A vibrant product of the partnership between REV Birmingham and Woodlawn Business Association, Woodlawn Street Market is a platform for local entrepreneurs to launch their businesses and interact with customers while also adding some extra fun to downtown Woodlawn.
Since 2014, more than 500 Birmingham entrepreneurs have used this business-proving opportunity to start small, test strategies, and perfect their models in response to real customer feedback. Now, shoppers can also buy from both new and long-time vendors between markets at the Virtual Woodlawn Street Marketplace – woodlawnstreetmarket.com.
Listening and learning at each market, our Woodlawn Street Market team has seen what makes a great impression and racks up sales. Here are 10 tips to use this vending opportunity to its fullest!
1. Start building demand before the market
Building customer interest ahead of the market will go a long way toward making your WSM experience more profitable. Let folks know a week or more before the market that you’ll be there and encourage them to stop by your booth. Find the right social media platforms for you to talk to your target customers – whether that’s Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest or Twitter – and build your following! Post lots of photos of your products, and let people know if you do custom work. If you feel comfortable sharing stories from your personal entrepreneurial journey, that can help your customers get to know you better – let your personality shine!
2. Be weather aware!
WSM is a rain or shine event. We encourage you to create a plan of action to ensure protection of your products, art, and/or valuables if the weather is not ideal, because your goods are your responsibility. Make sure you have a way to cover your products from potential raindrops or protect them from extreme sun/heat. Think about bringing shade walls (even DIY ones created from sheets) for your tent and a way to attach them. If it’s going to be windy, bring tent weights, sandbags or something else heavy to make sure a gust of wind can’t upend your tent.
3. Don’t wait until the last minute to set up your booth on market days.
Instead, get there at the earliest time vendors are allowed to arrive. Being set up before the market starts gives you a chance to get in the zone and be confident and ready for early shoppers. It also gives you extra time for some daring problem-solving if something doesn’t go exactly as you planned.
4. When you’re setting up your booth, think about how your set-up appears to someone approaching you for the first time.
Make sure your first impression as a vendor communicates just how awesome you are (and why shoppers should stop at your tent!). Take note of how fellow vendors merchandise and think about how some of their set-ups might work for your goods too. Pro-tip: no matter what you’re selling, a tablecloth makes a big difference!
5. Tag your goods with prices.
Shoppers won’t always feel comfortable asking you for prices on every item that catches their eye. Make sure to mark each item or create a sign clearly listing products/prices. This can also help keep patrons from touching/moving all your products – which is especially important during COVID.
6. Set up a way to take credit cards if possible.
These days, you can do it via your smartphone even if the booth doesn’t have electricity. The easier you make it for shoppers to buy, the more likely they are to spend.
7. Engage your customers on their level.
It sounds like a no-brainer, but be sure to smile and say hello when people come to your booth and, when they leave, thank them for coming by even if they don’t buy anything. Mirror the customer: If they’re chatty, then chat. Other shoppers may prefer to browse with minimal conversation. Just let them know you’re available when they need you, and let them take it from there.
8. Ask questions and pay attention to trends.
If something is “hot” right now, you’ll lure shoppers into your booth by having it. Pay close attention to what customers say or show they like, and even consider taking notes. If you have a customer who seems to be comfortable talking, use the opportunity to ask them what they think about your products’ quality, pricing and selection.
9. Collect customer emails
Email addresses are currency when it comes to building your customer base. At the very least, have a signup sheet so shoppers can provide their email address for your newsletter and announcements. If you can swing the investment, consider offering some sort of discount or other incentive to encourage shoppers to give their email. We promise it’ll be worth it.
10. Talk to other vendors!
Last but far but least, use your downtime to walk around and talk to other vendors. You can learn a lot from each other, make great connections, work toward future collaborations and keep the positive energy flowing for each other! We hear over and over again that this is one of the best things about WSM!
Bonus Tip: The REV Biz Growth team provides free one-on-one business coaching to help you make the most of your Woodlawn Street Market experience and grow your business beyond the market. Just shoot REV Client Relations Manager Robert Emerick an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, let him know you’re interested in learning more, and we’ll get the ball rolling.