One of the most important decisions you’ll make as a maker is where to sell your handmade products. The right market can provide you with not just sales, but also valuable exposure, customer feedback, and networking opportunities. In this blog post, we will explore the different types of markets where you can sell your handmade items, ranging from small church craft markets to large trade shows. We’ll also delve into how each type of market aligns with different stages of your business. Understanding what each market involves will help you choose the best match for your business stage.s stage.
Small Church Craft Markets
Ideal for: Beginners, Hobbyists
These are usually smaller type markets with more affordable pricing. As the name gives it away, they typically are located in churches, schools or recreational center gyms. Most of these markets don’t
have that many requirements in terms of display and setting up. The registration usually is relatively close to the market date, and the product acceptance process is usually more relaxed. Markets run for a
minimum of a few hours to a maximum of a two-day weekend.
Generally, the shoppers at these markets are local to the community and neighbourhood. Vendors also can be a large part of the community.
This is an excellent market to start with to gain experience around your product display, pricing, and marketing language to present your products to the public.
It can also be a lucrative market since the cost of entry is lower, resulting in higher income after your time and cost of goods.
Ideal For: Intermediate Makers, Those with Perishable Products
Farmers markets are community events where local farmers, artisans, and vendors gather to sell fresh produce, handcrafted items, and locally-sourced products directly to consumers. These markets are usually held in open-air settings or designated marketplaces and operate on a regular schedule, often weekly or bi-weekly. The main goal of farmers markets is to promote community engagement, support local economies, and provide consumers with access to high-quality, fresh items that are often organic or sustainably produced. Farmers markets are well-known for their lively atmosphere, featuring a diverse range of stalls offering fruits, vegetables, baked goods, crafts, and sometimes even live performances or educational workshops. Shoppers enjoy a unique experience that emphasizes quality, sustainability, and community interaction.
Larger Craft and Handmade Markets
Ideal For: Established Makers, Full-Time Businesses
These markets usually run steadily and seasonally. The location of this type of market can vary depending on the market’s size, but they generally happen in larger spaces than a school gym. Registration for these can start as early as a year ahead. Their vendor acceptance is more complex and through a jury process. The cost of these markets can fluctuate from a few hundred to a couple of thousand dollars, depending on marketing efforts, reputability, and market duration.
These markets can range from a full day to 5 days market. There are more restrictions and rules around your display and set-up and tear-down times.
These are larger markets, usually advertised well and will attract shoppers from all around the city. Some of them even attract vendors from other towns. This is an excellent market to establish your brand in and acquire steady and reliable income from. Of course, consistency is the key. The more you attend the same show, the more people will see, trust and shop from you.You will be able to test new products and fine-tune your packaging around your brand and products.
Ideal For: Scaling Businesses, Those Looking for Wholesale Opportunities
Trade shows are larger markets and shows run by larger organizations and are usually housed in a convention center. The registration process can be lengthy and have many requirements, including proof of insurance and a sample of the previous market display. Price-wise, they are on the higher end. These shows are typically well advertised and even get news coverage. They usually have larger well-known companies as vendors and sponsors. They typically attract vendors and shoppers from other states and provinces, and some even from other countries. In terms of setting up and tearing down, there are way more rules and restrictions. You may have to redesign your booth to match their requirements. This type of market gets you to the next level fast, but it’s crucial to attend these markets when you are ready and have all your back-end processes in place. Since the cost of entry is higher, you want to make sure you can take advantage of all the publicity and exposure to maximize your income and cover all your expenses.
Choosing the right market for your handmade products is essential for your business’s growth and sustainability. Each type of market offers unique opportunities and challenges, so consider your business stage, goals, and resources when making your decision.
For more information on how to grow your sales at craft markets I like to invite you to the free ACE Meeting on Craft Market Strategies to Grow Your Sales.