Participating in pop up markets can be a great source of income for small businesses. I always try to participate in at least one market a month. If you own a small business, maybe you've also thought about hosting one. I've hosted several smaller markets and then jumped in big time early last year when I decided to host Laissez Fair, an all vintage bi-annual market with 20+ vendors that has already brought out thousands of shoppers over the course of its short lifespan.
Hosting pop up markets can be fun and rewarding, but it can also be stressful and time consuming. If you're going to host your own market you should do your best to make it a worthwhile experience for your vendors, shoppers and yourself! I've asked a few of my favorite small business owners, who also happen to be expert pop up hosts, to help me compile a list of the essential pieces that should always be executed in order to host a successful pop up market.
The most important component of hosting a successful market is proper marketing. "No one will come to your event if they don't know about it," says Maria Oliveira, co-owner of Passport Vintage and one of my Laissez Fair co-hosts, "Start a Facebook event and invite your entire friend list! This is key!" You also want to begin promoting your event at least one month in advance. "Events need time to marinate in people's minds," says Oliveira. In addition, there are several other platforms you should be promoting your event on like local news sites, Eventbrite, Culture Map, Instagram and any other social media platforms you can think of. BONUS -- All of these promotional efforts are free! There really are so many great resources that cost no money at all.
ADS & CREATIVE MATERIALS
While money isn't necessary when promoting an event, it can be useful. "If it’s not in your budget for marketing, work that cost into the vendor fee," says Alexia Brown, owner of Byron & Blue. Requesting your vendors pay a fee is a great way to help you pay for things like running Facebook and Instagram ads and hiring a graphic designer to make a killer promotional flyer. Brown includes, "A solid promotional graphic is extremely important. This shows the tone and vibe of your event to everyone before the event has even started!"
Clear communication with your vendors is a must! "Always email the vendors prior to the pop up with info about load-in and load-out times, wifi details, the space they’ll be allotted, what furniture will be available for use, where to grab some food and things they should remember to bring. Make them feel at ease about the whole event," says Brown. Once information is sent off you should get zero responses because you've communicated everything so well, that there is nothing left to ask. This will save you and your vendors time and you will all be happier for it. Leslie Hernandez, owner of ARO, adds that it should be communicated that, "The vendor is also responsible for marketing and promoting. Both the vendor and the hosting party play important roles in promotion."
Selecting a great set of participants will elevate your event even further. "Make sure vendors are varied and will bring an interesting collection to the event," says Oliveira. If your event is themed, like Laissez Fair, you'll want to host vendors who have prior market experience, will help with promotion and offer shoppers a well curated selection of goods. If your event is going to have multiple mediums offered, make sure there is a good variety so no two vendors are having to compete against one another for sales.
TIMING & LOCATION
The when and where of your event can sometimes make or break it. Hernandez says, "Weekends are always best. I would also recommend you research if there are any other big events in town. If so, it's best to not compete for the same day and time." Another major consideration is your event space. Make sure it's the right size, in the appropriate location for the type of market you are hosting, and that there is ample parking available in the area. "If it’s hard to park, people will get frustrated and may decide not to come," says Brown.
It's always nice to have "extras" to incentivize shoppers to come out to your event, and in some cases potentially stay and shop around longer. Offering complimentary drinks is a big one. People love free drinks! Reach out to local beverage providers to see if they would be interested in sponsoring your event. Also, "Make sure you are taking photos and updating social media during the event to keep the momentum going," says Oliveira. Balloons outside the event are another great way to catch the eye of pedestrians walking by that may not know about it.
Ultimately, if you aren't doing your part as the host, your market might end up being a big waste of yours and your vendors time. "When you bring a group of vendors together for a pop up market, understand that they are dedicating their time, energy and money into being there. They are putting their trust into you. Do all you can to make that event a success," says Brown. If you execute the necessary work, it will likely pay off in the end!
**Disclaimer: These are, in my personal experience, some of the best practices when hosting events and I have seen great results when they are executed properly. They will not guarantee a successful event.**
Are you interested in hosting a pop up market and want an even more in depth guide to making it a success? If so, I'm always available for event coaching. Let's talk! You can email me at email@example.com.