Preparing for a market can be a daunting task. But it needn't be. There are just a few simple things to cover-off before the day. Ideally give yourself a couple of weeks, but if you like a last minute scramble, I reckon you could smash it all in a week. Here are the key things I have found it's important to cover off.

1) Make sure you have enough stock - and the right stock!

But how much is enough? I’ll be honest, you never bloody know! Some markets I have almost run out of stock and some I’ve barely sold a thing. But one thing’s for sure, you don’t want to be in the position that you’re missing out on sales, so I would say make as much as you can carry.

But be strategic. People tend to spend smaller amounts at markets so stock up on your lower price products and hold back on your larger items. Also, like a band at a festival, not everyone there is going to know you and love your stuff. You’ve got to play it a bit safe; play to the crowd. Bring stuff you know your average human would like and isn’t too intimidating. Some of my bigger, brighter statement pieces draw a crowd but don’t necessarily sell in a market context. It’s my go-to everyday wear that gets snapped up.

2) Keep packaging simple  

This is something I worried about so much before my first market - how to look bonafide well-good, but also not break the bank. Of course it depends on what product you have, but I have found a premium paper bag, tissue paper and some snazzy stickers are always a good bet.

Try these sites for packaging ideas:

Kado design - Great paper bags and pre-designed stickers

Morplan - Cheap for bulk orders and lots of options

Tiny Box Company - My go-to cardboard box & tissue-paper supplier

3) Get your business cards ready

Make sure you have business cards designed and bring a lot of them. I have found I make as many sales after a market as I do on the day. People often pick up cards to give to their other halves as a hint for what to buy for Christmas. Or you may have run out of some designs they can order online afterwards.

4) Get yourself a card reader

I have found most people expect to be able to pay by card and these days it’s super simple to offer card payments for people. I use Shopify for my online shop so only have experience of that system, but allowing people to pay by card is actually pretty easy. I purchased a Shopify card reader online. They cost £59 and the transaction fee they take is 1.5%.

I then use the Shopify POS (Point Of Sale) app on my iPad, which pulls in all the inventory from my online store so I can fully track sales. I also love this, as I can pretend in my head that I own my very own shop and I am super profesh etc etc.

I know a lot of other stall-holders use iZettle and are really happy with it. I don’t think it hooks up with Shopify but it is a lot cheaper at £29 and the rate is 1.75%

5) Stall design

Dun Dun DUUUNNNNN - this is the thing that most terrified me, and I stressed about a lot before my first stall. How can I make sure my stall doesn’t look pony? How can I do this on a budget?

I ended up turning a pile of wine boxes and box shelves I had in the house into a display, which I loved. But….

  1. It was far too large to transport back and forth
  2. It was painted so the paint chipped after a couple of markets and it did end up looking a bit pony.

So, this is my new display - ta-daaa!

My top tips for a simple and eye-catching display:

  • Use stands / displays that can flat-pack. My boyfriend cut me lots of necklace stands out of plywood that stack, so are compact. I have covered them in sticky-backed vinyl to add a bit of colour.
  • Your display should ideally be able to fit inside a wheelie suitcase so it's easy to transport
  • Try to display things at different heights, to add interest and maximise space. And don’t be afraid of using props. If you sell vases, bring some flowers to display
  • Make a layout of your display on a table at home and take a photo of it. This way, you can be sure you are happy with how it looks and will save time on the day

  • Choose a plain table cover in a fabric that doesn’t crease. You want people to focus on your products, not your table cloth
  • If your market is in the evening or a darker space, invest in some battery powered lights to make sure your customers can see your products.
  • Don’t worry about an expensive branded sign or being too whacky with your branding. I originally spent ages spray-painting big cardboard letters and made a branded garland for the front of the stall. But it didn’t look that great, and a simple lightbox really does the trick.  

Your Christmas Market Survival Guide:

Part 1 - Bagging yourself a stall. The right stall!

Part 3 - The day is here - what do I do?