Updated: Apr 1, 2022
It can be daunting — especially if it’s your first market — to know what to prepare for market day. Fortunately for you, that’s an area we’re especially familiar with at Erin Madeley Consulting. On top of supporting small businesses through Perth Makers Market and now Perth Upmarket, we also coordinate various market events around Perth such as the Applecross Rotary Jacaranda Festival, Propel Youth Arts KickstART Festival Market, and Town of East Fremantle George Street Festival. With this vast range of experience it probably goes without saying that we are extremely well-versed in the do’s and don’ts of market day preparation!
Set up a checklist of essential items you will need to have with you on the day so that you don’t rock up and find that you’ve forgotten a bunch of stuff. We’ve created a Market Go Box Checklist which is a great starting point of knowing what to pack for the market — click below to download the checklist:
Please note that this checklist is not the be-all and end-all of everything you will need; use it as a starting point and develop it further to include other items that would be specific to your own business: i.e. display setup, props, etc.
Stall setup and organisation
If you haven’t done a market before, we recommend a trial run of your setup in your house or in your backyard; that way you’re not having to frantically work it out on the day of the market or discover that something you had in mind doesn’t work.
Additionally, practice loading your car if you haven’t done that before: it will be a bit of a puzzle to fit everything in, and things might not go the way that you anticipate. There will be a fair bit of trial and error to figure all this out, so practice this well ahead of time — the last thing you want to be doing is to load your car up on market day and finding out that you can’t load everything you need.
Don’t forget: you will also need to unload your car to bring all your items to your stall (invest in a good trolley as your drop off point and stall location may not be next to each other). Try to make it as organised as possible so that it’s as smooth and seamless as can be on the day
Ah – this question is one we get asked a lot: how much stock should you bring to a market? A general rule of thumb is to have enough stock to fill your table and be able to replenish your stock at least once.
Of course, this will vary from market to market depending on the crowds, the type of product/s you make, the anticipated sales, the time of year, etc. However, you will find that this is a good starting point, and you can adjust this as you attend more markets and get more experience.
Most importantly, you should also have all your products priced ahead of time so that you’re not having to do it on the day.
Most people generally pay by card these days: whether that is using Apple Pay on their phone, or with a bank debit card. With a few exceptions, people don’t tend to carry cash, and a lot of markets don’t have an on-site ATM.
We highly recommend the ability to take payment electronically as it’ll increase your chances of making sales. Even if there is an ATM on site, there are too many factors that could potentially keep customers from returning to you after getting cash. The minute they walk away from your stall, they might reconsider their purchase. Alternatively, they might decide it’s too hard to get back to you, or even see something else they may prefer instead. The goal here is to remove any barriers from making sales, and this is a simple one to address.
There are also different ways to take payment electronically if you don’t want to invest in a card reader: you could simply ensure that you have your bank details ready for customers to make an electronic transfer on the spot. Of course, be sure to confirm that the payment has gone through before handing over your product; you do not want it to bounce only to discover that you’ve lost both a sale and your product!
As mentioned, there are a few exceptions to the rule where customers might use cash: there are a select number of people who go to a market with a budget in mind, and they take cash out ahead of time in order to stick to their budget. Having a cash float on hand for the occasional cash users ensures you don’t miss out on a sale from these customers.
The amount of float that you need will vary depending on the price of your products, but it’s a good rule of thumb to have about $200 in cash in a mixture of denominations. We recommend having more small amounts than large amounts of cash; you will find that you’ll be breaking large notes and will need to provide change rather than the other way around.
Promoting your market attendance
Prior to market day, make sure that you tell people where you’re going to be: you have dedicated followers who like what you do, and they’re going to want to support you in person by attending the markets that you go to! They can’t come and find you to spend their money if you don’t tell them where you’re going to be. You can share this information on your website, social media or even in person by talking to people, handing out flyers, asking to be included in your children’s school newsletter, notice boards and so many more places!
Taking breaks and refreshments
Pack snacks and food for meals — don’t simply rely on the fact that there will be food and beverage vendors on site. You may find that you’ll be too busy to walk away from your stall, particularly when it’s the middle of the day and the vendors are especially busy.
If you’re hoping to get food from the vendors, it’s a good idea to have a backup plan so you don’t end up stuck: try and organise for somebody to provide you with a little bit of a break. A market day is a long day, so either have a helper with you, or organise for somebody to stop by and give you a little bit of a breather. If you don’t have someone who can do that for you, make sure to introduce yourself to your stall neighbours so that you’ve got someone nearby who can watch your stall if you need to get yourself some lunch or a drink, or do a toilet run.
On the day
Make sure that you have allowed yourself adequate time to arrive to the market venue. It is always better to arrive early than late, as this is much easier to accommodate for organisers. You won’t be able to access your allocated drop-off point past your specific time due to the volume of people and vehicles that need to get in and out of the space at most markets.
After the event
Thank the people who came and supported you! Whether it be it on social media or your email newsletter, it makes your customers feel special and included. They will then be more likely to engage with you and continue to support you in the future.
Also, make sure to sit down and review how everything went on the day and leading up to it: are there areas you can improve in the future with the way that you set up? With the way that you prepared? With the way that you ran your stall on the day? Don’t wait too long to do this because you won’t be able to remember everything. The sooner you can do this post-market, the better it’s going to be for your business.
We hope these tips will help you feel confident for your next market. There are many things to consider and absolutely no guarantees that things will go to exactly to plan… but hey — the best you can do is to be as prepared as you can, and take the lessons as they come.
Any questions or items we didn’t cover here? Get in touch and let us know what you’d like to know so we can try and include it in a future blog.
As always, happy market-going!