Let’s talk about juried shows and malls

Let’s talk about juried shows and malls

Market/Mall Producer Monday: Let’s talk about juried shows and malls. My market is a juried show. Not everyone that applies gets chosen to participate. This is a hard line to hold as a producer. Producers take on a lot of up front financial risk. It is very tempting to take all comers. But I’m going to tell you a few reasons why you shouldn’t.

1. Shoppers want high quality, well curated vendors. You may get shoppers to come to one show allowing anything goes, but you will not be able to sustain your success and build a long term reputation as THE place to shop.

2. Really good vendors want to be in the company of other really good vendors. Rising tides raise all ships. I had a vendor for several years that was simply outstanding. Her items were top notch and her booth was magical. Her husband built a structure. (Sadly she moved away to Colorado). Here’s the catch, her booth space was as far away from the entrance you could get. But because her booth was so outstanding, shoppers spotted it from across the field. And interestingly, not only did she have great sales, the vendors around her had great sales.

3. If a vendor’s booth and items are not well curated, I know they aren’t trying very hard. And if they aren’t trying very hard, then they will not have good sales at my market. Period. My job as a market producer is to run a well organized, well attended market. The responsibility of the vendor is to sell something that the shopper wants to buy and to present it in an appealing manner.

Case in point: We allow 4-5 local soap vendors in each show. Because we limit the number, and put them in separate parts of the venue, they all tend to do well. But they are seasoned professionals and they actively sell their product. One show I allowed a new soap vendor into the show. When she set up her lone table, and laid all her soaps flat and then was on her phone every time I walked past her booth, I knew she was going to be the vendor that complained about her sales at the end of the show. Sure enough she said at the end of the show, that it was a waste of her day. I agree it was. Because she didn’t put the necessary effort in to make it worth her while.

4. Vendors who don’t curate well or sell appealing items, tend to take other short cuts. There are a few times that vendors slipped through my jury with good photos, but the quality did not materialize on show day. Almost to a vendor, they will break the rules of my show. I call them short-cut people. They spend their whole lives looking for the short cut. I’m not interested in having them at my show. I take on a huge amount of personal and professional risk. I have to to keep the public, vendors and my staff safe. Short cut people don’t think the rules apply to them and can put themselves and others at risk.

by Lisa Ard, French Country Flea Market


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