The Pros and Cons of Pop Ups and Markets

Is a pop up, market or bazaar the right fit for my business?

As a small shopmaker or baker, sometimes it feels like everyone is jumping on the pop up shop bandwagon. I too once thought this was THE sign of a successful home based, small business.

When I received an email from a popular home store that wanted ME as a part of a pop up initiative, I was on Cloud 9. For me, my first pop up served as a huge confidence booster and validated my hope that there was demand for my very new business. Nibble Cookie was just 4 months old at that point! I eagerly accepted not knowing what to expect, and I certainly didn’t consider the pros and cons. At the time, I didn’t know what I didn’t know (which seems to be a reoccurring theme in my life!)

But before you impulsively pursue a pop up, market or bazaar, here are some pros and cons to consider.


1. If you are a new business, pop-ups and markets are great exposure and can help you be seen in your local market. If PR is what you’re after, a pop-up or market should be on your short list of endeavors.

2. Pop-ups and Markets help you make a “live and in the flesh” connection with many potential customers. Customers are more likely to purchase from a small business owner they’ve made a connection with.

3. Pop-ups and markets help you get to know your local market's wants and needs. Do they want cookie kits? Classes? Individual cookies? Use this as an opportunity to find out what they want so that you can best grow your small business.

4. Pop-ups and markets give you the feel of what it might be like to one day own a brick and mortar store. You’re interacting with customers, selling face to face, taking payments, multitasking, etc. You might find out you thrive on this type of interaction or you might find out it’s not really for you.

Those all sound legit, right? You’re all in! But , hold up just a second and keep reading. Consider a few cons to pop-ups and markets also.


1. First up, pop-ups and markets take extra time. In fact, they take a substantial amount of extra time. It’s not like you make your product, package it up and send it out. Nope. You make all your product like usual, package it, gather your props, drive it to the market, set up and then spend a portion of your day selling. Then, pack it all back up, drive home and perhaps figure out what to do with the extra merchandise that didn’t sell.

I won’t lie! I was really excited for my first pop-up!

2. Most markets and bazaars will cost the vendor (that’s you) some extra dough. Going rates are from $15-$175 depending on the location and number of days. Many large retailers like West Elm, Pottery Barn and Williams Sonoma will host small vendors for FREE as a initiative to support small businesses. How cool is that!?! Sometimes smaller boutiques will ask for a percentage of sales from a pop-up.

3. Pop-ups, markets and bazaars will also leave you needing to research, shop for and invest in enhanced packaging, signage, display props, and you might even have to to provide your own table.

4. Now, I have to touch on the fact that pop-ups, markets and bazaars are not suited for every personality type. Because of the intimate, face to face nature of a pop-up/market, I would urge you to consider if it’s a good fit for personality.

Paint Your Own Cookies are usually always a best seller at markets, pop-ups and bazaars.

Now that you know the basic pros and cons, here are a few more things to consider.

-How much inventory to bring and what to do with the extra inventory that might remain.

-Is the market outdoors? What's the plan in the event of inclement weather?

-How many other similar vendors will be at the event?

-How much anticipated traffic does the venue receive?

There are many considerations to make while determining if a pop-up or market is a good decision for your business. Be thoughtful. Only you can decide if it’s a good fit for your business.

If you are in a growth period for your business, a pop-up, market or bazaar may be a good use of your time and resources. If time is your most limited commodity, though, it may be better to take a pass.

And if fear or uncertainty is your biggest hurdle, y’all know what I’m going to say…Do it Scared. Do it anyway. Do not let the fear of the unknown stop you from pursuing or growing your dreams. Growth doesn’t come from the places we’re comfortable, it comes from pushing ourselves out into the unknown.


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