Hot Chick owner offers lessons in marketing

Dana Zaruba wants to share her success at booth marketing with others Wednesday. - courtesy Dana Zaruba
Dana Zaruba wants to share her success at booth marketing with others Wednesday.
— image credit: courtesy Dana Zaruba

Many factors must be considered in order to operate a market stall successfully.

Cobble Hill’s Dana Zaruba is offering her expertise in both book and seminar form.

Zaruba has made and sold her own line of condiments under the name Hot Chick Spice Company since 2004. She’s also released a new book appropriately-titled How to Run a Successful Market Stall and will be doing a workshop next Wednesday, Feb. 23 at 7 p.m. at Economic Development Cowichan, 135 Third Street in Duncan.

The fee for the hour-long session is $25 and includes a copy of Zaruba’s new book, but space is limited to 15 participants.

“My interest is to inspire people and let them know they can do it,’’ said Zaruba.

“I haven’t yet given specific workshops on market stalls, even though I am an experienced teacher.’’

Zaruba taught English as a second language for 11 years. The public session is a natural progression from her experience as a market vendor and author.

Getting started or improving an already-established stall sometimes requires pointers to steer people in the right direction.

A lot of people have a hobby, Zaruba said, whether it’s gardening or crafts, but don’t know where to go from there.

“Over the years, I realize I have a lot of information to share. I enjoy being able to help other vendors.’’

Before establishing her own full-time booth at the downtown Duncan Farmer’s Market, Zaruba did markets and fairs for 10 years.

“I’ve gone to quite a few places up and down the island, from Sidney to Qualicum Beach, basically,’’ she said.

Zaruba has also taken pointers the last two years from being at a well-established Ladner market that runs from June to September on every second Sunday.

“I’ve done quite a few special events,’’ she added. “This is what a lot of market vendors end up doing.’’

The farmers’ market season traditionally runs from April through Thanksgiving and “then they prepare for the Christmas fairs,’’ said Zaruba.

“I don’t really cover special events too heavily in the book. That could be another whole book on its own.’’

Zaruba’s book provides practical advice that will be reinforced in the workshop.

“Create a product line that’s in keeping with today’s trends and customer needs,’’ she said.

Zaruba also stresses the importance of having effective displays and signage, and proper pricing to sell a product.

Above all else, the vendor’s approach to customers means a great deal.

“You are just as much a product as the item you’re selling,’’ said Zaruba.

“People go to a market just for an experience. Being welcomed by vendors who are warm and friendly and communicative are absolutely crucial to your success as a vendor.’’

Duncan currently has an indoor market at the Island Savings Centre and Zaruba will be there selling her products from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. She’ll be available for book signings and to sign up people for the workshop next week.

After that, Zaruba is looking forward to a speaking engagement at the B.C. Association of Farmers’ Markets Conference on March 12. She also has a new blog at www.overunitypress.com that vendors can check out for information and support.

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