Why not let the people enjoy the breeze...
What is The Great Outdoor company?
Most people know the Great Outdoor Company as the Great Outdoor Market, but that’s only a part of it. Great Outdoor is actually a design agency where we take on different design projects.
How did you start The Great Outdoor Market?
After I graduated from an urban design program in 2014, my friend now business partner, Ann Sahacharoenwat, and I knew a person who was the manager of a plot of land by the river. The location was being used to construct ships. We both actually visited as students and we loved it. It is a perfect spot for a public space, being right next to the river. We went in to talk to him about opening up his property and create a one-time public space. He was very open-minded and down to try it out, so he talked to the landowners for us.
What is a public space?
How did it become a company?
People saw us as the Great Outdoor Market and got interested in having us design their events, but it has transformed into a multidisciplinary company. I’m also not sure how.
A one-time public space without activities can be a little dry. We thought about art installation and etc, but figured we might not reach a lot of people. Then, we thought what could be more relatable than food, and shopping.
However, our main goal was for it to be a relaxing public space. If you look at the blueprint, there was still no shops, food, or music in the area next to the river so people can still use that space to just hang out.
What is a public space?
For me at that time, I just wanted a space where people could come and hang out. It’s very hard to find this kind of space in Bangkok. People I know mostly go to restaurants to hang out and I thought why not utilize this super nice area by the river and let people enjoy the breeze.
Did you freak the ship factory out when you pitched the idea?
Well, the owner of the land was always concerned about people thinking of his business as creating a lot of pollution. No one around that area had really been onto his land. He actually wanted to be friends with the neighbors too. During the market, the neighbors got to come and see what was going on in the space.
What was the first thing that you did?
After agreeing with the landowner about the idea, the first thing we did, being urban designers, was planning out how to use the space. We use our architecture drawing to make marketing stuff too. Making posters and posting it on social media to get sellers to sell stuff at the event was done very early on.
How did you plan how many shops were going to be there?
We see how many would fit in the space and see if it’s feasible with the cost of everything from the booth, the concert stage, sound system, decoration, logistics, location, etc.
How did you start planning the money?
We did the simple math of getting the money from renting out booths to sellers. Then, we used that money to calculate how much we should spend on other things. We came up with the booth space price to the sellers based on the price we think they would pay for, and also the amount of traffic they would get. We obviously can’t charge the same price as if we were to be located in a big mall.
How long did it take you to get all the booths before the actual date?
I promoted a few months earlier and got around a little over a hundred booths including both stores and food. We got quite a few people interested and so we picked the ones we thought were suitable with the theme of the event.
Did anything go wrong on the first year?
It was super messy. Some shops were complaining about different things, like the layout of the event and etc. People wanted to bail out and get their booth money back. Some people panicked when they saw the real site because it was so real and raw. Luckily, everything turned out to be good.
Did a lot of people show up?
How did you do the marketing?
We really promoted the location and we really attract the group of people who like going to new cool places. Facebook and Instagram were our main promotion channels. We also invited BK magazine and Bangkok Post to come to our event and they kindly posted about us on their platforms. That really helps us reaching to the foreigners in Bangkok.
Any challenges with the booths?
Food was a bit more problematic because they require a lot more electricity. It can be overloading especially with the deep-fried machines or electric stoves. We had to set the limit to 15MV and set up breakers for every shop so only their shop gets cut out when they reach their max and not the whole strip. Definitely learned about this the hard way.
How did you start planning the 2nd Great Outdoor Market?
We got asked by someone we know if we were interested in doing it on their property. This is mainly how we come up with new events.
What did you do differently on the 2nd round?
I thought it was going to get easier but no (laugh). Everything we have to rethink since it’s a completely different location, we didn’t have enough parking which was the biggest problem. We got improved with the other things though.
What other things do you spend money on?
We even have to think about how to run the electric wires because we want to use the least amount of yards. Even the wires for electricity cost money you know. We built our own booths too so we have to buy the wood and fabric to do that, not the mention the other props. Money was actually not too much of a problem for these little things, but actually the delivery process was the annoying part. Some didn’t have delivery service or some didn’t want to come deliver at the spot, etc.
What's for the future?
We will still continue to focus on introducing good locations to bring people in.
What's your day-to-day schedule like?
Again, Great Outdoor is also a design firm so I work on that. I usually work at my office below my hostel since I have to check on that as well, and I work on my own schedule. Of course, I still have to make it to the client’s deadline so they are also days when I need to rush and work all day. That’s my main source of income.
How do you take care of yourself?
I feed myself (laugh). I don’t work out or anything. However, I love to travel and my office closes in April so I usually go during that time. I take film photos and I like collecting things, like papers and etc. as hobbies.
What skincare products do you use?
I have very dry skin. I recently got this severe rash on my body so i have to use a lot of moisturizers. I had it for a year and the doctors didn’t even know how to fix it so I went to a temple and ask the gods for it to go away and it did the month after (laughs). After that, I had to repay them by hiring a traditional dance crew (laughs). I use Cetaphil moisturizer on my body.
Where do you shop?
Depends, I buy what I see if I like it. I usually buy when I’m away. My favorite brand is COS.
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Phatchana NgamtipakonCo-Founder of Yay Bangkok
Dalee HoontrakulCo-Founder of The Great Outdoor
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