Being the Best Vendor You Can Be

Welcome! This is part 3 of out Marketing Tips and Advice Series for art/craft fair vendors. To read previous posts, please visit:
Part 1 – Marketing Advice For Makers
Part 2 – Using Your Mad Skills to Apply For Markets – and Get Accepted

We’ll get into the nitty-gritty of vendor displays tomorrow, but today we’re talking about human interaction, and what you can do as a vendor to make your experience (and the experiences of those around you) enjoyable, all while promoting yourself and your wares.

First – see that lady (usually) by the door with the clipboard? See the tension in her face, the tightness of her mouth, the vein throbbing in her forehead? That’s the event organizer and I will bet you a million dollars that she is more stressed than you. She is doing her best to be cheerful and friendly, to get you checked in and help with any issues you might have, but really, this is what she is thinking about:

  • Why isn’t my staff here yet?
  • Will the tech guy from the venue actually show up to turn the lights and sound on?
  • Didn’t this door used to have a doorstop? Will I have to stand here holding it open all night?
  • How can I rearrange this room now that I’ve had two vendors cancel at the last minute while still maintaining the integrity of my original floor plan that I spent six hours creating?
  • Why does that vendor in the corner have a hammer – are they really going to nail that sign to the wall of a Victorian building especially after I’ve expressly told them not to?
  • Is my sick, geriatric dog going to be alive when I get home tonight or will I JUST have to clean up vomit from the carpet in every room of my house before I can go to bed? (A real thing that I had to stress about at a recent market, that made every single vendor complaint utterly insignificant.)

She knows her job is to fix any problems that she can, to make sure the venue has things organized on their end, and to ensure that you are happy and comfortable. But in the grand scheme of things, that you don’t like the spot you’ve been assigned to is really the least of her worries.

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Using Your Mad Skills to Apply For Markets – And Get Accepted

Welcome! This is part 2 of out Marketing Tips and Advice Series for art/craft fair vendors.
To read part 1, Marketing Advice for Makers, please go here.

The very best advice I can offer to vendors who are applying for shows is to go to one first. That is, one run by the organization they want to apply to. This isn’t always possible, especially with seasonal or holiday events, but knowing the look and layout of the venue, and the feel or theme of the event, can go a long way to knowing what the organizer is looking for, and also helps you prepare for the event beforehand. For instance, our venue, a 130-year-old hotel, is gorgeous and charming, but has some quirks that need to be considered, such as nooks and corners that are not always well-lit. We use everything from small square cafe tables to marble counters, massive harvest tables and even artist-made coffee tables to accommodate over 50 vendors at every event, and we put vendors wherever we can fit them. Any vendor could end up at any of these spots – so you need to be ready to be creative with your display (more on this in an upcoming post). Every other venue outside of a bland convention centre is going to have similar issues, especially if it’s a small, unique space.

Every market organizer has their own list of criteria when they’re selecting vendors for their events. Some markets aim for more hip and funky while others are more cutesy and twee. Knowing where your stuff fits on the overall spectrum will help you to identify which markets are best for you. When you’re out visiting markets, make notes – is it busy? Are the spots well-lit or do vendors all have to use lamps? What about the merchandise? Most crafters make the kind of stuff they’d like to own so if you like the stuff you see, this might be a good fit, but if it doesn’t suit your taste, then it’s likely not the right place for you and your wares.

When I’m curating vendor applications, first are foremost I am looking for three things – cool stuff, of course, but also professionalism and the ability to follow directions. So I’m looking for an application that is filled out completely, correctly and honestly. This shows me the vendor is serious, that they’ve taken their time to strive for accuracy, and that I can probably trust that the rest of my dealings with them will also be on a professional level.

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Marketing Advice For Makers

Welcome! By popular demand, I have put together a series of posts about marketing for art/craft fair vendors. This advice is based on the experiences and observations of one person who has been involved in the crafting scene both as a crafter and an event organizer, and is also predominantly based on the table-top markets of TIAM, so may not always apply to different set-ups (fairs done in booths, gallery shows, etc.). YMMV as we say on the internet. Regardless, I believe that there are useful tips for all artisan vendors in every chapter, so please enjoy.

Starting a small business, whether it’s something you do at home in your spare time or something that grows to include many employees, can be a wonderful experience, especially when the focus of your business is selling something that you have made.

However, any business where you make things to sell, whether that thing is a pumpkin, a pizza or a painting; has two parts that need to be treated equally: the making and the selling.

Many makers concentrate on the making. That’s the part they love to do, that’s where they express themselves, and where they reveal their creativity. These people believe in the adage “do what you love and the money will follow”, assuming that, if they make beautiful, useful things, people will somehow find them. These people usually end up with a closetful of things they’ve made and a negative bank balance from buying materials to make all the things they have not sold.

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Crafty Things to Do This Weekend – July 25th – 27th

event headerLooks like they’re predicting rain for the weekend, but don’t let that stop you from getting out and enjoying the city. There’s plenty of stuff to do, from music fests, comic events and even a weekend long event for jewellery artisans.

