Five Tips for Preparing for a Successful Pop-Up Market in a Major City!
This post has been a long time coming and I’m truly excited to write it! I’ve received request as to how I prepare for a pop-up up in a major city (without a car!), so I’m laying it all out!
In moving to Washington, D.C., I decided that I wasn’t going to bring my car for a few different reasons. One, the cost of living is expensive so bringing my car would be an extra expense and two, I’ve always wanted to see the other side of life without a car (a.k.a. learning to navigate the train and bus system from one location to the next). I’m referencing my car, because as boutique owners we heavily depend on cars for loading, unloading, packing up racks, inventory, and more. In knowing that my business must continue ( it’s my passion), I’ve created one of the best challenges for myself.
Before I dive into this post with tips on preparing for a successful pop-up market in a major city like Washington, D.C., I first would like to say, “You have power and you can do this!” I know a lot of work and time goes into seeking, coordinating, and preparing for a pop-up market, but always remember why you started and the joy you feel while interacting with customers, the market coordinator(s), and so many others. So, with our positive mindset – let’s dive right into this post!
5 Tips for Pop-Up Market Success!
Read the Vendor Email Once and Re-Read it Twice! In moving to D.C., I got so excited about popping-up here and popping-up there, that it can be easy to overlook important details and/or lack of market details. Always be selective in choosing markets that represent your brand, what you hope to glean from the experience, and that are representative of you. Pay close attention to market communication (flyers, language, and visuals), email correspondence between the vendor coordinator (make sure you receive some type of communication prior to the market), price points for the market (take into account the market hours and your budget), and the overall aesthetic of what you’re seeing (Is the market being advertised consistently? Does the market have social media pages? A “real” website?). These are all factors you must take into account when seeking vendor opportunities and corresponding with vendors you’ve never met. Again, make sure you’re reading and re-reading emails to make sure you understand what you’re signing up for and what will be expected of you.
Prepare, Prepare, and Over Prepare! I can’t express this tip enough and I hope you picture me right now sitting on your shoulder and screaming this in your ear (just kidding!) Preparing for any pop-up market, whether it’s on a smaller or larger scale, is very important. I would highly recommend creating a to-list a month out (to give you enough time to order supplies/search for materials if needed), but completely understand that everyone’s timeframe and circumstances may look a bit differently. In creating a preparation list, create a backwards timeline. For example, I book my pop-ups two to three months out so that I give myself plenty of time to think about the materials and supplies I need. By creating a list, you feel more at ease and have a steady plan leading up to the day of the event.
Key Recommended Materials! One thing I do when packing my inventory is use the biggest piece of luggage I have for transporting. Typically, I’m able to fit between 50-75 pieces into my luggage when it comes to this method. If you’re attending a smaller pop-up event, then I would definitely recommend this method, but for larger pop-up experiences (where there will be between 200-300 people), I would consider either loading up two luggages OR investing in rental car. As for additional materials, I recommend a folding table with a handle (super easy to transport), a flexible laundry bag (easy to transport and you can store items such as purses and accessories) in the bag, a larger duffle bag (I purchased one from Southwest airlines while traveling and it’s been a life saver), and definitely take a personal bag (one in which you can transport water, snacks throughout the day, sunscreen, and other personal items). I can go on and on with this list, but these are the items I recommend when zipping around from pop-up to the next.
Network at Make Connections While Experiencing! I’m such a champion of meeting other vendors at pop-up events! There is so much power in making a lasting connection and then following-up with them once the event is over. As a note, I walk around the market prior to the start and/or after the event is complete. During these times, I’ve had the best interactions and it’s always fun assisting other vendors as they set-up while conversing at the same time. As a bonus, don’t forget to pass along your business card!
Thank the Host Before Leaving the Party! My mom instilled this saying in me at a young age! She taught me the power of saying, “Thank You!” and meaning it. You definitely want to leave a lasting impression at events either by shaking a hand or giving a hug (I’m a hugger!). I find the host after breaking down my area and thank them for their communication, promotion, time, and energy they’ve put into hosting a successful event. Also, it never hurts to follow-up with a “Thank You!” email a few days after the market.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post! I’ve truly enjoyed my experience throughout the D.M.V. area and there is nothing I would change thus far! I will leave you with a final tip: Be persistent when you apply for a pop-up event and don’t receive the “approval” or even it you’ve received the “approval” and you struggle at the event (Uber is running late, forgot to bring your business cards, or your rack isn’t functioning). Through either circumstance, you will always succeed!