A trader’s guide to setting up a market stall
On the blog today, ahead of the Indie Oxford Spring Market on Saturday 18th March at Tap Social’s Taproom, Anna Butler from Custom Made jewellery shares her top tips for planning and setting up a stall. Great inspo if you’re thinking about setting up your own business, are just starting out, or haven’t set up a market stall for a while. >>
If you have never taken part in a market before, preparing for one can be pretty daunting. I’m here to help! I’ve been running Custom Made for well over 15 years and have taken part in many markets and fairs all over the country and overseas. Here are a few things you need to think about.
So you have been offered a place at the market. Brilliant! First up, get all your info about the market straight in your head. Most good markets/fair organisers will get an info pack out to you before the event. Make sure you read every last bit of it. You don’t need any surprises on the day or before. Often you will need to submit info to the organisers before the event (and pay!) Help them out, get everything to them ON TIME! Often included in the information pack will be a graphic for social media advertising and even hashtags to use. Make sure you use them. Every little bit of promotion from every vendor helps the event. Its about community with promotion of events, the more everyone does the more potential customers it will attract. I always promote events on my website (I have a page for events), on Instagram, Facebook (there may be a Facebook event set up by the organisers) and on my mail outs.
One of the key things to think about well in advance if you can is your display. Really have a think about how you want to display your items that invites the customers to browse. Less is more in my opinion. A lovely clean clearly laid out display set up works well. I would always advise to have a price next to your product or on the backs of the cards. Some people don’t like to ask prices. Have a look at photos from other fairs to see other vendors set ups. See what really works. And remember, you have got to transport your set up to the event and probably need to get it all set up in an hour so don’t make it too complicated! Try it out at home first on your workbench or dining room table.
WHAT TO TAKE
I have a checklist that I print out and tick off for every event. Here are the items on my checklist. >>
STOCK I follow a detailed list so I don’t forget anything. Its difficult to tell you exactly how much stock to take. I always take the same amount of every piece. You never know what will sell the best. If this is your first fair it’s a learning day. Take as much stock as you can manage to make/carry and go from there.
MONEY Float for change. Some people still like cash.
CARD READERS Chip & Pin Card reader (these are a must I’d say and very easy to buy cheaply) and a battery pack (the last thing you need is your phone or chip & pin reader running out of charge) I really recommend SumUp. I used a SumUp reader at all my fairs in the run up to Christmas 2022 and it did not fail once. I got the card reader from Tool Station for around £19!
PACKAGING Paper bags or paper to wrap your items. I also take gift boxes as I sell jewellery, but whatever works for your stock. I buy pretty little striped bags from ebay that match my display. Customers love a nicely packaged item.
PENS/PENCILS A pencil case with whatever you need; pens, pencils, scissors, tape etc. I have one that lives in my market bag. I write on the back on my earring cards in pencil so have a rubber too.
DISPLAY All your display items. If they are delicate in any way wrap them carefully (plates etc.) If you have a few markets coming up, they can get damaged easily loading in and out. Tired, scratched displays don’t look great.
PRINTED BITS Business cards are a MUST. I always get sales after the event. People often go home thinking ‘I wish I’d bought that vase/necklace/print’. Make sure you have cards handy so they can shop on your website from home. A little sign which says you take card payments is handy too. I also have a sheet for folks to sign up to my mailing list and a little board with all Custom Made’s social media info on.
A MIRROR if you are selling jewellery or clothing/accessories
TABLECLOTH make sure it’s clean and ironed, you don’t want a table cloth that looks like it came out of a bin!
ON THE DAY Plan your journey and get there in plenty of time. There is nothing worse than having to rush to set up. Make friends with your stall neighbours. It’s great to have someone to chat to, hear other small business stories and you know, if you need the loo someone to keep an eye out for you! With regards to customers, smile, be friendly, you will soon get a feel if someone wants to chat or if they just want to browse. Markets are fun. And learn from the day. What sells well, what you should have made more of, those sorts of things. Don’t stress about sales, have a nice day. I always thank the organisers at the end of the day. They have done a LOT of work.
Hope to see you at the Indie Oxford Spring Market on Saturday 18th March at Tap Social’s Taproom from 11 am – 5 pm. Find out which other traders will be there, over on the Indie Oxford blog.