Must-Read Tips & Ideas for New Vendors Just Starting Out
Are you new to selling? As a beginner market vendor, it might be a little (or very) overwhelming and confusing trying to grasp the ins and outs of what all you’re supposed to do and where you’re supposed to sell.
You may be asking questions such as:
- What’s the best market for my products?
- Where are the most popular places to sell?
- Is there certain legal paperwork that I need to have done?
All valid questions, and all tough questions to know the answer to unless you’ve had some experience. But what if you don’t have experience?! What if this is your absolute first time stepping out on your own and taking a chance for yourself?
That’s why I’ve gathered together some resources and tips to navigate you through the wide open seas of how to sell.
Choose a Market
First, start at a market that’s close in proximity to you. Being in a familiar area with little drive time will help alleviate stress. If you forget something at home, it’s not far to just go get it.
Check the show out online or on Facebook. More than likely, they will have an application available for print along with rules and regulations for the show.
This will tell you:
- if you need to bring your own table and chairs
- how big your space is
- set up and tear-down times
- if there’s electricity and
- how much everything will cost.
Will you need Wi-Fi access to accept credit cards? Double check with the venue to see if it’s available. If you have any questions about any of it… call them! Sometimes it’s much easier to just talk to a human than to decode and interpret what you’re reading!
Fill out the Paperwork
The application will also probably state some noteworthy information… such as the need for a Retail Merchant Certificate. This certificates allows you to collect sales tax on your goods. Don’t let this little technicality get you hung up. Either call the states’ Department of Revenue or visit their website.
More than likely, you will need to sign up for an account and register your business. Each state will be different, you’ll just need to explore the website a little and get familiar with it. There will be a charge for the certificate, usually around $25. You’ll then need to turn in your sales tax for the states you have collected for; the website will also walk you through this as well.
Prep your Booth
Ok, let’s get to the fun stuff! You’ve decided on a location (somewhere close), you’ve filled out your application and sent it in and you’ve registered to get your Retail Merchant Certificate. Now what? Prep Time! Make sure you have enough inventory for the show. It’s way better to have too much than not enough. Call the show coordinator and ask for the average customer attendance.
Bring totes to store product under your tables and keep in your car. Start thinking about how you want to set your area up. Look up booth display ideas and best practices.
Make a Packing List
It's market day! Now what?
Throughout the show, be sure to engage customers. Always display good customer service practices. Stand, greet customers and always be willing to help. It’s such a simple thought, but can really make or break your business!
And the most important thing? Have fun! Do what you do, this is why you started doing it in the first place!
After the show, the show coordinator will probably have already given you instructions for tear-down. For our Ship-Chic Craft & Vintage Shows, we like to hand out instructional papers as vendors arrive to set-up. We always include set-up and tear-down instructions, Wi-Fi information and also a survey so we know how we can improve.
As you do more and more shows, you’ll know exactly how long it’ll take you to set-up and tear-down, the items that are essential to bring, as well as practices that work best for you. Becoming a vendor is like any other thing… it just takes practice! You need to start somewhere… so take that leap! Start out small and work your way up to bigger shows. Network, get to know other vendors at your shows, see what kind of show and flea market circuits they are on to help broaden your own show selection!