How Market Day Went

That’s horrible grammar, I know, but my brain is fried and I can’t come up with anything clever. This may be boring for a lot of you, but I’m writing it all down while I fumble my way down the road to a small business in the hopes that it helps someone who finds herself on the same path. Getting started is the hardest part, isn’t it? Anyway, back to the point!

The night before market I had the truck loaded down with furniture and my sales tax permit and booth priority number packed. I had made up some tags, grabbed some twine, magnets, and 4×6’s to stage frames, and tossed in a couple of camping bag chairs to sit on. We totally spaced and forgot to make change the day before, so we pulled $40 out of an ATM and had a super friendly gas station cashier make change in 1’s and 5’s at 6:45 am. Whoops! We showed up for day booth rental which means you wait around in the main pavilion with 80+ people hoping that you get a booth. I was #39 on the list. It was really stressing me out. My heart was pounding the entire time and I was just sure there wouldn’t be enough booths. I’m totally a “don’t count your chickens before they hatch” kind of girl. The ringleader gave us the schpiel about the rules, and started with a dozen booths that had emailed ahead that they wouldn’t make it. Luckily I was the only person peddling large wares! I snagged an empty lot space right off the bat, and we were setting up by 8 am. Not 10 minutes after getting things into place, I made my first sale!

I sold my three barstools for $150, and I definitely could have held out for my full asking price ($225). The ladies who snagged them asked if we would hold them for the day, which was great because people kept trying to buy them all day! Now I know to make a lot more for the next market in March. They were a hot ticket item! I was completely surprised.

After that though, things went south. I made about two small sales between 8:30 and 2:30. It was awful. I started getting really discouraged. Don’t get me wrong, traffic to the booth was awesome. There were hundreds of people at the market that day. But they would just come in, compliment how great/pretty/clever things were, and then just LEAVE! Nooooooo! I can’t pay the bills with compliments people! I learned that most of the stuff I brought isn’t ideal for this sort of venue. I had a coffee table, a large shelving unit, two shutter tables (which I was shocked didn’t get picked up by any customers at all! These were so popular in Lake Jackson) and my Rustic X Console which I priced so high to make sure it didn’t sell unless I was thrilled about the offer. I just wanted it out there to pull people into the space. Anyway, I was kind of a snot in the afternoon. I was sick and tired of watching people come in, look interested, say it was the perfect piece of furniture for them, and then book it out of there. WTF?!

Then 2:30 came. This was the serious crowd. They had eaten lunch, had a beer or two, and were ready to shop! I finally started moving stuff out of there, and my mood picked up considerably. I was just so afraid that I would fail and nothing would sell. That I would have to load up all those pieces I had worked so hard on and hoped would move on to new homes. I didn’t want to eat my pride and admit that I brought the wrong stuff. And in the end, it all worked out. I pulled in $418, and only had to pack up 3 big things. A lot of small stuff, which surprised me because I figured they would be popular gifts. But, now I know that I either need to stage them better or just leave them home!

Now for the numbers. I know some feel it’s tacky to talk shop, but I plan to be open about my pricing in the hopes that it helps, and to get some insight and advice if it sounds like I’m doing it poorly! After the booth cost ($60 – so reasonable!) and the cost of materials for the items sold, sales tax (8.25%) and income tax (30%), I made a profit of $65. Not awful, but not awesome. That roughly checks out to about $5/hour for the time I spent building. Considering it was a hobby at the time, I’m not disappointed. But for the future, I’m going to try and price more competitively and focus on pieces that have a lower materials cost.

Overall it was a really great learning experience, and the perfect scenario for my first time. I didn’t lose money, people were fantastically nice, and my husband put up with all my nonsense. I feel confident enough to go ahead and sign up for the 2013 season! It gives me about 2 1/2 months to find a booth space, build a small inventory, and get my business started for real. That means LLC, tax id, and business account. I’m really going to do this! Thank you all so, so much for your kind words, your emails, and your support. I never would have had the courage to really go for it without y’all. It’s going to be a wild ride, but at least I have all of you to go with me!

