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Makers markets: tips and tricks from someone who's done quite a few

Updated: Nov 5


Magdalena Creative in front of her market stand and photos of her market stands only
Magdalena Creative with her market stands

Updated: 05 Nov 2023


So, you want to do markets and don't know where to start? What to prepare? Don't worry, I've got you covered!


๐Ÿ’š First of all, know your audience


It takes a lot of time to find the best markets for you. Different people will go to different markets. You need to make sure you find the places that will attract your niche* (meaning 'your type of people'). You can use the amazing Pedddle market directory to find markets near you.

  • Look at naming first: a craft fair has a different feel to it than a maker's market. Then look at photos - what type of people are visiting? Young/old/posh/funky/alternative/students/etc. Do they match your audience?

  • Check the market out: if you can, go and visit the market to get the feel for it. You know, photos and names aren't everything. You might find things that you like or don't like that will help you make a decision. If you can't or don't want to, that's fine! Hopefully, all goes well, but be prepared for disappointment, also. But hey ho, that's the whole fun of it, isn't it?

  • Speak to your maker friends or ask on Insta stories about the markets you are interested in. Chances are, someone has attended the market you are looking at and will be able to answer some questions you might have :)


*Niche - different people like different things. A grandma will most likely not purchase a piece of modern, funky art featuring a wolf-lady feasting on avocados, painted in pinks and oranges only. But there are people who will. So if that is what you sell, go find the people that will buy it.


๐Ÿ’š Preparation is key!

Make sure you prepare well. It seems easy, but it's really not! There is lots to do... counting/packing/pricing/etc.

  1. Make sure you have a card reader (more on card readers below) and have added all your items and their prices before the event. You don't want to be doing this whilst trying to sell!

  2. Prepare the stock. If you sell prints like me, make sure you bring 2-3 of each (or more if you have a smaller range). You want to make sure you have enough for everyone. This will be different of course if you sell small, limited ranges of items, like block prints, pottery items, etc. cheaper items sell faster, so bring more of those. They might 'sell like hot buns on a Sunday morning'!

  3. Funnily enough, each market has a different 'best seller' - so if you find one item selling extremely well at one location, next time you might not sell that item at all! This reinforces my first point - check out your niche :)

  4. Figure out your pricing and price tagging system.

  • Some people have one board with all pricing on it (easier for when you have a lot of the same type of items, for example - prints in A5/A4/A3 sizes, and that's it).

  • I, on the other hand, have multiple pricing tags all over my stand, referring to particular items. For example, a pricing tag for bookmarks, prints, postcards, greeting cards, tea towels, framed prints, gift wrap, gift tags, etc).

  • People with one-off items will have price tags on each item. This is up to you, and don't feel like you need to figure it out straight away. Do a market, see how it went, then adjust.




๐Ÿ’š Prepare your display

Plan your table out. This is why having your own table comes in useful. If you don't have your own, make sure you know what the table size will be at the market. When planning the layout, create displays within your display (in the example below, the left side is my Christmas display). Have a variety of display elements like boxes, stands, mirrors (like for jewellery), etc.


Choose a good tablecloth. You want something that will not crease, or get too dirty. You also don't want it to take away from your products, so go for plainer designs that will make your products POP. I have seen white, cream, blue, black, and all colours in between. There is no best answer, there is only the right answer for YOUR brand.


Most importantly - make sure all your stand elements are consistent with your branding or brand message. For example, an eco-gifting company shouldn't use single-use plastics for display. A brand that sells soaps and massage oils could use nice, cotton towels.





๐Ÿ’š Change your stand layout

This shouldn't be too hard as your range will most likely evolve throughout the year, but it's an important thing to do, especially if you attend the same market multiple times.

  • Changing the stand around makes it look fresh. Even if your items have not changed from the last market you did, if you change the layout and the same person comes over to have a look at your offer, they might find something new that they didn't notice before.

  • Also, try to do seasonal highlights - and show them off using height or positioning, like the middle of your table, to give them the most attention you can. Light colours and flowers in summer. Spooky products around Halloween, festive products around Christmas.

  • Don't forget to add small decor elements, like Christmas lights at Christmas. This is what shops do with their displays as it draws people in, by triggering positive associations and creating that sentimental 'pull' you need.


๐Ÿ’š Remember about height!

Creating height at your stand means eye-level displays, meaning your products will be visible at a first glance, and from further away. It also allows you to showcase more stock (always a plus!)


You can buy or build your own displays. Look at second-hand things on eBay, Marketplace, and in local second-hand shops. I actually built some of my displays myself, using basic tools. It's an easy and cheap way to bring your stand to the next level! (I might write a separate blog on that).



๐Ÿ’šGet a card reader!

When was the last time you paid with cash? Do you even carry cash? I don't. And many others don't either. You must be able to offer both payment options (cash and card) to all your customers.

Card readers are actually very affordable and easy to purchase. They only take a small percentage of each transaction you make and there are no monthly fees (unless not that I have heard of).

  • I personally use Zettle by PayPal. This simply connects to my PayPal account and pays the money straight to my bank account a few days after the market. It provides very useful reports on sales etc. I can also record cash sales on it for which it does not charge a fee. You can also email people their receipts if they would like one.

  • There are many choices of card readers. Other popular choices are Sumup and Square.

๐Ÿ’š Dress approprietaly

This is a very important point... wear comfy clothes and shoes! Seriously. You want to feel yourself and not have to worry about any pains, so that you can just enjoy the day! ๐Ÿฅฐ This means different things for different people, but seriously, anything goes as long as you look presentable :) Hoodies, jumpers, blouses and t-shirts with jeans, or midi or maxi dresses... Whatever tickles your fancy. Just make sure you can stand, sit, bend and move around comfortably.


Also, make sure that you dress warm enough in autumn and winter. Do not underestimate the weather. Bring layers!


๐Ÿ’š Build a network!

Seriously, this is one of the BEST things about markets. Meeting like-minded people and other makers with the same problems, questions, and ideas you have. It's a little community that supports each other at every step of the way. You can share thoughts, ideas, suppliers, and help each other. Other stallholders really are 'your people'. Make sure you follow each other on social media and share each other's makes. Support each other, because, without a community, no one will get far. We need each other and we need to support each other.


I made some of my best friends at markets and I know I can count on them with all kinds of things, business/market related, and anything else, too.


Markets are so incredibly fun if you let them be. Do not feel like you have to have a perfect stand straight away. You don't have to have anything perfect on your first markets. People are really understanding - they visit markets because they can buy from PEOPLE, not machines.


๐Ÿ’š Set yourself a target

This is quite hard in the beginning, but once you know your market types, audience, and experienced the way people interact with your stand, it gets easier. What I do is go to a market with a mindset of 'I will make an x amount today'. What I found is that having this positive mindset and a goal really drives the way you handle yourself and the stall. Do not pack early, do not give up, and talk to everyone. REACH THAT GOAL. I now meet my targets consistently :)


๐Ÿ’š Smile, chat, and be friendly

A bit controversial, but I call it 'be an American'. People in the UK can be shy and passive. This applies to sellers too. But imagine you are an American - be smiley, be happy, talk, interact, be excited and enthusiastic! I am telling you - the way you present YOURSELF is half the sale!


๐Ÿ’š You should probably not sit

Sitting vs standing. I tried both. If you realistically can't stand all day because of health reasons, get yourself a folding chair (not all venues provide chairs). If you can, stand, because when you are standing, you not only look much more approachable, but you can also easily start a conversation straight away without having to stand up first, which often scares people away - they might feel as if you are "getting ready to jump them" to try and make a sale. Standing is good.


BONUS

You can see my first-ever set up in the 1st photo below. I had very little height and product diversity compared to now. See the difference?


First market:

Photo of Magdalena Creative standing behind her firs ever market stand setup
Magdalena Creative - first market

Latest market:

Photo of Magdalena Creative's market stand in Debry, in Autumn 2022.
Magdalena Creative's market stand 2023


BONUS 2

Find my personal Pedddle account to see all of my upcoming markets. I check in there regularly so you can see exactly where I am going to be exhibiting.

Some of my favourite markets:

  • FarGo Village, Coventry (Pedddle link | Website). They have many different evens throughout the year, including Vegan Festival, Dog Festival, Makers Markets, Prints & Pints, etc.

  • Meet the Makers Market (Pedddle link | Website)

  • Craft & Flea markets (Website)

  • Makers Market Midlands (Pedddle link | Website)


*Pedddle - This is an amazing website that helps connect makers and markets by using their own website drectories. On top of that, they have a membership scheme, and as a stallholder, I recommend you become a Pedddle member. For a few quid a month, you can have your own stallholder webpage in their directory so that people can find you, follow you, see your upcoming markets and all your social media links. Additionally, they host workshops and webinars and provide personalised help to you when needed. It's an amazing community to be a part of.


ย 

I hope you enjoyed this slightly long blog and that you found it useful! I really wanted to give as much detail as possible.



Did you learn anything new today?

  • Yep, so much stuff to think about!

  • A few things, thanks so much!

  • I was already a pro, but thanks for the read!


If you enjoyed it, make sure you share it far and wide with your friends who might also benefit from having a read.


Lots f Love,

Magda



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