The Ber months are here, and to us entrepreneurs, it means one thing: bazaar season has begun! Since I started selling my handmade work, I have joined more than twenty bazaars (or what you call fairs in the US). I'm lucky to have started the bazaar circuit at a young age - I was in my teens and still in college when I joined my first bazaar. Over the years, through many misadventures and little triumphs, I have amassed my own collection of bazaar tips and tricks.
This new Handmade Pilipinas series is all about how to join a bazaar - the preparation, the to-do's and not-to-do's, and little tidbits on my bazaar experiences.
In Part 1, I'll help you make a road map for yourself before you take the plunge and become a bazaarista.
The article "How to join a bazaar" by Angeli Sobrepena is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at beadladyangeli.blogspot.com.
How to Join a Bazaar Part 1: Determine your goals
Before joining a bazaar, make sure that you have clear goals and a solid plan. It is easy to get lost in the excitement of the holiday rush. Before you know it, you've signed yourself up for too many bazaars for the season (that happened to me!) and you'll find yourself asking "Why did I get myself into this?". Before you end up joining a bazaar just because all the others have joined one and you don't want to be left out, ask yourself the following questions. Grab a pen and paper and jot down your answers.
1. Why do I want to join a bazaar?
Do I want to introduce my brand to a wider audience (marketing)? Do I want to meet my customers and get firsthand information about how they like my products (market research)? Do I want to sell a certain number of products or earn a certain amount (profit)? Your answer to question number 1 is your goal. Refer to this goal when choosing a bazaar to join.
Pretty happy with my sales.
Post-bazaar note: After the event, you can evaluate the success of your bazaar venture by comparing it to this goal. If you joined the bazaar for marketing and you didn't sell enough to make a profit, but you gained lots of new customers that might make repeat orders in the future, then the bazaar was a success for you. If your goal was to make a profit, but you did not sell enough products and only broke even, then the event wasn't a success for you. Notice how I keep saying "for you"? This is because the results of a bazaar are different for each seller. You can be selling the same stuff as the lady in the other table, but it doesn't necessarily mean you'll both share the same results.
2. Do I have the capacity to join a bazaar?
Do I have enough products to sell? How will I display my products? How am I going to transport my stocks and display paraphernalia? Do I have people who can help me man the table?
Issues on logistics can make or break your bazaar venture, so be sure you've got everything covered before you sign up for a bazaar. Remember that to make a profit, your inventory should be more than enough to cover all your costs, not just the stall rental fee. And when it comes to having someone help you man your table, just look at the photo above to see what I mean.
3. Am I ready for long hours?
Am I ready to wake up really early and go home very late, for two to three days in a row? When you've been creating like crazy on the weeks leading to the bazaar, the long hours can be pretty taxing.
Your answers to questions 2 and 3 refer to your readiness and dedication - two very important factors to consider. It takes a lot of hard work to join a bazaar.
You need to start building your inventory weeks before the event. (But if you're like me who gets inspired under pressure, I create just days before the event. Which means sleepless nights and unnecessary stress.) On the day of the bazaar itself, you need to wake up at 4am in order to do ingress at 6am. You then need to man the booth for the duration of the bazaar, usually for 10 hours!
This is when the frenzy happens: attending to customers, doing your sales pitch, computing and getting change, restocking your display, all the while making sure there is no theft happening. At closing time, if the bazaar is 2-3 days long, you need to secure your booth with a net after the last customer has left (if your organizer allows you to leave your stuff overnight). Repeat everything the next day.
Now that you've asked yourself the right questions, you have a sneak peek at what it takes to become a bazaarista. With your answers as a guide, start making a bazaar battle plan. This way, you lessen your risks and improve your chances of success.
What bazaars are you joining this season? Share in the comments section below!
Watch out for the next Handmade Pilipinas post to learn more about how to join bazaars.