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.
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.
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.
Pack a Stationery Box
Take a trip to Officeworks and invest in a small plastic tub or stackable drawers to store stationery, including a calculator, pens, note pad for recording sales, cash receipt book, extra price tags, big red stickers for marking down stock at the end of the day, scissors, sticky tape, Blu Tack, duct tape… If there’s a chance you’ll need it, pack it!
Include a rubbish bag and follow disposal instructions, which may mean taking it with you at the end of the day. And if you’ve ever been backpacking, you’ll appreciate the versatility of the all-mighty tea towel, so make sure you pop one in your box before leaving home!
After setting up, store the box under your table and out of sight, but somewhere easily accessed throughout the day.
Overstock (the alternative is far worse!)
Always pack more than you anticipate selling. Have a variety of sizes, colours and alternatives on hand so you don’t miss out on a single sale. You never know when you’ll get an offer from a wholesaler who wants to clean you out of half your stock on the spot! To transport more products in half the time, invest in a cheap but sturdy trolley that will slash your trips to the car during setup and pack down.
Arrange Payment Options
Don’t let buyers walk away from a sale – give them multiple payment options. The denominations of your float will depend on your handmade product pricing, but as a guide, a $150 float can be broken down as follows:
For EFTPOS payments, Emma from Round She Goes suggests taking payments from your phone using an app like PayPal Here or Square (there’s an application process, so organise in advance). Don’t forget to pack a backup roll for EFTPOS receipts.
A game-changer for Australian Makers is the introduction of NPP: the billion-dollar new payments platform offering real-time transactions requiring only the recipient’s phone number or email address. With 90% of transfers made through the new system taking place in ‘real time’ (less than a minute), stall holders can make quick, fee-free transactions on the spot.
What’s the catch? Until all banks are on board, your customer’s bank also needs to have NPP facilities. Find out if your bank is participating in the rollout and become an early adopter of this exciting new technology.
Don’t miss out on this golden opportunity to grow your email marketing list. Add a newsletter sign up form and clip board to your desk and invite people to leave their name and email to be notified of upcoming markets, new product releases and flash sales. If you find sign ups are slow, consider running a giveaway using newsletter sign up as an entry.
Another market day-only deal could be offering $X off for customers who follow your brand on social media. You could also add a time-limited FREE delivery code to your flyers for people who aren’t ready to buy on the day. Make sure you setup and test the code in your online shop before promoting it at the markets!
Take plenty of water and snacks for maintaining energy levels. If you rely on caffeine to keep you perky, pack some mints to freshen your breath while chatting with customers. When grabbing a coffee, offer to buy your neighbour one – it’s a great ice-breaker and could be the beginning of a new friendship or creative collaboration!
Tell Everyone You’re Going
You’re almost ready… Now let everyone know you’re going! Announce it across your social media channels (tagging the official market Facebook page to encourage them to share your post) and create a Facebook Event inviting all your family and friends to come along.
Email your customer list and let them know where to find you on the grounds, along with pics of all the great products you’ll have available on the day.
After you sign up for the Makers Directory, remember to add all your upcoming markets to your showcase page as well to let let directory users see where they can catch you out and about next.
Look (and Feel) the Part
Understandably, you want to make an impression and look like a babe on the day, but it’s hard to crack a smile with blistered feet and a sore back. Wear sensible shoes (ones you’ve broken in) and if you’re in Melbourne, prepare for four seasons!
Pack some lip balm, bandaids, body spritz, sunglasses, sunscreen, hat, hand sanitiser, tissues, lint roller and anything else you need to look and feel your best for a long day at the markets.
On The Day… Hooray!
When you’ve got your display all setup, take some photos of your merch and ask your neighbour to snap some pics of you behind the table. These will be great for marketing your handmade business down the track and sharing on social media to promote your next market appearance.