Each step in my journey – including this early false start – brought me to this point, these precious loves.
Source: Once upon a time…
Who am I, and what qualifies me to talk to you about this topic?
I’m an entrepreneur, consultant and communicator.
A large part of what I do involves the promotion and marketing of entrepreneurs and SMMEs, specifically those that offer unique services and products for sale at markets and in ‘informal’ (read for that: non-bricks-and-mortar) settings.
I’ve loved visiting and worked in markets since I was a teenager (I’m 44 now), and although I’ve got a university degree and have worked in the corporate world as well, markets have become a big part of my work and personal life.
As a teenager living in a single-parent home I used to sell things that I’d crafted myself at markets on weekends to make pocket money. I have worked in corporate environments, and on the ground as a market stallholder, as well as having started and run my own very successful market events. Many of my friends and people whom I highly respect and admire I have met through my work in markets and with informal traders.
Now my aim is to help other people to create and build their own opportunities and businesses through trading at markets and in other informal settings.
Markets are as ancient as human culture – wherever humans are, markets will spring up because people will always trade and barter with each other in these most energetic, coulourful, sociable and enduring places.
Whether you plan to run a market stall as your primary income source or to supplement your existing income, you don’t need a lot of money and resources to start a business trading at markets, in fact it is one of the easiest, most affordable – and most empowering – ways to get your foot in the door of the business world.
Also, now that technology is advancing so fast and becoming available to so many people regardless of age or income, there are many exciting opportunities all around. All you have to do is open your eyes to them and have the energy and motivation to put them in to action.
I hope that what I tell you here will inspire you to start your own market business, and that one day when you have built an empire you will look back and remember these humble beginnings with pride and fondness!
Getting started – where do I begin?
First question to ask: What can I do?
Can you bake, sew, paint, busk, do magic tricks, grow plants, buy and resell sweets/chips etc, face-paint…
Not sure? HINT: did you learn something from your mom, grandfather, teacher, watching TV? Do you have a hobby or unique skill?
Next question: Do I ENJOY doing this thing?
As with any work, if you’re going to spend a lot of time doing something, try and make sure you enjoy it. If you don’t you’ll have a hard time dealing with bad weather, early mornings, long days, slow trade… plus, people can sense when you are passionate about something, and will be more likely to buy from you if you radiate enthusiasm for what you do.
Some other questions to consider:
Do I need money to start a market stall?
Yes and no. Market stalls are one of the most affordable ways of operating a small business, but you will still need some funds to launch your venture. There are various ways you could get some seed funding, but you would need to be sure you’re doing things the right way from the beginning so you don’t waste your investment.
To be successful in business there is a lot to learn. Here are a few useful resources you can use to master these important skills and also find ways to access seed funding:
Try these entrepreneurial resource centres:
The basics: Business 101
Once you’ve decided what you would like to do or sell at markets, and once you’ve figured out where to get some business skills and funding, just as with any business, you have to do some basic business stuff, like:
I would even say that if you are earning an income in a job but wish to start your own venture that you should try and keep your main income and do research and preparation in your spare time rather than launching into something with no income at all. Only when it looks like your venture will be viable should you consider giving up your day job!
TIP: Visit lots of different markets to see where your offering fits in: flea-markets, craft markets, food markets… the list is long, and it’s important to match what you are selling to the right marketplace (otherwise you could be wasting your time, energy and money!)
HINT: if you’re not sure what to do, call a few market owners and asking if they have any gaps that need to be filled – there’s a chance that you can offer a unique product that the market currently doesn’t sell
How do I get a stall at a market?
Market owners take a lot into consideration when choosing stall vendors, making sure they don’t have too many of the same thing on offer.
Apply for a market stall in the same way you would when applying for a job: make it as easy and quick as possible for the market organiser to deal with you and assess your products/services. Also, as with any application/interview process – or indeed sales and branding situation – you should strive to stand out from all the other applicants in some way, have a unique selling point (USP) that will get you noticed.
TIP: prepare a marketing kit to send to the market organizer and catch their attention. This kit should include your product photos and a short bio about yourself and what you’re offering.
Attract attention: Marketing
Every bit of branding/marketing material helps (labels/packaging, business cards, flyers, websites etc). Even if a visitor does not buy from you at the market, they may come back another time or contact you to order/buy separate from the market setting. Some markets are well-organised and help promote their vendors through their websites by giving them a mention or posting them in a blog etc, especially if you have a USP or have won an award etc.
