Everything has a season. The weather has different seasons and customers have seasons. Things you buy have seasons.
Everything has a shiny new start, there are the happy times, the tricky times and hard times, and Markets stall selling has the same experiences too.
As part of the third module for How to Start a Market Stall, we will look at how seasons affect the market stall trader and how you ought to be aware of the ups and downs of the marketplace.
Every Season Counts!
There is an expression that is used in Glasgow repeatedly and it goes like this;
There is no such thing as bad weather,
only a bad choice of clothing!
The market stall can seem at times to be against you and whatever you do in the moment, nothing seems to work.
Days may go by and you have barely enough sales to pay the rent and at other times you are inundated with customers. In other words, YOU cannot go and blame the weather for your choice of poor foresight!
What I mean here is that even with the humble market stall, you need to still plan for the good and the bad times. This doesn’t just happen by itself. You need to work out the details to succeed!
It also means that every season counts in your favour if you are prepared for what is in store!
If we take supermarkets for example. Visit a supermarket one day and there are a few signs pointing you to bags of wood and charcoal for a bbq. Then later on that week there is a heat wave and you head for the store where you noticed the wood and charcoal, only to find that there is a massive display.
Along with all the wood and charcoal are pre-packed meats and crisps ready to go. Ever thought how convenient that was! Hot day, felt like a bbq and when you got to the supermarket they had the right items ready for sale?
This is planning at its best. Supermarkets are masters at watching trends in shoppers, noting the weather patterns and engaging with social media to ‘listen in’ on what people are talking about. Each will affect their sales and they don’t want to miss out!
On the market stall, there is a degree of foresight required in order to sell to your customers. If the weather is going to be wet and cold you are more than likely going to be seeing less foot traffic than on a lovely warm or crisp day.
The time of the week will affect your sales and the social trends within your local area and wider social world will all have a bearing on who you sell to on any given day.
The seasons really do matter!
It would be great to start with spring while discussing the seasons. It has a double meaning here within the Market Stall year for the budding trader.
First, I mean a season of the year. A time when plants and nature begin to wake up and grow. New life begins and everything that was dead begins to turn green again. It seems to start slow but it soon picks up the pace.
This time of year for the Market Stall Trader is the same. Spring brings with it interested buyers and browsers. Those not buying yet, but interested in having a look. Do not forget these folks, as they will more than likely be back later on in the month or season if they have had great service and have left with great ideas!
Second meaning I have of spring… New traders always start a little slow and lots of people may show interest, but may not buy.
This of course could mean your product is priced too high or is not right for that marketplace, but normally, if you have done you homework, it is the period of time people need to adjust and learn who you are.
Don’t panic just yet, keep explaining your product, keep offering your expert knowledge and be an excellent trader for the customer. They will remember the service! Do not get despondent! Take a picture of what you hate most about not being free, and look at it to remember why you are doing what you are doing!
Summer is fantastic. The live music fills the air, people are out and about enjoying the atmosphere and there are sales! Plenty of sales. People stop to talk and are genuinely interested. You are relaxed and enjoy the market at this time of year.
Savour these times where the markets are full and you are enjoying your time on your market stall.
Equally, take this time to plan. As the Game of Thrones continue to tell us, “Winter is coming” and you must be prepared!
It is great that you are selling and the money is coming in, but put a little aside for the quiet times ahead. Plan for future selling campaigns and ideas to market your products in new and exciting ways.
Take this opportunity to make the most of the easy times, for your time later on will be easier too!
Remember to take photos of your stall and products with people excited by your products so you can keep your social feeds filled with great happy people. (Sign up to the newsletter to get a FREE getting started social media guide should you need a little help.)
This is when the leaves begin to fall and everyone gets ready for the coming cold. Customers are a little more absent-minded and seem to be preoccupied. Do what you do best and keep everyone feeling special.
As autumn rolls in, so you will have up and down days. Some are great and some quiet. The crowds of summer seem to be sporadic. Don’t let it phase you, keep turning up and keep being seen.
If you see an opportunity to chat and find out what people are looking for, take it. Network when you can and get yourself noticed. The seasons may change, but you must remain focused on the prize. You are going to be a successful market stall owner!
As it suggests, its cold and grey. People huddle together out of the wind and glance fleetingly at stalls. They all seem to want a quick sale and don’t wish to stay long.
Take this in its stride and don’t be offended. You are probably going to be colder than they are, but you are going to be happy they came to see you and visited your stall. They want that little bit of attention and that goes a long way in the new seasons ahead!
You may find your capital begins to drop substantially and you are struggling. That is why planning is important, you need a little bit of a buffer to be able to brave the days when it all gets a little quiet in the marketplace.
This will allow you to focus on the selling, and product creation/buying rather than worrying about the next payday!
Preparing clever tricks for your sales items is a matter of simple planning. Weather wet, and you are selling fruit and veg, why not offer a free recipe with pre-selected items to make an ideal stew.
Selling Electronics, why not offer a free or discounted water proof bag with items that are being sold. Antiques, paintings, whatever you are selling think of a clever angle to market to that day and customer.
The Year Ahead
Of course there are lots of different patterns, but in essence the seasons will follow every business. Your first year will be a massive learning curve, but being aware that this is the case will empower you.
Obviously, everyone wants to see sales increase month on month. That is why you are in business, but realise that the first year should also be about learning the patterns for your market stall. It will prepare you for the next year!
Festivals and Festive Dates
Keep in mind that customers follow the seasons, trends and of course, BIG festival days. Be aware of religious holidays, bank holidays and specific public holidays.
If you are in America it is worth knowing that Thanksgiving is a massive deal and people will be buying for the day. Be prepared for the sudden surge. Christmas in Europe is huge and Christmas markets have become a staple in most countries leading up to Christmas.
This is a time where you are making your market stall count and all those days when it was about getting to know your customers, now is when the vast majority return!
Be aware that after festive days there is a lull. This is down to buyer fatigue and should be recognised. Don’t give up just yet, if it feels right to take a break for a few days/weeks at this time, do so, but remember you need to be visible to be ‘remembered’ by customers.
Buy a paper calendar and have it somewhere in the home you can see clearly. Mark big festive holidays and begin thinking about how you can market your items for those events in the preceding days.
After each week make a note on the calendar how business seemed to you. You will see from your sales totals too. By the end of the year you will have a pattern of sales from your stall.
If you note a spike in sales, make a note on what caused it. Was the weather particularly good? Was the market advertised differently? What was in the news? Try to work out in the quiet times why people are at your stall in the busy times.
The marketplace has seasons. Be aware of it! Plan for it and prepare for the busy, fun, quiet and in between times! Mark up your calendar and network when you can.
If you haven’t heard it yet, The Market Nosh Show podcast is now live and steaming. Click podcast from the menu to find out more about The Market Nosh Show.
- Why can seasons be tricky?
- What should you be doing in the good times?
- How can you maximise your sales with a calendar?