COMMITTEES | Marketplace


Carpets will save you from the wrath of angry shoe vendors. Provide one 5' x 7' (minimal size) rug (over plywood if the vendors are on grass) for guests to try on shoes. At one event, rather than carpets, they rented 2' x 6’ rubber mats for the shoe vendors. These were way too small. Women stepped off the mats to check out the shoes, resulting in damaged shoes and many unhappy vendors.

Don't place loud speakers directly next to vendors. They can't talk with customers.

Do a light check pre-event. If there is inadequate lighting, bring in small spots for the vendors. Remember, if the guest can’t see it well, they won’t buy it. This makes for unhappy vendor partners and reduced donations.

Ask the venue to have a manager on the floor at all times for spills, glass breakage, food replenishment, etc.

Include your Schedule of Events on clear signage near your marketplace entrance. 

Make sure the Volunteer Captain manages volunteers on event day.

Make sure your Sponsors/Marketplace partners discuss their event setup with you BEFORE the event. The last thing you want is to look like a trade show or have a sponsor engage guests in a distasteful way. (Yes, we had a medi-spa performing cellulite treatments.)

Don’t let vendors crowd their tables. Merchandise should be thoughtfully displayed. There is such a thing as too many choices.

If a local boutique/vendor has a reputation for being a diva or a pain in the posterior, then don’t make your job harder by inviting them to participate.

On rare occasions guests write bad checks to vendors making the charity track down the culprit. Tell your vendors to collect as much info as possible from anyone writing a check!

Don’t rely on tray passed food. Include food stations where guests can always find something to eat. (Passing food also increases the likelihood of dirty hands sullying merchandise.)

Do keep food tables somewhat removed from the fashion vendors. No one wants greasy fingers touching their merchandise.

Don’t spread the event over two stories or in multiple rooms. Separate spaces dilutes the energy.

When setting up pay attention to the sun. Wine will be ruined if it sits in the sun or gets hot. So be sure there is shade or umbrellas.

The traveling vendors have all the exposure and risk, and they can’t control any of the event variables like where they are put in the room, the lighting, the guests, the other vendors and competition, lack of mirrors, etc. The charity must deliver on the basics, like good lighting and mirrors. It costs a traveling vendor about $1,000 to participate in an event. Be sure to be conscious of all that the vendor is providing and conscientious about making their experience as positive as possible.

Regarding vendors, sometimes the process of selection is not communicated from the charity to the vendors when they call to talk about participating in the event. It is important to return phone calls from potential vendors promptly and communicate clearly. If you say yes to a vendor, you need to follow up immediately with an agreement so that everyone is clear about whether or not they are “in.” Out of town vendors must be signed up three months in advance. 

Don’t fall into the “entitlement” trap or get lax about follow-up with vendors if you happen to be lucky enough to have many vendors wanting to participate. If you treat vendors poorly or don’t follow-up well, you will find your stable of vendors dwindling for future events.

If you would rather not provide mirrors for some reason, be sure your vendors know that they must bring the appropriate mirrors for their particular goods.

Each vendor will bring a credit card processing system so they are not writing the sales out on a carbon copy sales book. When the going gets busy, nobody wants to worry about writing quickly enough or making mistakes that could result in a lost sale; it is too stressful. 

If you are going to promise a vendor that you will limit the vendors selling their type of product, like handbags and jewelry, they need to honor that. If you don’t want to limit the selection, then you need to tell them that, very clearly, so they are not disappointed or irritated when they get to the event. 

Be sure to leverage up the vendor contacts to promote the event. All of the out of town vendors have mailing lists and the local vendors have mailing lists as well. Get them to promote the event to their mailing lists.