Hello my lovelies,
Recently I have sure been on a steep learning curve as I co-ordinate my life and juggle a job, a blog, a shop and a fledgling vintage bar hire business. It’s proving to be quite an adventure.
Today I share with you lovely Fe-line readers the reason why the phrase ’I'll have a P please Bob’ (all Blockbuster stylie) popped in to my mind with frightening regularity as I traded at my very first vintage fair.
‘The P’s of Greatness’ as I like to call them.
Anita Edwards, learning the hard way at vintage fairs since March 2014, so you don’t have to.
So here’s what I learnt from the experience. I hope some of this proves helpful if you are considering venturing into the world of selling at fairs (Vintage or otherwise).
Publicity & Promotion
- Share where you are going to be on your blog, Facebook page, Instagram, Twitter or any other social media hang out you can think of. (I did this)
- Ask the organisers lots of questions about where they have publicised the event. (I didn’t do so much of this – Doh!)
- Make contact with other traders via social media before you attend. It makes attending much less daunting if you know there will be at least one person there to say hi to. (Yep, done!)
- If you have other services you wish to promote, (ie vintage cocktail bars for hire) ensure that you take marketing material with you. (Yep, big brownie point for me!)
Preparation, Planning & Presentation
- Mock up your display the day before (I now know that dining room tables are very good for this)
- Photograph it so that when you are setting up early the next morning, you have a point of reference. (great when you haven’t even had a coffee to wake yourself up after a 5.30am start)
- Grouping stock into similar colours is very eye catching (I tried this)
- Have vintage suitcases filled with odds and ends for those customers who like to rummage. (unless, they don’t – this is a possibility!)
- Prior to the event, ask the organiser to give you an idea of where you will be situated. (you at least want people to know you are there)
- If choosing to be the first stall next to the entrance, ensure that the fee to the fair (if any) is correctly proportioned in terms of number of stalls and entertainment provided.
- If customers are reeling from paying what they perceive to be a high entrance fee they are likely to whizz right by your stall as they recover from the shock (this happened to me)
- Remember that you are your brand. This is something that I have learnt both at The Blogcademy and The Vintage Academy. Wise words to run your business by.
- Prepare your outfit the night before, ensure you look smart and ready for business.
- Friendly and approachable for the win. You know that saying about a smile being worth a thousand words. (Just don’t grin manically. People will run away).
- Imagine how you would like to be served and then re-enact that scenario (I am not referring to John Inman here, although that could be fun!)
- Trying wearing something that people will remember to create a lasting impression, (by this I mean a custom made necklace from Sugar & Vice of course!)
Payment & Pricing
- Purchase a PayPal card reader for a one off fee of £99.00. It means that you can accept debit or credit card payments safely & securely. (Makes you look super efficient too).
- Have a money bag or cash belt. I took a cash box but in hindsight, one of the former items would have made more sense. (Had the fair been busier I may have taken my eyes off the box and returned home penniless).
- Ensure you have plenty of change or price items in whole pounds. (I did this, shame I didn’t get more sales).
- Price your items sensibly. Take into account expenses such as stall fees, travel and your time.
- Make prices of items visible. I only partially did this and I am certain I would have had more success if I had done it wholly.
- Working out how to pack up unsold stock is a must. (I learn this the hard way).
- Make sure you do not overrun on the event time. Some organisers are charged by the hour and get charged for late leavers.
- This only pushes up the price of the stall the next time that you wish to trade at one of their fairs. (If anyone knows of a course called ‘Speed packing for Vintage Homeware Traders‘, can they get in touch please?)
So, what did I learn?
- Projected footfall is massively important, if it’s a new fair with future events planned then start small and don’t take too much stock. Your back will thank you for it.
- I realised I will never be too old to learn and learning will always keep me young, no matter what the mirror says!
- Making mistakes is a necessary part of that process.
- That asking questions is the key to knowing if your products will fit the vibe of the fair. If they don’t and you are there, treat the whole event as a positive opportunity to network.
- I did exactly this and now have an invitation to see how one couple make customised tear drop caravans, along with an exciting opportunity to trade at another fair later in the year.
Onwards and upwards. I’ll keep you all posted, of course.
Do you have any other canny trading advice for me? I would love to hear from you if you do.
Ladies and gentlemen, I have an announcement. As of April 1st (and no this isn’t a joke!), I will be sojourning off to Mexico for three weeks to undertake my thesis research. Excited doesn’t begin to describe it. While I am away, I will be studying sustainable tourism, and addressing some of the issues that the last few generations of heavy, uncontrolled tourism has bought to the Yucatan Peninsula. As I am there to look at how to reduce tourists’ impacts on the surrounding environment and communities, I thought that I should practice what I preach and make sure I minimise my impacts too.
Therefore, I have decided to make myself a challenge, wittily dubbed the Mex-Eco challenge. I am attempting to substitute as many of my holiday beauty items as possible with eco friendly alternatives, so that when they are washed off at the end of the day they have a minimal impact on the water ways that they are swept in to. As I have had a keen interest in all things eco for several years, this didn’t seem to daunting a challenge. And thankfully, I’ve been proved correct. So, based on my recent discoveries, here are three little tips if you decide to try and add a little eco to your day.
1) Read the labels. Although products may say ‘natural’ this is often highly misleading. Take a look at the labels and learn to identify some of the biggest sinners. There are a number of chemicals in synthetic beauty products that don’t do us any good, and certainly don’t do the environment any good. If you’re trying to steer clear of these products, try looking for ‘vegan’ and ‘organic’ products, as these are unlikely to contain harmful chemicals. Furthermore, if you can find any that are 100% natural, then definitely give them a go.
2) Multi-task. If you take an honest look at your dresser or bathroom cabinet right now, how many of those products are ones you never use or which are totally unnecessary? If you can minimise the amount of products you purchase, your impact on the environment is vastly reduced. Simple changes such as using BB cream instead of foundation, SPF and moisturiser will reduce clutter, lighten the weight of your make up bag and reduce your environmental impact. Why not check out the Body Shop‘s BB Cream – something I recently purchased and am absolutely loving for a light, natural coverage.
3) Shop around. There are a whole range of beauty products available on the high street that are better for the environment than others. For instance, Boots and Superdrug both have ranges of bath products with organic ingredients, and Marks and Spencers have a huge selection of eco-friendly make up and beauty items. Alternatively, if leaving the comfort of your sofa is too much, get on Google and search ‘eco lipstick’ or ‘organic moisturiser’ and see what pops up. Trust me, you’ll be spoilt for choice!
So, are you up for the challenge? Try and give it a go, even if you only try one new product, at least you know you tried!
P.S. If you’re interested in following my Mex-Eco challenge, check out my blog here for all the latest updates (and some pretty pictures of beaches!)