Why we're resilient to bad weather at Cleveland Flea.
It might rain at Cleveland Flea. Because we exist. In the real world. So, how do you build a business resilient to weather (or other less-than-ideal circumstances)? Here’s how we did it for ourselves and how we walk away from ‘bad’ weather days feelings even more confident than when we went in.
We don’t expect every day to be good weather. So, we don’t plan for the best, we plan to have the BEST day even in the WORST of weather.
We have a rain or shine policy. We only cancel if it’s super catastrophic weather that can endanger shoppers or vendors. And we’ve defined that very specifically. It’s super rare that conditions like that will be constant during an 8-hour market. But if they are, we have a plan to keep everyone safe. We’ve only had to close early once in 7 years (that’s 1 time in roughly 80 markets) and cancel once, due to a really really bad storm. If you don’t cancel all the time, that creates shopper confidence. Which in turn creates vendor confidence.
We don’t get into a bad mood because of the weather. Just because it’s raining, it doesn’t mean we have a bad day.
We’re prepared. We have a plan A, B, C & D for various conditions. That allows us to plan effectively for whatever is headed our way– whether that’s 90-degree heat, Summery sunshine or Fall snowflakes. If you’re prepared for the weather, you’ll make the best of any situation.
We don’t need good weather to be profitable. We’ve diversified our income so that we’re covered if we have less shoppers than full-capacity. We have 4 types of customers, and usually 3/4 or at least 1/2 of them come out in rain or shine. And that’s enough to keep vendors happy (many vendors have their best days on rainy days).
We don’t give ourselves an option to not show up. It’s non-negotiable. We CANNOT cancel. We have hundreds of thousands of dollars on the line. We have promises made (to ourselves, our vendors and our shoppers). We don’t waffle. We commit. Ahead of time.