Alternative Market F.A.Q.

Frequently Asked Questions about Alternative Markets

If a Chairperson has experience in planning special events, these steps will be familiar. But here are some answers to questions specific to Alternative Markets.

1. Why hold an Alternative Market?

  • Alternative markets provide income for artisans who are struggling to survive in other countries.
  • Alternative markets are an appropriate nonprofit response to consumerism.
  • Alternative markets raise money for the world’s needs.
  • Handmade and unique gifts are available to congregations/organizations in their home environment which reduces the stress of shopping in crowded malls.
  • Alternative markets provide a time of fun and celebration for your congregation/organization!

2. When should we start planning for our Alternative Market?

Ideally a team will begin planning for the market at least 3 months prior to the event.

3. When should we hold a market?

Most Alternative Markets are held in October, November and December.  Some organizations are holding Christmas in July markets.  It is also popular to hold markets in conjunction with meetings, especially when the participants have an interest in mission causes or addressing community concerns such as local food banks, youth shelters, women’s shelters, or shelters for the homeless.

4. Where should we hold the market?

Spaces such as fellowship halls, libraries, gyms or large empty rooms can be used to hold a market.  The space needs to be large enough to hold display tables, chairs and space for people to move comfortably from one display to another. While hallways or corridors are not the best for full markets, they can be effective for a small market.

5. Should we serve food and have entertainment?

Offering food for sale or free refreshments will help draw more shoppers to your market.  Plan for how the food traffic will affect the market flow.  Having the display booths too far away from the food can keep people from shopping.

Entertainment by members of a choir, congregation/organization, or even the community will also draw people to the market.  Musical recordings can also add a tone of festivity.

6. How many displays should be included?

This decision is driven by how much planning time and space is available.  Begin by deciding how many displays the site can accommodate.  Remember to include space for food booths, if you are serving food.

7. How much time is needed?

It is important to have ample time to advertise your event.  If your market is connected to an existing event (such as a musical concert or a potluck dinner) people will already be there.  For a ‘stand-alone’ event, your success in getting people to the market will depend on publicity and personal contacts.  Typically, a market is open for 3 to 6 hours, if held on one date.  Other markets are held Friday through Sunday, or on consecutive weekends.

8. Who handles the sales?

There are two models from which to make a choice.

Model 1: Each vendor takes care of transactions at their booth.

Model 2: The church/organization provides a sales sheet with an assigned number for each vendor.  The vendor marks the sales sheet with the total of purchases made by the individual shopper to the booth.  The shopper takes the sheet to the central check out table/booth where the items are added and packaged.  When the final accounting is completed a check is sent to each vendor.