Did you know that over 10 million individuals make their way through Pike Place Market each year?
For an artisan business with a unique, handmade product, there are over 10 million opportunities. But, this relies on a healthy combination of foot traffic, great displays, merchandising, and stellar salesmanship.
In the summer of 2017, Pike Place Market had its grand opening of the MarketFront, a dynamic plaza with a view of the Olympics and Puget Sound. It included table space for farmers, craftspeople, and artisan purveyors. To activate the MarkeFront, the Market’s staff focused on incubation strategies to support emerging businesses in the area, like the Guest Artisan Market.
The Guest Artisan Market was born to create sales opportunities and “trial runs” for businesses to sell at Pike Place.
Ventures was asked to participate. Pike Place Market and Ventures have a rich six-year history of working together on numerous projects. First and foremost is our retail store and business incubator, the Ventures Marketplace. We have provided workshops and specialized trainings for artisan businesses, craftspeople, and farmers alike. Now, we are training the market’s most experienced vendors to take on a bigger role. They will help other day stallers refine their operations through a train the trainer program.
This was another opportunity for our product businesses to access new markets.
It allowed folks to learn on the job in one of the busiest public markets in the world. For some vendors, this was a chance to test new products, increase summer sales, or experience busier foot traffic compared to other regional markets and festivals. Vendors could sign-up for one of two weekends in June or July. They paid a small fee to participate but kept 100% of their sales. In return, they would report their revenue and work with us on their sales, display, and merchandising skills.
Over 16 businesses participated in the Guest Artisan Market.
Like all Ventures’ incubation programs, we are committed to supporting entrepreneurs on an individual level. For the Guest Artisan Market, staff coached on signage, product display, point of sale systems, and collateral (business cards, flyers, etc.). Ventures also was onsite to provide on-going support throughout the event.
The partnership paid off.
Vendors completed evaluations about their experience. Between the two weekends, they generated over $20,000 in sales revenue. Some of their comments were…
I got two wholesale accounts from this opportunity!
The camaraderie, the exposure, the environment, the crowds, and vendors. It was a fantastic experience for me and I’d love to come back.
I was happy with how the event turned out for me. I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of foot traffic and sales.
The revenue made a tremendous impact on vendors–some were able to get ahead on their rent, pay down some business credit card debt, or invest in inventory. Based on customer feedback, vendors identified which sales opportunities to pursue for the future.
What’s next for the Guest Artisan Market program?
Our incubation staff team are meeting with Pike Place Market to discuss how to improve and other ways to incubate emerging businesses in 2019. All of the participating vendors and 70 more sell their products at the Ventures Marketplace in Pike Place Market.