at a market because your product is unique, you may have competition and your business model is different than mine, I can at least help you understand what to expect.
Questions? Contact me or leave a comment. While I may not have the answer, I bet that all of us can come up with an answer together.
See you at market!