Saturday, June 29, 2013

Signage

Signage is one of those BIG ones. You're trying to build a brand, so you want to differentiate between you and the other folks that do something simillar (even though we KNOW yours is better!). So having great signage that gives them your name, a website is a good thing, or even one that just invites them to have a closer look is helpful. There's also the signage that informs folks about what they're looking at, tells them the features and benefits and of course the price. Sometimes when I'm busy with folks, other folks will come in and I acknowledge them (that's HUGE!!) and then let them look around and the signage really helps. In one of the pictures you can't really make out what's being shown, the one with all the soaps. I've made up a little sign that says "with Shea Butter" and there's bright yellow paper and it sorts of points the way for those that are really into Shea. It's much easier than saying "well, it's in that one, that one.." :-) I also have my sign that points out that some of the soaps have matching Soy Candles, they might now realize that if they didn't see the sign. I also have the Facebook Sign on there, it's an easy way of getting new fans, then they can follow your sales/special offers/see what you're up to! (have that info on your biz cards too, then they have something to take with them) Most of the banners, I have had done at small print shops, however you can have them made just about everywhere, Staples, Vista Print etc. Bear in mind that the standard tent is 10 feet wide, so you'll want to try and get close to that. The shops are pretty willing to help you design too, so don't let that stop you. (at least I have always worked with nice people that way) If you have a means of accepting credit cards, make sure they are aware of that, with a big 'ol honkin' sign! Once they know you take credit cards, there's no stopping them and it really will impact your sales! Let me know if you think of any questions on the topic, but do get those signs, they don't have to be expensive either, just something to help get your point across!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Sweet Caroline performed by Big Dog and The Bite

We lost a dear friend Wednesday, we did a lot of Markets over the years. he always sang "Dream a little Dream of Me" for me. I'll miss his bear hugs.  I'll never forget you Jeffrey!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Weights

I can't say enough about weights, carry them with you always! You never know when you're going to have wind and having them will give you some peace of mind, not to mention keep you, your fellow vendors and customers safe! We really needed them yesterday and I was happy to have them, even though my old tent is steel and heavy all by itself. The new tents are mostly aluminum and quite lightweight, even more reason to have weights! I was going to take some pictures for you yesterday but as not many people were using weights, I only have a picture of my own weights. It's not a great pucture but I hope you get the idea. It's made from PVC pipe (I should have stock in that stuff!) and filled with cement and has a bicycle hook permanantly mounted in the top. My husband made me a set of 4 of these and they are awesome, I just hook it to the top rod in the corner, secure with a bungee and I'm done. I have seen vendors use a bungee chord attached to their table, which is better than nothing, but bad for two reasons, if the wind is big enough, it CAN flip your table over I have seen that happen, potatoes on the ground, such carnage! :-) Also doing it this way still gives the tent quite a few options, it can go in a few diffent directions, as many as the bungee will allow. There are quite a few ways you can do weights, do a search, maybe Flickr will have some good ones, but the thing to keep in mind is you want something that doesn't take up a lot of room, make a big mess ( as in using sand ) or cause a tripping hazard for anyone. Believe me if there's a way to trip over something I'll find it! In addition to your weights, you can also bungee yourself to the tents that are next to you, it will give all of you more weight and make it harder for the wind to do its evil deed! I do remember one time at Jack London Square Market many years ago (before I had my awesome weights) a crazy windy day, and they get some spectacular wind there, there was a line of at least 5 tents bungeed together and you know that wind made all of the front legs rear up! I fear had we NOT done that some of the tents would have been in the water! Anyhow, be smart, be prepared, keep your weights with you! (I feel like David Horowitz "don't let anyone rip you off!")

