Market Day Essentials

My first market day back in June 2011 was a bit haphazard. I turned up with my stock and very little to display it on. Luckily I managed to bring a float, pen and notebook. I ended up borrowing scissors, paper-clips and many more items over the next few markets, each time I’d add the offending item to my market day kit upon returning home. Since then my market kit has grown and I’m happy to loan out the odd bit of blu-tac or carrier bag to our stallholders. While we can’t possibly plan for everything, it’s very handy to have a stash of useful bits and bobs with you. Some things are more essential than others, some are just kind of nice.

Essentials

Here are the items that I always have and always need, every market, without fail.

Float

Your first sale of the day will almost certainly be paid in notes, make sure you have enough change to last a few £20 notes. Lots of coins, lots of £5 notes. The smallest float you can get away with is probably £40 but you’ll learn what works with your price points as you do more markets.

Blu-tac

The universal display tool. Blu-tac can be used for signage, propping up products, placing posters and sticking down items on those windy days.

Food

This is especially important if you don’t know the area. The last thing you need is hunger when you’re trying to be sociable. Bring dry snacks, stuff that won’t spoil stuffed in the bottom of your bag.

Drink

At least a bottle of water, at best a large flask of tea. When you’re at the market all day those pennies can add up, specially if you drink as much tea as I do.

Packaging

You’ve made your first sale, it’s raining outside so the customer asks for a bag. This will happen. If you’re selling anything large or breakable be sure to bring plenty of tissue paper or bubble wrap too. And sticky tape, you’ll need it.

Display

Your display is what makes your stall different, what makes it stand out and attract your customers. The type of display you use will be completely different from anybody else’s but everybody needs price labels or tags, stands or baskets and a table cloth. People don’t like to ask what price things are, so make sure everything is clearly labelled. Other essential items for your display are a banner or sign telling customers who you are and business cards telling them how to find you and more of your work. The easier it is to remember you the more friends they’ll tell and return trips they’ll make.

Stationery

A notebook and pen for writing down sales and custom order details are the basics. Make sure you bring spare pens, both for recording sales and for making extra signage and price labels. I always carry a regular black pen, a pencil, coloured pens and a chunky marker. I also use these for drawing during quiet moments. Scissors, paperclips, string, bulldog clips and safety pins are useful for display based emergencies too. Do your tired, early morning brain a favour and bring a calculator too – even if you’re good at maths it’s useful to have a way of double checking those figures.

Public Liability Documentation

Many markets, like the Make and Mend, require it’s stallholders to have Public Liability Insurance (usually for up to £5million). Make sure that you bring your documents along on the day, you never know when the market inspector might need to see them. If you’re unsure what public liability is and how to get it then you should read our post on it, About Public Liability.

Recommended

Always think about your own comfort at markets, after all if you’re grumpy or tired it’ll show and can put folks off talking to you. A little comfort kit of tissues, hand sanitiser, paracetamol, deodorant, and mints will keep you feeling fresh and ready for whatever the day throws at you. Seasonal items like a hat, gloves and suncream will keep you safe from the weather along with spare layers of clothing. 

Speaking of weather, if your market is outdoors or only half covered prepare for the worst. Bring plastic covering for your products and heavy objects to weight them down. Even light rain can damage paper based goods.

The best purchase you can make if you do regular markets is a wheeled case or trolley. Even if you have a car you’ll need something to transport all your kit from the car to the venue. I like to keep my market day kit and current stock inside the wheeled case between markets so I never forget things, this means I can get an early night ready for those early starts. If you use public transport make sure the case is waterproof and can withstand a bit of wobbling too. Oh, and make sure you can carry and pull it. Stairs and steep curbs can be encountered in the most unexpected of places.

Just Nice

Having your float and takings in a money tin means either keeping it on your table or having to dive underneath repeadely during the day. I’m seriously considering a money apron, hopefully a cool looking handmade one. The benefits of the money apron aren’t just limited to change, you can also use it to keep your notebook and pen in and your hands warm in Winter.

Treat your customers well and they will spread the word, chat, swap ideas and listen to their suggestions. If you can, offer samples of what you do, people love free stuff. Think of them as longer lasting, more memorable business cards. The same can be said for including little thank you’s with purchases, coupons for money off future buys are always well received.

Was this post helpful in putting together your market day kit? What are your market essentials? We’d love to hear your tips and recommendations for market day success. In the same way that I love seeing other people’s workspaces I’d love to see your market kit, take a photo and share it here. Here’s mine.

Market Kit Market Kit Market Kit Market Kit

About Public Liability

If you’re new to markets the chances are you were surprised to learn that you need public liability insurance. It might seem like a bit of a big commitment, specially if your doing this for a hobby but once you have it you can trade at any market in the country.

What is it?

Public and products liability insurance covers you against claims of injury that may have been caused by your being at the market. In short it protects you from the costs of accidental injury to the public. Pretty useful really. Not only does it protect you against liability for those accidents but it shows the market organisers that you are serious about your work, safe and trustworthy. Even craft fairs that don’t require this insurance will consider it a bonus if you have it.

Who needs it?

If you sell your work to the public then you will benefit from having it, this includes markets, exhibitions, specialist fairs and conventions – though the amount of cover varies £5million tends to be the most common amount of cover required. The Make & Mend events in the Grainger Market are a good example of this, stallholders need to have public liability cover for up to £5million.

How can I get it?

You can get Public and products liability insurance from most known insurers. It’s worth checking with your existing insurer as they can sometimes offer very good deals. If you have any kind of business insurance you may already have public liability included, check with your insurer.

Combined Market Traders Insurance Association offers affordable public and products liability. It’s suitable for market traders of all kinds and is easy to apply for, just fill in the short form and send it off.

If you’re an individual artist (not a group business) then I would recommend membership with AIR. Membership includes public and products liability insurance and is only £36. Their definition of artist includes but isn’t limited to traditional art, photography, sculpture, ceramics, textiles, jewellery, mixed media, interactive arts, crafts and even performance art. If you’re not sure this includes you then you can easily contact them.

Questions or suggestions?

Get involved in the conversation and leave a comment below. What’s your experience of public and products liability? Have you had to claim? Is there such a thing as too much cover?

Would you like to write for the Make & Mend Market blog? We’re looking for artists, crafters and makers to contribute demonstrations, tutorials and showcases of work to our blog. If you’ve got an idea, big or small, just email makeandmendmarket@gmail.com. The more the merrier.