As a micro-entrepreneur, you’ve probably decked the halls of your brick-and-mortar boutique with twinkling lights and other hallmarks of the holiday season. Your ecommerce site? Aglow with sparkling sales and discounts to woo in buyers for the big Christmas rush.
But, wait. There’s an additional channel to consider that might lead to still moreholiday cheer (as in profits, not figgy pudding): Say hello to the concept of the holiday market.
Holiday markets are those (often outdoor) events, from Thanksgiving til Christmas, where craftspeople, artists and food vendors rent booths and sell to the thousands of passersby strolling past, sipping hot cider and perusing the lovely artisanal gift possibilities holiday markets offer in one locale (much nicer than the local mall).
So, if your own product can fit into a gift box — think hand-crafted soaps and fragrances, leather goods, t-shirts, yummy treats, artwork and the like — sign up for one or more of the holiday markets taking off in dozens of U.S. cities.
Chicago’s Christkindlmarket is one of them. As a branch of the German-American Chamber of Commerce, the market, in the Windy City’s Daley Plaza, promotes products from German-speaking countries that range from teddy bears to beer steins.
“It’s about gaining brand recognition, so people will be familiar with their name and seek them out,” says market manager Kate Bleeker. “It’s about building community awareness.” Twenty years ago, Bleeker says, Chicago was the first Christkindlmarket. Today, these markets are all over the United States and Canada.
In New York, vendors Shirley and Rebecca Solomon have been selling at various holiday markets for about the same period of time.
The sisters are co-owners of Pageant Print Shop, on New York’s Lower East Side, a legacy business their father Sidney co-founded 70 years ago. Holiday-market veterans, the sisters have sold at multiple New York holiday markets, including those at Grand Central and Columbus Circle. In recent years, Pageant Print has been a fixture at the Union Square Market, managed by Urban Space NYC.
Normally, the sisters work out of their charming East Fourth Street store (glimpsed in films like Neil Simon’s Chapter Two and Woody Allen’s Hannah and Her Sisters), offering antique maps and prints dating back to the 1700s. The maps are particularly popular as Christmas gifts.
And the sisters couldn’t be more positive about holiday markets’ sales opportunities. In an interview, Rebecca Solomon offered tips on how to proceed for entrepreneurs with cold feet (literally; these fairs are usually outdoors).
A bricks-and-mortar store only brings in so many people, but holiday markets bring in thousands of people a day who are in a buying mood,” Solomon said. “They’re there because they’re ready to buy. So, you just have to make sure you have what they want.”