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.