“To Market, To Market”

Natalie Beaver

I love this time of year. We are on the cusp of summer with warmer days, shorts and sandals making an appearance, and color back into our homes and gardens. The market canopy tents are sprouting up like the flowers and vegetables, and we were fortunate enough to be selected as a vendor at our first outdoor market, The French Nest Open-Air Market. Unlike a farmers market with an emphasis on food, this market showcases Northern Colorado’s artisans, with a distinct vintage, European flair. It is an elegant, boutique-style shopping experience in which you can stroll among the handmade and hand-collected goods with your dog (a big thumbs up for us dog lovers!).

As first-timers in the outdoor market world, we were nervous yet excited and started prepping 2-3 months before. What we did not want was a last-minute scramble to get everything together. The key to being prepared is a checklist. I don’t think it matters if it’s your first time or your tenth time; the checklist is a serious need. There are many resources online for market checklists, which was great, and we modified one to suit our store needs.

A week before the market, we did a mock set up. This was essential for several reasons: 1) we practiced the tricky, non-intuitive way to set up a canopy tent (grrr!), 2) we figured out the best eye-catching display for showcasing our products, and 3) we determined table placement for the best traffic flow.

The day before the market, it rained practically all day, and it rained hard! I kept thinking it was going to be a muddy mess and setting up was going to take us twice as long. Fortunately, this was not the case. It certainly was dewy and cool at 7am, but the grass was hearty, and we were not slipping in mud. The tent was still tricky, but we figured it out, and total set up time was about an hour and a half. Whew!

Once our “doors” were open, it was then a matter of where to stand (or sit) and whether to approach people or not. We didn’t want to make a sales pitch with everyone who entered the tent, but we also didn’t want to pass up on an opportunity to outline what we offer and potentially make a sale. I don’t know the best way to go, but I can tell you that we explored a bit of both methods with the folks who strolled into our tent. Some people were receptive when we gave them more information and some were not. Some asked us for more information and some silently looked over our products and moved on. Saying nothing seemed odd and did not do us any good. I think a warm greeting and letting them know you are available should they have questions are the bare bone minimum to say, if you are concerned with sounding too “sales-y.”

This was a really good experience and, as an online retailer, a very nice change. To be able to interact with people and show our products as well as being part of this community event, meeting other vendors, was like a breath of fresh air. We are looking forward to the next one! For those of you who are local, we will be at the French Nest at Civic Center Park on the dates below:

June 15

July 20

September 14

October 19

We hope to see you there!

P.S. The title of this blog is also a nod to our ‘To Market, To Market’ bag, which you can find in the Free Spirit gift box or pair with other products and create your own gift box.