The real cost of joining a bazaar (Part 2 of the Bazaar Series)

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Read Part 1 of the Bazaar Series here.

How to join a bazaar Part 2: The real cost of joining a bazaar

Renting a small space in a bazaar or tiangge can cost you as little as Php450 to as high as Php100,000 depending on the duration, location, target market, and type of event. But the stall rental fee is not the only expense you need to consider. Other expenses can take quite a big chunk of your profits:
  • transportation (your gas and parking fee, or your cab fare)
  • wages (if you choose to hire salespeople)
  • food (for you and your salespeople)
  • bazaar paraphernalia such as signages, display shelves, props
  • business cards and other marketing materials
When I started joining bazaars, I never thought of those expenses above, until I was computing for profits after the bazaar. Big mistake. That 13,000-a-weekend bazaar may actually cost you 14,500 or more.

I have also joined bazaars that cost nothing at all! I have been lucky enough to be invited to about four or five bazaars where they charged me nothing - absolutely rent-free! But again, nothing is absolutely free - you still need to consider the expenses listed above.

At one of the rent-free Christmas bazaars I was invited to.

5 Tipid Tips

To keep your costs to a minimum, here are a few tips to keep in mind.

1. Share a booth with a friend.

If the space is large enough to accommodate one more person, by all means get a partner! Choose someone whose products can complement your own work. Not only will this lessen your expenses, it will be fun selling alongside your friend too! I often share a booth with my friends from Baubles Bangles and Beads. They make handpainted bangles, bags, and shoes. It has always been super fun!

2. Choose a cheaper booth space in the same bazaar.

Some bazaars offer different prices for different booth locations: regular slots are sometimes cheaper than corner slots. Booths outside are also a lot cheaper than the ones in the air conditioned areas. If you're ready to beat the heat of the outdoors and ride out the storms, go for the cheap outdoor booths. Be warned though: the intense heat can be gruelling, and the rain can damage your products! So choose wisely.

3. Go for alternative bazaars.

Bazaars in upscale venues are understandably very expensive. But there are also cheaper bazaars outside malls or trade halls that offer good selling opportunities. Check out Sandy Allan's holiday bazaars at the Cubao Expo. Ate Sandy is the proprietor of The Reading room, my neighbor in Cubao Expo. Now on it's 4th year, Ate Sandy's holiday bazaars have proven to be a success all around. The rental fees are really cheap, because the bazaar is non-profit - all the proceeds go to bazaar expenses.

Try checking out other bazaars outside malls, like the St. James bazaar in Ayala Alabang Village (reservations start during the summer months, and all slots are usually sold out before the Ber months arrive). The rent in this bazaar is not cheap, but it's not as expensive as mall bazaars. I have always enjoyed good sales in the St. James bazaar, thanks to my good spot in the covered court. The key is in reserving for a slot really early. If you end up in the parking lot, where the aisles between the tables are really narrow, you're in trouble.

Be careful when choosing bazaars though. Make like a sleuth and check the organizer's track record: what previous bazaars have they organized? Were those bazaars successful? Ask them about their marketing plans and efforts to publicize the event. A poorly publicized bazaar can mean zero customers!

4. Solicit help from friends and relatives.

Instead of hiring help, try asking your friends if they can help you with the set up or the selling. Offer to make them a customized necklace or food in exchange. Teehee. Boyfriends work for free. LOL!

5. Borrow, don't buy.

Instead of buying display paraphernalia, ask your mom if you can borrow her gorgeous antique side table. Just promise you won't scratch it!

How to recoup these expenses

To factor in the costs of joining a bazaar, you can markup your product's price. It's easy to markup if you make one-of-a-kind, handmade items - you can add a special twist to your product (a new scent to your polymer clay trinkets, perhaps?) and sell the special edition exclusively at the bazaar for a higher price.

But others will argue that bazaars are supposedly where you can get a bargain. So if you do not want to markup, make up for it in sales volume (in other words, dami ng benta). You can sell your products at a lower price to attract more buyers.

The limited edition miniature shoes I sold at Rockwell Urban Bazaar.

In my experience though, going the special edition route translates to more sales. Customers appreciate a good buy - and that doesn't necessarily mean buying at a discounted price. By offering unusual products not found in malls, you remind customers that bazaars do not only mean good bargain buys, bazaars are also a good source of unique, hard-to-find items.

But keep in mind that the bazaars I usually join are not tiangges where people expect a bargain - they are usually bazaars in upscale venues or those targeted towards a market that expects unusual and one-of-a-kind pieces. So also consider the bazaar's target market before joining one.

Don't worry about recouping the expenses for bazaar paraphernalia all in one go. Take good care of your signages and props so you can use them again. This way, this expense gets divided into two (or more) bazaars.

On the other hand, the stall rental fee should be recouped right away if your goal is to make a profit. If you joined the bazaar for marketing purposes and your sales weren't enough to offset the cost of joining the bazaar, chalk it up as marketing expenses for your business.

Joining bazaars can make or break your business, so before making decisions, think about everything we discussed so far. I hope this new post has shared some insight in its own little way! If you have questions, post them in the comments section below, and I'll try to address them in future posts.

Read Part 1 of the Bazaar Series here.

Watch out for more Handmade Pilipinas posts!


Gabrielle said…
Hello, this was really very informative and thought provoking! Thank you! I am thinking of joining bazaars and the point you brought up about choosing the right target market for your product is one of my main concerns.
I believe that the Rockwell one you mention is one of these upscale venues, would you mind sharing which are a few of the other higher end venues that target buyers who appreciate one of a kind, unusual designs in jewelry rather than cheaper trinkets?
Kind regards

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