Top 10 Tips for Starting a Market Stall
Starting a market stall is a great way of getting your business off the ground. Some globally famous brands and companies have actually been started in this way.
Marks & Spencer, for example, started off as market stalls in small UK markets and bazaars before becoming a worldwide luxury clothing retailer with over 300 shops in more than 40 countries. It’s not an overnight success story, but that’s how it all began for them.
Another multinational company that started out in the market stall line of business is Tesco. Yes, that’s right; TESCO began its life as a few market stalls.
So, dream big! Why not!
There are many things that can hold back would-be entrepreneurs from pitching gazebos and starting a market stall – but all those obstacles, challenges and fears can be dealt with. Here are ten tips that can help you to overcome those challenges:
Tip 1: Play by the Rules
Cheese Market Stall Photo by Alpha and Hawkes Bay Farmers Market Photo by itravelNZ®NZ
There are many farmers markets and bazaars in Australia where you can set up your market stall, all of which have their own specific rules and guidelines about starting a market stall and selling.
Just take a look at this set of guidelines from craftsmarket.com.au that outlines general rules which should apply to most markets.
However, you should still talk to the market organizer you are planning to join in for more specific rules that must be followed, which may include the need for liability insurance, health and sanitation documents and so on.
Tip 2: Location, Location, Location
The Natural Smoothie Photo by Garry Knight and Borough Market Photo by Vanessa Lollipop
As in any business, choosing the right location can make or break your market stall adventure.
That’s why it is important to choose a strategic location for your market stall – which in most cases is the market entrance, near the restrooms, or near a food stall or café. In other words, pick the places where there would be plenty of traffic.
Areas with higher traffic should provide you with better chances of attracting customers and making a sale. If they don’t see you, they can’t buy from you.
Tip 3: Set Your Prices Right
Bread Food Market Stall Photo by Reca2g and Vegetable Market Display Photo by Cocoparisienne
There are many considerations when setting the prices your items. First, you have to think about your expenses like rent or lease, parking fees, and if you have to pay someone to help you out.
Another is your profit margin, and whether the price is enough to cover your capital and ROI.
If you’re having trouble pricing your products, you should become familiar with the different pricing strategies like markup pricing, competitive pricing, vendor pricing and others.
The good news is that you can use a Profit Margin Calculator to make things easier.
Tip 4: Be Early
Bread & Pastries Stall and Fresh Tomato Market Stall Photos by Chas Redmond
When the big day comes, be sure to get to the market early.
You have to take advantage of customers who go to the market early.
Tip 5: Prepare Everything
Checkout Counter Photo by Consumerist Dot Com and Market Checklist Photo by Stevepb
With most things in life, especially with doing business, preparation is the key. When you do plan on starting a market stall, preparations should be well underway, at least, one or two months ahead. That should be enough time to purchase gazebos, have banners printed, complete your stocks, and do other important things.
On market day, be sure that you have everything that you will need to conduct business successfully, including bags for purchases and takeaways, a cash register (pretty expensive, so you may want to settle for a pouch or belt bag where you can safely stash your money), and of course, lots of coins.
You don’t want to be running around looking for a change when a customer decides to buy from you.
Tip 6: Be Ready for Extreme Weather
It won’t always be pleasant standing in a market stall for hours, especially when the weather isn’t very cooperative. Some days, it will be hot as an oven while in others there will be downpours. Be prepared for any kind of weather so you’re not put off the idea of going every weekend.
For example, equipping your gazebo with an awning offers good protection from the sun, while using gutters should help keep the rain water in check.
These add-ons to your gazebo help to protect you, your products and your customers from the weather.
As the successful market stall owner Martin Cracknell mentioned in this article from mirror.co.uk:
“Always be ready for wind and rain. There is no point buying a cheap gazebo which will blow down or let water in – choose the sturdiest one you can find, even if it costs a little more.”
Source: 3m x 3m OZtrail Deluxe Gazebo with Navy Blue Canopy from Gazebos Australia
Tip 7: Smile and Be Nice
Hawkes Bay Farmers Market Photo by itravelNZ and Happy Seller Photo by ClearFrost
This goes without saying, but – in the flurry of customers, harsh weather, and low sales – it could be something that’s easily forgotten. It’s actually easier to become a grumpy stall owner in some cases.
Always be welcoming and let your customers look around without you forcing some sales talk all the while. Give them a pleasant shopping experience, because this is one of those things which they are bound to remember aside from your product.
If they did enjoy shopping in your market stall, you can be sure that they will mention it to their family and friends – just think about it as word-of-mouth marketing. And even if they don’t buy anything, smile, thank them for stopping by and ask them to return some other time.
You must have been annoyed yourself in the past by some salespeople stalking you around when all you want to do is look around. This is kind of like the golden rule, “Don’t do unto shoppers what you don’t want other stall owners to do unto you!”
Tip 8: Acknowledge your Neighbours
Farmers Market Photo by Phil Whitehouse and Food Stall Photo by This is Edinburgh
Good relationships are part of a successful business – and here we do not only refer to your relationships with customers, but also your relationships with your fellow market stall owners.
Respect their space as you would like them to respect yours, and be kind enough to offer some help every now and then.
If you’re new to the trade, you can go talk to some of the veterans and learn from them. It’s not like you need to sabotage your competition in order for your sales to go up. That only happens in cartoons and TV shows.
Tip 9: Promoting Your Stall
Business Discussion Photo by Goelshivi and Market Stall Photo by Serendigity
When starting a market stall, your customers will mostly come from organic traffic that normally flows into the market. However, there are other sources of potential customers if you know how to promote your business properly.
You can inform your family and friends about you market stall and ask them to relay the information to their family, friends, colleagues, and acquaintances. You can create flyers and hand them out in the streets.
Don’t forget to make use of social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter to get the word around, and shoot some images of your products for your Instagram or Pinterest accounts like this Market Stalls Pins. The internet is the quickest and most cost-effective way of promoting your business now.
Tip 10: Have a Business Card
White Business Cards Photo by Marcin Wichary and Stylish Business Cards Photo by Clive Darra
Whether it is just a short market encounter or a regular one, always be sure to have some business cards ready. You can hand them out to customers when they buy something from you – and even if they don’t, still give them your card.
Your business cards allow your customers – present and potential – to have something to remember you by and contact you.
If you don’t have a business card yet, you can contact Saltprint, an Australian printing company that specializes in business cards, invoice books, flyers and other printed needs. Plus, they deliver Australia-wide for free.
The success of your market stall will depend on many factors, and these tips should help you to avoid making costly mistakes early on. There will be good days, and there will be bad days – but the most important thing here is that you don’t give up, learn from your daily adventures, and enjoy the experience.