Holiday Flea is only 5 weeks away. Well, the 1st one anyway. I’ve been actually planning Holiday since the last one, but with a new team in tow (Sammy, Liz, Krista, Sam & Mackenzie started at the beginning of the season) I decided to share real-time how we’re executing the holiday season of our dreams.
First up, we alway begin with a vision.
Both an Operational Vision + Design Vision. What’s that mean? Well, an operational vision is about how we function internally. How much money we need to make, how we want to feel during and at the end of Holiday. How we want vendors and shoppers to feel, as well. We define our Best Experience for Team Flea, Vendors & Shoppers. We set financial goals, and we decide how we’ll deal with bumps in the road.
Then we consider our clients and customers.
Based on our exercises in visioning, we decided on a 2-prong approach because space is limited in this city and not everyone will have what it takes to do well at Holiday Market. You may not have considered this, but we support a very wide range of businesses / people.
There is no ONE-SIZE-FITS-ALL business at Cleveland Flea. So, who are these businesses and their very diverse needs?
early startups who have never been at an indoor market
they lack experience and expertise in this type of market
they have an extreme amount of energy, though!
they are just learning all they need to learn to go from dreaming to doing
they are usually still working full-time
startups who have been with us from the beginning (for 5-6 years)
full-time, fast-growth startups who spend a lot of time learning about their business
they know their businesses well, including numbers and they usually have systems in place to be able to plan for an event efficiently
part-time businesses who spend the majority of their time on product design and acquisition but little time on the rest of business (and there’s a lot)
they don’t have a ton of time to spend on their businesses because they usually have other jobs
they usually don’t have a lot of help, either, so setup and teardown and being at the event can be taxing
businesses who have a range of product sizes & operational needs
food businesses who make eat-on-site food and require specific permitting and utilities (like power, water, refrigeration, or even heating elements)
food businesses who sell packaged giftable items
vintage clothing vendors
vintage vendors who sell large furniture and decorations
makers who sell a variety of items from tee shirts to furniture
businesses with a range of understanding of their own growing needs
businesses who just moved to Cleveland
businesses who know their dream customers
businesses who don’t know their dream customers
people who aren’t even businesses yet
businesses who are shifting dramatically
businesses with very different ability to sell on site
some people like selling
some people don’t
some people have a good eye for display and merchandising
some people don’t have time to get into the nitty gritty of display (it takes a lot of time to set up a booth, typically)
businesses with a very different understanding of the value of an on-site market
some businesses only value a market based on their on-site sales alone
some businesses have a ton of research and development they test out at markets
some businesses have websites or stores that they can direct people to after a market for additional sales
some businesses have newsletters that are a big part of their business, others do not
Basically, it’s a complex web and there is no one size fits all for us. Unless we decide to limit our customer base to only 1 type of small business. We COULD do that, there would just be a lot of businesses we couldn’t help at Holiday.
Our main vendor that works well for Holiday Market:
Is all-in on their business (full-time businesses rather than part-time)
Is fine with our pricing
Is excited to change along with us this year (most people don’t like change, but change is a constant in a hospitality market)
Spends a considerable amount of time on product design + curation instead of just bringing the same stuff all the time (customers have indicated that they are looking for more new items, not the same stuff they always get)
Doesn’t have HUGE items (we only have 10 storefront spots (10x10) so that won’t really work for large-scale vintage or handmade vendors
Allows us to be experts in our own business (being curators of experience + matchmakers for shoppers + vendors)
If you read all that above, you know that we can’t customize an experience that works for every single vendor in one space during 1 weekend. We can’t even make every shopper happy. But we can create an experience that draws a ton of our dreamiest shoppers to their dreamiest vendors in a really fun and thoughtful way.
A two-part approach
This year, in order to help the vendors that don’t quite fit into the Holiday Market Mold, we are opening 2 pop-up shops. One is in the Van Aken District and that will be more of a weekly shopping experience. The other will happen at our own Holiday Market space. There we’ll have a selection of items from vendors who are either too busy to be at a 3-day market, have stuff that’s too big or who feel that our pricing is too much of a financial risk for them.
In a position like ours, it can feel like we’re letting people down because we can’t make everyone happy, but that is just impossible anyway.
We’re so excited to be delivering a uniquely-us holiday experience this year– one that will surely become a Winter tradition for years to come.
Stay tuned for more weekly info to come out as we make plans and announce vendors!