It’s a great problem to have. You prepare and make all of your products for the market, add in a few extras just in case business is particularly good and pack them up for the big event.
Your stall looks great and you have extra stock to put out to fill the gaps. And then the crowds come. By the time you’ve had a chance to take a breath and drink that cold cup of coffee, you realise that the gaps have been filled and opened up again. And by the beginning of Day Two, there’s not enough left to make a display and your market is over. Congratulations, you’ve exceeded your projections for the market and can go home happy.
But can you?
At several recent foodie events in Sydney, tickets had been sold with the promise of abundant food and the vendors busied themselves cooking from scratch while ever-increasing queues formed of frustrated customers. When many reached the end of the line to read a ‘sold out’ sign, tempers were frayed and the vendors and event organisers bore the brunt, particularly on social media.
Not only does this create bad feeling at an event that should be fun and relaxing, but it also prompts people to ‘front end’ their experience by arriving super-early in order to catch the produce while it’s still available to them. The act of beating the crowds at Handmade in December actually caused the biggest crowd we had ever seen by 10.30am on the Saturday, which put everyone under pressure – the traffic and parking managers, the organisers, the stall holders and, most importantly, the customers with money to spend.
Another side effect of selling out is that it creates empty spaces at the market. Either you’re sitting there apologising for your sparse display or you go off to have a snack and count your takings while customers are greeted with a blank space and an apology. When you worked so hard to create your brand and your display, all of that work becomes void when people see that you haven’t managed your stock and your stall.
From Handmade’s point of view, this serves to give the whole event a sour taste for customers who have missed out or been stuck in the crowds. When we have worked hard to curate the range of products for visitors to the market, their disappointment affects the whole event and its reputation.
And it also affects your bottom line. If you sell out halfway through the event, you’re only making half the profit you would have done. After all of your preparation, packing and investment, it’s a shame to come out with less. Even if you’re lucky enough to be local and able to make more on Saturday night to replenish your stock, you’ve lost a night’s sleep and have less energy to greet your customers.
Getting a market right is not easy. While we know the event has been properly promoted and are optimistic that the crowds are on their way, exact numbers aren’t guaranteed. We understand stock control is one of the hardest things to get right, and is especially tricky for fresh food producers and for first timers to an event. But our advice to you is to make more than the more you were going to make. Prepare more than the more you were going to prepare. If you have to take surplus stock home with you, at least you’re ahead with preparations for the next market!
And if you sell out at 3.55pm on Sunday afternoon, you get the Handmade stock control award and our eternal admiration.