Sunday, March 1, 2015

Indoor spaces - bane or boon?

1 March 2015

Guess where this post was written at ? This is on a weekend Sunday where we have 3 outdoor bazaars in 3 different out door locations. 

Needless to say, to be able to blog from one of the locations, it can only mean a few things:

  • That if we're not busy attending to customers, we can find time to do other things;
  • That outdoor locations are bad for organisers (we digress, every location has its good and bad days);
  • That outdoor locations are bad for vendors (we also digress, besides getting free, much needed sunshine vitamin, a good proportion of our vendors are having brisk sales - remember - besides the traffic, there's the part on what you sell, and how you sell it, and your interpretation of the crowd there - which is why we always encourage you to conduct your own site surveys before signing up with new venues we offer);
  • That TGIF Bazaar has not sufficient staff (we kind of think that way, especially with the opportunities that we had to let go... and its hard to find folks with the right aptitude to work in a brick and mortar start up);
  • That TGIF Bazaars has a certain capability where logistical and operational capabilities are concerned.

Anyway, back to the topic we want to write about today: Indoor spaces

Recap on last post with more details: 

What we've observed (you may beg to differ) about indoor (or semi indoor) spaces available for flea markets and bazaars that is commonly known in Singapore are:

  • Shopping mall atrium space;
  • Shopping mall non-commercial space;
  • Empty retail outlets; 
  • Empty office space;
  • Co-located / shared space with restaurants / cafeteria with extra space
  • And semi-outdoor space such as the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station where Public Gardens held the first night flea market, Happier Hour.
And there are also the push carts that are usually owned by mall management themselves.

In our encounters with mall managements, we can safely assume the following to be true especially for indoor atrium space:

Assumption 1 : Mall management will charge you a premium for their atrium space if they think you need them more than they want you. 

Assumption 2 : Mall management will be prepared to give you discounts or the venue for free if they think they need you more than you want them.

Assumption 3 : Mall managements know what they want.

Our opinion is that any good organisers who truly think for the business well being of their vendors and partners, will make the appropriate suggestions so that everyone in the business eco-system, will know how to position their businesses and products for synergistic gains.

(But our opinion on what makes good organisers could be wrong).

Moving forward, the onus is on organisers to create that value proposition for mall management, so that they will consider give you large discounts for their atrium space. 

Is there a universal value proposition? Not really. It all depends on how you read and understand the situation as well as mall managements' objectives.

Here are some examples of objectives that we have encountered : 

  • Raise footfall to the mall through targeted or blanket approach, with incremental footfall there are greater opportunities for their tenants to drive incremental spending of shoppers 
  • Raise awareness of their new mall.
  • Refreshed and unusual merchandise mix that draw repeat visits from shoppers returning to their malls - a flea market or bazaar is a whiff of fresh air and helps sustains repeated visits. 
  • Raise rental revenue for mall management (this one, I am sure all organisers will go bleah... without showing it on our faces for sure ! heh heh )... )
So how do you find out from the venue owners?

Simple - just ask them (they may or may not give you the true picture - but how you get the true picture depends on your inter-personal skills with the officer in charge).

Empty office / warehouse / multi-function space : 

Good existing examples are : 1) Triple One Somerset 2) F1 pit building 3) Museums with empty halls or spaces

Exhibition halls that host Mega Flea markets by T Cartel are a different ball game with different business models altogether.

Organisers considering the use of empty office spaces (usually near town or in town) have to be able to draw crowds there. 

The plus points of having such venues are : air-conditioning, shelter and you have great photography angles showing how crowded the flea markets are, as well as some benefits of some other unmentionables that only industry players know, and I ain't going to pitchia lobang here !   ;) 

The downsides of such venues are : over-crowding, shopper experience will be affected by  shoppers obstructing one another as they stop to browse the merchandise. 

In addition, What are the chances of vendor/ shopper fatigue (same merchandise, different venues) setting in? We are human after all and sometimes we like variety.

As for other indoor locations such as empty retail spaces and co-location with restaurants / cafes, it is also commonly known as retail pop up, and there are 2 organisers at the point of writing that we know of who are doing this : 

  1. For Flea Sake
  2. Three blind mice... 

That's about it for this time, I know we haven't put up a lot of pictures and everything is wordy - we'll put up some in time to come!

We will talk more about outdoor spaces the next time!



Saturday, February 7, 2015

Some breathing space at last!

We hadn’t a chance to breathe since our Countdown 2015 Marina Waterfront Bazaar, as we jumped straight into preparation for the ONE KM Mall + MORE Bazaar, as well as Flea & Easy @ Chinatown, as well as engaging new venues and organisations who made enquiries on collaborations…etc 

*whew !*

Anyways, on to the topic we were supposed to chat about.

