A few months ago, I was talking to a friend who was trying to grow his food business. He makes this dish that blends parts of his culture from here and there, and I can attest it is unique and delicious.
“Why don’t you try the Queens Night Market?” I asked.
“I can’t afford to,” he said. “You have to price it at $5 and I usually sell for double that.”
The conversation moved along. But I’ve been thinking about him again lately, after the release of a survey about night markets, their vendors and attendees. Conducted by Epicenter with support from Citizens Bank, the study basically finds that the venue allows small businesses to launch and share a piece of their culture with their community. But significantly, it also found that three-quarters of patrons want to buy from vendors outside of the setting of the night market. This is meaningful because it underscores the value of these markets as a platform to introduce and market new products.
So whereas my friend saw the idea of setting up as a money loser — ”I can’t afford to” — this new research shows that there is a long-tail benefit. And support this year from Citizens Bank allowed vendors, who are reeling from rising costs overall, to sell in the same price range. After reading the report, I sent it to my friend and said: actually, how can you afford not to?
It’s not just food vendors that contend with these calculations and often want upfront assurances. As a small business owner myself, I constantly hear fellow entrepreneurs tell me they can’t spend, say, the $3,000 to get to a certain event. But if attending results in a six-figure deal, then perhaps it was the best money you “lost,” no?
When we talk about operating with a sense of abundance, these opportunities — to try — make all the difference. It’s the path I recommend for more small businesses, aware that my ability to do so has rested on a healthy line of credit, a penchant for risk and a belief that customers will come around—if only we give each other a chance.