Finding a Virtual Solution When a Physical Marketplace Gets Canceled

How physical marketplace Bide found a last-minute virtual solution for its canceled Spring event.

 

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Due to the current COVID-19 outbreak our Spring BIDE Market in March 22, 2020 from 10AM – 4PM has been postponed until further notice. We believe slowing down the rate of this epidemic is critical and the health and safety of our participants, attendees, and community hold top priority. We will make a public announcement with a new date in the coming weeks. ⁣ ⁣ Full ticket refunds will be made throughout the week. ⁣ ⁣ Please note: We will be partnering with @myHeroPower and hosting a Virtual BIDE Market @Exchange312 on March 22nd in leu of a physical one highlighting services and products that would have been otherwise present. More details on this to come, but please stay tuned as we work together to innovate new ways to support and share the incredible brands involved with BIDE. Viewing is free. #TheShowMustGoOn(line) #ComeBideWithUsOnInstagram

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Broadway might be closed, but for in-person sustainable marketplace Bide Market, the show had to go on(line)! Based in Chicago with about 30-40 vendors including kids’ brands AV Norden and Range Life, Bide Market swapped its physical Spring event (its third edition) due to the COVID-19 shutdowns for a live Instagram presentation, with vendors taking turns telling their stories and selling merchandise. A virtual meditation event re-created some of the marketplace’s physical experiential events, while shipping was free so consumers wouldn’t incur any additional fees.

A small skincare business owner herself, Bide’s founder Parisa Morris started planning early as she tracked the virus overseas, anticipating its jump here. “I knew how much canceling would hurt vendors who rely on these markets for traffic,” she says. “Early March, I asked vendors if they were still comfortable doing the market and they said yes, but four days later when you couldn’t hold gatherings of 500 people, I knew I needed a viable option!”

About 75 percent of vendors opted in for a virtual marketplace, originally planned for Facebook Live. Morris spread the word through its newsletter and robust ambassador program, stating THE SHOW MUST GO ON(LINE). The link to join the Sunday morning virtual shopping event gave consumers sign-in codes plus a directive to “grab your favorite beverage and find a cozy spot in your home,” showing this new era of community casualness.

Bide also found out the hard way that churches are super busy broadcasting on Facebook Live on Sundays, with tech difficulties crashing the event. “Things stopped for a bit until someone suggested trying Instagram Live. Everyone had to pivot really quickly,” says Morris, who was disappointed because Facebook Live makes it easier for viewers to invite friends to Watch Parties and expand the reach. “It didn’t matter, I just wanted the show to go on and Instagram Live was perfect!”

AV Norden sold hats through its virtual event. Photo: Michelle Rose @michellerosephoto

Brands each got five minutes to present their stories and wares, like sustainable kids’ clothing line AV Norden. Naturally there were some humorous moments. “My kids (ages 2 and 4) were completely silent during the technical difficulties, but once I went live it was, ‘We want snacks! When will this be over?!’” laughs AV Norden founder Jennifer Jackson. “I was bribing them the whole time, and I didn’t even apologize to viewers. It was all good and a very nice experience in the end. I wasn’t expecting to sell a huge volume but I did sell some of the baby hats.” Vendors also got a post-streaming bump for their online shops that aggregate on BideMarket.com.

Bide’s Morris hopes that if she ever had to do another virtual event, she would get 100 percent vendor participation. “Some were too shy to do a live broadcast, or thought it would be too complicated,” she says. “But people saw how easy the platform was. If we had to do it again, we would make it even more interactive, maybe with live raffles.”

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