TIP: Ensure that your stall stands out from the crowd – create visual appeal from afar and engage the visitors in a passionate, helpful and knowledgeable – but not pushy! – manner.
How to use technology to promote your business
Technology is making it possible for everyone to participate in the global economy, no matter how big or small their business is, nor how many or few their resources are. Your mobile/smart phone will become your best friend in growing your business, so make sure you make an investment in that as a start.
It also helps a lot for you to have a website for your product/service, even if it’s pretty basic.
Then of course there’s the social media aspect. You really need to have a few basic social networking tools as well, at least a Facebook page. Twitter is useful too, and can be connected to your Facebook page’s updates. Also a very important new tool – especially for vendors with visually appealing products – is Pinterest.
TIP: All of these tools will help the organiser decide whether to take you on as a vendor on or not.
Have a Unique Selling Point (USP)
Another major consideration for a market organiser (and for customers) is whether you are offering something different than all the other stalls currently trading at the market of your choice (and other) markets. You should really try to offer a product/service different from what everyone else is offering, since organisers may be willing to fit you into a market sooner if you offer the market’s visitors something fresh and new. This adds to the market’s appeal, and that should always be a concern to the market organiser.
Want more info?
You can sign up to receive updates by following this blog. Or leave me a comment and I’ll try and get back to you asap.
As a market organiser I have often found myself giving vendors advice about how to create a better display or exhibit.
This kind of feedback – and whether the vendors actually pay heed or not – can often make the difference between whether they will persevere and be successful in a market environment, or whether they will fall at the first hurdle and go back to their day jobs.
Like most first-time business people, traders who are new to doing markets (or exhibitors at exhibitions/fairs/festivals) are especially naive when it comes to knowing how to make the best of their enterprises.
A day’s trading can seem like a millennia if a stallholder just sits back in their chair in front of a less than inspired display and waits for people to come to their table and engage them. Chances are they will have dismal sales, and will probably blame the market or the visitors.
While a particular market setting may indeed not be the right one for certain goods, services or price points, and while visitors don’t always dip very quickly or deeply into their pockets (especially in today’s economic climate), preferring instead to simply enjoy the experience of browsing, these factors are only part of the equation of running a successful market stall.
So, vendors, remember the following:
Create visual appeal
Don’t get lost in the vendor crowd: distinguish your stall by offering a colourful, sensual, interesting, intriguing experience that can be seen from a distance.
Tip: If you’re using a table to display your wares, don’t place everything flat – create visual interest with a pyramid-type arrangement. Check out other stalls and shop window displays for ideas.
Always imagine your own experiences as a visitor to markets/exhibits/shops. A friendly, interested, helpful and passionate approach to potential buyers is your best bet.
Tip: Don’t wait for them to talk to you if they’re browsing, tell them something about your products, or ask them something relevant to themselves. But be careful not to freak them out by being too pushy or intrusive – know when to retreat and keep quiet!
Provide a sensual experience
More info on how to maximise your market experience coming in future blogs. In the meantime, check out this market visitor’s blog for more insights and ideas:
So it’s the end of the year again, the world might be coming to an end in a week’s time, and what little small change there may be left over after the past over-extended year (or three) won’t stretch very far this Christmas season. What’s a stressed, skint, generally fed-up consumer to do?
Easy: buy local, buy small – if you’re going to buy at all.
Support the little gals and guys creating and producing their artisan and entrepreneurial hearts out. Appreciate the hard work and late nights that go into running a small and micro-business, and show these (fool)hardy souls that you care and want them to keep creating pockets of uniqueness and specialness in a vast desert of uniformity, conformity and materialism.
Where’s a good place to find them? Markets. Too many to mention, but plain to see wherever you choose to look these days.
Here’s a good quick read on LinkedIn predicting how the small-fry upstarts will be able to give the corporate behemoths a run for their money in the next year (assuming those of us left over in the post-apocalyptic era are not back to using sticks and stones to hunt and gather!) http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20121210231754-554905-2013-is-the-year-small-business-goes-big?ref=email
Enjoy, and see you on the other side of 21/12/12!
PS: if you’re in Cape Town this summer, here’s a good place to start: http://www.facebook.com/CapeTownSummerMarket
Posted in Uncategorized | Tags: artisans, buy local, buy small, Cape Town, christmas, consumer, consumerism, corporate, crafters, design, eat, entrepreneurs, farmers markets, food market, foodies, gourmet, handcraft, holidays, local, Markets, shop, shopper, small business, summer, summer market
I’ve come to realise that one of the main things that distinguishes a person’s experience of a market from that of a supermarket, is the fact that shopping at a supermarket is a solitary experience – fine if you’re in the mood to be alone in a crowd; whereas shopping – or even just browsing – at a market is a communal experience, one that is far more satisfying of our very human need for contact with others.
