How our Beautiful Country Handmade Market is Curated
Over the years we have developed a reputation as a vibrant market offering good quality handmade, homemade and homegrown products in a fun, happy and friendly environment. This helps us attract an overwhelming number of shoppers to each market. Not only are we are supported by our local community but we have people travelling from all over the region to shop at our market. People even travel to Wagga from Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra specifically to come to River & Wren!! For a country market this is very exciting!
This means that we receive an increasingly large number of applications from potential stallholders. Far more applications than we are able to accept. Being an indoor market we are limited by the size of our venue and we only offer outdoor shops during the warmer months as it can become rather bitter in Wagga during winter!
Our curation is one of the aspects of our market that sets us apart from other markets in our region. Attendance at River & Wren is by application, not booking. We review all applications to curate a market that offers a diverse range of handmade products for our market shoppers. Our aim is to ensure that products that fall under the same category, such as jewellery, have a point of difference so that each business has an opportunity to have a good day.
We have always been extremely conscious that our market has two sets of 'customers' - the market shoppers and the market stallholders (or creators as we call them at River & Wren). We work hard to consider the needs of both sets of customers and understand the importance of matching the creators (products) to our shoppers. Our shoppers tell us they value good quality handmade and upcycled, recycled, rustic, country, beautiful, original, vintage, unique, homemade, homegrown are all words that feature highly on our shoppers' wish lists.
Our Stallholder Selection Criteria
Selecting creators for each of our markets is not a 'science' - it is usually a 'feeling' as to what will work for River & Wren and will fit well with our market brand and be loved by our market shoppers.
So how do we curate a River & Wren?
(1) Most importantly, products must be handmade, homemade or homegrown.
(2) Products must be beautiful and be very well made.
(3) Products must be designed/made/grown by the person applying to attend the market.
(4) Diversity, diversity, diversity of products.
(5) Products in the same category need to have a point of difference.
(6) As much as possible places will be offered to local and regional businesses, though applications from outside of our region will be considered if a business makes a product that we think is amazing.
(7) Products must fit with River & Wren's brand.
(8) The aim is to offer a unique handmade shopping experience that cannot be found elsewhere. Our shoppers want River & Wren to showcase products that are not available in their local shopping centres.
(7) We love to introduce new creators at our market, though this will always depend upon applications being received from new creators and what they make.
Other things we take into account:
(1) Presentation of market shops and products. We love to see a creative and beautiful use of the 3m x 3m space.
(2) Product photos that are provided with an application.
(3) A business' social media presence (which is very important by the way!)
(4) Other places the products are available for sale.
(5) Feedback from shoppers regarding products at the market.
(6) I wander around each market and though it may look as though I'm aimlessly wandering and chatting, I'm actually observing what shoppers are interested in and what products are 'walking out the door'.
(7) River & Wren is a friendly, happy and fun market and we encourage all of our creators to bring their happy smiles to the market and to make all of our shoppers feel welcome and to help their fellow creators.
We would love to be able to offer a position at River & Wren to everyone who applies, but that is just not possible and would not allow us to curate an exciting and diverse market for our shoppers.
If creators meet all of our criteria but we can't fit them into the market, we will put them on the waiting list. There are always cancellations at every market and chances are that many on the waiting list will be offered a place during the lead-up to the market.
Don't Give Up
We can only offer positions at a market to those creators who apply to attend the market.
If we are unable to offer a creator a position at a market, we encourage them to apply again. Generally we are unable to offer a creator a position because we have received too many applications from people wanting to sell the same or very similar products.
This is where we encourage creators to find their creative awesomeness and use their talents to find a gap in the 'market' and fill it so that we can offer them a position at River & Wren.
We understand that for some businesses, attendance at River & Wren is integral to their income and that Christmas is the time of year that creators have the opportunity to make fabulous sales. Regulars are an important element of a market, as are new creators. However, River & Wren is like every other small business that needs to evolve in order to remain successful and to keep shoppers coming through the doors.
We also understand that we can't please everyone all of the time but our goal is to provide a friendly, fun and happy market filled with lots of gorgeous handmade products, especially as we approach Christmas and our two amazing Christmas markets.