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Tents

The first year we did Farmers Markets, we used a Market Umbrella and a heavy stand. It was Ok for short term use, but I was constantly chasing the shade and it was truly inadequate for any REAL weather. When I finally decided to get a tent, I did a lot of research, there are a lot of ways to go. Tents go by a lot of names, they are referred to as tarps, EZ ups (regardless of brand), shades, shelters, and pop-ups. There are others I'm sure but that will get you started. There are a bunch of brands too, the most common ones are Caravan (my own personal choice), EZ UP, California Palms, California King, Quick Shade among many others. You can get them as cheap as around $60 up to a couple hundred, remember you get what you pay for! Beware of the tents that say 10 x 10 (that's the standard size for one space at the Farmers Market) but are 10 x 10 on the bottom and 8 X 8 on the top, this is accomplished by having slanted legs, like this I like that this one they actually tells you how big it is. The thing I have seen with tents of this type, is that they are generally not made well and will not last you long, there are exceptions, but they are generally really flimsy and I wouldn't waste much time with one. My son refers to them as "Janky Ups" because they are a waste of aluminum! Caravans and any of the other brands are made much better and should last you much longer with proper care. My own tent is 12 years old and my friends all call it the "Dinosaur". This particular tent has had 5 tops on it! You can by the way get replacement tops, in different colors, mine is purple, although remember that some events or Markets require white, so if you're buying one do check that out first. The replacement top I use us from www.california-Palms.com. I get 2-2.5 seasons out of a top. That's pretty good when you figure that for me that's 3 Markets a week year round. Here's your standard 10 x 10 tent If you can find one of the tents with the center support, I prefer this, in a good wind there's something to hang on to, and putting them up is much easier, you get underneath and push up from the center, way easy! A couple of things to do to help your tent last: One is when you're putting it up and someone is helping you, stay on the same side of the tent at the same time, in other words, you don't want to be doing "kitty corners" because this can weaken the truss, that's BAD. You'll also want to inspect the joints/screws now and then, make sure nothing is going to fall off! You can get replacement parts if you need to, this is good to know because when they get old, the rods will sometimes break and it's nice to know you can just replace the rods rather then having to buy a new tent altogether. You can also spray a little WD-40 inside the legs every now and then, it helps lubricate things so the legs arent fighting you when you're trying to put the tent up. Most modern tents are made of aluminum, which is good and bad. It's good when you have to carry it, bad when you're in a wind, which brings me to the next topic, tent weights! See you for that one next week! Feel free to ask any questions if you have them!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Working with a Farmers Market

I have been fortunate enough to work with a Farmers Market since the very begining of Delta Moon Soapworks. The "Distribution Channel" (how your customers will get your product) is about as important as the product itself! I have worked with several associations in the past 13 years, namely Pacific Coast Farmers Market Assn (www.pcfma.com), Contra Costa Farmers Market Assn ( www.cccfm.org ) , Urban Village ( www.urbanvillageonline.com ) and Marin Farmers Market (www.agriculturalinstiture.org ). You will find that each of them offer something unique, they will each have their own policies, some accept Artisans, others do not. A certfied Farmers Market means that the produce is grown here in California and there are guidelines that must be followed in order to maintain the certification. I enjoy being part of an organization that works so hard to educate the public about where it's food comes from, and also offers programs about how to use the food they buy, Cookin the Market is one such program, I can't cook (whatever I try to cook tastes like soap! )but I always come away having learned something. Farmers Markets are a very vital part of the community. Whichever Association you work with, do read the by-laws and rules, it's so much easier for everyone involved when we're all on the same page! As a small business, I find the athmostphere of the Market to be amazing, I have learned so much along the way and the other vendors/producers were an invaluable resource. I joke thet we're just a roving band of gypsies, we all participate in Markets sort of all over, but we've become a family of sorts too. Please let me know if you have any specific questions and I'll do my best to answer them for you. Next post will be about some things you should consider about your tent and other things that will make life easier for you as a Farmers Market Vendor!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Coming soon - Farmers Market posts

I've been asked to do some posts on selling at the Farmers Markets. I've been selling at the Market since 2000 so I have a decent handle on what's involved! So starting next week I'll be doing a series on, what's involved, required, tips, tricks and misc! If you have any questions be sure to let me know and I'll do my best to answer them for you. Here's an older picture of me in Pleasanton. I've changed a few things since then, but basically I use the same set up.