Earlier this summer, I had the opportunity to participate in Unique Markets LA as a vendor for the first time and I had an absolute blast!
MY UNIQUE MARKETS VENDING EXPERIENCE: 9/10
I was impressed with the top-notch production quality that Unique Markets brought to the table. This marked my first time selling at an indoor pop-up market spanning two days. The venue had air conditioning, and the floor layout was thoughtfully designed. The two-day format allowed ample time for setup, vending, and connecting with fellow small businesses. Huge props to the team behind Unique Markets for their amazing organization and unwavering support, ensuring that the event ran seamlessly for all of us.
MY BOOTH-SHARING EXPERIENCE: 10/10
What added an extra layer of excitement to my journey was the fact that I shared a booth with my friend Joanna Muñoz (aka @winkandwonder). This was only my third market experience, with the previous two taking place during the holiday season the year before. When Joanna reached out and suggested we team up for the summer market, I immediately said yes.
Not only was I excited to kick off the market season and spend the weekend with my lettering friend, but I soon discovered how invaluable this booth-sharing experience would be.
In my previous market ventures, I had my own table and relied on my partner and friends for setup, teardown, selling, and moral support. However, with Joanna as my booth buddy, we not only handled these tasks without external assistance but also supported each other before, during, and after the event.
Here are my top three reasons why you should seriously consider sharing a booth at your next event, along with some tips at the end:
Benefit #1: Keeping Costs in Check
Let's face it, vending at markets can put a dent in your wallet. Booth fees can range from $75 to $1000+ depending on the market and space you require. As an art business specializing in paper goods like greeting cards, stickers, and art prints, I didn't need a massive setup. Most of my products fit on a 6ft table, especially when I got creative with vertical displays.
For Unique Markets LA, here were the booth setup costs (based on 2023 numbers on their website)
- 6’x6’ Petite Booth – $475 Spring / $425 Summer / $525 Holiday
- 10’x10’ Booth – $650 Spring / $600 Summer / $700 Holiday
- 10’x10’ Shared Booth** – $325 Spring / $275 Summer / $350 Holiday
- 10’x10’ Premium* Full Booth – $750 Spring / $700 Summer / $800 Holiday
- 10×20’ Double Booth – $1300 Spring / $1200 Summer / $1400 Holiday
Sharing a booth was clearly the most budget-friendly option, especially since Joanna and I were in the same art and design space.
Benefit #2: Trusted Partner for Breaks
When you're at a market for more than 5 hours, you'll inevitably need a break. With all that talking to customers, you'll be drinking plenty of water, leading to regular restroom trips. Having a booth buddy is a lifesaver in these moments. I could count on Joanna to cover for me and give me a quick heads-up if a customer needed assistance while I was away.
Lunch breaks are essential too. I recommend a eating a hearty breakfast to keep you energized, but having a not-too-messy lunch on hand is a smart move. We took turns enjoying our meals at the designated eating area, allowing us to recharge without worrying about leaving our booth unattended.
Lastly, you'll undoubtedly be tempted to do some shopping yourself (and you should!). Exploring the market, checking out cool products, and mingling with other vendors is part of the fun. We took turns doing this during slower market moments, typically at the start of the day.
Benefit #3: Your Booth Buddy = Your Emotional Support Buddy
Vending at markets is hard work. You spend weeks meticulously designing and packaging your products and brainstorming ways to create an appealing table setup. Having Joanna as my booth buddy meant we could check in with each other leading up to the event, exchange design ideas, and even commiserate about how our homes turned into chaotic messes leading up to the market.
And once we were at the market, having a supportive companion by my side made all the difference. Whether it was celebrating a sale or nudging me to strike up conversations with vendors I admired, Joanna was there. She helped calm my nerves when anxiety crept in and shared in my excitement when things went well.
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO... MY FINAL TIPS
If you're considering partnering with someone, here are three tips to keep in mind:
1. Find a Booth Buddy with Complementary Vibes
They don't need to sell identical products, but aligning with someone whose style complements yours is key. Joanna and I both offer stationary and paper products, but our styles and color palettes differ, creating a cohesive yet distinctive look.
2. Find a Booth Buddy That You Trust
Having a history of trust is crucial. I was fortunate to have known Joanna since attending Letter West in 2019. Our relationship, nurtured through Instagram and real-life hangouts, gave me confidence that she would support my growth and business.
3. Communicate Relentlessly With Your Booth Buddy
We texted each other extensively before and during the event. This ensured we were always on the same page, with no room for misunderstandings. After the event, we even debriefed to exchange feedback as booth buddies, which I appreciated a ton.
My Unique Markets experience was nothing short of amazing, and much of that credit goes to having Joanna as my booth buddy. I'm happy I got to share this experience with her and grateful for the lessons I learned from her throughout the market.
If you're contemplating vending at a market and the opportunity to share a booth arises, I highly recommend it. I'd do it again in a heartbeat.
EXCITING UPDATE ALERT 🔔
Joanna and I will be reuniting again at Unique Markets this holiday season on December 2-3, 2023. Hope to see you then!
If you have any questions, don't hesitate to comment below or shoot me a DM.