Are we getting what we’re paying for?

When you pay out to take a stall, like me you probably hope for at least enough sales to cover the cost of the stall, transport, packed lunch and parking. Sometimes it doesn’t happen. Not only do I find myself deeply depressed, losing confidence in my stock, my business plan and being able to eat next week, I also find myself trying to cheer up whoever is with me: “it might get better later”; “there must be something else on this weekend” (in Glasgow, that’s usually football); “all the other stallholders are having a bad day too”. This last one should ring an important bell.

Image of sunrise through mist over empty road
Early start with hope in your heart!

In paying for space indoors, you’re paying for a roof, a dry interior, lighting, accessible toilets, perhaps a table and chairs, perhaps electricity and good background music, security and space to unload and load at the end of the day. When there aren’t any customers, I always end up thinking about how much these things cost the event host to put on and how much they exist already.

I will be the first person to recognise that the organisers need to make a profit and pay a fair rate to any staff employed for the period of the fair. But I also know I’m paying for the event to be promoted on:

  • Social media
  • Posters throughout the building so that people attending other events know the fair is coming up
  • Updates on the host’s website (if available)
  • Signage outside so passers-by know to come in on the day
  • What’s on listings for the area.
Image of Rainbows market stall
All laid out and ready to go – someone, please?

I’ll take the bad days when they come, but if the promotion isn’t done then I’m going to start to grumble. If the event organiser isn’t focussed on the success of a fair then you’re unlikely to have good sales. For the organiser, they’re unlikely to get returning sellers and the market will spiral downwards. You lose money and they lose money!

Image of customers by Rainbows market stall
A customer!

I know that I should speak to someone when this happens, but I’m often wary of becoming the moaning stallholder (there’s always one!) Yes, we all need to do our bit to promote events – and if you’re coming from out of town your network may be less likely to attend your events. It’s always a good sign if the organiser looks for feedback – stallholders are likely to have experience from other events and have ideas that have worked at other markets.

I always advise people to attend a market as a shopper before committing as a seller. Once I’ve taken a stall, my best advice to myself is not to put up with a lack of promotion (or a lack of good background music for people to bop and shop to!)

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