Alex Ure, owner of Past Lives Thrift, shares her advice on maximizing your market-vending experience in our free guide
Flip through your local event listings, follow your favourite local vintage vendors or peruse our vintage-specific event calendar and you’ll see that there are more vintage markets than ever vying for your business.
There are so many to choose from that when Alex Ure, founder of Past Lives Thrift in Ottawa, Ont., was first starting out as a market vendor, she booked so many that she burned out.
Now, she focuses specifically on vending at events where she believes her ideal customers are.
For Past Lives Thrift, that tends to be markets attended by young, urban trendy people who love vintage clothing and accessories especially from the ’90s: staples like baggy boyfriend jeans, leather jackets and long maxi skirts, as well as timeless patterns, muted colours and neutrals that easily mix and match.
Alex sells on her website and is a frequent pop-up shop collaborator — she recently wrapped up a months-long pop-up in a shared space in Ottawa — but says she loves markets and swaps because they allow her to meet lots of people, turn over inventory and make new connections.
“Markets are a good way to move stuff really quickly,” Alex says. “I like pricing it a bit lower and moving it quicker rather than holding onto it forever.”
In 2022, Alex was a co-organizer of the Second Life Vintage Market series in Ottawa, giving her valuable insight into the role of market host and the work that goes into staging an event.
While she doesn’t plan to organize markets again in the near future, Alex says the experience of managing relationships with vendors has made her a better one herself.
Booking a market doesn’t guarantee great sales, she says. Bringing through the doors is a two-way relationship between market organizer and market vendor.
While vendors pay for booth space at a market and some exposure to a potential audience through the market’s promotion, it’s not solely up to the organizer to fill the venue with buyers.
Vendors need to put in the work to bring potential and existing customers to the event — and once there, to attract them into their booths.
“One hundred people could show up to a market or 1,000, but if you’re not bringing the energy and you’re not selling, it doesn’t matter. That has nothing to do with the organizers,” Alex says.
“Think of it from the point of view like you’re renting a store. You wouldn’t rent a store at a mall and then do nothing to promote it.”
Between being a former market organizer and a perennial market vendor, Alex has a lot of advice to share on selling at markets.
She gives us some of her best market booth setup, floor plan, marketing and networking advice in a FREE downloadable six-page tip sheet called Market Vendor Guide.
Looking for more vintage-market selling tips? Check out our article Going to a vintage market? Top tips for sellers and shoppers