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Insider Trader: A crafting bazaar


When most people talk about making money with their professions, they usually get pretty focused on Trade channel and the Auction House. It makes a lot of sense, really, because these are the two main avenues of selling in the game. The Trade channel is named Trade for a reason, and if you can brush aside all the Chuck Norris and murloc jokes, you can fairly easily broker a deal. The Auction House, of course, has become a sort of mini-game itself. The strategies and addons for managing your inventory in the Auction House are nearly as complicated as anything you'll see out of Icecrown Citadel.

But these two methods of selling aren't the only ways to get your wares across to waiting customers. If we look back to real life commerce in decades past, there was once a time-honored tradition of getting together with handful of other merchants, gathering in a park or meadow, and holding a big sort of vendor fair. The idea, of course, is that customers can come check out your goods, your neighbor's goods, and any other random valuable products. Now, part of this sort of merchant's bazaar is that you can look at several craftspeople's goods, and pick out the "best" product.

Even though every crafting item created by every professional is functionally identical, you can still get together with people who create other items and do something similar. There's a lot to be said for the value of convenience, which is exactly what you're providing by taking part in this kind of gathering. Not to mention, the tipping public really likes the idea of a party. Let's jump behind the cut and talk about the Crafting Bazaar.

When I encountered my first crafting bazaar, it was actually the idea of my guildmaster. At the beginning of Wrath of the Lich King, a lot of the "best" gear to get into raiding with came from professions. The Titansteel series was an obvious hit, as were the many products of Tailoring. That's before you even start talking about the still-mandatory professions like Alchemy and Jewelcrafting, whose vital creations are all the rage in even contemporary raiding.

So, to help all of our newbie raiders get into Naxxramas and Obsidian Sanctum, this guildmaster hosted a crafting bazaar. We were all Alliance at the time, and we picked our date and time to loiter in the area in front of the Ironforge bank. We placed a quick advertisement for our event on our official forums, and spent a few weeks farming the key materials for our various professions. We even talked up the event a few times in Trade channel.

On the day of the crafting bazaar, about a dozen guildies all showed up in Ironforge. Most of us wore "roleplay clothing" instead of our usual armor. Then, as each newb came buy, our "class experts" would evaluate the new, fresh level 80 and recommend some gear for him. "Hey!" the paladin expert would say. "Get this man a Titansteel Destroyer!'

The bazaar was a huge hit. At the time, I wasn't a big fan of huge guild meetings, which is about all I was expecting from the crafting bazaar. Not only did I have a great time . . . the number of people not in our guild who showed up and asked about getting items made blew my socks off.

One person said something that's always stayed with me. "I can do everything at once, so it keeps me from having to peck around the Auction House and Trade for hours."

Now that we're in the twilight of this expansion, many of the profession-created items no longer have the same impact. However, there are some obvious opportunities here that shouldn't be overlooked. Your choices are only going to be limited by your ability to collect and inventory materials.

You should probably even be ready to field inquiries about Icecrown patterns. People who see a bazaar taking place will wonder if you can create those precious items, and you probably want to answer them with a resounding "Yes!" Enchants, gems, and leg kits will all be very popular among alts and mains alike. It's difficult to say what the "big money" items would be for each server's economy, since a lot will depends on what your local auctioneers really like to sell on the auction house.

The trick to a successful crafter's bazaar will be advertising. Like I said, we saw a lot of success with our guild bazaar simply by posting once or twice on the official forums. (Not to mention, our own guild web site.) Roleplayers on Steamwheedle Cartel were able to drum up a little extra attention by turning their event into something even we advertised. Try networking with other tradespeople on your server, and see if you can't even get them to show up also. Friend-of-a-friend word of mouth is powerful, and could go a long way toward reinforcing the legitimacy of your event.

Location will be an important factor. I feel like Ironforge is probably the best option for Alliance, since they have a readily available forge nearby the bank, auction house, and teleport point for the city. Maybe I'm just a belf fanboy, but Silvermoon has a neat commercial feel to it. I'll admit that Undercity could be the best option for a Horde bazaar, though, given that you can zip around its hub-based structure pretty quickly.

If you give a crafting bazaar a shot, though, let us know how it goes. It would be nice to see this kind of thing reinforce the social aspects of World of Warcraft. With the Dungeon Finder tool making single-realm interactions a little less frequent among strangers, the bazaar is an awesome way to sell your product and meet other players.

Each week, Insider Trader takes you behind the scenes of the bustling sub-culture of professional craftsmen, examining the profitable, the tragically lacking, and the methods behind the madness.

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