This is the third year of our Etsy Made Local event at the Briggait which brings together two sets of sellers of 70 for a weekend market in December. This year I thought I’d write a post about how we do it (and how much it takes out of us).
WHAT IS ETSY MADE LOCAL
Etsy Made Locals are organised all over the UK on the same weekend in December to bring together the wider Etsy community and encourage people to shop small and locally. I am part of a team of volunteers who have organised the Glasgow event for the past 3 years , the others being Lynne from Squinty Stuff, Mairi from Maram Jewellery and Katherine from The Canny Squirrel (and also thanks to Lynsey from Stitchcraftblog for her help with the first 2 years). We volunteer our time to not only running the Glasgow Etsy Team day to day, but also to arranging the market. It’s a huge amount of work and a mammoth commitment on top of our own shops, full time jobs, children, washing mountains and pets.
WHEN DO WE START WORKING ON IT
We start the process in June, when we open the applications window. This year we had over 6 times the applicants to places available, so we extended the event by a day to meet demand. It is very tricky whittling down the list, You are forced to turn down some good people in order to make the lineup balanced. It’s difficult to objectively curate the fair as you really have to forget your personal tastes and look at everything with fresh eyes. It’s a huge amount of shuffling around sellers on paper, moving from list to list and making very hard decisions to get it right. We then have to split the sellers into potential Saturday and Sunday lineups and then make them balance, which adds an extra trickiness to the process. We then start a final discussion between the four of us, a bit like the X Factor judges where we argue our final cases for moving people in and out the lineup. This year the process was really hard, I can reassure you that none of the decisions are taken lightly, there were so many great applicants and some really tough resolutions were taken, I really hope that everyone who applied understands it’s not a personal attack on their talents and products if they don’t get a space. It’s just how you successfully curate a fair that people of all ages, tastes and backgrounds will want to come to, and more importantly will want to buy things. We are starting after a couple of years to understand what products will sell and what may potentially struggle, and we have to take this into account. These items however may well be perfect for future ventures. We hope that one day we will have the opportunity to work and include everyone in the team in one of our events. All in all this selection process takes about 2 weeks of hard work.
After the selection is made comes my most hated job of the process, the admin. Extracting all the emails, making up millions of lists with various details, double checking the lists, crapping yourself when you send out the emails to the people on the list in case sent it to the wrong list, the lists really do go on, This is truly the worst bit of the WHOLE process and by the time we have collected the table fees, finalised the lineup and paid all the bills it’s around the third week in August, then it’s time to take a week to calm down before the next phase.
SEPTEMBER AND OCTOBER
It’s September and we’re now in the hard sell period when we have to get our event out there and let people know about it. We strive to get our stall holders sales before and after the event, so we share their work daily, make up a huge monster reference blog post with links to all their shops, publicity pics get sent out to all kinds of organisations, flyering is done and endless rounds of copy are written for various publications and purposes. We work really hard during this period and I hope that shows. By now we are all starting to panic about our own Christmas strategies for our shops. For the past 2 years I have really failed with my own Christmas stock due to Etsy Made Local and the self imposed torture I put through, worrying that no buyers will turn up, vendors won’t sell anything and people will be angry with me. This year I’m determined not to miss out on my own sales, so have started planning ridiculously early to make sure that I indeed can make a good show at the fair for once.
November last year was, I think we would all agree a bit too much. On top of everything, we held a Press and PR night, with very tasty signature Tunnocks cocktails, goodie bags full of vendors stuff, a photo booth and workshops which took a huge amount of organising and put so much pressure on us.
On top of that we also decorated two huge windows of our venue with displays. Come the close of the event, all of us pretty much felt like we were dying and consequently we took a huge several month long break at the beginning of the year which seemed in hindsight to be relatively counterproductive.
This year we have decided not to do so many things that are specific to EML and rather concentrate on a more longterm strategy. We have set up a committee of volunteers to help us with our tasks, we are so lucky that 40 amazing team members are willing to give up some of their free time to help us out . I’m really hoping that without the energy drain of last years Etsy Made Local lead up and with our new amazing helpers alongside us, we will have time in November to be able to forward plan for 2018, but of course still have the most successful EML to date.
It’s Etsy Made Local, and it’s time to put up the tables and let the people in. Last year we extended our event to 2 days, opening times extended by several hours and also our amount of sellers grew by 10 per day from the previous year. It really helped even out the frenzy of the first year which was quite frankly terrifying and make for a much nicer shopping experience. In the first year I had gone from having sleepless nights about no-one turning up to realising there was a queue of people right round the block who desperately wanted to get in. It was a very strange experience to stand on the Briggait balcony and realise everything was alright after months of winding yourself up. I will always remember this feeling and although I will try to not have quite so many nightmares this year, I can reassure there will never be complacency. The hard work always has to be put in to make it a success, people have to know where it is, when it is and also very importantly why they want to be there, that is always going to be our job.
All in all in 2016, we had around the same amount of customers on each of the 2 days as we had had on the first year, but obviously having 2 more hours open time it was a lot calmer and better for everyone. This year despite us starting off with planning a one day event (mainly because we were all spent), we are to follow the same formula and run a 2 day event with the same amount of sellers, hopefully everyone will enjoy it as much as the previous years. It’s amazing to see all your hard work pay off and result in happy people all round, both buyers and sellers alike coming together to make small businesses prosper.