As an artist, I wanted to get my work out there, to see if anyone would be willing to buy the things I made. I teamed up with my mom who is a crafter (she crochets tiny things during her free time) and took the plunge.
We created a portfolio of the items we wanted to sell and stocked up on our merchandise. We created signs for our booth and bought racks to jazz it up. Everything was set, but we didn’t know how to join a bazaar.
I searched online (Thank you, Google!) and found a list of bazaars lined up for the rest of the year. After rigorous searching of contact details of event organizers, I sent a gazillion proposals and requests to join their upcoming events. Thankfully, we received feedback immediately and got to participate in our first bazaar ever!
Joining bazaars can be quite tricky. Especially if it’s your first time to join one. So, I wanted to share some of the things I learned during my “Bazaar” escapades.
When our shop, eenieminniemo, got accepted as one of the merchants for the first time we were thrilled. So thrilled that we arrived almost three hours before the actual call time. No one was there in the venue. Not even the organizers. We got scared of course, thinking that we got scammed or that we were at the wrong place. But, we were just too excited. On our second time, we arrived on time. We got to set our booth up early and were allowed to sell items even before the event started. However, some booths weren’t set up yet since the merchants were late. When they arrived, they were fined and some were even asked to go home instead.
Lesson learned. Don’t be early since not seeing anyone there might give you a mini heart attack (especially during your first time) but don’t be late, even if other merchants are, never think that it’s alright to not arrive on time. Basically, go to the venue maybe thirty minutes before your call time, grab something to eat, drink your daily dose of coffee, and wait patiently for the organizers to let you know that you can set up shop. You might gain a few moolahs even before the bazaar opens!
WATER. I want you to remember two things about water. First is, always have a jug or a bottle of water with you. Keep yourself hydrated. You might be manning your booth for more than nine hours and if you don’t have anyone to share the shift with you, you will die of thirst. So, be prepared. Second, if you are in the Philippines or in a country who has bipolar weather, you will know what I am talking about. Even if the weather forecast for your event day is sunny all day long, be prepared for water falling from the sky. It may be just a drizzle or your occasional “rain like it’s the end of the world for five minutes causing everyone to panic and then once you’ve had your laugh bring back the sun as if it’s such a perfect day” type of rain. Again, be prepared. I suggest buying a big sheet of plastic cover, double the size of your table, or a waterproof table cloth you can use to cover your merchandise with in case it rains. We use a transparent plastic cover so people can still check your stuff out in case they get stranded on your booth. Bring extra covers too so you can share it with those in need.
Watching over a booth can be tiring, so you need to fuel up. Bring some snackies! Aside from some snacks, I also suggest to bring packed lunch. Something cooked with vinegar so that it won’t go stale. It’s better to just save the money you will spend buying food. Snackies is also a good way to start a conversation with other merchants. As we all know, the way to anyone’s heart is through their stomach.
One of the things I hate when buying something is when the merchant says “Do you have a smaller bill?” or “I’m sorry, I don’t have change yet, I just opened my shop.”. Please, as a seller, it’s your responsibility to have all the tools to make a successful sale. If you’re not aware, change is one of those tools. The only thing that is permanent in this world is change. So bring change wherever you go. You can go to the bank a few days before your event and ask them to break down your large bills. Setting up shop in a bazaar is considered a small business, which means that every single sale counts. Of course we don’t want to lose any of those just because we don’t have enough coins to provide change.
This is one of the most important things on this list. Truth to be told, no matter how much you love what you are doing, there are instances when you will get bored. Imagine sitting behind a table for more than nine hours, outdoors, where it’s super hot. Terrible right? To make things better, talk to those who are around you. Make friends. Share stories.
I’ve learned a lot of things during my bazaar experiences and I also met so many people who shared the same interest as me. I never thought I would find a group that would make me feel so at home even if I was just a first timer. Bazaars will help you expend your network, meet amazing folks who can teach you new things sometimes even train you to add new skills to your repertoire. There’s nothing better than surrounding yourself with people who get you, right?
Joining events like these can be scary at first, you might think that it’s not worth it, it’s a waste of time, or that you will never make a cent out of it. But I think you should try it out before you judge it. There are people who will appreciate the things you make, people who will be happy to share their knowledge and experiences with you, people who want to learn about your own adventures too. Who knows, you might be the next big thing!