Thinking of Market (stall) Trading - Read On!

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Market trading is a great way to sell your products, get a customer base established and get yourself  and your brand known. It's also an invaluable marketing tool ('scuse the pun!).

Here are a few hints and tips for the first time marketer:

Firstly, choose an indoor market if you have no tent or tables. Tables are usually supplied at these venues. Indoor markets are a good opportunity for the first time market trader to see how their products sell, what sort of people buy them, price testing, checking out other traders selling the same or similar products. If you enjoy your first experience, the next step would be either to become a regular at the indoor market (after a certain amount of time, which varies from market to market, you will be asked if you would like to become a "permanent" instead of a "casual". This offers the benefits of reduced fees - which can only be good!) or find another venue. Try  an outdoor market (on a sunny day) - borrow a foldable table from a friend and a folding chair. If you enjoy this then:

Get a tent and weights (usually large containers of water) to hold the tent down in high winds.

Foldable tables, available quite cheaply from large hardware retailers. Perhaps some table coverings to fit in with the products you are selling. For example Jewellery looks great on black. Consider how to display your products. There are many cheap display items available, but do be aware that unless your tent has sides, these may blow over and could also need to be anchored down in some way.

A comfy folding chair. Very important!

Flasks for hot or cold drinks if you don't already have them. You don't want to put your hard-earned profits in someone else's pocket!

A money belt to keep your cash safe & secure. Do watch out - people may try and half inch (pinch) your products or your cash if you leave it lying around. Always have lots of change available. It's amazing how many people will thrust a yellow note at you and expect change! (I saw my first green one not so long ago!)

Packaging - brown paper bags are available very cheaply from supermarkets and you can always save and recycle those horrible plastic bags.

Consider making a sign advertising your products, also some business cards with contact details may be a good idea. Potential customers like to know your not a "fly by night" and are trustworthy.

Some other things to consider are:

Early starts! Ugh, horrible things, especially at the weekends. You really do need to get to your venue nice and early to set up shop.

Bear in mind the weather. Are you prepared to set up your stall come rain or shine. If not, then perhaps reconsider market trading. Other traders do not take too kindly to "fairweather" people. If you are prepared to put in the hard yards when the weather is bad, you will certainly gain the respect of other market traders and you will become a "stayer".

Get on with your neighbours. If you need to pop to the loo for example, they will look after your stall, and vice versa.

Be helpful, pleasant and courteous to your potential customers, no matter how much of a pain they can be! It's hard, but you might just sell something! Remember to smile when you're sitting in the cold and rain - no one wants to buy from a miserable person! This is one of the difficult bits, along with the early starts!

Keep a book and log what you sell and what you sold it for and on what day and where. This can be handy for several reasons:

It can stop customers claiming you sold something at too high a price and want a refund. There are people out there who will try this on.

A book with all the above details in can be a good indicator of which products are selling and which aren't. Also which venues are good for you. Perhaps you'd like to go further and record the weather and the moon phases(?). It is a known fact that people are more extrovert on a full moon!

Thermal underwear is a must. 'nuff said!

Try not to be too pushy. Try and gauge what type of customer you are serving. Perhaps they are interested in technical details rather than the colour of the item. Getting on the same wavelength as them is very important. Also, some people just like to be left alone! Perhaps start off with a simple "Good morning" or whatever and if they engage you in more conversation - off you go!

Most important is patience. Hang in there! You won't make your first million on the first day. Keep at it and you will eventually reap the rewards.

A good idea to draw customers to your stall would be to sit in view and make something - particularly useful if you sell handmade products. This can serve 2 functions: as stated it draws people to your stand and lets them know that you really do make the products you sell and also it gives you something to do. If you finish it, then it also gives you another item to sell on your stall - and what a wonderful feeling of satisfaction it will give you if it sells the same day!

Market trading is a great way of meeting people and making contacts. Also, if you want to buy something from another trader you will often get it at a discount! (Make sure you do the same though!).

Have fun!


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