A Complete Guide to Marketing and Selling for a Market Stall

It’s for good reason that market stalls have seen a rise in prevalence over recent years, a trend that has firmly shown no signs of slowing down. They are a tried and tested way for businesses to market and sell their products in order to grow. In fact, Marks & Spencer started off its life as a market stall and the company now holds a revenue of over 10 billion.

When looking for ways to expand your venture, or even turn your hobby into a means of making an income, it’s likely that you’ll gravitate towards thinking about setting up a market stall. This is because, when done right, they are a fantastic move to generate both exposure and profit.

There is a lot to take into consideration, however, whether you’re starting out, or are an already experienced trader. To make your market stall a success we’ve teamed up with the people over at TFH Gazebos who provide bespoke gazebos and accessories for innumerable traders across the UK. This guide will consist of useful advice regarding preparation, selling, and marketing while covering the essential questions and details surrounding market stalls.

What Is It Like To Sell At a Market Stall?

The majority of people have experienced what it’s like to be at a market where there’s an array of stalls selling a variety of products. This is because they are so ubiquitous, especially around Christmas time. Yet, it is a very different matter being behind the stall, as opposed to wandering through and browsing what’s on offer.

Your expectations may differ very much from the reality, there’s a great deal that you’ll have to think about if you want your market stall to attract customers and flourish. It’s certainly not easy, you could attend an event and simply be standing around for hours without having made a sale. Such an outcome is evidently singularly demotivating and, not to mention, a waste of both time and money.

Another situation, however, is that you find yourself amongst your ideal target audience, people who relate to your brand. That is, people who show a genuine interest in your merchandise, engage with you, and ultimately decide to purchase what you’re selling. To ensure that this turnout is the case, we’ve compiled some top tips to help you make it so.

1. Know Your Audience

Before you can select an event to attend, or choose a specified time slot, you need to understand who your product is going to most likely attract. This means getting a firm grasp on your demographic, their age-range, and what interests they will share. For instance, if you were to show up at an event around noon that promoted fitness opportunities, it would be entirely out of place for you to peddle indulgent food and drink.

Whereas, selling mulled wine at an evening Christmas market is almost guaranteed to provide you with lucrative sales. Of course, these are two contrasting extremities, but this point applies to how if the product you’re marketing is rather nuanced, you’ll need to look at data which points you towards an idea of your audience and what events they will appear at.

2. Know Your Product

It should already be a given that you know the product which you’re selling inside-out, so this should pose little difficulty. Although, it is sometimes a bit harder than expected to get information across to people in a clear, concise, and engaging way, even more so if you have little practice with customer interaction.

Moreover, if people possess a genuine interest then they will throw questions at you, and some of those may be curveballs that you hadn’t anticipated. To avoid being stuck for answers, it helps to carry out comprehensive research into your field or industry. In turn, you’ll convey authenticity and trustworthiness, both of which translate to sales. If you’re new to face-to-face marketing then your competency will increase with time, but it helps substantially to be prepared.

3. Buy The Necessary Kit

In marketing, first impressions matter significantly. If you want your product to sell then it’s vital to make the appearance of your stall match up to the quality of your product. If you turn up to your first event with a stall consisting of a simple table on which your items sit, then it won’t help your chances of attracting customers.

In order to see what goes into a successful stall, carry out research, whether it’s searching online or attending existing stalls in-person. It will pay to get an idea of the sort of kit you’ll need, and this could be anything from adorned wooden stands with multiple shelves, to hangers and rails. If your stall signals a level of professionalism, the natural consequence is that it will entice people to browse and buy your offerings.

4. Arrive Early Set Up

If you follow the last step, you’ll want to give yourself ample time to set it all up. It doesn’t bode well to arrive 30 minutes before the market opens before placing everything down slapdash. Especially if you’re a newcomer to the world of market stalls, you might be surprised at how long it takes to get things ready for potential customers.

We recommend that you give yourself at least two hours to set up your stall. This is to ensure that your display is arranged in an easy-to-view and appealing manner. After all, a market stall event should be fun and exciting, not frustrating and hectic, it will ultimately hurt your sales if it’s the latter

5. Persevere

It’s possible that you organise everything according to what we’ve said here, and yet, the end result falls short of your expectations. Perhaps you haven’t made your desired revenue, not had any interesting interactions, or simply just didn’t enjoy the experience. Such an outcome evidently leads people to prematurely give up and abandon the idea of a market stall altogether.

Our advice is to not get disheartened, and remember that things don’t always go the way you planned, commonly down to variables out of one’s control. Success is a process, and each effort edges you towards the final goal; the more you attend market events, the more your stall will improve, and so too will your interactions and experiences. 

