Note: This is a revamp of a post I wrote for a blog back in 2013 and it has by far been my most popular piece of writing. Sometimes the most helpful tips are the most simple. If you want to get more posts like this, subscribe here.
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Top Tips For A Successful Market Stall
Like most things in business, selling at a market can be exciting, overwhelming, successful, stressful or deflating. Sometimes you feel all of these at once. So today I want to share with you a few top tips to make your market experience work better for you and your business.
Keep it Simple.
Make sure your stall table isn’t cluttered and your range is easy to see, even at a passing glance. Keep your table and products organised and pleasing to the eye throughout the day. This will require constant attention, but many potential customers will be instantly put off by a cluttered and confusing stall.
If you have different ranges of products keep them together so there is a flow and a sense to the look of your stall.
Have Business / Promo Cards ready
So often these days people wander around the markets and then go home and buy your products online – this can be frustrating for you as you’ve just spent your weekend at a market not making sales, but what’s worse is missing the online or follow up sale. People will not remember your business, even if they say they will.
Have beautiful business cards ready to give people; these should be in your bags to go home with any customers and but also ready to handed to those who are interested but don’t buy.
Have some out on the table, as people often don’t ask for things like a card, even if they want one. Business cards are one of the cheapest tools of promotion – invest in decent card quality, good individual design and make them interesting. Show off your products on your card, offer a promotional code, include your market date appearances, or have an interesting quote or picture.
All of these encourage the customer to keep your card – maybe even stick it to the fridge or pinboard for all of their family and friends to see.
Price it ALL
This was one I struggled with time and time again: “My stuff looks prettier without a price tag, and I am right here to tell them”. Sure, maybe so – but they won’t ask. And if they don’t know how much an item is they are unlikely to purchase!
Have everything for sale labelled with the price, and other important information about the product – like the size, fabric type, how else they can purchase the product (gift pack, online etc.).
The less questions a potential customers has to ask you, the more likely they are to buy.
Collect, collect, collect
If you have a newsletter make sure you have a sign-up form available – out on the table, with a pen!
Offering an incentive such as a giveaway drawn from that day’s sign-ups can be enough to get people’s names on the page.
Be mindful of who you talk to though, customers and potential customers are great to get on a mailing list, but you might meet contacts you should get in touch with personally.
If you meet media people hunting a story, or businesses looking for stock, be sure to ask them for their business card. Follow up with an email a few days later to say hi and thank-you.
Make it clear if you are on social media and how people can find you there – our top tip is have all of your social media accounts with the same name as it makes it easier for the customer to find you.
Do what you can to break up the flat surface of the table. Our eyes enjoy wandering and if you give people different levels to look at you will have them standing at your stall a lot longer.
Take some of your awesome creativity and think outside the box. Fabric, furniture items, display stands, and if all else fails, lug a few heavy books with you to give your flat table some added dimensions.
Use anything that you can to go above the table height – at and above eye level is very eye-catching. Just 3 or 4 helium balloons pegged to your table might be well worth the investment and help your stall stand out.
Practice the set up
Once you have your products ready for your big day, don’t forget to practice setting up your stall and trying out different arrangements. A great way to judge is to take photos of different options and compare them to work out which ones are the most pleasing to the eye.
Having a theme can help you keep the table cohesive and professional looking. Once you know what you like be sure to draw a map or take a photo to market with you so you are not panicking about getting it right under pressure. When the setup is done walk around to the front of your stall – how does it look? How does it look from 5m or 10m away? What stands out and what is lacking as you walk past your stall?
Make a list and check it twice
Market day can be more emotional than you expect. You often spend the night before frantically finishing products and packing the car late into the night and then you are awake very early in the morning.
Be kind to yourself and make a list of all the things you need to have with you. Clearly mark any boxes so you know exactly where things are and you can mark them off your list once they are in the car ready to go. Organise your boxes to match your stall setup plan so that everything is easy to find and quick to set up.
Be on time. Make sure you have set up your stall long before any customers start to arrive – otherwise you run the risk of missing sales, because no customer wants to interrupt you whilst you are frantically setting up, and they certainly don’t have time to wait around your table to see what you have to offer.
It also takes away from your professionalism if you are still faffing about after the shoppers have arrived.
Be sure to carry enough change to process sales. If you use electronic payment, check that it works. Have a records book to note down what you sold or to note down any custom orders. Have your promotional materials ready to go; take at least 2 back up pens.
Your social media and website links should be on handouts or business cards ready to give out, instead of writing it down for every customer who asks. Know what products you have with you at the market. Set up products together that highlight each other to upsell – e.g. pair a dress with a hat, a necklace with a ring and bracelet. Know your competition and the expected customer types. All of these things make it easier for a customer to buy from you.
Lastly, but most importantly, be yourself, talk to people and have fun. Let your personality shine through and allow customers to learn a little bit more about the person they might just want to do business with.