Whether it’s your first time or 50th time, setting up and running a market stall can be a daunting process. Early bump-in times, long days, un-predictable weather, there are many things you need to be prepared for. We have put our heads together and come up with eight tips to help you achieve a successfull market day.
Do not wait until the day of the market to pack your car! Prepare your stock, price tags and signs the week or at a minimum the night before. Make yourself a list of what stock you want to take and what displays and signs you will need. You may find it beneficial to do a mock set up at home and take photos of it so that on the day you are not trying to work it out. You will have generally two hours to set up your stall at most markets, so it’s handy to have a rough idea how you’re going to do it. Pack yourself a market bag with essential items and don’t forget a cash float.
2. Be friendly and welcoming.
Greet everyone who enters or comes up to your stall with a welcoming smile and a polite “Hello how are you”. Acknowledge them but don’t immediately hound them with your rehearsed sales pitch as this can be off-putting. If you notice them lingering and looking at a product intently approach them in a friendly manor and tell them a bit about it. In-your-face sellers can be off putting to a lot of market shoppers. It is a fact of market life that not everyone is there to shop, some people are just enjoying a pleasant market day stroll and browse. Don't be disheartened or resentful if they don't buy something, they may return!
3. Stay off your phone.
It is totally fine to jump on to social media to share your market stall, but do not sit there all day with your phone in your hand. You will come across as a disinterested stall holder and shoppers will find this rude and think you to be un-approachable.
4. Be on time and follow organisers instructions
It’s important for the smooth running of every market that you follow the organisers bump-in schedule and instructions. Be there on time for your allocated bump in spot. Tardiness will reflect poorly, as will any instructions that you ignore from a market official. Markets have strict bump-in and bump out policies to protect both stallholders and the visiting public. These are also in place because they are hiring the venue for those set times.
Just as it’s important to be on time for bump-in, it is equally important to follow the bump-out instructions. If you are instructed not to pack up until the market close time, then be sure to follow this. Stall holders who begin to pack up before a market finish time send a message to visitors that the market is closing early and they may leave before looking at other stalls.
Organisers are most likely hiring the venue which will have its own rules that need to be followed. There may be an official from the venue marking which stalls didn't respect the conditions and will discuss this with organisers. It may be out of the market organisers control once the venue manager has decided a stallholder has done the wrong thing.
Food and drink stalls will have their own extra set of rules and regulations to follow, always be prepared for unannounced council inspections. Check back with council and venue requirements regularly.
5. Have a good looking stall
It’s important to have a well planned out stall design. The look and feel of your stall should reflect your business brand. Stalls with consistent merchandising displays are eye catching and creates a feeling of cohesiveness and professionalism. For tips on designing your market stall and keeping stands safe and secure from crazy weather see this post.
6. Keep your stall secure
If you are an outdoor stall, be prepared for crazy weather. Not checking the weather forecast doesn't cut it with organisers.
It's baffling seeing people show up without adequate weights, these can be purchased online or from camping shops and hardware stores. Purchase proper weights, fill them with wet sand or quick dry cement for extra weight. Some people use double weights tied with ocky straps to the legs and some will also use a huge weight for the centre of their marquee which they tie on with a rope. You can cover your weights with fabric if you're worried about how they look, but please have them. Some markets won't allow you to set up without them, especially if pegging into the grass is not allowed. Take your roof, backdrops and walls down if it's getting windy, keeping these on will create a parachute like affect and your stall will fly away.
7. During quiet times stay active
During busy phases of a market your products can be picked up by customers and put back down in random places. Sometimes neatly arranged items can be rummaged through as customers browse. When there is a quiet time use it wisely to tidy up your displays, and refill empty props or stock if necessary. It is also more enticing for customers to come and look at your stall if they see someone else there.
Stay visible and ready to welcome people to your stand even during quiet periods in a market.
8. Care for the community
Have fun! Market stall holders are a bit like carnies. We are a community of small business owners trying to bring our products we've put our heart and soul into, to the public.
We should all support each other, you will find you see some of the same people you've met working at markets and festivals near and far. Many become friends and it's great to celebrate the good market days, business goals and get through the tough ones together. If you need help, someone will be there who's probably gone through something similar. We stand stronger together, especially on crappy weather days, all holding down our marquees!