Starting and growing a business can be tough – especially for a small vendor, surrounded by similar or larger vendors, all located within one huge craft or antique mall. How can the small vendor stand out, attract customers and ensure that those customers keep coming back?
We may not have all the answers, but we do have a few suggestions that have helped boost sales for our own small business. These tips may not apply to every situation, but we hope they may be of some use to you.
- Find a niche
Choose a niche – a special area or thing that you’re passionate about – and stock items that fit that niche. By focusing on a specialty, you differentiate your business from everyone else’s and increase your potential to become the go-to vendor for particular items. Think customer service.
- Brand yourself
Select a distinctive name and create a logo to brand your business. Use your brand on social media and/or signs, price tags, banners, business cards and other printed items. Make yourself memorable.
- Use lighting and staging pieces
If existing lighting is inadequate for your space, add floor lamps, table lamps or light strings. Use timers to synchronize on/off times with the venue’s opening and closing times. For additional drama and interest, invest in one or more mannequins, tables or other “not-for-sale” pieces to display goods and inspire shoppers.
- Ensure clear and visible pricing
If you don’t have your own branded price tags or stickers, check office supply stores for generic alternatives. Write prices clearly and attach tags or stickers where customers can see them easily.
- Get a toolbox
Having “lookers” means making repairs. Invest in a toolbox and fill it with push pins, transparent tape, hooks, safety pins, hammer/nails, screwdriver/screws, extra price tags, felt-tip markers, measuring tape, bandages and other quick fixers.
- Keep it fresh
Change out or rearrange merchandise and displays frequently. Decorate for national, seasonal and other holidays and consider markdowns to coincide with venue events. Get noticed!
- Be tidy
Sweep or vacuum your space regularly. Straighten and “front” shelves. Ensure that price tags are attached, visible and legible. Check for missing items or things that may have traveled from other vendors’ spaces. Repair damaged items and ensure that stock is clean and in saleable condition.
- Be prepared
If you don’t have a ready supply of things to sell, see if friends, family or neighbors have items to give or trade. Check out garage sales, yard sales, estate sales, thrift shops and closeouts, or negotiate with other vendors for discounted items.
- Visit often
Walk the venue to check out trends and meet other vendors. From a distance, watch your space to see what shoppers pick up and put down. Listen for comments about your stock, décor, pricing and merchandising. Get feedback from friends and family members.
- Have fun
Nurture what you love. Stay fresh and maintain your virtual and physical presence. Enjoy yourself!