I’m so excited to bring Rachel’s story of success in her local marketplace to you today with tips and information to help you be successful selling your handmade goods, as well! Rachel offers great insight into some of the things that she’s done to be successful. I love how she’s built relationships with other local businesses, and they partner together for mutual success!
~ What types of local markets do you participate in? Do you participate in farmer’s markets? Craft fairs? Other local outlets for selling?
Yes, my mom and I sell cut flowers and soap at our local Petersburg Farmers Market. I also try to participate in 2-3 craft shows per year. I try to research each craft show before signing up. I want to be sure the demographic is right for my products. I focus on the Richmond, VA area at this time. My break into the retail side was a call from a local businesswoman in Petersburg. She was opening a gift/sweet shop and wanted to carry our soaps. It’s been a wonderful partnership! She believes in supporting local and handmade!
~ How did you get started in your local market? A lot of people starting out can be tentative or hesitant to just jump in to a farmer’s market, etc. Did you make connections with people before you set up shop locally?
My mom and I started at the Petersburg Farmers Market 8 years ago with cut flowers. We added the soaps about 4 years ago. I can tell you it’s hard to establish a customer base at first. You have to be patient. The first year we sold flowers we gave away and took more home than we sold. Now, 8 years later we are sold out of flowers by 9:30 a.m. My mom leaves and I stay selling soaps until noon! The trust that we built with our customers helped to launch the soaps. You have to be patient and try to focus on making friends with fellow vendors and customers. Also, because this is where my mom and I grew up, we had a little advantage because we knew lots of shoppers at the market. Lastly, we support other local small businesses. We eat in Petersburg, attend events, promote other businesses. All because we believe in local and supporting one another. Be a part of the community you intend to sell in. (So, don’t just network – form friendships!)
~ What advice can you offer to people who want to start selling at their local markets?
Go and shop the market. See who shops there. Are the shoppers your key demographic? Visit with the other vendors. Ask questions. Talk to the market manager. (Rachel is saying that not EVERY market is right for your product. Before investing in the participation fee and work to exhibit, be sure to visit the market and see if the other participants offer similar STYLE goods, with comparable price points.)
~ What advice can you share regarding the set up and presentation of your goods at a local market? (I adore your market setup! The presentation is beautiful!)
Presentation is EVERYTHING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! No empty spaces EVER! Full ALWAYS!! Even if you only have a little product, group it tight and make it look full! Think about what you want to see when you shop. What stores do you like to buy from and why? Transfer those principles over to your display. Always look neat and put together. People judge your products by you. I am always trying to re-invent my display or make it different somehow. Even if it’s just one little change. My husband is always brainstorming with me. People like to buy pretty things! It makes them feel good!
~ Was it important for you to be prepared to accept credit and debit cards on the spot? Or do most of your customers bring cash?
At the market most do cash. We didn’t always accept credit cards. For the younger crowd it is key! People love to use cards. If you can, accept cash, check, and credit. People will spend more if they can use a card!! Add a little into your price to cover the cost of using a card and do this at the beginning. It’s hard to change your price later.
~ I love that you network with local businesses, and work together to promote the sale of your products – like the local brewery that you create soaps for. Can you share a little bit about how you approach a business to create a partnership like this?
I think it’s important to share with others how you might be able to partner. The retailers I have selling my goods have all approached me so I was fortunate. My customers actually told the local Brew Pub about my beer soaps and the owner contacted me. It’s always great when your customers help spread the word. I think retail is great, but establishing yourself and your product with your customers at markets, etc. is key at first and then it will naturally morph from there in time!
~ Do you feel like you need to be a very outgoing and social person to have success selling your goods in person? Or can you be shy and introverted?
This is a tough question! If you’re selling person-to-person/direct selling I believe it certainly is an asset to be outgoing. I work with lots of businesses for my full-time/non-soap job and think that in retail it is key to have a good front person that is outgoing and smiles a lot. You need to be approachable. I think you have to be happy, enthusiastic, and genuine. People want to see energy and feel an instant connection. If you don’t like talking to people maybe direct selling isn’t for you! Find someone to balance you out if you are quiet and not as outgoing. Not everyone can be everything!
~ Do you have a set price for merchandise for all of the places you sell? Do you ever vary the price based on location?
I keep my prices the same except for online. The fees associated with online selling force me to up the price by about 50 cents or more depending on the platform. I feel that is fair.
~ How do you choose where to market and sell your goods?
Sometimes it’s just by what’s available to me at the time and how much it costs to participate in a show, etc. I look at not only my monetary return for participating in a craft show or market, but what else I get or can give. You make contacts, meet new friends, learn from other crafters, and get your name out there. It’s sometimes just about being visible or even supporting a good cause.
~ What’s something you wish you would have known from the start, but didn’t?
Do one thing and do it well!!! I tried for a long time to do lots of different things. There’s something to be said for doing something as good as you possibly can!
I’d also like to add one thing if that’s ok! (Absolutely!)
My family is key to the success of The Daily Scrub and me! My husband is a giver and is always setting the example of how I can be a better me. My parents and Jeff’s parents are always there and my biggest fans. I’m so thankful for the family I have!
I’m so happy and blessed that Rachel was able to guest for me this month and share the keys to her success in local markets! I’ve learned TONS from what she’s shared that I know I’ll apply to my future work with selling in person!
How about you? Do you have questions for Rachel? Things to do specifically with venturing into your local market for the first time, or growing and expanding your current reach in your local market?
She has an amazing feature in the current issue of Willow and Sage magazine, and to be honest, I just think she’s an all-around awesome person. Be sure to check out her