Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Finding your Market

by Barbara Bechtel
I have to admit this whole year has been a big blur for me. I feel like I've been playing catch up for the entire last half of the year. It seems as though just about the time felt like I could get caught up, the holidays sprung up and here it is almost 2014!!! I never even had a chance to plan properly for holiday sales, updating my website, let alone get tons of jewelry made like I had hoped!

Consequently, with financial and physical setbacks, I've had to rethink my plans for the latter part of 2013 and looking into 2014, I've really been thinking about ways to get my work more into my local community and build my business locally rather than focus so much as I have in the past on the internet. My decision for this is several-fold. First of all considering the type of work that I enjoy doing. Not only do I enjoy making jewelry and beads, I also enjoy mixed media work, decorative home decor, and paper crafts. For that reason, I find doing production work in any one of these areas mind-blowingly difficult. That also makes applying to and being accepted to Fine Art or Craft Shows difficult for me because I do not have a singular focus. Financially and logistically, these types of shows are often prohibitive for me as well. Secondly, the area where I live (the space coast of Florida) is not a known area for the types of locavore, hip-happening, community events that happen in larger cities. Even close by larger cities such as Jacksonville and Orlando (and not living IN those cities, sometimes makes it difficult for me to find out about opportunities.)

part of my weekly set up

There are lots of little local markets popping up and I've had success this past year setting up regularly at some, but not ALL, of these types of markets. What I love about these little local markets is that A) they're usually pretty inexpensive to set up at and B) you really get to meet and greet your neighbors. These markets also work great for me because I can take all of the variety of goodies that I make and sell and set up my own little shop once or twice a week! It thrills me to no end when someone asks, "Do you have a brick and mortar shop?" It feels like validation to me when folks think that my wares are artfully displayed as in a cute little boutique that lines the streets of that hip little section of "INSERT COOL SHOPPING DISTRICT OF ANYTOWN, USA HERE"....

larger view...this market happens to take place in a beautiful shady park along the Intercoastal Waterway...bonus: NO TENT NEEDED (unless it's supposed to rain!!!)

I've also met local shop and restaurant owners, swapped business cards and ideas with other like-minded individuals. It has a great local feeling, which is sometimes absent from traditional shows I've done.

setting up for a one day trunk show earlier this year outside a local boutique.

Oh, but it's a CRAP TON of work....and exhausting, and some days (although not lately, knock on wood) I come home with less money than I set out with.....but at the end of the day, I feel super satisfied about meeting more people and seeking that community connection that the natural layout of this area doesn't promote. This feeling is not dissimilar from preparing for a regular show, just once a week!!!

sunrise shot from the local market I've recently been setting up you see why I'm having these crazy ideas! Who wouldn't want to come here and shop or set up for a market every week?!

So for 2014, I'm looking forward to expanding on these ideas and I hope to report back to you here!

Have you set up at local weekly/monthly artisan or farmer's markets with success? What has been your experience?


TesoriTrovati said...

I only do one show a year and it is exhausting. This show is on a Tuesday night in October called A.R.T.S. Night, and is really more of an 'eat, drink and be seen' than A Reason To Shop (as the name stands for). Plus the cost to get in is a mind blowing $25 in advance ($30 at the door) so you can make assumptions as to the limited clientele. But I still feel that I need to be represented there. I started a new fundraising arm of my company called Pop-a-Dot Jewelry and since this show is a charity event, that is what I brought (and raised a few eyebrows). Even at that show my jewelry wouldn't sell because as I have heard time and again, 'we paid our donation at the door.' They don't seem to realize that 25% of the sales goes to the org as well! This year I made the decision that my jewelry is best sold in galleries and boutiques. I would like to expand on the three that I am in now. And I have plans to expand my Simple Truths line, to have special jewelry that will be interchangeable with the designs, to expand my skills in polymer with new techniques, and to cross over the Simple Truths with a special insert just for the Pop-a-Dot line. There. I think I just mapped out a plan for myself for 2014 so thanks for the inspiration! Best wishes to you, Miss Barbara, as you find your way (and with a view like that, it would be fun to follow it!). Enjoy the day! Erin

NuminosityBeads said...

I do a farmer's market in Fairbanks, Alaska and have had good success there for years. Enough to make the 100 mile drive one way worth it most times.
It's only $10 for the booth space and 10% of your take for the fee. It's a craft and food and produce oriented venue so there is a good pull and high numbers of visitors. I happen to be near the food booths so I get lots of exposure. Weather can be a problem but you aren't committed to set up until you show up which I like a great deal. I have had some mighty cold days at the beginning and end of our short summer season.

Barbara said...

@Kim, Setting up at a market in Fairbanks daunts me!!!! I've been there (been about 13 years, but AK is an amazing place!!! so I totally get what you're saying!

@Erin, I'm still learning this local thing and I've been invited to events, some of like you spoke of, and some others, some I've tried, some I haven't...It's my goal this year to get more involved in our local art community by "being the change" so-to-speak and trying to start something.

What I think is REALLY important about setting up at weekly markets (ESPECIALLY with Jewelry or non-consumables) is that you have to make an effort to set up EVERY WEEK before you make a judgement. Artisan jewelry is not an impulse buy, although I do have some fun things under $20 for that, but you have to cultivate a following....there's not many people who show up to a weekly market in my area that will drop more than $20 on jewelry AT FIRST....but if you commit personally to going for 1-3 months and LET your customers KNOW (I'm here each week! etc.)...I've had lots of previous customers come back and buy more expensive pieces!!!!

Alice said...

I live in a town with just under 3000 people who are mostly farmers or those who choose to live in a small town because it is cheap. Needless to say I can count on one hand the people I can call a customer. I have tried many shows in different cities and a few galleries and some were worth going back to, but the galleries just didn't work. Most of the shops around my area won't sell my jewelry because they think it is priced too high for their customers. I have trouble doing shows because I need help lifting the tables etc., and sometimes I can't find anyone to help. The one gallery I actually made money at has now closed. This year was dismal in terms of sales so I must rethink everything about my business.

Artisan Beads Plus said...

I am trying to do more locally as well. I still want to have a website, but trying to do both is a little exhausting. Good luck and I cannot wait to hear more!

Stacie said...

I am also transitioning more to local representation and more in person sales with boutiques and galleries. Online is just so competitive, and pictures really don't do art jewelry justice. I think people need to see the jewelry in person, try it on and fall in love with the physicality of it...and then if they want something else, they can purchase it online once they understand the quality of the workmanship. Good luck...looks like we are both on a similar path!

Carol D. said...

Looks like many of us are trying to find the venue that fits us. Will look forward to hearing from any and all on progress in this realm. And how to maintain the social media and inventory for gallery/shop and website, etc.
I am going to try local shows this next year and see if I can expand that way. I also have my eye on one gallery but I think their percentage may be too high to be profitable for me.

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