How to Set Up a Successful Market Stall: Tips for Selling at Markets

Market Stall Square

There’s nothing that quite compares to being your own boss. The freedom to make choices without being questioned, the opportunity to set your own hours, and the limitless ways to express your creativity and harness your passion are just some of the benefits.

It sounds great, right? So then, it’s no surprise that launching a market stall is often the first foray into self-employment that many people take. Selling at markets is also a great way to dip your toe into selling your products, and seeing if there’s a receptive audience and opportunity to make money from your product. For many, it can also be a stepping-stone for launching into retail, or even kept as a nice side-income.

The good news is that it’s quite easy to get started, and in no time you can be up and running. Want to know how? Then read on to discover how to set up a market stall successfully and everything you need to get going.

What is market stall trading?

A market stall is a booth or stand where individuals or small businesses sell goods. These can range from artisan produce to food, antiques, clothes and much more.

Markets can be in the form of a permanent fixture, as well as open-air markets, farmers markets, street markets and even car-boot sales. Don’t assume all terms are the same - before you start selling at markets, have a read of their trading requirements, stall fees and eligibility criteria, which can vary. For instance, the Bondi Farmers Market prioritises sellers that grow their own produce, in keeping with their ethos.

How to Set up a Market Stall

Once you’ve found a suitable market space and approved to be a seller, it’s time to get market-ready! Here’s nine tips for selling at markets successfully.

Know your customers

First of all, it’s important to know who your target customer is. That way you can build your store to be as attractive and appealing to them as possible. For instance, if you have a high-end product, you’ll want to invest in high-quality packaging and branding. If, on the other hand you’re simply shifting goods quickly, then you need to think about ways to make payments quick and easy for customers.

Stand-out from the crowd

Marketplaces can experience high footfall, but there’s also plenty of competition. When you first set up a market stall, it’s worth investing in branding that makes you stand out. This means a little upfront costs for store frontage, signage, display, packaging and pamphlets. With your target audience and brand in mind, use colours and illustrations that best reflect your business to draw customers in. Before you do, take a walk around some of your competitors’ stalls and see what they do well and what you can improve on further.

Offer samples

Also known as ‘reciprocity’ in marketing lingo, the psychology behind offering free samples is to make the customer feel special, and encourage them to buy with you. So, if you’re selling brownies, rustling up smoothies, or flogging beauty products, look at how you can lure customers in with a little something to whet their appetite. You may be surprised to learn that handing out free samples has boosted sales by up to 2000% in some cases.

Price competitively

When you set up a market stall you’ll want to price your products strategically. Remembering that you need to be profitable (and scalable) for long-term success, whilst remaining competitive. One pricing strategy is to create several price points of the same product category for your customers, so that there’s something for everyone. For instance, if you sell a box of candles for $25, you might want to offer individual ones for $5, as well as gift boxes for $50.

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Offer multiple payment options

In this day and age, it’s really important to meet customer needs, especially when it comes to sales transactions. With a growing trend to go cashless, if you’re selling at markets, it’s essential to have a tap-and-go credit card reader, as well as accepting cash. Square Readers are affordable and portable, offering customers the option to pay by chip and contactless cards, Apple Pay, Google Pay from anywhere. Consider it your must-have payments kit.

People buy from people

Unlike selling online, the opportunity to sell face-to-face gives you a huge advantage in building rapport and relationships. So have chats with your customers, get to know them, treating them as your friends. Not only will this give you an advantage when selling at markets, but it will also help spread the buzz about your business and ensure customers return time and again.

Stock up

When potential customers stumble across your stall, you have a small window of time to convert them. It’s better to be prepared with more stock, than to disappoint with less. Also keep in mind that, where possible, offering a variety of styles, colours and sizes, will help with conversions. And, if you’re feeling brave – offering bundles and promotional offers will see those sales rolling in!

Spread the word

When you first set up a market stall, don’t be afraid to tell the world. Get yourself on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter - do your own PR. Social media, and local online directories are great ways to keep your business top of mind to potential customers. Here you can promote offers, share opening times and build up a loyal following. Remember that social media is a two-way channel, so it’s also about interacting with customers and not just putting content out.

Market stall insurance

Finally, although each marketplace will have its own terms of trading, it’s likely that you will need to come armed with your own public liability insurance. Be sure to have this set up and ready before you start selling at markets.

Final thoughts

There’s a real joy about setting up as a trader and selling at markets. The customer interactions, the buzz of making a sale, and the opportunity to earn a living from something you genuinely love. It can be highly satisfying and rewarding, as well as a real learning opportunity when it comes to the basics of retail and customer service. So, whether you’re looking for a side-hustle, to test an idea out, or to set-up as a long-term trader, there’s never been a better time to go for it!