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How to prepare for market stall: The complete checklist

Ever had one of those nightmares where you find yourself naked in public? It’s totally humiliating. Kinda like turning up to a market and realising you’ve left your EFTPOS machine on the charger at home – but it happens! The good news is you’ll never leave your float (or your clothes) at home ever again with this comprehensive market stall checklist to make market days run like a well-oiled machine.

Play by the Rules

Every market has their own set of rules and regulations, so familiarise yourself with them ahead of time to avoid disappointment. Branded helium balloons and water bottles might sound like a good idea, but some organisers ban non-decomposable plastics to reduce waste.

Some markets provide furniture, others don’t… Some offer powered sites, others won’t.

Check exactly what time you need to arrive for setup, and what time you’re allowed to start packing down. If you sell food or handmade beauty products, you may be required by law to label them with allergy warnings, so check the guidelines before whipping up a batch of peanut butter brittle.

Organise Insurance

While insurance may not be mandatory for all markets, it’s highly recommended (particularly if you’re planning on attending regularly). Public Liability insurance protects you, your business and your products against the financial risks of being liable for injury, loss and damage to property, so if you’re a little on the clumsy side, it’s a sensible investment.

You can get up to $20M worth of cover for 1 year through NRMA , allowing you to attend unlimited markets in Australia for that period. Join the Makers Directory and connect with other small business owners to find out who’s getting a great deal on their market stall insurance.

Order Business Cards & Flyers

Have printed collateral for customers to take away on the day; those that aren’t ready to buy now, or who want to pass your details onto a friend. Vistaprint offer a great range of affordable printing options, including 50 x A6 post cards starting at $15.99.

To make the most of your cards, you could include your website/online shop, social media handles, aftercare instructions, contact details or an incentive to sign up for your newsletter to receive 10% OFF the next order. Save space on the table for products by popping the cards in an upright brochure holder.

Practice Your Display Ahead of Time

This is reallllly important! Effective merchandising can be the difference between attracting a constant stream of foot traffic, and counting tumbleweeds. Aim for a variety of display heights so people can see everything from a distance and avoid using only flat-lay displays.

Include 3D props to bring your table to life. Think cake stands, biscuit tins, suitcases, hat stands, encyclopedias, tree branches, book ends, baskets, drift wood, candles, succulents, flowers, jewellery boxes… Get creative! Visit op shops for inspiration and develop a consistent theme for your stand that complements your brand. When you’ve got everything in place, snaps some pics as a reminder of how to set it up again on the day.

If you’re looking for something bespoke, checkout Melbourne’s Market Stall Co for sustainable, locally sourced handmade market infrastructure for rent or sale, including wooden trestle tables, peg boards, easels, tiered floating stands, hook boards, crate boxes and even changing rooms.

Don’t forget your tablecloth and pack tablecloth clips to keep it from flapping around in the breeze – there’s nothing more distracting! Find the comfiest (and preferably the lightest) chair in the house and take a cushion for extra support. If your product is wearable, remember to pack a suitably sized mirror for buyers to try it on.

Set Your Pricing

Pedestrian suggests tagging all your items, as it saves time when people start haggling and helps the more antisocial customers browse without asking questions.

If you’re new to business, checkout The Ultimate Guide to Pricing Handmade Products for the formulas used by the pros, along with the risks of underpricing. If you’re a market veteran, check out the guide for some insights into how “charm prices” can increase your sales by 24%.

Aim to have a variety of prices that appeal to all budgets. Anything $5 and under should fly off the table. Mid-range items will cater to more discerning buyers, and a couple of big-ticket buys will lure customers with their wow-factor – be it detail, colour, size or sparkle. Even if they’re less likely to sell, they’re great crowd-pullers and conversation starters.