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Dark side of flea market events. Part 1 of 3: Vendors are from Venus, Organizers are from Mars!

We at FindSpace.in have tied up with multiple event organizers and worked with hundreds of vendors pan India in the flea markets / exhibition eco-system. We have learned and experienced first-hand the problems faced by both event organizers and vendors.

This three – part blog series is an effort to educate and to provide insights into flea market nuances. I will talk about the problems faced by the vendors in the first part, problems faced by the event organizers in the second part and what we can do collectively to enrich and better the ecosystem so that it becomes a win-win situation for everyone involved and not a slug-fest!

Here are some of the most highlighted situations that a flea vendor is expected to find himself/herself in at some point of the flea career.

a.       Venue: The first hurdle to jump would be to analyse the location. Is it too far for you? Would it be convenient for you to transport your products to the location without suffering considerable capital losses? Would the location present you with your target audience? Can you leave your product at the venue if it is a multi-day event? What are the lodging costs if the event is in a different city?

b.      Stall Rentals: Vendors are finding rentals to be high which is true in some cases. High rentals are justified only for events with an amazing footfall for the location and a heighted sense of management from the organizing team. Any seasoned vendor can sense if the stall rental is priced correctly. Lot of new vendors or vendors new to a city faces this challenge of estimating the stall prices correctly.

c.       Arrogant organizers: I have heard several times from vendors that some event organizers are very arrogant and does not empathize with the vendor situation at all.

d.      Footfall: Let’s talk about the “queen factor” of a successful flea. Study the venue, understand the people who are expected to visit the venue every day. Most vendors get excited and fall into trap when they hear high footfall numbers from the event organizers.

e.       Rental Payments: Vendors mistrust organizers so much that they do not want to pay any rent before the event. Some event organizers take their own sweet time to process the refunds because of their cash flow issues. This makes a vendor worry about getting the money refunded in case of any event cancellations.

f.        Target Audience: So what if a 1000 people turn up and no one buy’s from you? What if you were selling Tequila olives at a place which only graces itself with the presence of family audience? Vendors can’t get enough sales if there are more jay walkers than buying crowd. Vendors need to put some business sense into themselves before deciding whether to go sell at someplace or not.

g.       Unique products: A vendor with a unique product is really a dicey situation to be in. You have a product which is beautiful and unique. You expect people to be entranced by its beauty and come up to you and appreciate it. Well though that might be true for some products for a lot of them a real problem is lack of sales.

h.      Weather conditions: Tough weather conditions can play a spoil sport. Lot of vendors get into trouble because of not planning for bad weather conditions such as heavy rains, winds etc.

i.         Selling is an art: Are you a good sales person? Keep in mind that most of the product re-sellers are hard core sales people who participate in lots of events. Just having passion for your product is not enough. You have to learn on how to sell your product. Do not expect lot of sales to happen by just sitting in your chair disinterested in engaging with your customers.

j.         Passion vs Sales: Vendors get really emotional about the events’ outcome especially when they take lot of pains to participate in an event or if their livelihood is at stake. Vendors lose faith in the flea market eco-system and get stressful about an event's outcome when it does not go well.

Conclusion: With an ever growing number of event organizers coming into the flea market making tall claims, it is very important for vendors to stay on top of their game. In part 3 I will list out suggestions on how we can collectively overcome some of the challenges faced by vendors.