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A Recap of the Handmade Tucson Event

Kristine Spengler Creative Startups makers and sourcing

Handmade Tucson event
On February 23 makers and small business owners from Tucson gathered at Saguaro Market for a reception to celebrate the important relationship between Tucson makers and the overall success of Saguaro Market. My goal in hosting this event was to:
  • share how Saguaro Market came to be
  • talk a bit about what I've learned in the 4-months we've been open
  • preview some of the events & collaboration opportunities that we'll be officially announcing later this month
Here's a bit more on some of the items I covered:

Saguaro Market history

Saguaro Market came about organically through a lifetime of daydreaming and a growing embrace of the phrase "If not me, who? If not now, when?" I took the leap of faith in June, 2016 and began creating what is now Saguaro Market.

The vision for Saguaro Market is to grow the creative economy. Our core values include the Golden Rule and the Law of Attraction. We will therefore grow the creative economy by putting out into the word what we want to receive and by treating others as we want to be treated. If we're doing something that doesn't embrace these values then we've gone off track.

Why is it important that makers know this?

The success of Saguaro Market is truly dependent on the success of makers. I'm not here to buy the lowest priced items and sell them at top dollar. I'm here to grow the creative economy in a long-term scalable way because I believe this is the best way to grow my business. This means that I'll work with makers to create solutions that are best for everyone. And by everyone I'm referring to makers, customers, and me. 

What I've learned

The market opened for business in October, 2016 and in the 5 markets since I've learned more than I can list here. I'll share with you the two most obvious and applicable learnings below.

1) Consignment does not work at Saguaro Market

Here's why: In order to sustain the business (keep the lights on) I need for everything I sell in the store to have, at minimum, a 50% margin. In order to grow the business I need to find items that are in demand and provide more than a 50% margin. This means that for me to sell consignment items in a manner that does not cost me money, I need to make 50% of the price that a customer pays. This leaves you, the maker, with 50% which in many cases means that all you're doing is covering your costs. You're not gaining from the sale. In this model we both lose. The only way to win is to increase the price of the items which then makes them harder to sell and in this way, the customer loses.

So, if consignment doesn't work, what does? To be honest, I don't know. That's the problem I'm working on now. I believe the answer to be a combination of options which I've outlined on this page. I'll be spending the next few markets evaluating these options and will make alterations to the plan as necessary. I'm committed to keeping you up to date on what I'm learning and will host another Handmade Tucson event next quarter where I'll share the learnings and talk about what's next. 

2) There are definite buying trends at Saguaro Market. Here's what's currently trending:
  1. Paper 
  2. Funny cards
  3. Anything with a Saguaro
  4. Anything related to Tucson & AZ
  5. Bright colors
  6. Handmade, small batch. Location isn't as important.
  7. Bold, graphic, new, modern, fresh prints and patterns
  8. Nostalgia - anything that reminds customers of their youth
  9. Products that are $20 or less
  10. Despite workshops being popular, DIY products are not

My next post will dive into numbers 6 & 9 in the list above. I'll go over what factors impact the customer's decision to purchase and what you can do about it. 

Thank you to all who attended and to all that took the time to read this post. Cheers to building the creative economy together!



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      • Becky Evans on

        Thanks! More good info in addition to what was presented at Handmade Tucson Event.


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