For many of us, running our first market stall can be daunting. Whether we’re de-cluttering by clearing out some pre-loved items from our homes and garages, or embarking on a new business venture. The rules of starting a successful market stall are pretty much the same.
If done the right way, a market stall can provide us with a welcome, short term, cash injection for items we no longer use and can even become a thriving business in the long term.
If you’re looking for a guide on how to make the most out of your market stall, here’s a start, with our top 13 handy tips on how to run a successful market stall:
1. Bring a positive attitude
Markets are welcoming environments. It’s an opportunity for the public to meet the maker, producer, farmer or trader and most will expect you to have some knowledge of your items. Willingness to hold a friendly conversation and sustain a positive attitude will go a long way.
2. Don’t be too pushy
Even though markets are a sales based environment, customers don’t want to feel like they’ve walked in to the stereotypical used car yard. Let customers browse through your items without feeling pressured in to buying right away. If you push for a sale too hard, you could make a potential repeat customer feel unwelcome in your stall and may push them away for good.
3. First impressions last
The most powerful form of marketing is word-of-mouth marketing. If you look after your first customers with courtesy, respect and reasonable deals, it’s likely they’ll refer you to others, which in turn, produces loyalty and repeat business from customers.
You don’t want to have the reputation as the stallholder in the market who swindles or is rude to their customers. After all, the marketplace is the world’s oldest social network.
4. Product display
What will draw customers to your stall? Busy markets are awash with colour, sound and distractions, potential customers can easily pass you by if not drawn in by your display.
Decide what your high turnover items will be and place them prominently. They may make you a smaller profit margin than your other items, however, these are the items that will draw customers in to your stall, and provide you with the means to keep your stall running, week in, week out.
Once drawn in by your prominent, more budget friendly items, it’s likely one or two of your items with a higher profit margin will take their eye too.
5. Stall display
There’s no need to splash out on expensive displays when you’re just starting out. There are simpler, more cost effective ways to attract potential customers into your stall.
Make your stall presentable and welcoming by hiring tables, put down table cloths and hire a marquee. Rummaging through items scattered on a tarp on the ground isn’t for everybody. If you place the items you’re hoping to sell for a higher profit margin at eye level and clearly displayed, they’re more likely to sell, rather than if they were hidden away amongst your other items.
6. Less is not more
If you’re selling a variety of items, bring more items than you actually intend to sell. Be prepared to take some items home again, if you sell out, that would be an added bonus.
Provide customers with a stall that is worth browsing through. If they can see pretty much everything you’re selling while they walk by your stall, you will give them less of a reason to stop and browse.
7. Know your prices
Have an idea of your prices before you set up your stall. Customers will easily lose interest if you take too long to decide on a price, you may also lose the interest of others waiting for your attention. Busy periods will require you to attend to multiple customers at once, you will make things easier on yourself if you can promptly tell each customer how much you want for each item.
8. Have small change handy
Go to the bank during the week and get change which matches up with your prices. You can easily lose a customer by not being able to provide the change they need. It will feel like every second sale is paid for with a $50 note, no matter how low the cost of the item may be.
9. The early bird gets the worm
Get to the market early. Parking, setting up and unloading between two stalls which are already set up can be difficult. If you intend on becoming a regular stallholder, find out what time your neighbours arrive so you can co-ordinate.
10. The early rush
Be set up in time for the early rush. Most markets, especially second hand markets, will have a rush of regular customers who are chomping at the bit to rummage through the stalls as soon as the gates open. You don’t want to have to deal with fielding questions about your items while you’re still getting set up.
11. Wear your best haggling shoes
Customers make the trip to a market in the hope of finding a bargain. Or at the very least, finding something that is quirky and interesting, that can’t be found at their local shopping centre.
Don’t be offended when customers want to offer you less than what you want for your items. Start one step ahead by pricing your items slightly higher than what you want for them, before hopefully meeting in the middle. This especially applies to stallholders who trade in second hand items.
12. Start small
If you’re planning on making a business out of holding a stall regularly, don’t go all out, too early. This breeds unrealistic expectations and can lead to failure before you even start to get on a roll.
Start with what you can afford and let your business grow organically. Minimise your overheads as much as possible until your business starts to turn a profit, then use that profit to invest in additions to your stall.
If you can do something yourself, don’t pay somebody else to do it. If you can’t afford the equipment, signage or the bigger vehicle you want, don’t buy it. If you have the right product, in the right market, with the ability to sell it, you’ll be able to afford these things eventually. All good things come to those who wait.
13. Be realistic
This last tip also applies mostly to those planning on holding a stall regularly. Becoming a regular market stallholder will require a great deal of fortitude. You will be sourcing items before you hold your stall, trying your best to get said items at the lowest possible price you can, packing your vehicle the night before, not getting much sleep, before waking up early, setting up, sometimes in the rain, competing with a number of others doing the same thing, while trying to get the best profit margin you can for each of your items.
Once you start understanding your products and your customers more, where your strengths lie, then playing to those strengths, you’ll find yourself getting on a roll, having your stall run like clockwork and eventually wondering what you were so worried about when you started.