Summer Prep: Selling in Person

We’re approaching summer 2021 and the US is cautiously returning to in-person events. Personally, I’m feeling all sorts of emotions: excited to see friendly faces, wary about safety and my comfort with crowds, a little rusty on social skills, and motivated to bring my business out of hibernation.

Are you in a similar spot? Or maybe you’re jumping in to selling in person for the first time? As you’re making your list of essentials (lip balm and snacks!), think through a few more details so you can arrive at load-in prepared for anything.

Simple pricing across products

You’ve run the numbers to cover your costs and mark up your margins. That’s great! Now look at what you can simplify. If materials made each item a slightly different price, consider averaging them out. Think of explaining them to a casual shopper: it’s simpler to say “All hats are $24” or “Everything in that bin is $5” rather than “the red plaid is $17.50, the blue linen is $23, and the black is $18.25.”

And of course plan to mark prices clearly, either on each item or a very visible sign, for those of us too shy to ask.

Crowd management

Expect extra distancing guidelines this summer. Many people are still trying to keep some space between themselves and strangers, and it’s great to show respect for their safety and concerns. Consider smaller tables and fixtures to allow more room for people to walk around your booth, or create a front-facing setup that keeps shoppers in the aisles and open areas.

Payment methods

Get a sense of how shoppers will plan to pay by talking with your fellow vendors, or by checking the event’s FAQs. If they’ve mentioned ATMs on site, your customers might be carrying cash. If they’ve promised wifi, folks may prefer paying with cards. Offer both options with Big Cartel’s mobile apps and enjoy the side benefit of keeping your inventory count spot-on.

A pre-event pre-order

Maybe it’s time to think outside the box for your event! If you or your customers are concerned about lingering in-person interaction, or filtering through products that other hands have touched, think of how you can change up the experience. What if you offer a pre-order online with pickup available at the event? A special bundle or fun freebie could sweeten the deal. It’s a win-win: you get a handful of guaranteed visitors (who may bring along a friend), and they get to pick up a less-handled item and be on their way.

While I feel optimistic about this new season, I want to acknowledge that attending in-person events still comes with a lot of privilege. It means you’re somewhat healthy, have access to life-saving vaccines, live somewhere with comfortable weather that allows for outdoor fun, and that you currently feel safe enough to be out and about. Not everyone is there yet, and it’s important to respect their needs and boundaries. Keep supporting business owners and event organizers who are still waiting this phase out, and continue to cater to customers who stay home to stay safe.


Article header image created by illustrator Khaila Carr.

Sarah Anderson

Marketing at Big Cartel. Loud talker, maker at City of Industry. Semi-professional aunt. Pretty psyched about all of it.

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