My top five holiday market tips - notebooks & honey

My top five holiday market tips

         It’s that time of year, you are stressing because of the annual end of the year sprint or relaxing because of the joyful end of the year cheer. Most likely, you are doing both and sometimes simultaneously. One of the favorite ways to end Notebooks & Honey’s year is with a holiday market.  It’s a great way to wrap up the season and as markets go, well, the festive ones are the most fun.  I try to do a few markets throughout the year, but for obvious reasons (that being holiday cheer and people wanting to actively shop for presents), being at Christmas/Holiday markets are simply the best. They are a good time.  Everyone seems to be there with a happy purpose, drinking hot chocolate in crisp December weather, listening to carols piped through the speakers as they trade holiday plans with their friends and finishing up their holiday shopping by supporting local small businesses. There is extra generosity at these holiday pop up shops and markets.


Notebooks and Honey tote at Christmas Market


         I recently participated in Atlanta International School’s German Christmas Market and had a blast. This is an annual event with a strong community showing and there is such a wonderful vibe in the atmosphere, with the various local children's choruses, German Bratwurst grilling, Glühwein a pouring, etc.   This is my second year vending at the German Christmas market and it’s my absolute favorite; truly a great way to end the shop small business year.  I’m primarily an online shop, so I’m not “out there” doing markets or pop ups on the regular, however, I have enough experience in doing local markets over the years to give you my two cents on the matter and in particular, I want to touch upon why I love and will always do holiday markets.


1. GET READY IN TWO PHASES - I have to say that the more markets you do, the easier it is because you know what to bring and what not to bring and the process just becomes more efficient over time. I even have a little section of my storage area that is my  “market go to” area. In my opinion, there are two points of preparation prior to the actual market day 1) Two weeks or so ahead of time, this is when you check your inventory, check that you have the bags, marketing materials, etc. all the stuff that you may need to order for the market ahead of time and 2) the day before, where you pack up and go over your to do and packing list.  I would go ahead and either set aside all the stuff you need for the market or even put the items in your car for the next day's event. Majority of the time, markets start early or at least require you to be onsite earlier for set up and the last thing you want is to be scrambling in the wee mornings of the day to get ready for that day’s market. Plus, if you pack ahead of time, this gives you time to do the last minute Target runs or whatever to get the items that you may be missing such as pens, tacks, tape, etc. Finally, don’t forget to check your POS system connection; if you are like me, since I don’t do markets that often, I tend to forget how the POS system works and  have to give myself a mini-refresher and/or install whatever latest systems updates that I have ignored since last use.  The last thing you want is to be struggling with the POS with customers standing in front of you. Been there, done and believe me … it's awkward.


Holiday pop up market set up for Notebooks and Honey


2. EXPERIMENT AT THE MARKETS - Sure you want to be true to your brand and sell what you have been working hard to promote in your store, but really you should think of markets as a fun avenue to try something new and a place that you can get feedback.  Perhaps you want to introduce a new line or add a new product to your store, but you aren’t sure or ready to make a bigger commitment. Then buy a small inventory and try selling them at the market. Markets are a great opportunity to test new ideas or products.  For instance, the Curated Collection  in my Notebooks & Honey store sells items that go IN the ultimate modern tote bag, but since I was going to be selling at a holiday market, I thought it would be a good opportunity to try selling more home/lifestyle items that I don’t normally carry in the online shop.   I had tea towels, candle holders, cocktail shakers and even Taylor Swift stickers (that was definitely fun) to sell at the market.   The items were a great addition to have and if I decide not to proceed to sell them in the Curated Collection, well I’ll just keep the items for the next market I do. Plus, since it’s a holiday market, I thought it would be nice to have some festive items just to mix things up (e.g. Advent Calendars, holiday bottle openers).

Christmas market set up for German Christmas market
Taylor Swift stickers at German Christmas Market


3.PARTNER UP - If you have a maker/small business pal that is also interested in the market AND your products work well together (aesthetically and/or logically), than it’s a no brainer … strength in numbers, partner up!  It’s super fun and more exciting if you can share the experience with a friend.  Not only does the camaraderie  bring forward a broader clientele, it's also an opportunity to cross promote and and let’s face it, at the end of the day, you have a buddy to hang out with and you can go to the loo or get something to eat without worrying about your booth.  For the German Christmas Market, I have been teaming up with an artist friend, Bethany Perryman, she’s a painter and master crafter of gorgeous holiday houses.  Our brands have similar aesthetics everything we had combined flawlessly and with all of my new experimental items that I mentioned, our store was truly a “lifestyle and gifts” stall at the Christmas market.

2023 German Christmas Market with Bethany Perryman

4. MARKETS ARE GREAT FOR MARKETING - Let’s face it, whether or not you have great success at the market, it’s a fantastic way to get your brand out there.  For e-commerce stores like Notebooks & Honey, markets are an opportunity to capture clients in person and they can touch and see your products IRL. Plus, there can be a lot of branding and social media energy that you can send out to the world before, during and after the market … “I’m going to be at the market, make sure you visit - Hey here’s the market, aren’t we having fun, my booth is so pretty! -  Look how fun the market was, thanks for coming and see you next time.” You know we are always looking for social media content, a relief from the normal content if you will.  Also, if you are really on top of things (unlike myself, haha), then markets are a superb place to spread the word about your social media or collect emails for mailing lists.


5. THE HOLIDAY SALES CONTINUE - Everyone loves a discount and frankly after riding the Black Friday discounts wave, which starts at the beginning of November,  it’s a bit expected. I don’t mind this at all, because in addition to tipping a potential customer’s mind as to whether or not to buy, discounts are a great way to better move items because what do we love to do at the end of the year/ beginning of the year? REFRESH AND RE-EVALUATE INVENTORY in the store, which means that you want a faster way to get rid of your old inventory.  At least this is the case for me, if I have those few lingering items that won’t sell and I need that extra push just so I can get them off of my books and start clean in the new year, then an end of the year market is the perfect chance to do this.  Holiday markets are just that happy time of year where everyone is buying gifts, either for themselves or others, which is great but customers have so many options as to where to buy and in the small business lingo, who to support. So in the spirit of healthy competition and generosity, I say go for the discount if it makes sense for your business.

Market set up for Christmas market


            A holiday market or pop up is a fantastic and heart warming  way to end the #smallbusiness year and to get in the holiday spirit!  So if you haven’t done one yet, I would definitely suggest putting one or two on your list for next year.  I hope everyone has a fabulous holiday season, see you in 2024. Peace out.

                                                                                                                        ~ Cheryl