Craft Fair & Market Tips ~ Vendors

If you have been following Twin Dragonfly Designs on Facebook or Instagram then you know that my mom and I have been vendors at our local Farmers Market this summer.

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We began with a few indoor markets in the spring and decided to try our hand at a few summer markets as well.  It has been a huge learning experience that I plan to share with all of you.  I will be posting all that we have learned in the last few months and hope that you might find these tips useful.  

Vendors are what we call all of those small business owners who sell their product at the craft fair or market.  At the summer market, vendors varied from produce to jewellery and from baking to woodwork.  Craft fairs, in my experience, have many more hand made craft vendors but may also include direct sales companies {like tupperware} and food vendors {like popcorn or cookies}.

What we discovered was that each Farmers Market that we attended {we were vendors at a total of five different markets in the Okanagan} was operated just a bit differently than each other.  Most markets {like all of ours} are governed by a provincial group that sets out a standard of rules and regulations.  After the rules and regulations have been met there were variations to each market according to the market manager and market committee.  Let me give you some examples…

At the Kelowna Farmers Market {about 5 minutes from my house} there are seasonal vendors and day vendors.  Seasonal vendors are businesses that have attended the market consistently every Wednesday and Friday for over a year.  Seasonal vendors have a reserved spot to set up their booth.  Day vendors {like my mom and I} have not attended many markets and can fill a spot at the market on a first come, first serve basis.  Being that the location of the market {in a large parking lot} limits how many spots are available, there were times where I lined up in my van, in the parking lot at 10:30pm on Friday night for the Saturday market and I was third in line!  Wednesday markets were not as busy so I usually got in line at 5:30am.  The market opened at 8am.  

The Lake Country Farmers Market {about 30 minutes from where we live} was much smaller and not as well attended.  Although it was located in a grassy area near a water park which was fabulous.  We could call or email the manager the day of the market to reserve our spot and show up with enough time to set up our booth.

The Penticton Farmers Market {an hour from home} was very well attended and had lots of space to add more vendors as it ran along main street.  I could email the coordinator the night before to reserve a spot.  I left later in the morning to attend the Penticton market than the one in Kelowna because I did not have to line up.

Finally there were two Vernon markets that we tried out {an hour from home} and both were not profitable for us.  The Friday night market was easy to reserve a spot for but not well attended.  The Monday and Thursday market had a very tight vendor selection process and when we finally did get in our booth was in a terrible location.  Both markets were in a parking lot. 

Some market managers were more strict about where we could put our signage, how far outside of our booth our display went and where we could park our vehicles.  Each market had it’s own quirks and oddities.

For most of the markets we had to fill out a detailed vendor application form which included a description and photographs of our products and sometimes a home visit to see where and how we made them.  Many markets were juried which meant all of our products had to be reviewed and approved by a panel of judges.  Each market also had a table fee {the cost} to enter.  It was always a higher fee for the first market at that location and lower after that.  Our table fees averaged $30 for each market that we attended.  

I have to say that vendors at our local Farmers Markets are some of the friendliest people that I have ever met.  They were up at the crack of dawn each day, travelling to markets, setting up entire showrooms {booths}, selling their products with contagious enthusiasm and packing it all up in crazy heat waves all to do it again the very next day.  There were so many fabulous vendors that were happy to assist us beginners, give us advice, tips on booth set up, the down low on other markets and just generally support each other.  I discovered that a lot of trading goes on between vendors which is a concept that I loved.  I traded for fresh fruit, vegetables and leather bracelets!  

I gained a huge appreciation for market vendors and even if we decide never to do another market ourselves I plan on being a frequent patron and supporting all of these small business owners.  Market vendors put an exorbitant amount of time and energy into their products and nearly the same amount of time and energy into selling them.  And I have to tell you there are some days that a vendor may consider themselves lucky just to break even.  Please, please, please plan to visit a local craft fair or market with the intention of buying these products and supporting your local economy.

There’s the inside scoop.
I hope that you want more as I have a product post and booth display post in the works.

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