Perhaps that is why markets have been such a persistent feature of the urban and social landscape through the millennia, and why they remain eternally popular – never more so than in South Africa, and especially Cape Town, these days.
That’s why local community-oriented markets such as the Organic Saturday Market at the Jolly Carp in Retreat in the Southern Suburbs of Cape Town are so relevant at the moment. This small but vibrant weekly event offers a range of organic, homely fare, and serves as a valuable meeting place for locals familiar with a venue that holds a special place in their memory from decades past.
Now the Market is serving an even greater purpose by being a focal and rallying point for the local community in its fight against urban and commercial development that threatens to take over land held sacred by many in the area – Princess Vlei.
Hence a special fund- and awareness-raising event that will take place this Saturday 6 October as part of the Organic Market’s activities: a Jazz on the Vlei Festival will be held at the Jolly Carp in conjunction with the Organic Market (18h00-24h00).
For more info check out the Facebook event: http://www.facebook.com/events/339872116098100/
Especially considering this bleak outlook for the projected increase in global staple food prices: http://mg.co.za/article/2012-09-04-climate-change-will-force-food-prices-to-double-by-2030
The bottom line? Buy local: support local producers through markets.
To understand why this is so important, watch films like ‘The Economics of Happiness’ (http://www.theeconomicsofhappiness.org/)
Posted in Handy Info, Markets, News | Tags: alternatives, buy local, climate change, eco-friendly, economics of happiness, environment, food price increases, food prices, food producers, global warming, globalisation, green, local, local markets, local producers, smallholder farmers, support local, sustainability, sustainable
The Life.Style & Eco Fair (ex-Obs Holistic Lifestyle Fair) moves to its new home in Gardens, Cape Town monthly from 6 May
NEXT FAIRS: 10am-4pm – 6 May, 3 June, 1 July, 5 Aug, 2 Sept, 7 Oct, 4 Nov
After almost 15 years of promoting more conscious, wholesome and ‘juicy’ living in Observatory, the time has come for change and movement at the newly branded Life.Style & Eco Fair – previously known as the Obs Holistic Lifestyle Fair – a well-loved institution of Cape Town’s flourishing market scene.
Sunday 6 May will see the Fair moving to the spacious and lush setting of Gardens Commercial High School (www.garcom.co.za; GPS: -33.9303 Degrees, 18.4161 Degrees) in Gardens, Cape Town, adjacent to the Company’s Gardens, off Paddock Avenue and Hatfield/St John’s streets (between the SA Jewish Museum and the National Gallery).
Visit the Fair from 10am to 4pm to discover the latest trends and developments in the world of holistic, health, wellness, conscious and natural living, courtesy of the 100 or so exhibitors. Stalls include holistic therapists; life readers; natural, eco and green products; vegetarian, halaal, whole and artisan food; art and bespoke designer décor, fashion and jewellery; bohemian, vintage and repurposed items, body art and design, and much more.
The Life.Style Fair also features lifestyle films and talks, as well as a great selection of laid-back entertainment – visitors get free access to these extra activities on the day. On the 6th the accomplished healer (student of Barbara Brennan), poet and Director of the Edinburgh Festival of Spirituality and Peace, Andrew Newman, will be offering healing sessions and a free talk (12h00-13h00) called ‘A Sharing of Influences’. Andrew will also be available for client sessions in Cape Town from May 7-12, 2012. Please email him on firstname.lastname@example.org to book.
Visitors can enjoy a relaxed, friendly and informative day out discovering, eating, socialising, and just ‘being’. Children are welcome to come and enjoy the kids’ activity area, and well-behaved dogs on leashes are free to drop by too!
Entry to the Life.Style & Eco Fair is R10 for adults; R5 students/pensioners/teens and under 12’s get in for free.
There is free parking in Paddock Ave and Hatfield/St John’s Street, and secure, paid parking in the adjacent museum parking areas.
More info: 021 788 8088 or 083 3329785 or email email@example.com
Life.Style & Eco Fair on Facebook or http://www.holisticlifestylefair.yolasite.com
If you’re planning a trip to the US be sure to include these markets on your itinerary
Thanks to prolific blogger ‘Jones’ aka Possum (http://missjonesandtheelusivefoodorgasm.wordpress.com) for reminding us about authentic market gems like the characterful Adderley Street Flower Market in Cape Town: