Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Market Week Part 4: Market Preparation

Craft Market Post 4 Pic So... you’re a super motivated crafter and micro business owner, and you’re looking to really connect with your audience, broaden your exposure and gain more sales. Going to market sound attractive, but don’t know where to start? The CHA are here to help!

This week is ‘Market Week’ where we share the combined knowledge, experience and expertise of many people connect with the CHA; from members contributing their thoughts on the Discussion Thread, to sellers who are known for their outstanding visual merchandising and other friends of the CHA who have more than 2 cents worth to add.

Market Preparation

Preparation is key! A great place to start is to ensure you carefully read all the information provided by your market organiser. If at the end of this you have un-answered questions, make sure you contact them before the event to have your questions answered. Never make an assumption about what you are or are not allowed to do at your stall; or what support and facilities will be available to you at the event.

Before rolling up to market, consider your approach to these areas of your business and your set up for market.

Stock Preparation:
How much do you need? How much is too much? People with market experience will likely tell you to specialise in a handful of great products and have lots of variety and choice within those products; rather than trying to spread yourself too thin with many different products, but not much variety of each.

A good rule of thumb to remember is to provide the power of choice to the customer. If they like your item, but you have made them all in green and they want blue, that won’t help you get the sale! So think about creating lots of variety within your product line to suit different tastes and needs.

Ultimately though, getting the balance right is something for which you will find a happy balance as you do more and more markets; and will depend somewhat on the size of your items, the size of your stall set up and the time it takes to manufacture each individual item. But know that a clean and clear, well organised and uncluttered table is more appealing than one stuffed with product. In the end, if people can’t see the product for all the mess, they will keep walking. (Stay tuned for more to come about merchandising your stand).

Custom Orders:
In the event that you just don’t have the right combination of design/colour/size that your customer would like, this is where being the creator and developer of the product really comes into its own; because you can just take an order! Make sure you clearly add signage to your stand that custom orders are welcome, and have a notebook at the ready to take down the order details. You will need to determine if you want to take a deposit at the time of taking the order, or if you are happy to collect the full price upon completion.  Don’t forget that postage could still be a consideration!

Pricing and Signage:
If people have to ask you what the price is, then you’re running the risk of losing sales. You need to make it really easy to see what your items costs. The best way to do this is to clearly label each individual item. This should also be used in conjunction with a larger display with the product name, brief description and price. You don’t need to have a proper pricing gun, just some plain small stickers with the price handwritten neatly is sufficient. However your larger displays with product names, description and pricing should be computer designed, printed (home printer is fine but professional design and printing is better) and should very clearly echo your business image with use of your logo and colour scheme, and possibly your business name as well.

Professional banner signage behind your stall is a good idea if and when you can afford it. Not only does it communicate your key business information to passersby, it also reinforces your commitment to your business and your professionalism.

Don’t forget to also have plenty of printed advertising material for your business available for people to take away with them; business cards and fliers with your contact details and examples of your work will make it easy for people to find you after the event. Tell people as they are about to leave your table that you have an online store and/or Facebook page where they can purchase your items, and hand them a flier!

Securing your money and making it easy to access, without flashing it around can be difficult. People don’t want or need to see how much cash you have. Always be thoughtful and discreet when handling and moving the money around.

You can use a money belt (yes that’s right, a bum bag!) to make change and some notes easily available. But if you have lots of sales during the day, you might also want to consider having a separate lockable cash box to store and hide away your larger notes. This should either be hidden under or behind your displays (always under your watchful gaze and out of range from the general public) or better still given to a trusted third party (such as your partner) to remove safely all together.

The size and set up of your float depends on the pricing of your products; and you should consider this when setting the prices. If your prices aren’t in whole dollars (that is, they include cents in the price such as $10.95 or $15.50) then this will have a big influence on your float setup. To make it easy at market, it is wise to set all your prices in whole dollars, meaning that the smallest denomination you will require are $1 coins.

A good example of a market stall float for products with prices in whole dollars is:

$200 float

  • 4 X $20 notes
  • 6 X $10 notes
  • 6 X $5 notes
  • 10 X $2 coins
  • 10 X $1 coins

Other than having a beautifully designed and laid out table, what else can you do to entice people to your table?

Food is always a great draw card! You can sell it (muffins and slices are a great eye catcher and compliments handmade perfectly) or give it away (a tray of lollies will get the little and big kids’ attention), but make sure you investigate the following before putting food on your table:

  • What council laws are you required to adhere to with food on your table? Do you need a special food handler’s licence? Contact your council for further information. Remember that rules and regulations may also change from council to council and you may need to contact more than 1 if you do markets outside of your local area. Be prepared to show your food handlers licence to the event organiser.
  • Wether selling food or giving it away, does the food contain anything that people are likely to be allergic to? If so, consider changing to another product or at the very least provide clear signage and an ingredients listing.
  • Speak with your small business/market stand insurer to ensure you adhere to their requirements and aren’t invalidating your insurance cover.

If you have a tray of sweets, make sure you don’t have hard lollies which small children are attracted to but are a choking hazard. Always have clean tongs available and bags if required for take away purposes.

Competitions are another great draw card; but there are strict requirements around running competitions which require you to contact the gaming commission in your state before running. I am going in investigate this further before providing any more detail, so stay tuned!

Music is a another fantastic way to draw people to your table. Keep it at a volume which isn’t intrusive, but people will hear as they walk by. Think about your target market and what sort of music they are likely to listen to. Be sure to check with your market organiser if playing music is ok first.

The last thing you want is to be caught out desperate for the toilet, or starving for something to eat and drink, and knowing that there is no relief on the way! Some markets offer stall holder minding services, but others don’t. Check with your market organiser; it might be wise to arrange for a friend or family member who is somewhat familiar with your products to relieve you during the market so that you can take a quick break.

So the last of the big tasks left now (other than making all your stock) is working out how to visually merchandise your stand to create a standout, attractive and eye-catching display!  Stay tuned for the next blog post!

Cheers, Chicken

Next post: Merchandising your stand

Was this article useful? Have more to add? Please leave a comment.... we really want to hear from you! Yes you!


  1. Hi Tania, what a great post, thanks! Particularly the float information. Looking forward to the next one.

  2. This is such useful information. Thanks

  3. Thanks Tania! Great post. I really like the idea of choosing just a few key items and having a good variety within those. The key is working out what those key items are :-)

  4. These posts are SO relevant to me right now as I'm doing my first ever market in October. Gimme as much info as you got, Chicken!

  5. I'm really enjoying your series on Market tips - there are so many things that you learn on the hop from market to market and you can't help but make mistakes along the way. It's great to have all the tips in one place to refer to and perhaps avoid some of those mistakes. Thanks so much for posting your expertise!

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