Throughout the history of the CWC blog, some of our most popular content has been posts about planning and running market stalls. It makes complete sense, as many of our amazing members and followers are makers, designers and artists who sell (or aspire to sell) their wares at markets.
Given that we are about to roll into peak pre-Christmas market time, it's a good time to revisit some tips from our archives for those about to dive head-first into market mayhem.
This first instalment is based on a previous CWC blog post by Monica Ng, the jeweller behind Geometric Skies. Monica shared her top tips for market selling, gathered from participating in everything from outdoor weekly markets at Bondi Beach and Kirribilli through to major event markets like The Finders Keepers and special showcases run by Etsy and the L'Oreal Fashion Festival.
1. Think about your display.
Dedicate time to considering how you want to set out your work. This is especially important if there’ll be a lot of other stallholders selling similar types of items, like jewellery. I’ve seen a lot of jewellery designers lay their pieces flat on tables, which may make it difficult for customers walking by to see the work from afar.
Ask yourself: how can my display be different from those of other stallholders? Can you arrange it at different levels? Use busts? Racks? Trees? If you sell products that are worn on the body, consider using a mannequin, so customers can see from afar how it looks and fits.
Now consider: will you buy these props or will you construct them? What materials will they be made from? What do these materials say about your brand?
Try to be consistent and use the same materials to display your goods, as this gives your shop a cleaner and more cohesive look.
How will you display your shop’s logo? Laser cut on acrylic, wood or another material? Painted or printed on canvas? Wooden or metal letters? Time for some DIY fun?
Will you bring your own table or will you hire one? If you’re using a tablecloth, make sure it’s wrinkle free.
2. Bring marketing materials.
What if the customer doesn’t buy your product right away, but wants to show it to her friend before making a decision? How will she find your work again? Or what if she does buy it and wants to share your work with friends and family?
Be sure to bring business cards, postcards, a email list sign-up sheet or ipad, branded packaging, or even an iPad or laptop with photos of your work and a slideshow of press clippings. These are all great ways to promote your stall. If you need help designing these, perhaps a CWC member in graphic design can assist!
Printing business cards doesn’t have to be expensive. There are inexpensive online options such as Moo, Vistaprint and Print Together. If you simply upload your design, they’ll print it and post it straight to you.
3. Tell everyone about your event!
Tell your friends, family and colleagues. Even if you think they won’t ever buy from you, they may refer people who will. Let your existing customers know, too!
Publicise your event through all available channels such as your social media, website or blog, and email newsletter and of course, word of mouth!
4. Be a “yes” person and set up future sales.
Is the size of your product too big, too small, too short or too long for your customer? Offer the option to customise.
At the market, consider offering free shipping or a discount coupon to customers for their next purchase.
Running a competition can help direct traffic and add new followers to your blog, mailing list and social media channels. Consider tactics like collaborating with a relevant social media influencer to help increase your outreach.
5. Be prepared for all weather conditions.
Consider yourself a scout and always be prepared.
If the market is outdoors, bring:
- warm clothes, hat, sunblock
- snacks/drinks so if you're super busy and can't duck away, you have something to keep you going
- a chair to take a load off when you get a chance!
- sandbags if using a gazebo (in case it gets windy)
6. Pack ahead!
Pack the night before (or even earlier) to save yourself a freak-out the morning of the event. Use the checklist below so you’re not kicking yourself at the event for forgetting something.
- Stationery/admin: blu-tack, pen, notebook, measuring tape, screwdrivers, drill, receipt book, bull clips, plastic bags, duct or masking tape
- Sales: sufficient change in your float, eftpos/ credit card facility if using, mobile phone, phone charger
- Furniture and accessories: tables, chairs, trolley, gazebo, sand bags
- Props/display: stands, mannequins, table cloth, signage, business card holder and extra business cards, price tags, mailing list sign-up sheet, packaging
- Enough stock to sell: always better to take too much than too little!.
- Personal: mini first-aid kit, snacks/drinks, hat, sunblock, warm clothes, umbrella
7. Network with other stallholders.
Get to know your neighbours and become friends! Gather business cards and/or follow them on socials straight away so you can remain in contact after the event. Building your creative community can be so rewarding and you never know when a collaboration opportunity might pop up!
8. Have fun.
Sometimes market days are so c-r-a-z-y, the day is over before you know it. Congratulations! That means sales were probably good! On other days, you may not do as well as you hoped. Despite what it may seem, every market stall holder has had that experience. Try to stay positive and enjoy the experience regardless, and apply what you've learnt to the next one.