Call it anal retentive... Call it overly organized, either way- it works + you will thank me for being the way I am because now you have a list to last a market season....or 8.
I like to categorize my market organizing in a few different categories; Pre-Market, Market Day, & Therapy Day (Post Market).
This part is done before you pack up your car to go to a market/vendor fair, because if you're anything like me the moment you leave your house all the things you could have forgotten run through your head.
1. To make your life easier, start planning + organizing about a week (or more) BEFORE the date you think you should start getting ready....especially if you have kids to love on, meals to cook, other orders to get finished up, errands to run, you know...a life to live?!!!? This also allows for last minute purchase for things to make your booth look complete i.e. decorations, banners, signs, business cards, bags, display items, tables, etc. Just trust me when I say this, please.
I will usually double check I have enough marketing materials at this time; tags, business cards, price sheets, shop small cards, etc. As well as, decorative items like seasonal banners + items to fill my table.
2. Gather all of your display pieces in one area so you can visually see what you have to show off your pieces. Whether these items be baskets, trays, acrylic risers, jewelry organizers, wood displays, bowls, or all those in between- it's just nice to touch + see it all together before storing it away for market. You might want to plan out your layout of the space here too. Do you want your tables to be parallel, or put them in an L-shape? Maybe you want the tables adjacent to one another? This is a good chance to see how it will all be set up together.
For me, its linens for my tables, peg board wall, rug, business sign, pop up tent (although I've yet to use it, not really my vibe), tables, books, greenery, wood, metal + acrylic displays. This is also the time I start to visualize my booth area too. Each market I set up my tables + vertical displays in a different way, so being able to do a mock set up prior to being at the market helps tremendously.
3. Get your inventory list ready. Now this doesn't have to be anything too excessive- or maybe you want it to be, whatever toots your horn you can do. I find this allows to better gauge how many pieces + of what items I need to have prepped for the upcoming shows. Having a good amount of inventory at shows is a top priority.
My list is a simple one. Explaining the type of item, quantity of that item that I am bringing, + the total number of items I am bringing.
4. Don't forget to make enough items.... Set a goal every day for your market inventory, let's say you make custom tee shirts, tell yourself that you will make at least 5 a day (maybe 10 on the weekends) until two weeks prior to your market date, then bump up that number up as you get closer to ensure that you won't be up late working as the date approaches. Price your items individually in this step. This will ease the 'what's the price' question that will be asked constantly if you only have price lists scattered around your booth....been there learned that.
Throughout the seasons I am constantly making items for markets + try to have a small inventory to work with, however during high market seasons I am constantly making to ensure that I don't have to work crazy hours to fill my tables.
5. The night before....
I do a lot of out of town markets, which with that comes tons of 'oh shoot did I forget that' and 'I don't think that will fit in the car' which is why all this planning is so necessary. Jot all your items down on a list if that's your thing or just start grabbing items + setting them by your front door for easy access to your car.
The night before I leave (or the night before market) I will get a checklist of everything I need, set it all out by the front door, + put the heavy stuff in the car. Half of the time the morning of I am rushing to grab a coffee so this step is a MUST for me.
6. Give yourself grace.....+ time. lots of time. As a creative, ideas + plans change, which is why giving yourself ample time to set up is so nice as things might not go as planned or someone else might show up a little late + you can be there to help out of they need it.
I like to get to market 1.5 - 2 hours before the event starts. I can take my time, move things area as needed, + usually not break a sweat while doing it because I'm not moving around like a crazy person.
7. Make sure you have different shape + sizes for display pieces, hang your items from your pop up tent for visual interest, use vertical display boards for height, if your items photograph well- print pictures + display those for customers to see. Don't bombard your customers with too much inventory on your tables either. You don't want to overwhelm the space but rather show your variety in a tasteful way.
I put out about half of my inventory when setting up + keep the other half in its storage. As the inventory gets sold I will re-fill or if someone asks about an item I know I have in the inventory I'll just grab it out for them!
8. Once you're finished with you're set up + if there's time, go around to the other makers booths. Meet them, hug those who you know virtually + finally get to meet in person, compliment them on their booth style, maybe even purchase an item. This will DEFINITELY ease the nervousness + saying hi to everyone is just a fun way to kick off the day!
9. After your market day hangover, it's nice to just reorganize all the items you swiftly put away after the market finished. Putting items back into your office, emptying out your car, going over the inventory + the inventory sheet to see what's left over/what you made/what you may need for your next market. It's just nice to get your items out from wherever you put them after market, sometimes items get tangled, fabric gets wrinkled, or things all of a sudden go missing, so doing this can be a nice step to make your next market prep a little easier.
On this day, I will organize all of my display + decor pieces in my StarLite boxes + leave them in there until the next market. I will also leave all of my market materials in my office closet so that the pre-market step is that much easier for the markets to come.
I composed a list of items I feel are adamant in ensuring a breezy prep + market day. I'll get links to most items or at least items that are closely related if I can't find the exact things I purchased.
These are great for storing your items and transporting them easy too, they're clear boxes so you can see what is in each box so you're not confused if a few months pass between markets.
I love the tables that fold in half and come with a handle. They are SO easy to transport solo if you don't have help.
A must to cover the plastic folding tables. You can purchase from anywhere and in any style. These ones I got on Etsy are rad + come in a variety or sizes + colors.
It's nice to gather your items together with bins, baskets, trays etc on your tables whether it be by size, color, style, etc. They add a bit of interest to the tables as well.
Added items for height of items or to create the look of more space on your table by having things vertically placed.
Bowls are a great addition of warmth on a table + can categorize items for customers.
Pricing items individually is a must, but having a larger list of prices is great for those customers who are browsing the market. If they are interested in your items + see that the price is just right they'll stop at shop!
I try to get some banners + decor seasonally so I can decorate my booth with the holiday (if there is one near) a litttttle bit or get items to scatter on my table that add a little extra touch to my booth.
Not a requirement but I love to give my customer bags, its a great way to market my items + seeing all my bags throughout a market tells me I'm doing a good job getting my products into the customers hands!
The list of items that you may need may be totally different than this, do what works best for YOU!!!! I just wanted to share what works for me + give you ideas for your market prep. Oh, + if I missed anything, please let me know so I can add it to the list, collaborating on this list is what will make it that much better!
Thanks for coming to my market prep Ted Talk. I hope this list will help ease the pre market worries/jitters.