8 marketing ideas for South End Market vendors

This past Sunday was opening day at the South End Open Markets in Boston, Ma.

Every Sunday, May through October, venders of all kinds share their art, food, crafts, jewelry & more.

no the best pic, sorry!

I went out with a friend on Sunday as part of my #52Restaurants project & we were excited to hit the market as part of our day.

The weather was not great but we walked through the market around 2:30pm & things were still cookin’ even with the threat of some serious rain.

I loved walking around seeing everyone’s stuff.

People’s creativity never ceases to amaze me.

When I left I thought a lot about how all these amazing venders could get more biz.

It can be hard for small business to really get out there & get seen, known & loved.

And of course, make money!

But the South End Open Market creates huge exposure for them.

So important for small & creative businesses!

Many peeps/biz were giving samples of their food goods, which is great. You need to!

But how can other businesses get noticed too?

While it’s nice to look at stuff, I’m sure so many venders want to sell sell SELL!

I have some ideas on how to get people who are just walking around more interesting in what you have, what you are selling & who you are. You might not make a sale that very day but creating fans & potential buyers is where’s it’s at!

I hope these ideas help someone but if they aren’t something someone would do, maybe it will spark some ideas of their own!

8 marketing ideas for South End Market vendors

1. Get out in front! 

I saw so many creative folk hiding in the back of their tents. You can see them ,of course & I doubt they were actually hiding but they were in the back & not ‘out there.’ Now, it was later in the day & things had slowed down a bit so maybe some were taking a break or sitting for a bit. That’s totes cool. But I do know creatives tend to be introverts & no doubt putting themselves out there at an open market takes a huge amount of energy & can be very draining. But kids, you are your biz! You’ve got to get out there & out front. Create the space so you are sitting in the front more. Get a stool so you can sit at the front. Whatever it is, be more visible & engage with the peeps as much as you can.

2. Have a sign up list & have your biz cards or postcards OUT!

I asked one lovely artist for a card because her pictures were gorgeous & she had to go digging for one.


Display your cards & get a clipboard or something more creative to make a list so people can get on your email list!

And be sure to tell them about it when they are milling about!

3. Have a contest, giveaway or incentive!

No one is all that excited to give out their email anymore so make it nice for them.

For example,

Sign up & get 20% off next time you are at the market or for our online shop!


Give one of your things away every month to people on your email list.

It may seem counter-intuitive to give stuff away or add more things to your to-do list but these days with everyone’s attention all over the place & tight wallets (even in an affluent Boston area) you’ve got to do something to get & keep your ideal customer’s attention.

4. More on the contest idea…

Maybe you don’t have an email list (you should, they are free & you can easily send one out monthly just to check in with people who are interested in your stuff! Tell them what’s new, how you are, WHERE you’ll be!) but you have some socials.

Do something like this:

When people enter your tent & are poking around, tell them that you are doing an Instagram contest where if they take a selfie with you, your stuff or just a picture of your stuff and hashtag it with your name or your product’s name or some creative hashtag you come up with they can win something.

I like this idea a lot.

It engages people, it’s fun, it will have people looking and wondering what’s happening over there & just think, people will be posting your picture & your product’s picture on their social. Maybe they have 1000+ followers. Maybe 50 people with hundreds of followers post a pic with your stuff….

You know what that is?


Don’t miss out on this opp, yo.

5. Have snacks

Sure there’s a gazillion food trucks at the open market but people love free food.

Have fun with it.

Bowls of gold fish, m & m’s and/or something fun related to your product, whatever.

Put any of these next to your biz cards & email sign up sheet.

6. Music 

There was music playing via a DJ which was very cool but if you’re a bit away from this, bring your boom box or some speaker for your phone & kick out some jams.

This creates a vibe & some ambiance making people stay longer & it can also invite them in!

7. Delegate

You are a creative. Your job is to be creative. This marketing & putting yourself out there can just about push your little sensitive spirit right. over. the. edge.


Pay someone to stand in the front of your tent, say hi to people, pass out info or samples or say ‘hey we are doing a super cool contest!’ etc etc

There are tons of college students studying PR & they’d be happy to make $50 (or less!) to help you & add this to their resume.

8. Doggies! 

There are tons of doggies being walked around the market.

And people stop & chat & hang with their dogs & weirdos like me pet & talk baby talk to the dogs (don’t judge!).

Put out a water dish in the front of your tent.

How about a doggie treat? Put a tray of those out!

Maybe partner with a local doggie treat company to give samples of their stuff for free!

More people will be drawn to your tent & therefore SEE your stuff instead of just walking by.



There are so many more ideas to come up with.

When I left the market Sunday I was filled with so many! I loved so much of what I saw & would’ve totally signed up for emails, entered contests, posted pics.

Ok, have any other ideas you would share with a vender? Add some in the comments!

Do you know a vender?

Share some of these ideas with them!

Know someone at the South End Open Market?

I’d love to come do a free talk for the venders!

Just to cheerlead them along & share ideas & create ways for them to engage their audience, gain fans & of course, business & profits!

This stuff gets me all jazzed up.

Viva la creative entrepreneurs!




One of the coolest things I saw was the D-Grater.

With something like this you HAVE to be demoing.

And they were!

These cool plates grate garlic, ginger & more!

They all second as serving dishes.

I think they’re gorg & would make a perfect gift for yourself or your favorite foodie.

Check them out at http://www.dgrater.com


2 thoughts on “8 marketing ideas for South End Market vendors”

    1. Thanks Nuv! I hope they help someone or at least spark some inspiration to come up with other stuff. I keep thinking how hard it is to ‘sell’ but maybe with a little fun it won’t be so bad! xo

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