Many of our customers at Shopventory are makers. They make arts and crafts, gourmet groceries—and some of them even make music. We are so proud of these feisty geniuses for creating beautiful things, but we know that actually selling those beautiful things can sometimes be tougher than making them.
With spring approaching, the country's makers are going to be popping up merch tents all over the land—so we wanted to provide a guide to wrangling your inventory for festivals, flea markets, farmers markets, fairs and pop-up shops. We'll run through an essential packing list and a few organizational tips to help you get ready for the seasonal rush!
The Packing List:
-Pop-up tent -Tent weights -A banner -Bungee cords or sturdy string to hang the banner -A folding table or two -Tablecloths -Chairs -Your display(s): hangers for T-shirts, folding shelves for goods, case for jewelry, various boxes to create height levels, etc. -Lights for after dark (uplighting, spotlights, string lights, etc.) -Extension cords and extra batteries -Duct tape, because you never know -Lock box for cash, stocked with change -Your Square or PayPal Here credit card readers -Mobile Internet hotspot -Blank card stock for signage on the fly -Plenty of permanent markers and pens -Mailing list sign-up form and clipboard (or the digital version on an iPad) -Scissors -Simple tool set with pliers and a hammer -Small rolling dolly or luggage cart -Your merchandise, of course. -Small cooler with water and snacks -Sunscreen, ponchos -Optional: a fan, projector and branded gobo (can be very impactful at evening events!), something to keep you occupied during lulls in traffic
1. Put wheels on it! Utilize something like a rolling tool box or a large wheelie suitcase as the merchandise hub for the many, many essentials that come along with temporary retail. Load-in will be 1000% less of a headache when you don't have to track down a dolly. Plus, anything with drawers or compartments for designated items will make setup and cleanup much easier than a slew of plastic tubs.
2. Learn to fold a T-shirt properly. That is, make sure you know how to make your merchandise look the most polished and visually appealing for people passing by. If you're selling T-shirts, know how to fold them. If you're selling artwork, don't make your customers dig through a crowded rack one at a time. If you're selling your hot pepper jams, turn your booth into a picnic with a brightly checked tablecloths, picnic baskets and even invest in some plastic hot peppers for a display rather than setting out a sad, lonely jar on a boring table. Having an evergreen plan for your display will help you feel more organized.
3. Finish strong. At the end of a long day or an even longer weekend, it will be tempting to just haphazardly toss everything into the car and get to bed as quickly as possible. However, take your mom's advice and put your toys away after you use them so everything is in its place for the next event. As you're packing up, make a quick note of any supplies that are running low (Shopventory will keep track of your merchandise inventory automatically, so no need to worry about that part!). It'll take less time in the end, and you'll save yourself from scrambling to buy extra extension cords and tablecloths when you realize you left yours in the wrong box last time.
What sorts of tools and tricks do you use during festival season? Let us know in the comments!