The Gem Expo
Friday, July 25th – Sunday, July 27th, times vary by day
Hyatt Regency on King
370 King Street West
admission: $5 or $10 for all 3 days

Beaches International Jazz Festival
craft vendors present Friday, July 25th – Sunday, July 27th (times vary)
Woodbine Park
admission: free

Barns Art Market
Saturday, July 26th (9am – 2pm)
Artscape Wychwood Barns
601 Christie Street
admission: free

Indy Comics Showcase
Saturday, July 26th (12pm – 6pm)
Back Space Toronto
587A College Street
admission: free

Kensington Market Art Fair
Sunday, July 27th (12pm -7pm)
77 Nassau Street (at Bellevue)
Part of Pedestrian Sundays
admission: free

Annex Flea
Sunday, July 27th (11am – 6pm)
Honest Ed’s parking lot
581 Bloor Street West
admission: pwyc

Crafty Things to Do This Weekend – July 19th – 20th

event headerYou’ve got your choice of fleas this weekend, whether you’re east or west – or get a TTC day pass and hit them all! Plus don’t miss the Big On Bloor festival, which always has some cool and interesting artisans selling their wares.

Turtle House Arts Market
Friday, July 18th (6pm – 9pm) – Saturday, July 19th (12pm – 5pm)
Beit Zatoun
612 Markham Street

Big On Bloor Festival
Saturday, July 19th (1pm – 9pm) & Sunday, July 20th (noon – 6pm)
Bloor Street West between Dufferin and Lansdowne
admission: free

Junction Flea – Brickworks
Sunday, July 20th (10am – 4pm)
Evergreen Brickworks
550 Bayview Avenue
admission: $2

Parkdale Flea
Sunday, July 20th (10am – 5pm)
1266 Queen Street West
admission: free

Leslieville Flea – Ashbridge Edition
Sunday, July 20th (10am – 5pm)
Ashbridge Estate
1444 Queen Street East, across from the streetcar yards

Featured Vendor – July 17th Summer Sunset Market – Steamgummi

steamgummi2The Steampunk trend just gets bigger and bigger, encompassing Goth, geek culture, horror, and all things Victorian from gears and clocks to top hats, spats and monocles. (I said, good day, sir!) Local artisans making steampunk jewellery scour junk shops for old watch gears, vintage findings and cool trinkets (winged kraaken in a top hat, for the win!) to create truly unique pieces that speak to a different time.

Nerissa Hutchinson fills her booth with so many amazing pieces it’s overwhelming, each carefully put together, and reflecting her sly sense of humour (kraaken in a top hat, people!). Come check out her fantastic collection at the Steamgummi table at our July 17th Summer Sunset Market.

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Featured Vendor – July Summer Sunset Market – Atelier Tréteau

ateliertreteau1Most people only think of knives as something they use to butter their bread, but the precision crafting required to make a truly great knife is astounding. Ask any chef. So we’re delighted to have Hassan Koreitem joining us with his gorgeous collection of handmade knives. These one-of-a-kind pieces all involve multiple artisanal crafting skills (wood, metal, leather), and will ultimately be a reflection of their new owner’s personality.

Visit Atelier Tréteau at our July 17th Summer Sunset Market at the Gladstone Hotel.

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Featured Vendor – July Summer Sunset Market – The Mighty Zoo

zoo1Whether it’s noodles, lions or flowers, the artwork of Bella Wan has the most delightful charm and whimsy. All made with polymer clay, Wan’s intricate work is fun, unique and perfect for creative types of any age.

Check out the offerings of The Mighty Zoo at our July 17th Summer Sunset Market at the Gladstone Hotel.

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Featured Vendor – July Summer Sunset Market – Lovely Little Paper Co.

paperco3In these days of social media, people just don’t send enough nice cards anymore. You know, ones made from beautiful, elegant paper, with inspiring artwork and creative lettering. The ones you keep, in a pretty box, because they’re just so lovely. Maybe if they knew about the Lovely Little Paper Co., they’d ditch Twitter and invest in a nice fountain pen.

For the people who have found their nirvana in beautiful stationary, or the ones ready to be converted, Alex Jones has just the thing. Check out the goods from Lovely Little Paper Co. at our July 17th Summer Sunset Market at the Gladstone Hotel.

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Crafty Things to do This Weekend – July 11th – July 15th

event header

We’re stretching the use of “weekend” here a little bit with events starting on Friday and running until Tuesday, but your selection of art-related events over the next few days runs the gamut from paintings to vintage furniture.

Note – both fleas that were scheduled for Sunday have been rescheduled due to predicted thunderstorms + that thing where people drive around waving flags from their cars (isn’t that dangerous/illegal??). Junction Flea is now Saturday, July 12th, while Parkdale Flea has been postponed to July 20th.

Toronto Entertainment District Art Crawl
Friday, July 11th
David Pecault Square
215 King Street West
admission: free

Atomic Lollipop
Friday, July 11th – Sunday, July 13th
Ontario Science Centre
770 Don Mills Road
admission: $25 – $30

Annex Patio Art Show
Saturday, July 12th – Sunday, July 13th
Bloor Street West between Spadina and Bathurst
admission: free

Interior Designers of Canada – 5 & Dime
Saturday, July 12th (10am – 8pm)
The Carpet Factory, 77 Mowat Avenue (back parking lot, off Fraser Avenue)
admission: free

The Gibraltar Market
Saturday, July 12th (12pm – 5pm)
443 Lakeshore Avenue, Toronto Island

Junction Flea- Sterling Road
Saturday, July 12th (10am – 5pm) – REVISED DATE
Sterling Road
admission: $2

Parkdale Flea
Sunday, July 13th (10am – 5pm)
1266 Queen Street West
admission: free

Riverdale Farm Craft Market
Tuesday, July 15th (2pm – 7pm)
Riverdale Farm
201 Winchester Street
admission: free