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.
Here are the items that I always have and always need, every market, without fail.
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.
The universal display tool. Blu-tac can be used for signage, propping up products, placing posters and sticking down items on those windy days.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.