Well, the first day of the market went off without a hitch and the weather just about stayed at bay for the most part. I had decided some time ago that it would be good to try and sell my photographs on a market stall. An opportunity recently came up for me to a share a stall with a friend of a friend, who is also a photographer. This made good business sense as it meant the stall fee could be shared.
We arranged the first stall date to be at the Feel Good Festival at Archway market, north London, held once a year on Holloway Road. My expectations were fairly low, having read that markets can be a tricky place to sell photographs. In the end, I managed to sell about half a dozen loose digital prints, unmounted, and a small framed picture. Not a fortune, but at least a start. Between us we managed to break even, which at least made the venture worthwhile.
There were a few takeaways from the day, which I thought would be worth sharing, for anyone else who is thinking of doing similar.
Finding a market
I've seen several blogs discussing this subject, but essentially the most important thing is to find somewhere that has the best potential to sell your pictures. Some areas, such as the obvious tourist traps like Camden Market will be great, however rents will be high and there could be a big waiting list for a vacant stall. Some might opt for starting at a car boot sale which is fine, but bear in mind that you could be a long way from a cash point and so having prints that are £30+ will be a stretch for some people.
There are lots of factors here: the dimensions of your prints; are they darkroom prints or digital; are the mounted or framed; even the kind of mounting. You could also consider multi-buys like selling your small prints at say, 3 for £10. As mentioned above, where you are selling will also come into play. Make sure you keep a record of your stock, the marked price and what you eventually sell the picture for.
Presentation is everything. A cliche but it's true. You have a large quantity of stock, we found that people are quite happy rifling through a basket to find something. Don't feel that you have to use every square inch of the stall, sometimes less is more. Experiment and try different things. Take a look at the pictures below from our stall...
Try and pick out one or two prints you could use as "show piece" items that will grab the eye of passers by. You want to try and engage with potential customers so anything that gets them interested is a good thing.
While its good to have people at your stall, beware of people who seem quite happy to spend hours pontificating about your fabulous work but seem reluctant to part with any cash. Humour them but sometimes you might discover that they have interesting comments or observations about your work, which of course you can take or leave. This can sometimes be an issue if your images are journalistic or of particular landmarks.
It might be tempting to finish early if things are a little slow, but you never know, you could get that late sale. You might be surprised. Try and stick it out for as long as you can.
Finally, don't worry about making mistakes. You're unlikely to nail it perfectly first time. Think about worked well, what didn't work well and what can be improved for next time. If this is something that you've set your heart on, its worth sticking with it for at least a few market days.
And of course, GOOD LUCK!!