Finding your market

Saturday we visited the Cleveland Flea, which pops up the second Saturday of the month at Sterle’s Restaurant in the St Clair/Superior neighborhood.  We were really curious to see how this endeavor is evolving and taking shape.  We participated for two months in the spring but began to sense this was not our market.


The Flea has great vibe, and energy, with a wide selection of clothing, vintage household goods, Mid Century Modern furniture, mixed with handcrafted things, and a large amount of bead stringers.

The music was pumping loud, and the crowds were swelling, swarming, buying.

We wandered each and every aisle of this pop up market, and found some interesting people, unusual finds.  But in the back of my mind I wanted to keep asking “How would our products fit with this flea market?”

My thoughts were confirmed when Steve said to me “I love how the flea has evolved into an interesting typical urban flea market, but i just can;t see our products here.”  OK, Agree

What are some of the factors in determining our market, or  criteria for analyzing the possibility of finding my fit here?

  • The presence or absence of artists.  Are they selling high end art?  Often when water color artists, photographers, and oil painters are present the crowd is a more elevated artsy crowd.
  • A balance of goods – the better the event has a mixture of different types of work, styles, and those who sell what we sell are scattered through the crowd, rather than lined up together.  We love when there is a good mix of types of art and homemade products.
  • Publicity – unquestionably the Flea has media coverage deluxe, including a big two page splash in the Cleveland Plain Dealer the Sunday before, plenty of buzz on cool Cleveland  and an assortment of other media outlets.  Yes, publicity means larger audience, and that is good
  • The reputation or the image of the event – the creator builds a brand, an image, a vision of what the event will be.  When we learned she was calling this “the flea” i winced… flea con notates cheap finds, bargain surprises, discounted stuff others are getting rid of.  Its clear she is trying to echo the urban flea market image of Paris – finding wonderful things, meeting locals, having an immersion into the culture, the environment, and finding stuff you did not know you needed.
  • The reputation of the crowd – are they a buying or looking group?  This will vary a bit, but typically the publicity will bring out one of these groups in strength.  Are the people coming with bags, and the desire to spend money, buy stuff?  Or just walking about and looking?
  • Is the event promotor organized, structured, able to clearly demonstrate where and what they want of their vendors?

The leading factor in determining for us that the Flea is not our market is the reputation – It is a place for the twenty somethings to discover and buy the stuff our generation cast off years ago…. the ugly mid century modern swedish blond angular furniture with brass feet, and the old suitcases turned into medicine cabinets and the like.  People are coming looking for those bargain basement finds, those pennies on the dollar purchases, the fixer-upers that look edgy, trendy, and so very unique.

The group this event attracts are young, and they have money, but their focus seems to be caught up in recapturing an age they never lived through.  Dressing in 50s and 60s vintage beaver cleaver looks, and filling their new apartments and homes with pieces that echo a past.

The crowd may be interested in vegan organic soap that is handcrafted, but as a rule they are investing in their own appearance, buying used clothes, and upcycled furniture first.  That is perfectly fine.  It frees me to enjoy strolling the event, and allows me to target the business to where it needs to be.