Business, Featured, My Opinion

Clarity vs. Chaos: How Being Organized Wins at your Market

Part II of my Summer Market Series

Organization is not everyone’s cup of tea and I have seen, on occasion, market vendors seemingly un-organized that are clearly making sales. Case in point, a young woman last summer at a busy Vancouver market madly labelling her soap while prospective buyers arrived at and then left her booth empty handed. I had to ask while purchasing her soap…Why? She had packed the wrong box of naked soap for the show but lucky for her had the corresponding labels. Her take-away? “Next time I have to label my boxes too!” she said with the clarity of hind-sight.

Messing up is universal but no one ever said “I regret organizing my business” – not ever.

I believe that organization for a successful market is critical. Does it have to be perfect? No, but it’s required to the point that you feel that you have control of the chaos. For each market vendor that point is unique. For me that point is at the far right of the scale, meaning it’s paramount; organization gives me a sense of order, efficiency and confidence. Here are some tips that help to keep me on track.

Documentation – Once you decide on a market that’s ideal for you (the subject of the next blog of the series) create an e-folder with the markets name and year for your application and all other pieces that require submission such as a certificate of insurance, product list, details of the market etc. Once you’ve been accepted, continue to use this file as your go-to place for documentation. I store my market inventory list in this folder as well as my event checklist, promo photos for social media, certain e-mails, certificates of insurance and quite often notes of things to remember for next year. It’s especially handy to have all of this on an iPhone/iPad for quick access when you are at the market but if you are like me and can’t always rely on wi-fi I have a clear plastic file folder for all of the documents I’ll need and more that I collect at the venue, such as, business cards and receipts.

Packing and Labelling – Pack strategically – like Tetris! Not only is this important to save space but once your packing set-up is routine you will save a lot of valuable time. Labelling is also key; label with the item contents but also apply your company name and contact information – most of us have return address labels for this purpose. Believe me that all boxes can look the same after a busy market when you are tired and just want to get home and put your feet up!  Mix ups have happened.

Transport containers – It’s worth the extra investment in time and money to find the perfect transport containers. I suggest getting one container and testing it out before future purchases. Starting out I bought containers that I thought would fit the bill but for a variety of reasons they did not, and sadly, were redundant. Ultimately, I found the perfect boxes for transporting my soap at an Italian Bakery! I recycled them from a catered lunch and discovered that voila! they were exactly the right weight, dimensions, size and sturdy. Lucky for me, the bakery agreed to sell their boxes and now my soaps are safe for travelling and disguised as Italian treats.

Ground support – This isn’t always possible to arrange, but as a solo vendor, I try to build some ground support into my market days. This support generally comes from my fabulous family members and friends; it involves assisting with the packing up/tearing down and generally being on the other end of the phone to receive my frantic texts and offer moral support for the last-minute emergencies and high-fives for the successes.

Wrap up – A fellow vendor once said to me “At the end of a show I just jam everything into my car and get the hell out of here”. Honestly, I am no different from other vendors in my desire to pin out of the show and get home, however, as you can guess I am never the first out one of the gate. The thought of unpacking my car and re-packing at a later time makes me anxious – yuck! Instead, I wipe off, tidy, fold, re-pack in order and take note of low inventory. If you’re thinking to yourself, “oh geez lady!” I get it, but when the next show is up guess who won’t be cleaning and re-packing the night before?

If you are not an organization fan; no issue. If you are a vendor who thinks that a few changes could help our business then start with a few small steps. Once you see the benefit you may be convinced to adopt more until you reach your own organizational ‘comfort zone’.  – C –

Look for Part III of this series coming late August. Finding the Market that Works for your Business

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