How to Sell in New York Street Fairs - interview with Kip Cosson of Kip Kids New York
[ NEW YORK, NY - NYC - 6/1/2010 - www.Littleviews.com ]
>> Thinking of starting a small, retail business in New York City? Take some advice from Kip Cosson of KipKids New York fame, who has sold his products through New York City street fairs for over 19 years:
Littleviews: What are some issues when choosing a product to sell?
If you sell jewelry, you compete with nearly a quarter of all street fair vendors. And of all vendors, many sell very similar (if not the same) items. A lot of products you see in street fairs were purchased in Manhattan in the Garment & Wholesale District, which is roughly south of 30th and Broadway and in surrounding neighborhoods.
Even gimmicks, like $2-each jewelry, are copied, and, of course, you need to sell a lot of $2 jewelry to break even. You might be better off selling $20 bags containing ten pieces of jewelry, than individual pieces at $2 each.
If you do find a unique item, other vendors will notice and will quickly copy your idea. If you make your own products, but use common patterns, those products will be quickly copied, too. Cute, unique imports? They arrive in the US by the container-load and are sold by numerous vendors.
Littleviews: How do you find unique products?
Attend a lot of street fairs and see what's currently being sold to "your customer." Try to figure out if there are any products missing from the current product mix.
Littleviews: What about making your own products?
[Littleviews: For information on making and selling your own things, read Mommy Millionaire: How I Turned My Kitchen Table Idea into a Million Dollars and How You Can, Too!]
Others study what's currently being sold and try to create similar or harmoneous products. I sell T-shirts, which, of course, a lot of people do. Still others invent an entirely new product that they hope will satisfy the needs of their potential customers. And last, because New York attracts people from around the world, many importers sell products made in their home countries.
In my case, I believed that my T-shirt designs were very appealing, so I invested in them, using my credit cards to start my business. I went into about $10,000 of debt which paid for creating eight new designs, buying T-shirts, silk-screening those shirts, paying for street fair booth space, and buying my display materials (tables, chair, and tent). Getting started wasn't cheap!
I am very lucky in that I create a product that is uniquely mine and you can only buy it from me (I do not wholesale).
Several vendors have copied my designs and tried to sell them, but they aren't successful. Throughout the years, I have also built a very strong following of customers (as you can see from my website - www.kipkids.com). Note that my newest items are children's books, which are absolutely unique and cannot be easily copied.
Littleviews: Is there any way to test products before committing to a booth at a big street fair?
Littleviews: How hard is it to sell in street fairs?
Littleviews: What are the best street fairs?
Littleviews: Any tips as to how to be successful at a street fair?
Your display is important, too, Remember, you are competing with hundreds of vendors and you must catch your prospects' attention in just a few seconds. If potential customers are approaching your area, your display must be big enough for them to see above throngs of pedestrians. While your product is important, you must pull customers into your booth. If they can't see your product well, they'll quickly pass by.
And then there is you! I believe that much of your success depends on your personality and energy. You need to be pleasant, as well as excited about your product. If you just sit at your booth, reading the paper or talking on your cell phone, people will not come to your booth.
Littleviews: Any other tips on how to be a successful business?
In my case, because I'm the artist and writer behind my products, I introduce myself and give my customers a chance to ask questions. I also have a sheet on the table that I call My Happy Customers. It shows pictures of adults, children, and babies wearing my T-shirts. After customers look it over, they try to find the products they see in the pictures. You can see a sample of my Happy Customers on my website.
Note that if you truly believe in your product, I believe you should support it with a good website that you keep up-to-date. Consider including pictures of your street fair activities! You should also produce really interesting literature. Today, it's fairly easy to create crisp, colorful literature, postcards, and other material at reasonable costs. All that's really needed is your imagination and inspiration.
[Littleviews: We get many emails from shoppers trying to find owners of street fair booths so they can buy more products. The reason people can't find these businesses is because the businesses failed to set out product literature and/or business cards.]
Other Littleviews' References on Street Fair Selling
KipKids Contact Information
Questions? Ask Karen at Karen@littleviews.com
Article and Interview by Karen Little. Photos provided by Kip Cosson of KipKids New York. First published on 6/1/2010. All article rights reserved by www.Littleviews.com. All photo rights reserved by Kip Cosson of KipKids New York.