Congrats on nabbing your first stall! (If that is indeed why you clicked on this post). You may be feeling excited, anxious or unsure where to begin. Could be a medley of all of these things if you’ve not done anything like this before – never fear! This guide is here to help.
Here are a list of essential things you will need to make your experience as seamless as possible.
First things first. Let’s kick off with the most important thing you’ll need. Insurance. You will need public liability cover to keep yourself protected and equipped to operate a stall in a public setting – find out more from the Craft Insurance website here.
- Clips / String / Cellotape / Pens / Scissors
The all important quintet. These can make all the difference between a smooth sailing experience, and a tricky one. Ensure you buy strong clips with a large gripping surface area to keep everything in place when the wind wants to act cute. This is especially important if you’re outside, as the flimsier, smaller clips will have your products flying across the pavement in no time.
The string can be used to hoist products like art prints or hanging products above eye level. This is to attract customers to your stall, and make it easier for them to see your pieces in all of their glory. If you have everything laid out on the table at one level, this will make it difficult to grab the attention of the passing public; they can’t see your shit.
Cellotape is essential. Super handy for taping up bags over products, or if you need to bubble wrap anything for a customer, you are well equipped to do so – no worries about anything unravelling as they trundle along through the rest of the market or make their way home. I’ve yet to experience a day at the stall that didn’t call for cellotape at one point or another.
- Fanny Pack / Waist Bag / Money Tin
I would always recommend wearing one of these numbers to keep all your valuables on you at all times, nice and safe. It’s not easy to keep an eye on everything when you’re busy interacting with customers and bagging products up, so save yourself the anxiety by keeping your phone, money and keys on your body.
You can buy cheap money belts or bum bags from eBay or Amazon, as well as money tins. Money tins are a given! The first time I ran a stall, I didn’t have a money tin; had to resort to fumbling around my bag looking for change which not only took a frustratingly long time, they also emerged covered in crumbs.
For around £7 you can buy a money tin with compartments to separate your change, making the whole process a lot more efficient and neater.
Continuing on the topic of money tins – you also need change to go with them! When you run out of change too quickly, this can sometimes affect the outcome of the sale, as the customer may not have any other denominations or methods of payment. Here is a breakdown for a float suited to small quantities of printed products with a pricelist ranging from £0.50 – £20
2 x £10
2 x £5
5 x £2
8 x £1
4 x £0.50
This can be swished and swayed depending on your price points, quantities and potential footfall.
- Price List
Have a price list on clear display to reduce the awkward dialogue. If the customers know what’s what from the start then the transparency is there and there will be no surprises. Think about all those times you’ve asked for a price and been quoted something more expensive than you had hoped…also think about how you…slowly….walked…away….
Let them know from the jump, so they know whether they want to proceed or swiftly stride on.
- Card Reader
This one is highly important. Nowadays, more and more people are using card as a preferred method of payment. Back in the day, if you went to a market with a debit card and no cash – you would leave empty handed – it was as simple as that – fast forward to 2018 and you’d be hard pressed to find a stall that doesn’t accept card payments. Companies like iZettle and Paypal offer card payment services.
- Business Cards / Mailing List Sign Up Sheet / Portfolio
You want to be able to maintain contact with customers after you’ve packed up for the day. Market stalls are the perfect opportunity to build your base and showcase your products to people from all walks of life.
If you run out of stock, for example, the interaction doesn’t have to end there – have them sign a mailing sheet for pre-orders or future events & new products. Provide them with alternative options; do you have an online shop they can purchase from instead? Are you perhaps able to honour individual orders?
Having your artwork or products in a portfolio (including pieces you are not selling that particular day) will enable you to showcase what other pieces of work you have (or are able to produce and sell) to the public and increase the potential for custom.
This is self explanatory. I mean, if you’re fortunate enough to be selling in an extremely busy location – you may not even be able to sit for long periods of time; however, you are human and will need to take a break if you are there for an entire day.
Giving yourself the option to rest your legs will not only make your experience more comfortable, no doubt it will enhance your mood as well.
You can purchase tripod stools (they’re not super comfortable, but ridiculously cheap) from eBay, or a lightweight folding chair.
- (optional) Changing Tent (for those selling clothing)
The ability to try on can be “make or break” when closing a sale. If you are not regularly selling at that particular venue, your customers will need to be reassured that whatever they purchase will fit – as they may not be able to simply return if you are not there the following week!
You can purchase a pop up tent to host near your stall to give potential customers the option to try your pieces on.
At an event once, I was selling art prints, packaging them in roll tubes for customers to transport home in one piece.
However, I had underestimated how many sales I would make, and found myself short of tubes – resorting to crossing my fingers and hoping they had something flat to slot the print into.
A mess. I have sacrificed myself so you don’t have to.
Count how many art prints you have, count out the same amount of packaging and then add 3 more on top of that. This is to provide you with backup should any of the packaging incur damages, go missing or what have you.
Ensure you have packaging solutions for all of your products, you don’t want to fall short on that! If your customer isn’t able to safely transport the product home – they may just “leave it until next time”.
- Baby Wipes & Tissues
Ok so, you’ve just had your lunch. You’re struggling to find somewhere to wash your hands, the toilet is miles away – you’re on your own and a customer is standing there smiling at you. They want to buy something, and here you are, with your greasy salad fingers.
You don’t want to decorate the product with the residue of your last meal, the customer doesn’t want you to either. Do everyone a favour and pack hygiene wipes.
You’re going to need something to put your rubbish into. Whether it be finished meals & snacks or unusable bits and pieces – you need to be able to keep everything in your section as neat and organised as possible.
It’s also pretty gross to be surrounded by grotty containers with leftovers, ready to be squished or unintentionally smeared onto your stock.
The most important thing is to know and understand that not everything will be perfect. Use these shortcomings as learning curves and steps to success for future reference.
Some people may walk up to your stall and love what they see, others may not – don’t take it personally; you can’t please everyone!