What Should I Bring To My First Market Stall?

As we briefly glossed over, it’s integral to bring all the equipment you’ll need to create a successful market stall. This doesn’t mean that you have to go out and immediately procure a range of items, you can start off with the basics and make further additions over time. When you arrive at an event, you will be faced with a clean slate, here’s a list of five things which will work to spruce your stall up, and so enhance your brand image.

1. Comfortable Chair

With all the preparation that a market stall entails, it’s easy to focus on the bigger aspects and forget about the basic necessities, a comfortable chair is one such necessity. Despite market events being a fun opportunity to grow your business, they do require you to be on your feet while appearing engaged for long hours. To make sure that you don’t get drained and tired, bring a nice chair for when you need a rest. And, likewise, some coffee!

2. Table Cloth

Bare folding metal tables aren’t the most attractive objects on their own, but they can be with a table cloth that covers both the surface and legs. This is even more true when your tablecloth matches your overall brand aesthetic. Your stall should have a solid and cohesive image if you want potential customers to think similarly about your business and its products. Table cloths also come with the practical function of keeping your selling space clean and tidy.

3. Display Equipment

If you’re in the situation where you can afford to go beyond the basics, then something where you can display your merchandise will be a worthwhile investment. This could be the aforementioned shelving unit, a clothing rail with hangers if you’re selling clothes, or just simple stands to heighten your visibility. You’ll have a fraction of time to capitalise on any attention your stall gets from market attendees, so increase the likelihood of it being undivided by putting that extra thought and care in.

4. Marketing Material

In order for your stall to really stand out and leave a lasting impression, you’re going to need proper marketing material such as branded banners and signs. If the event is particularly crowded then it will be difficult to direct potential customers’ gazes, loud branding ensures that your stall will get the attention it deserves. Include your brand’s logo, relevant images, and perhaps a slogan.

It’s also a good idea to hand out promotional leaflets and business cards with contact details, if applicable. Not only will these implements work to establish your brand’s image, they likewise indicate credibility and open up social media opportunities.

5. Card Reader And Cash

Let’s say that you’ve put together a dazzling stall which has worked in attracting a multitude of customers, you want to make the purchasing process as easy as possible for them. The majority of people don’t carry cash these days, so giving them the option to pay by card with a card reader is essential. Yet, conversely, a lot of people still do prefer to use cash.

It is, therefore, best to also have spare change in case someone wants to buy a small item but only has a £20 note, for example. Failure to address this oversight could mean that you lose out on revenue right at the end of the sales funnel, an obviously painful experience. 

How Much Does a Market Stall Cost?

The cost for renting a market stall will vary with whatever your approach is. If you wanted to rent a pitch for a day then you could pay a relatively low fee of £20-£50. And if you were to rent that same pitch for a week then you could be looking at paying around £250-£300.

The day, location, and the scale of the event will also determine the total cost of the stall. Weekend stalls, for instance, tend to demand a higher expense than weekday ones because they are generally more popular. Likewise, large events in a thriving city such as London have an expensive rental fee since the average income for each stall will be significantly higher, comparative to those at smaller market events.

This isn’t always necessarily true, however. As you have seen so far, there are a number of factors which influence the eventual outcome. To boost your chances of success, make sure to thoroughly consider the audience which specific events attract so that your relevance, and consequent profits, are a guarantee.

Why Should I Open a Market Stall?

If you exclusively sell your products online, and you’re doing quite well, then you may still wonder as to why you would invest money and time into a market stall. That is, what are the benefits?

The immediate benefit is the fact that you would be opening an extra avenue of income for you and your business, and it wouldn’t break the bank to test the waters for a single day. All things considered, market stalls are a relatively cost-effective way to market and sell products. Further still, the potential earnings and inherent brand exposure are nothing to turn one’s nose up at.

A hands-on approach to marketing and selling also comes with opportunities which are otherwise exclusive. Namely, you have the ability to interact with your customers and get a comprehensive view of your target audience. You can ask them questions regarding the product, such as what they want, and what is currently missing. These insights are invaluable because it is feedback like this which can direct you towards thinking of innovative ways to improve your brand which you hadn’t taken into account before.

Lastly, it is a fun and productive activity. Market stall events are bustling environments full of like-minded and friendly people, they radiate a genuinely positive energy. Not only will this motivate you, but the friends and contacts you make there can give tips and advice to help better your business while instilling you with confidence.

Thank you for taking the time to read our guide to marketing and selling for market stalls. We hope that it has fully informed you on what it’s like to put up a market stall, what you need for the venture, and what benefits can be reaped by taking on the challenge. We wish you luck if you decide to seize such an opportunity!