In our latest mobile vendor survey, 91% of the mobile boutique operators who responded said they drove around, popping up at various events versus staying stationary at a single location. And in a typical month those vendors reported that they drove anywhere from 130-485 miles, on average.
Our survey respondents also reported that their major challenge was finding events that were worthwhile in terms of traffic size and shoppers.
So how do you go about planning which events you want to do? Be creative. In addition to vending at organized events like street fairs and pop-up markets, the most successful mobile boutique operators create their own events and happenings. You can't expect market promoters to do all your marketing for you; you have to rely on your own promotional tactics and partnerships to get shoppers to come out, and more importantly, buy things.
What do we mean by this?
For example, Ryan, owner of Simply Guapa, has said:
Some of the markets I expected to be amazing have been duds, And on the flip side, some random pop-ups at a brewery or ice cream shop have been some of my best days and I didn't have to pay vendor fees. Typically I'd say the organized events are where I have made the most sales and gotten the best publicity.
At organized markets, even the most popular ones, you're competing with other vendors as well as fighting shopper fatigue. People come out to markets as events, and don't always expect to walk away with a new outfit or a holiday gift. On the other hand, a partnership with a local brick-and-mortar business can lead to a rash of sales from shoppers looking for a break from the monotony of chugging beer and eating tacos.
To find the best events, sometimes you have to create them. So seek out partnerships with businesses that may need a new promotional tactic to draw crowds to their own events, like bars, restaurants and breweries that curate local street fairs.
Your inventory might limit you from doing highly curated events like craft shows, where everything has to be hand made, or art shows, where the artists themselves have to exhibit. So look for events like farmers markets, street festivals, pub crawls, and neighborhood festivals and walks.
Think of creative ways to partner with like-minded organizations and businesses. For example a pet boutique truck could partner with a rescue animal adoption fair. Think about what you sell and where shoppers would naturally find your products a good fit.
Looking to find a pop-up in your area? Set up a Google alert for the word "pop-up" and your city, to keep up-to-date on new happenings. You can also use keywords like "market" if you're not afraid of weeding through some irrelevant search results.
Don't be afraid to travel and try out new markets. Look for those with good promotion and low vendor fees to maximize your exposure.
We are forever adding to this list of pop-ups, markets, fairs and shows on Twitter. Know of one that's not on here? Tweet at us or add it to the comments.