Why Handmade Markets Are Critical to the Shop Local Movement

It’s a good time to be a small business owner. With market trends indicating a shift away from retail and an increased interest in smaller, local businesses, the shop local movement is on the rise!

For business owners selling handmade goods, markets have been the most traditional means of gaining exposure and making sales.  However, as the shop local movement continues to grow and change, some entrepreneurs have started looking for different ways to showcase handmade goods – including establishing physical retail locations where shop owners can rent a small space in the store. By giving handmade vendors the option of selling their products in a shared retail space without having to be on location, owners of brick and mortar stores like these hope to diversify the possibilities for small business owners and generate more awareness for the shop local movement

Ultimately, it’s up to the business owners to forecast the possible benefits against the costs to both themselves and their customers. But either way, those who have spent years selling their goods at markets may well wonder – are brick and mortar stores moving in as a replacement for handmade markets?   

It’s exciting to see others diversifying and experimenting with new alternatives for customers looking to shop local. But aside from the question of extra fees involved in renting retail space, we believe handmade markets are an irreplaceable part of the shop local movement and will continue to be a worthwhile investment for vendors and shoppers alike.  Here’s why!


+ Handmade Markets Foster Connection

This personal connection is irreplaceable and important.  Being present with their customers and available to answer questions or share more of their story allows for vendors to connect with their customers in a highly personal way. Customers looking to shop local are doing so because they want to support local people. 

In-person connection is invaluable for building customer loyalty, and is an opportunity for makers to connect with their communities in person. Handmade markets are also an important place for shop owners to connect with each other in person and build meaningful relationships – some of which will last a lifetime. 

    + Handmade markets are effective event marketing opportunities

    Event marketing (markets, trade shows, booths at other events, etc) is extremely effective for small businesses.  It does a ton for brand recognition and allows for on-the-spot customer feedback or questions.

    This valuable data can help shop owners shape their strategy for the future.  Gathering the data in person also gives it a dimension and context that you just don’t get when you’re looking at a spreadsheet, or even when engaging with your audience on social media.

    + Handmade markets are a great place to roll out new products

    You can get buy-in on a new product or service much quicker with a live audience. 

    Events like handmade markets are a ‘natural’ form of PR, saving you the dollars you may have spent trying to promote a new product through advertising. 

    + Events are the way of the future – and the heart of the shop local movement

    Events are far from dead – they are what people want.  One Eventbrite study found that “69% of millennials believe that attending live events and experiences makes them more connected to other people, the community, and the world.”  As the millennial generation reaches its earning potential, events are going to become an increasingly important opportunity for businesses looking to grow. 

    Aside from millennials and their FOMO, general market trends indicate an overall increase in spending on events and experiences across multiple demographics. Some theorize that the present-day shop local movement began with the resurgence of farmers’ markets. The connection with the real people behind everyday items like our food has proved an invaluable tool for farmers, and for other small businesses following the trend in their stead. 

    Given the statistics, there can be little doubt that events are going to be a critical tool for businesses of all sizes.

    As the shop local movement continues to advance, diversify and grow, handmade markets will continue to be powerful opportunities for makers to connect with their customers, build strategy for the future and enjoy a real sense of community with other business owners.

    Check out our upcoming  handmade markets!

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