Redundancies

Just about anything can happen at a market so it is important to plan for contingencies.

I saw this post on Facebook recently and I’ve been there too. It is frustrating and overwhelming when something I depend on fails in the middle of a market.

Ugh! My card reader for the new Shopify point of sale quick (quit sic) working on Saturday so I had to run all my payments through PayPal. PayPal then said my funds were on hold because I needed to verify my account with tax I’d, social and drivers license. Did all that and they changed my account to regular use but didn’t release the $2000 in funds I have sitting there. Now they are saying because I don’t usually use them it could take 21 days to release my funds……what?!? That is absolutely ridiculous!

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You know that something will go wrong during a market. With so many things happening and every market being just a little bit different, something will go wrong. Because of this, there are several areas where I try my best to plan for something to fail. Technology and electricity are the two most concerning.

Technology

At a market, I make sales through my tablet and credit card reader using Square Point of Sale. I have rarely had a problem with the Square Point of Sale software that can’t be solved with a device reboot. However, I plan ahead for what to do if either my tablet or card reader were to fail.

If my tablet fails, I can always fall back to my cell phone. I have the Square software preloaded on my cell phone just in case. I will have to squint to read it during a sale, but it is better than not making any sales at all.

If the card reader fails, I always carry a backup. While I use the Bluetooth-enabled Square chip reader primarily, I can always fall back to the card reader that connects to the headset jack on my device. These can easily be found at Best Buy or Amazon for about $10. That is well worth the piece of mind it offers.

Internet

Consistently the most problematic, the Internet connections at a market can be spotty. Even if a market has an Internet connection for vendors, it is easily overloaded when 100 or more vendors all try to connect their devices at the same time. For this reason, I have a data plan for both my cell phone and tablet. My data plan is my primary Internet source at a market with the local wireless being Plan B.

While it is possible to process sales on your device using the Square software and sync up the transactions when an Internet connection is available, we have been burned in the past. We have had a few sales be declined when the after-market sync takes place. While the amount of declined sales was not huge, it is disheartening to know that you essentially gave something away for free because you will probably not see that customer again. Even if you did, having a conversation about their declined credit card after the fact is more than awkward.

Electricity

With the markets that we go to, we sign up for electricity. We use it to power lights for our display. The right lighting can dramatically change the look of a display. However, many times this electricity is provided by a generator. While generators are a great solution, they are often limited to the amount of electrical current they can provide. I’ve been to many markets where the electrical load blows breakers at the wrong time and an entire row of booths go suddenly dark.

Anticipating this, I always carry a battery backup. My battery backup allows for me to plug in my lights and run them for several hours if I need to. This is also a great solution for lighting at markets where no electricity is provided. While they are not a suitable solution for all-day markets, they definitely help if the lights go out for a short while. Not only that, but they also charge my cell phone and tablet.

Lastly, since my dependence on my devices has grown, I always have battery packs as well. These light-weight packs are a staple in my load-in kit as they will recharge any of my devices (cell phone, table, USB flashlight, ear buds, etc). In fact, I carry two because I know that someone will ask if I have a way for them to charge their cell phone.

Cheap, small and really handy, a battery pack like this one from Amazon, should be in every vendor’s load-in kit. Having two would be better because you should have a backup for your backup! Even better, pay attention to the Thanksgiving sales as these are usually super cheap at that time.

Remember what things went wrong at previous markets and plan for them to go wrong again. If you can, build in redundancies to mitigate the impact of these things going wrong. Your backup plan will pay for itself in the long run.

Until then, see you at market!

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