You may have noticed that in recent years there is a growing trend of tiny little independent retailers who float around without so much as a counter or till system to hold them down. The popularity of fairs and events has provided many niche retailers with an opportunity to take their products to a new set of customers each week.
Often, these businesses don’t have a physical location and are able to move from town to town, raising awareness of their brand and their products without having to pay extortionate rent or ever fitting out a shop.
By taking advantage of changes in technology that allow effortless wireless card transactions, this type of retail has flourished in ways that would not have been possible 15 years ago.
For many, there might be an enjoyment of being in a new environment regularly. It keeps things fresh and exciting. You are often guaranteed to have high footfall going by your stand, and your overheads are kept relatively low. There will be a charge to the organizers of the event for the stand, plus the costs of any products and the cost of the PayAnywhere credit card terminal.
The flexibility in the business model will allow the retailer to adapt and change quickly and to go where they need to be. They are not tied into leases which restrict them, and they do not have bulky overheads. If something does not work for the retailer, then they can learn and make the changes without too much issue.
Whatever your business, your physical selling space may not be too much of a concern. Take care to get your product mix perfect and allow yourself to be open-minded to sell in ways that may not seem conventional or evident to you.
Here are a few examples of ways that these niche retailers come out into the world to meet their customers.
The Christmas Market
It feels like we can’t imagine Christmas without a German-style Christmas market. They pop up in most towns and cities on the run-up to the festive season, and with the market come a wealth of independent entrepreneurs. Every new town, they set up there stall again. It is no different from a traditional market really, but it has a more modern appeal. From food stalls selling meals to eat there and then, to beer tents, handmade crafts, artworks and lots of Christmas treats, there is often quite a lot to look at.
Another popular event of recent years is the vintage clothes fair. Dozens of vintage traders descent on one hall for the day and there is a real bustle. With a lot of people thinking about how they buy clothes and looking for sustainability, second-hand retro clothing is a popular choice. Many traders will have specific niches within the vintage umbrella, and often items will be in high demand.
Comic conventions have become massive over the last decade. Any movie franchise worth its salt is represented, with many meet and greets with actors and creators. Part of the appeal of these events is the chance for cosplay. Nestled amongst the crowds of superheroes and celebrities you will usually find lots of small, independent retailers, again selling niche products tailored to the event. Many will follow the convention circuit, setting up the next week in another city.
To Staff Members Of Large Companies
A captive consumer group that is often overlooked is that of staff within large organizations. Some companies will allow selling directly to their team within the workplace. You may want to create a demonstration to present to an office full of staff, or you may be allowed to set up a stand within the communal staff areas. Offering a service like this helps staff who may not be able to get out to buy products such as yours due to being in work when stores are open.
Opening up a stall in a university freshers fair may be a great opportunity. You may find that there are a number of universities within easy commute of you that you can have access to over the first few weeks of the university year. Again, there is a captive consumer group here.
Many retailers take up space on the walkways of malls for a fraction of the price of a fixed unit. There are not the same setup costs involved in getting your store fitted out and often leases are very short term and can be as little as a few months. They benefit from the large footfall that shopping centers offer without the need to commit to an expensive, long term let. Centers look favorably on this as it maximizes the offer within their shopping scheme, utilizing what might have been considered as dead space previously.
For those that might have tested their products in markets or online, looking for opportunities to open a pop-up store might be an exciting adventure. Usually, a pop-up will take on a unit that has been empty for a while, where the landlord might be having trouble finding tenants. Leases can be on a rolling basis and can be as little as a few months long, and landlords might offer rent-free deals to attract customers to drive footfall to other units in the vicinity, while also avoiding being liable for any charges on the unit while there is no tenant. Often the shop-fit on a pop-up can be basic, utilizing as much of the existing features and fixtures of the unit as possible. Where multi-sited retailers choose to operate with a pop-up model, they often look for movable fixtures that can easily be reused repeatedly as pop-ups open in various cities.
Whatever the retail opportunity that you have to offer, you don’t necessarily need space. You need ingenuity and adaptability. You need to look for opportunities and build up a network of contacts within events which may allow you the opportunity to sell.