As we learn more about covid, safety measures are being put in place to mitigate risks at markets. With the right steps put in place, people are clamoring for an opportunity to shop.
We just finished our first market for the fall season. After being cooped up for months, we dusted off our display and set up at a three-day show in San Antonio. The organizer made sure to keep social distancing in mind for this show. She ensured that the aisles were extra wide and all the booths had space enough to spread out. Hand sanitizer was readily available throughout the venue as well as a single entry and single exit to prevent bottlenecks where people may bunch up. The setup was absolutely perfect.
For a vendor like me, it was just luxurious! I had plenty of room to set up my display. Instead of being relegated to a standard 10×10 booth, I had 15×15 feet of floor space to work with. I was able to spread out my display to that people could enter and not feel crowded. That seemingly measly few feet made a huge difference for claustrophobic shoppers.
Anxiously, I waited for the doors to open on Fri wondering if people would risk coming to a market amid a pandemic. I was blown away. Before we opened, the parking lot filled up and lines formed (with social distancing in place) to enter the market. Masks were worn and hand sanitizer was carried by just about everyone.
People came to shop. Not only shop, but to buy. The people who came out were thrilled to see what all of these small businesses had to offer after months of staying at home. It wasn’t long before I had to restock some inventory as products left my booth.
By the end of the second day, I had sold out of some of my products. I was running low on bags and some of my packaging was completely depleted. However, the ability to adapt is my superpower, so we continued to sell. One of the things that Monica keeps reminding me is that “the customers don’t know that we have it unless we put it out” so the lack of packaging for a few products went unnoticed by customers.
In short, we had our best weekend to date. It was an amazing start to revitalize our small business for the 2020 Christmas season. Just because we have covid in our midst doesn’t mean that life stops and Christmas is cancelled.
Personally, I think that people are tired of being limited to shopping only the big chains that were allowed to stay open for the past few months. They miss the variety of items that just aren’t available from the big box stores.
Also, I know that the “shop small” message is resonating with almost all the shoppers. There was an exception where I met my own personal Karen, but I’ll save that story for later. People want to support other people – especially business owners. During this time of covid, it means so much more when customers can meet the person who used their own hands to make a product. There is more awe and appreciation that a product doesn’t magically appear on a shelf once they understand that there is a person who actually works to make the thing that they want.
This understanding of who is making a product for them also reinforces the concept of local manufacturing. At the beginning of the pandemic, people were outraged that supply chains were disrupted because all of our products came from overseas. They demanded that we start making things here in our home country. Foreign dependence is again on the minds of the public and they are very willing to pay a bit more for something that is not mass produced in a land far away.
Now is the time for makers such as you to get out there and be successful. Yes, there is a pandemic, but the risks of this virus can be mitigated if you take precautionary steps. Customers are demanding what you have. Being a maker has its own risks, one of which just happens to be a virus now. So get out there and sell what you make.
See you at market very soon,