The popularity of community events such as farmers markets, car free days and Christmas markets has soared in British Columbia in recent years. Not only are these events an excellent day out for the family, they also represent an amazing opportunity for entrepreneurs to get their product in front of customers, without most of the drawbacks of a traditional brick and mortar location.
An Incubator for Good Ideas
Whether you’re just starting out, or have been in business for years, becoming a popup market vendor holds several unique advantages for entrepreneurs. These events offer access to a built-in community of attendees who are used to interacting face-to-face with vendors and hearing their stories. You can use it as an opportunity to experiment with new products and ideas, or even learn about new trends directly from fellow vendors and customers. This community of market managers, vendors and food truck operators provides an unrivaled atmosphere to learn new skills and grow your business.
5 Tips for Becoming a Popup Market Vendor
No matter what the time of year, there’s always a market happening somewhere in your community. Here are five tips to get yourself ready to become a popup market vendor.
Identify the Right Fit
Before applying for any farmers market, Christmas market or car free day, take the time to research the type of clientele they attract. Consider your target market; are they found at this event? If you’re taking a new product to market, a popup event can be a great place to test your assumptions about your target market. However, if you’re selling a proven commodity, hone in on events that offer strong representation from your target demographic. If a vendor is already selling your product, or one just like it, at a market, consider skipping that market and identify an alternative. You don’t want to cannibalize each other’s sales. Use resources like Bizmap to delve into the demographics of the neighbourhood you want to research.
Apply Well in Advance
Planning an appearance at a popup event takes months of planning. Intake from interested applications generally happens well in advance, so it pays to be well prepared. The BC Association of Farmers’ Markets accepts applications on an on-going basis throughout the year, but their target intake months are March/April for summer season and October/November for winter. Vancouver’s Car Free Days take place across several venues each summer. Intake for these events is handled in the spring with a cut-off point of mid-May. Vancouver’s Christmas Market, the most popular in the province, retains approximately 85% of its vendors each year. However, applications are still accepted, so it pays to apply early.
Create a Portfolio or Website
As part of the preparation process, take professional looking images of your products. Many popup events will request to see shots of the product you are selling, or your popup layout. If you haven’t already, consider creating a website for your business. This will allow organizers and customers alike to get to know your business. Make sure your social media accounts are up to date and include a good mix of product photographs and community engagement. Your online home plays an increasing importance as time goes on, make sure your business doesn’t get left behind.
Understand the Regulations
Different popup events have different rules and regulations. For example, farmers markets in British Columbia only allow the sale of goods that are “grown, raised or harvested in BC.” Meanwhile, Vancouver’s Christmas market specifically looks for goods that would be at home in a European-style festive market. Looking to sell alcohol? There are a several regulations you need to be aware of. Alcohol sales are now permitted at farmers markets in British Columbia with a valid “Farmers Market Authorization” permit.
Prepare for the Weather
Like any outdoor event, a market is subject to inclement weather from time to time. Ensure your stall is robust and designed to withstand wind and rain. Will you be able to load in and out in poor weather? Will you be relying on electricity for your stall? If so, make sure it’s kept free from weather damage. As long as you’re comfortable working in sometimes challenging conditions, a little preparation will ensure rainy days don’t dampen your spirits.
Interested in Becoming a Popup Market Vendor?
Here’s where to apply for some of British Columbia’s most popular popup markets: