The Seven Paths to Market Stall Success


Essential tips for Market Stall Holders                                                                      


Patrons enjoy the music and stalls at Umina Beach Market, NSW

Running a successful market stall is more than just 'set up and start selling'. There are many factors one has to consider before you make your first sale. Here's some of the best we've discovered over the years.


#1 - Find the right market
Doing your research prior to deciding a market location is critical. Look at the demographics of the market and who is it aim at. Check out other stall holders and see if they are selling a similar standard of product and that yours will “fit in”. If there are too many stalls selling similar products to you, it might be time to think about attending another market in a different suburb or maybe a country market - one where you don’t have current customers.

Talk to the stall holders and get opinions of the market and the foot traffic it attracts. Most regulars are keen to share their experiences and help a new stall holder.

Go online and see if the market has a Social Media presence eg Facebook or a website. The more advertising tools the market uses the more people it will attract.


#2 – Get organised before the big day
It’s a good idea to have a checklist of everything you think you will need at the market and tick off as you pack them. At the end of the market pack your “kit bag” up and you’ll be set for the next market day.

To make up “kit bag” here are some suggestions to get you started:

  • Business cards, box or bag to put other people’s business cards or contact details in, pens & pencils, notebook, highlighter pen, stapler, scissors, ruler, measuring tape, pins, calculator, needle & thread, bandaids, sunscreen, waterproof jacket, Panadol, tissues, water, mirror, rubbish bag, large sheet of clear plastic to cover your goods in the event of rain and some energy snacks for the day.
  • To keep you looking the part, pack your favourite lipstick or lip-gloss!
  • If you have jewellery or the like, pack plyers or appropriate tools, wire and a selection of “findings” for emergencies and quick fixes.
  • If you are wrapping your goods when purchased, then you need a good supply of paper or you might consider purchasing coloured organza bags, both are readily available at $2 shops in a range of sizes and colours.
  • Often you have to transport everything to the market area on foot, so a suitcase with wheels is a good idea and makes packing up a breeze. 
  • A money belt and plenty of change is of course, mandatory.

#3 – The set-up
How you set up your stall is crucial to your success. Ensure people can easily move around your stall and examine all your items for sale. You can organise your stock, by colour, size or shape but make sure you don’t clutter, over accessorise or pile stock on top of each other – you don’t want customers to have to dig around. A messy table is not appealing, so keep it neat and tidy.

Your stall should sing “welcome, come in and browse” & hopefully buy up!

Make sure your table is steady, level and clean. Cover your table with cloth that enhances your display or product and make sure it is secured firmly. Red always stands out from the crowd. You can get weighted table cloth clips that are brilliant holding down the cloth. To make your stall appealing it’s a good idea to have a combination of heights in your display. Simply put a shoe box under the cloth to achieve this. Make sure customers can move freely around your stall and get a good look at everything. If you are not displaying everything in your range, have some photos on hand to show customers the complete range. Dress the part. If you make scarves, necklaces, jewellery, hats etc – wear them. Model your products and make sure any “helpers” do as well.

Props are great at showing off stock. Look around Opp shops, garage sales, Ebay and other market stall holders, to get ideas of what will set your stall apart from the rest. Some items you could consider using are a: ladder, mannequin (half or full body), hat stand, baskets, tins, old boots, rugs, mobile clothes rack, bookcases, boxes, shoe racks etc etc. The list is endless! Sometimes a quick paint job on an old piece of furniture will make a great prop. Check out these ideas for displaying goods.  

If you’re selling clothes, a full length “true” mirror is essential.

Light boxes are readily available at Kmart for under $20 and make a real statement.

You can advertise your sale items or a catchy slogan or simply your business name. In any case you will draw attention to your stall with this inexpensive prop.

Vistaprint is a great resource for postcards, business cards, banners and signs at very reasonable rates.

Displaying your business name and contact details ensures people can get in touch with you after the market, if required.

Gazebos could also be considered, especially in winter where the protection of your goods is very important. Some gazebos come with sides that are secured to the ground keeping you and your customers nice and warm.

Bunnings & Gazebos Australia have a good selection.

Flags and balloons waving in the breeze are great for attracting attention. Battery operated Fairy Lights are great in the winter and add magic to your stall.

It’s a good idea to have a “dummy run” the week before the market, to make sure you can fit everything you plan to take to the market into your car.

Lastly and most importantly, price all your goods – people will often not ask about a product if it is not priced and you don’t want to be thinking up prices on the day.

#4 – Advertise your brand
You want everyone to remember your brand or name, so have plenty of business cards or flyers on hand to give out to customers. Sometimes people are overwhelmed by markets and like to purchase later, so make it easy for them to find you. If you have a Social Media presence, let people know and ask that they “follow” you to keep abreast with new products and which markets you are attending. If you have a newsletter or are considering starting one, have a book on the table, where people can sign up and add their email addresses.

#5 – Market Day specials
You need to be inventive to attract people to stop at your stall and one way is to have a children’s lucky dip or market day special bin. Both ideas will make customers curious to come closer and see what “it’s all about”. Everyone likes a bargain and it’s a good way to introduce your product. If you have some small inexpensive things you can give away to children all the better – a $1 an item bin is a good way to attract interest.

If your product requires explanation, be sure to have information signs printed and clearly displayed so customers don’t have to ask – some will just walk away!

#6 – Pricing
It’s a good idea to think about offering different levels of pricing.

First tier: “loss leader” or “entry point” price is to draw customers in. Usually these products attract less profit but are good sellers at very reasonable prices.

Second tier: this level is where most of your sales will come from. These products are affordable and attract in a better profit margin for you.

Third tier: this category is usually the most expensive in your range and they might be “one off” products or more unique or bespoke pieces. You’ll sell less of them, but the profit is most likely higher than your mainstream products.

#7 – Your attitude on the day“NEVER GIVE UP" – everyone has bad days and good days. Look at every market as a learning experience and a time to think if you could have done things differently or better. Listen and take note of customers and their feedback - even if you don’t agree.

Smile and be friendly and approachable to everyone. If you are genuinely happy to speak to customers it will show and they will feel like engaging and buying. Even if it’s a slow day, your attitude will have an enormous effect of whether the customers who do turn up, buy. If you see a customer wearing something unusual or interesting, make a comment – compliments are a good way to start a conversation and make people feel comfortable.

Good luck!


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