Hello potential vendors! Stephanie here. We're in the thick of reviewing hundreds of vendor applications. And word on the street is that it's super hard to get into Cleveland Flea, so why even try?
Why even try?! Well, if you actually want to run your creative business, it's time to dare a little greatly here. I can guarantee if you do, then you will be rewarded. That's the kinda place we are. We're not judgmental to be judgmental. We want you to try. We want you to be rewarded for that trying.
We are looking for YOU and we want new businesses who might not have fancy websites (yet) or photos (yet) or a logo (yet). If that's you, just follow our quick guide to creating a compelling application below.
Cleveland Flea is a creative business incubator. That means that you plan to grow here and get better. If you're someone who doesn't want to evolve, then we're not the place for you.
Here's what you can do to have a better shot at getting into Cleveland Flea when you don't have the strongest application.
If you're a food vendor....
Food can be notoriously tough to photograph, but when you think about it, it's part of your job to translate that to your potential customers. So it's time to learn. Use natural light. Plate your food in the way that you'll serve it to your customers at Cleveland Flea. Photograph the raw ingredients, too. And if you just can't do any of that, schedule a time with us to taste your products (just email Meg@theclevelandflea.com). We'll still expect you to get better at photography as you grow with us, but we'll also at least get to know what matters most– taste and market presentation.
GREAT EXAMPLE >>>> https://www.instagram.com/foodsofjane/
Application Wording & Quality of Product
Tell us your story. Why did you get into business? How did you develop your recipes? Why is your business important to you? How do you do something with more quality and integrity than what's typically available to you? Our customers care about how something is made, and we want our vendors to be trying something new or doing it better than others. Make sure you tell us about the process you use to make your product stand out from the crowd.
If you're a handmade vendor....
We want to know what customers will see when you pop up at the market. So, maybe go somewhere there's some great natural light and a blank wall, and set up a table there. Arrange your products in a creative way (that might be similar to when you set up at the flea) and take a few nice photos. We also want to see your products on their own, in a more close-up setting. Set up a photo like you might for a instagram. It should make your product look good. So, again, natural light is a big key to this.
GREAT EXAMPLE >>>> https://www.instagram.com/wildfootstudio/
Application Wording & Quality of Product
We only accept people with a great quality of product. If you're not using good ingredients and you're cutting corners to save money, then we're not the market for you. Our shoppers are used to paying for quality, but you're also in a competitive marketplace, so you're really go to bring it– starting with your application. Make sure we know why your product is great quality. What ingredients do you use? How do you make sure that you're delivering on quality to your customers? We want to know (and see) all of that in your writing.
If you're a Vintage Vendor....
We want to see the types of products that you might bring with you and what they'll look like displayed. Set up a scene where there's good natural light and spend some time curating a selection of goods that tell the story of you and your brand. Most times the stuff that vintage vendors collect tells us a lot about their own personality. That's why we love our vintage vendors. They're all different and their collections reflect their personal style.
GREAT EXAMPLE >>>> https://www.instagram.com/ampersandcle/
Tell us how you curate what you do. How you determine what type of item to bring with you? What got you into business? Do you have your own personal style that began your collecting hobby? We're not the market for people who just unload their basement or find stuff randomly to sell. We're a curated market for goods that people really want in their homes. If you're not able to tell a cohesive story with your selections to our customers on-site, you might do well your first time, but your sales will plateau unless 'new' isn't the only reason people are attracted to your booth. Let us in on why you love being a vintage dealer, we know that translates to quality product for every market.
It's time to get over your fear of not getting accepted. We want new businesses even if they're not picture perfect. If you want to apply, but you're nervous, let's do it over the phone or in person. Schedule a time to talk with us by emailing Meg@theclevelandflea.com