20 thoughts on “How Market Day Went

  1. My Landlord makes things like you do…I have even showed him some of your stuff and we have made some of them. I helped him stage a market day like the one you just went to. He had a book of things he had made in the past and had people look thru that. Gest of the story is that even though he didn’t sell as much as he wanted to that day he did start to get calls for custom orders!!! That was about 4 months ago and he is still getting call for custom orders. Have you thought about that route??

    1. I’ve thought about it, but I kind of hate custom orders. They really stress me out, trying to get it perfect. It’s a lot easier on me mentally to squeeze in building when I find the time, and then listing it! Maybe once my daughter starts school, I’ll get more into it. Right now I can only build during nap times, and that’s only two hours a day.

  2. Can’t wait to follow your progress….. Been a reader since your wedding bee days! You have given me the courage to use some of hubby’s power tools. I’m only cutting boards and making signs with my Cricut, but i love seeing and hearing about your builds and someday will get up the courage to try something bigger. Keep up the good work and know you are inspiring at least one!

    1. This is probably my favorite comment of all time. I’m so flattered that you find me inspiring! Sometimes I feel like my best lesson is teaching others what NOT to do 😉 I’d love to see your signs! Do you have a blog or etsy shop?

  3. I really appreciate this post – I’m still trying to figure out the “shop talk” behind my business! I think I need some lessons!!!
    Plus, I love being able to cheer you on and so happy your things did fantastic – you deserve them to – they’re amazing!

    1. Lets take lessons together. Groupon really needs to offer a Small Business Startup package with advice from an attorney and accountant!

  4. Congratulations on your first big step toward your LLC. This is huge. I can’t wait to see your business evolve, grow, and flourish! I love when people are willing to talk shop. It’s so beautiful to make sure that we can all learn from one another and to learn as a community not just individually. Bravo!

  5. YAY! Im so so so proud of you brooke! you are so incredibly talented and such an inspiration to me and many of us i know! Its just like you to take on the world like this (even if its scary) and soar! I know you are going to thrive out there…you have a lot to offer! keep your head up…theres bound to be bad market days BUT dont forget that you def have a lot of supporters lifting you up every step of the way! 🙂 cant wait to see what is to come!!! you are a rockstar lady 😉 <3 aunt nikki

    1. Thank you Nikki!! That means so much. You are my biggest cheerleader! Maybe next time I’ll take you with me so I’m less tempted to glare at people as I am when I’m with Jacob. I had to keep telling him “Stop sitting like a teenager! Pretend you’re excited to be here. Quit slouching over your phone making that angry face! Nobody is going to walk in here with you looking so scary!!” hahaha

  6. Just my 2 cents – I don’t think it’s tacky to talk shop in this setting. Like you said, you’re laying out the ground work for how this would work for someone in your shoes. These are all questions they would have and it’s great that you’re open and honest about these issues! Congrats on a successful day!

    1. Thank you so much Rebekah! Money can be a very touchy subject, but I think it’s helpful to break down numbers when it comes to pricing and sales. If in the future the business takes off exponentially and I’m dealing with thousands, I’ll probably switch to percentages or something 😉

  7. Congrats! I think that is an amazing start. And I agree that its helpful to see numbers for other people aspiring or curious, so thanks for sharing those. Have you ever considered different finishes? Not sure if it would be bad to have different “looks” but I personally have had trouble finding someone local who refinishes or creates furniture with modern/glossy bright colors and no distressing. Might be something to consider in addition to the rustic look! Good luck, can’t wait to see how it goes!

  8. Congrats on your first market! How exciting. I don’t think any of the shop talk was tacky. I find it so interesting. You are an inspiration!

  9. Congratulations – for the first go-around, that was a great success! And $65 pays for another build (or two)!

  10. Brooke,
    I predict that your business will be a great success. I too have been reading your blog since the wedding bench days & have enjoyed watching you progress. Looking forward to seeing how y’all finish out your home! (I’m gonna make those benches some day!!)

  11. I am so glad I came across your blog. You have been one of my inspirations. I love looking at all of your projects that you have done. I haven’t made it through all of them but have looked at a lot of them. I am going to attempt the vintage bar stools as I have looked for bar stools and do not fill like paying $100 or more for the ones that I have liked. I am so happy for you and your business, maybe one day I will have the guts to start one. Thanks again for all the inspiration. And I agree with others, I love the shop talk too.

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