Art On the Exchange 2019: Top Tips for Running a Successful Market Stall

Art On the Exchange 2019 is just one month away, so it’s time for the heavy preparation work to begin – both for us and for our wonderful stallholders! Booking your space is just the first step on the road to having the perfect stall at your market of choice. Now for the tougher stuff – working on your product, making any last-minute changes, and making sure you have enough to fill a table.

Today we’re going to look at some of the best things you can do to make sure your stall at Art On the Exchange (or at any other market you attend this year) is a successful one.

1. Dress Appropriately

Nobody is their best self when they’re freezing cold or soaking wet. When you’re getting ready to exhibit at an outdoor market like Art On the Exchange, please make sure you have appropriate clothing.

Remember: This is Scotland. Whether your stall is in April, July or November, there’s a high likelihood you’ll be rained on and blown around a little. Our stalls will do all they can to protect you, but a fleece and a good anorak will go a long way!

Try to also keep in mind that you’ll be on your feet a lot, so comfortable shoes that can keep your feet dry are also a must-wear.

2. Think about Price Range

All sorts of different people will pass by your stall throughout the day, so the best way to optimise your profits is to offer products to fit a variety of budgets. Try splitting your prices into three groups: low, medium and high.

For example, if you’re an illustrator, your low-priced items might be things like greetings cards, stickers and badges. Your medium-priced items could be coasters, mugs and unframed prints, while your high-priced items could be things like framed prints or even originals.

3. Stay Fuelled Up

Don’t allow yourself to go hungry when you’re working your stall. Getting hungry and grouchy won’t boost your sales!

Remember to bring a bottle of water, a flask of your hot beverage of choice and something to eat. You can make plans to get lunch from another stall or a nearby café, but it’s also good to have something to hand that you can grab and eat quickly if you get hungry right as the market gets busy.

4. Get Informed

If you’ve never had a stall at this particular market, it’s best to find out all you can in advance so you aren’t put at a disadvantage. Think about whether your products are a good fit for the market you’re applying to, and about whether anybody else at the market will be in competition with you (e.g. if you sell candles, think twice before applying to a market who already has an established candlemaker).

At Art On the Exchange, we offer stalls to creators whose products we know will be a good fit for the market, and try to organise markets so that no exhibitors are in direct competition with each other, but every market runs differently.

5. Take a Seat

Many stallholders find it easier to sell to customers while standing up, but it’s a still a good idea to bring a chair with you in case it’s needed (as well as an extra chair/chairs for anyone who comes to help you). We recommend setting your chair next to your table rather than behind it, as this will allow you to talk to customers without blocking your table from other potential customers.

In the winter, it’s also a good idea to bring something you can stand on (scrap cardboard will do) to insulate you a little bit from the cold ground.

6. Start Spreading the News

If you’re exhibiting at Art On the Exchange, we’ll be sharing some information about your products on our Facebook page and events, but that’s not enough!

It’s really important that you share information about your market stall and dates on your own social media channels so that your supporters and customers know where you’ll be. If you have a newsletter, all the better!

7. Presentation is Key

Don’t just throw your products on a bare table and hope for the best. Try to bring a backdrop for your work, and a tablecloth that will perk up your stall a little.

We give you the stall and the table, but making your stand look nice is all down to you. An eye-catching display will draw customers over to you, so more people will see your work and have an opportunity to make a purchase.

Our stalls have a metal bar that runs around the roof, and another that runs along the middle of the tent. These are perfect for hanging up products, signs and artwork, and allow you a more three-dimensional display.

8. Price Tags Make the World Go Round

Try to label and price as much of your stock as possible. Nobody wants to ask how much an item costs, because it can be embarrassing to then turn it down if it’s a little over-budget. Labelling your products can avoid this awkwardness, while saving you time and effort on the day.

It’s also a good idea to have consumable products like makeup and food labelled with ingredients and potential allergens, as this can protect your customers from medical mishaps and protect you from legal issues.

9. Ready Your Float

Don’t lose a sale just because the buyer doesn’t have the correct change.

A float with tenners, fivers and pound coins (with smaller coins if your prices aren’t all whole numbers) is a must-have, because a lot of people won’t be carrying small change when the come through the market.

Make sure you know how to check if a note is real or fake – counterfeits are in circulation and markets are easy prey for people who are trying to change their fakes for real money.

10. Make a Sign

Even if your sign only shows your business name, it’ll do so much more for your brand awareness than an unlabelled stall.

If possible, it’s also a good idea for your sign to show a summary of what it is you sell (“handmade candles” or “upcycled clothing”) and where people can find you online.

What Else Do I Need?

Some more items you may need for a successful market stall include:

  • Bags, bubble wrap, wrapping paper, scissors and tape. Bring whatever you need to package your goods when people buy them.

  • Flyers, business cards and any other promotional materials.

  • Access to your portfolio (in case you meet a prospective client at the market).

  • A friend or helper to keep you company and mind your stall when you need a break.

  • A Food Hygiene Certificate (if applicable).

  • A notebook to take down orders and record sales.

  • Public Liability Insurance – ALL stallholders need this. We recommend Air/An insurance, which costs £36 for a full year.

To learn more about Public Liability Insurance, check out our post: Do Artists and Art Professionals Need Special Insurance?

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