Step inside Clover Market, a wonderland of artisan and vintage finds. Long created the market in 2010 and has grown it to include four towns and 90 vendors. Here’s how she did it.
by Melissa Jacobs
Obsessed with Clover Market? Same. With an amazing array of high-end, artisan-made and vintage leather goods, clothes, jewelry, candles, soaps, furniture and tableware – plus food trucks and live music – Clover Markets have everything we love. (And easy parking.)
The first Clover Market was held in Ardmore in 2010 and featured 25 vendors. Now, more than 90 vendors are featured at spring and fall Clover Markets in Chestnut Hill, Collingswood, Bryn Mawr and Kennett Square. Becoming a Clover Market vendor bestows a certain cachet that can catapult small businesses into regional or national spotlights.
That’s because founder Janet Long carefully curates each season’s vendors. “The application window and vendor selection typically happens about 3-4 months ahead of the start of each season,” Long explained. “When I review applications, I’m looking for product quality, craftsmanship, uniqueness, cohesiveness of design, the overall mix of sellers, and fit with the Market’s aesthetic and what I feel will resonate most with our customers.”
Social media matters, too. “It’s a big part of how we get the word out and promote the events,” Long said. “Product display and presentation are also very important. I look for applicants’ creative and carefully styled displays. I always try to have a variety of styles, price points, and categories represented.”
Long also puts a lot of thought into which booths go where at the markets. “Putting the map together is like doing a giant wedding seating plan,” Long says. “I’m looking to create interesting, engaging experiences. I try to visualize customers walking down each aisle and in each space. So, I think about variety, balancing styles and price points throughout. I also have to factor in the logistics of getting the vendors into the space, so the antique dealers are typically placed on corners.”
Small, local vendors depend on Clover Market for income, and that responsibility powered Long through the quarantine part of the pandemic. When in-person markets were kiboshed, Long reworked the markets into online, ecommerce entities. “It was really challenging, and there were many sleepless nights, but I learned a lot in the process and picked up some new technology and coding skills,” Long said. “Keeping an open-minded, creative, ‘why not, I’ll give it a shot’ attitude was necessary to survive. Thankfully, I have a great group of vendors who enthusiastically pivoted with me, along with our customers.”
Long is thrilled that some of her longtime vendors now have thriving businesses. Malvern’s Zoet Bathlatier was one of her original success stories; Wayne’s Christine Shirley is another. “It’s one of the things that I’m really proud about,” Long said. “A number of vendors ‘graduated’ and opened their own brick-and-mortar shops. Others have been scouted at Clover and now have their products carried in stores and museum shops. Other vendors have been approached about doing pop-ups and larger events, too. These opportunities allow them to sell their work, meet customers, and grow their businesses.”
And Long is a shopper, too. What are a few of her favorite Clover Market finds? “I have a number of jewelry items, lots of candles and apothecary products, and I’m always on the hunt for interesting antiques,” she said. “I recently purchased a cyanotope from Atwater Designs, an oil painting from Mandy Martin Art, and a necklace from Circle Stone Designs. I love looking around my home or wearing something, and thinking about the person who made or found that item. It really brings me a lot of joy.”