This coming weekend, The Farmhouse Project Holiday Market at Senate Garage in Kingston, NY will be my last market of the year and will mark my 18th market of 2022. After the weekend, I'll take some time off, but will also reflect on what I want to do differently next year. Every market and event is different, with some being better than others. I've already started thinking about what I consider a successful market, and it doesn't all come down to money.
First, I think about how I feel during the event. If other artists are excited to be there, if the organizers are excited to have you, it can be felt and sets the mood. I've had instances where the gratitude was incredible and others where the organizers almost acted inconvenienced. I will not pretend to understand how difficult it is to organize and plan a market, but I do know the relationship between the vendors and the organizers is a symbiotic one and mutual respect is critical.
I also look at whether the visitors "get it." Handmade is not for everyone. I can appreciate that, but it's also important to understand artists and artisans put much of themselves into the work. I welcome questions about my work and like to tell my story if asked. Conversations with attendees can be just as fulfilling as sending a piece off to its new home. Even a smile from someone walking past the booth can be rewarding. Interacting with people who understand what I'm doing helps reinforce I'm on the right track.
And of course sales help measure a good market. I set a goal to cover my expenses, which is usually the booth fee and gas, but can occasionally include a place to stay as well as electric and divider rental. Since selling at markets is just one channel for getting my work out there, sales is a factor, but not the most important measurement, which is also why I'm mentioning it last. One of my most profitable sales, is also one I consider the absolute worst and would never do again. It came down to feeling unappreciated by both the planners and the attendants.
While I want markets to bring in money, I first want to connect with people who appreciate handmade items and be part of a community of artisans that love what they while not taking themselves too seriously. There you have it, how I measure a successful market...one that leaves me feeling I'm accomplishing my purpose in a supportive environment.