Last December 2019, I had the chance to join one of the biggest bazaar events here in Baguio City. It was the Pieces By Reese Christmas Bazaar! The event happens annually and is organized by Ms. Racine of Pieces By Reese. Held at the Citylight Hotel, vendors display and sell their products inside the two big ballrooms.
I had been waiting and waiting for the next Pieces By Reese bazaar. For the past years, I had longed to be a part of it but I was preoccupied with running an online shop and an actual physical store. By 2019, I found myself finally able to participate in the said event and what an experience I had!
Bazaars are a great place to shop, especially during the Christmas Season. Lots of people are looking out for unique, as well as, traditional gifts for their family and friends. As a vendor, a 3-day bazaar could be a very good opportunity to make some profit. However, there are factors that a merchant needs to consider when joining bazaars.
Since this is my first bazaar, I found it helpful to research on what to expect. I asked people who had been joining these events for years and got some useful tips to help me out. I also read all about it and even watched a bunch of trade fair videos on YouTube. It seems people can actually be experts in selling at these events!
The 3-day event was like a jolt to my system! It was nothing like I expected. Prior to this gig, I’ve only had the chance to join a craft Fair and most recently, an Art Festival. Bazaars are totally different. I’ll expound on this on my next post about the difference of the three, in my opinion. The atmosphere was very tense at first everyone was very focused on making their time at Citylight Hotel worth their while.
One day before the bazaar opens, the vendors were allowed to visit the ballroom, decorate their booths, and to display their products. After joining two fairs, I was feeling a bit confident. I thought that I knew what I was doing. Well, I was in for a big surprise.
In this blog post, instead of telling you what you should do when you join a bazaar, let me tell you the mistakes I made. Hopefully, we can all learn from these errors.
Mistake Number 1: Not Setting Up During Ingress
On the night before the event, I didn’t set up my booth for actual selling. Sure, I put on a cute table cover, a few decorative pieces, and put up a framed signage of my brand on the table. I almost laughed to see the other vendors setting up their tables as if the bazaar would be opening in an hour. Everything was ready! Meanwhile, I was thinking that I would just come earlier than usual to do my “actual” set-up.
What I should have done was to follow what these veteran vendors were doing – actually setting up your booth during the ingress! The ingress is there for a reason. I learned this the hard way. So the next day, the actual opening day, I was late and I almost didn’t open on time. The traffic was punishing and I couldn’t get everything out in time to make a semblance of a good display. Most organizers will be checking if a vendor is ready to sell by 9am. And if you aren’t, you might get a penalty and repeated offenses could result to your being banned from ever joining the bazaar again! Remember that these trade fairs set up rules for the merchants to follow. Being late in opening is always a red flag.
Mistake Number 2: NOT Knowing WHAT To Sell
For the arts and craft fairs, most vendors would be selling handmade crafts and even artworks. Most of the crowd – vendors and buyers – would be art and crafts lovers. At the bazaar, not everyone would be fans of your handmade stuff. This too, I learned the hard way. Well, it was like a slap on my face really. For Day 1, I was confident of my success in the art fairs, and so I displayed my Gradient Yarns, handmade bags and shawls, and even some yarns for crafting. If not for my loyal buyers, I almost didn’t make a sale on my first day. In short, Day 1 was wasted if my goal was to turn a buck from this gig. I smartened up fast and as the day ended, I decided to change my display the next day.
By Day 2, I had a display that people found useful and I was able to make a good sale! If only I knew this on Day 1, though. Oh well! I may have lost a chance to make good money on that 1st day, but I learned a priceless lesson that would help me in my future bazaar adventures.
Mistake Number 3: Not Building My Network
So I was there for three days, right? I was selling, chatting with the other vendors, making a profit. What I didn’t do was to get the names of the other vendors, their business pages, and contact information. After the event ended, I found myself wondering why I didn’t take time to ask my neighbor vendors their Facebook Pages so that I could order from them in the future. I should have taken business information that could help me expand my network. I learned from my Ibagiw stint how networking can be very beneficial for business owners. All of the vendors at the Ibagiw Festival were connected somewhat through a business network they created. I wish I had the good sense to have remembered this when I was at that 3-day Bazaar. This remains one of my biggest regrets.
While I made lots of mistakes during my first bazaar that would have cost me money as well as good business contacts, I couldn’t put a price on the knowledge I gained from this experience. I am thankful and hopeful that on my next bazaar, I would do much, much better.