There are indoor and outdoor bazaars / markets / fleas / bazaars / roadshows.  We’re not here to judge which ones are good, or which ones are crap… not in this post anyway.


Spaces for bazaars are located under shelter, sometimes in air-conditioned environment.  Some venues come with good organic crowd as malls, others such as 111 Somerset and F1 pit building, museums do not (Organisers who can bring crowd to such places have regular followers and vendors, so they sometimes have a community spirit among them. This is good. The downside is that your physical business is only exposed to a limited range of audience).

Let’s talk about malls…

Malls treat their indoor space like precious metals or stones and when they offer space for bazaars / roadshows to external organisers, it will come with a string of terms and conditions. 

Why? They have to protect their tenants’ interest, because rental income is the cash cow of any shopping mall.  They will also stipulate the opening time of your bazaar, ensure that your booths are well presented, and will curate your merchandise mix like crazy.    

A long list of dos and do-nots.

That makes shopping malls a pain to work with because you can’t be selling what you want to sell and you have to do what they want you to do.  And to us organisers, we notice they always ask for the same stuff – artisans, handicraft, unique, vintage items…etc , but do not realize that there are limited number of artisan vendors in the market to go around.

Malls also demand that vendors also open their booths on time – but we think this is fair because they have a promise to fulfill to their shoppers. So vendors who are habitually late will be frowned upon, and perhaps be eventually blacklisted.

The malls that invite bazaar / flea market organisers to run a market within their mall is really to create a more unique offering to their shoppers – imagine you were a shopper and you went to the mall to see the same shops, the same brands every day – how long does it take before you lose interest in the mall?

That’s why it is in the interest of malls to keep refreshing their offerings, for them to organize promotions and events, to create experiences that are interesting. So given their budget (many malls we know are very stingy when it comes to them spending money) they’ll find ways and means to work with event manager / organisers as well as flea market / bazaar organisers and create business models (invisible to the man in the street) to maximize their returns on investment. Only under very rare circumstances, mall management would go for win-win.

For vendors who are already selling stuff in bazaars and road shows in malls – you would already have developed your own business system, including making manpower arrangements to manage this.  Imagine yourself at your booth 7 days or more in row, listening to the same piped in music, jingles all day…

So for aspiring entrepreneurs who are thinking of going into roadshow / bazaar / gondola sales on a full time basis, here’s what we discovered:  As lucrative it may sound to you in terms of sales, remember if you have insufficient manpower to man your booth, you are going to experience fatigue after being in the same place for a consecutive number of days (many organizer have a minimum number of days for bookings) and the number of hours you need to spend manning your booths (9 to 12 hours).

So you might want to consider working with a booth re-seller / agent who will help to meet the requirements of the organizer if you cannot commit to the full number of days stipulated in the block - booking.  BEWARE of untrustworthy agents.

For folks in the events / advertising industry in Singapore, the good news is that there are still lots of projects for you from malls. The bad news – your margins is in a high chance of getting thinner.

So the next time you put in an integrated proposal to any mall – do consider partnering a bazaar organizer, preferably one who understands what your business and their businesses are about. We can complement your strategy and tactics.

We'll talk about indoor open spaces the next time.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Reflections on 2014... better late than never

03 Jan 2014

Happy New Year everyone!  We had a good run in December 2014 that the entire team is now resting and recuperating.  Still that doesn’t stop us from writing – or reflecting.

It’s about 1.5 years since we started off our first bazaar at the Sentosa Boardwalk, and we’d like to thank all those whom have help us make things happen in one way or another.

In no particular order, for 2014, we would like to thank:

  • Our vendors – the whole list of you that it is not humanly possible to mention all…
  • Our partners – MR Events,, Happy Ice Ice-cream, Superb Living Markets,
  • The venues who have hosted us and worked with us to effectively make things happen,
  • Sentosa Development Corporation
  • The Urban Redevelopment Authority
  • The National Environmental Agency 
  • Our designers
  • Our bazaar hardware suppliers
  • And everyone who’s shopped at our bazaars
  • Mediacorp Singapore – Channel U, for the interview 
  • Straits Times – for the ST Life front cover photo of our bazaar
  • Other various medias / websites whom have featured our bazaars

Particularly for our vendors who participate in our outdoor bazaars – we would like to thank you for braving the winds, the sun, the humidity and the rain. 

Some of you (like us) have become healthier, tanner and tougher roughing it out in the elements for the 1 or 2 days a week (notwithstanding the annual haze) after spending most of our time indoors (Ok, so it may be just mildly rough since there are tents in our outdoor bazaars that provide some form of shelter, and our bazaars are busiest in the evenings).

Coming up in our next blog entry, we will share our point of views on indoor and outdoor bazaars / flea markets.   

Do stay tuned.

Kim & The Team