The New Year is the perfect time to set up a market stall. We explore why and where to start trading, and how to make sure your market stall is a success.
Trading at local markets doesn’t cost much, and it can be a fun and lucrative way to get your business off the ground.
Whether you want to start selling books at your weekend car boot sale, or homemade honey at a local farmer’s market, setting up a market stall can be the perfect way to launch a new product, test a start-up idea, or just clear the decks and sell your pre-loved goodies for cash!
And there’s no better time to do it than in the New Year.
First things first
Before you get your market stall up and running, you’ll need to tick off a few important boxes regarding insurance and permits. Laws can differ within different states, territories and local councils, so it’s worth doing your homework to make sure you’re covered!
Public Liability Insurance helps protect you and your business, and is a must for any new market stall. Insurance companies often offer short-term policies, so compare your options and ensure you have the right cover in place before you start trading.
2. Product safety and measurement
Whether you’re stall sells doughnuts or denim jackets, your needs to be safe for customers and made according to industry standards. And if your product is sold by measurement (for example, by weight, length or volume), you’ll also need to check it follows trade measurement laws.
If you’re selling food, get in touch with your local council to let them know – in most cases, you’ll need to apply for a temporary food stall license. It’s important to make sure that any food you serve complies with the Food Standards Code –this list of government guidelines helps to ensure the food is safe for your customers to eat.
Picking a spot
1. As a new seller, there are plenty of second-hand markets across Sydney to choose from. Surry Hills Market and Glebe Markets are popular for vintage clothes, books and designer labels, whilst My Kids Markets specialise in selling children’s clothing in different locations all around Sydney. For collector’s items, head to Rozelle Markets, or if you’re on the hunt for a car boot market, check out this one in Blacktown. You might want to start off trialing a few different markets, to get a feel for which best suits you and your product.
2. Once you’ve found a market (or markets) you’re interested in, get in touch with them. They’ll likely ask for some detailed description and images of your products to see if you’ll be a good fit, and in some cases you might need to put your name down on a waiting list.
Setting up shop
1. Be prepared
Check with your market on their specific equipment requirements and restrictions, but as a starting point you’ll probably need tables, chairs, bags for customers, and power facilities. It’s worth having a cash register or pouch/belt to store your money too. Be prepared for all weather conditions, and make sure you have enough shade for you, your customers and your products – you don’t want any of anything (or anyone) wilting in the sun!
2. Stand out from the crowd
It’s crucial to make your stall to look fun, engaging and aesthetically appealing, so take the time to think of a unique and creative approach. Create an eye-catching sign to grab market-goers’ attention, telling them exactly what you’re selling and where to find you. You can expand your design to business cards, flyers too, to create a visual ‘identity’ that helps customers recognise you.
3. Perfect your prices
It can be tricky to know how much to charge for your items, especially when you’re starting out – a good method is to check out how much others are charging for similar products. Get creative with promotions to attract new customers and encourage returning customers, and don’t be afraid to bargain a little.
4. Ways to pay
It’s worth hiring an eftpos machine for card payments, and if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you may even want to explore other methods such as taking mobile payments from your phone. Don’t forget to have a well-stocked kitty filled with change too – plenty of people will still be paying in cash!
5. Do the maths
Work out a budget, taking into account expenses like rent, parking, food, and even the cost of hiring an assistant. Create profit goals and daily sales targets – not only will they give you something to aim for and help you stay on track, but you’ll be able to celebrate when you reach your goals.
On the day, be friendly, inviting and chatty. And most importantly… remember to have fun!
Can’t wait to get started?
For more information about Sydney Markets, check out our online directory Local Market Guide. It lets you connect with a whole community of local stallholders, and find details of local market contacts, upcoming events, market news and current stallholder opportunities.
‘Markets allow you to test your product and building a following’
Markets offer small businesses and start-ups a great opportunity to promote and sell their products. The costs are low which means less risk, and you have the added benefit of talking directly with your customers, taking on board their feedback and building a client base.
Knowing which markets you are suited to best can be difficult and it is therefore worthwhile trialling a few different markets in the beginning.You will need to contact each individual market that you are interested in trading at directly and in some cases put your name down on a waiting list. Most market operators will also require detailed information and images of your products before being accepted.
Local Market Guide is an online directory to Sydney’s Markets. Not only is it a resourse for shoppers but a great community of local stallholders. You can find local market contact details as well as coming events, market news and a Noticeboard which is regularly updated with stallholder opportunities.
Market Stall Insurances and Permits
Public Liability Insurance is essential and a requirement for trade at all markets. Some insurance companies will offer short term policies.
If you are selling food you will need to notify NSW Food Authority and ensure compliance with the Food Safety Code. Depending on the Local Government area you are trading in, you may also need to apply for a permit. Check with your Local Council for requirements.
What do you need to think about when starting a Market Stall?
*The most important part – money!! Prepare a kitty with plenty of change and talk to the bank about hiring an eftpos machine (you don’t want to miss out on a sale). Many banks will do this on a monthly basis.
*Set yourself a budget and sales target to help you know what you need to achieve and to feel satisfied when you have had a good day.
*Get your prices right – do a comparative analysis with similar products and be prepared to bargain a little.
*Is your product safe and made according to industry standards?
*You need to consider sun protection not only for yourself but also for your customers. The blaring sun will only send them off to find some shade. Direct sunlight will also fade (or melt!) your product.
*Equipment including tables, chairs, tablecloths, power facilities – check with your market operator as to their requirements and restrictions.
Marketing your Market Stall
*How are you going to display your product? Display is very important, not only aesthetically but also how and where you place items on the table. Be creative and original.
*Offer promotions for multiple sales and return customers.
*Brand your product and business with a sign, you want to stand out and let people know who you are and where to find you.
*Customer service – yes it seems obvious but it is essential to engage with your buyers and learn to know what they are looking for.
*Make some business cards or a flyer, if you don’t sell your product at the markets hopefully you will get the sale in the future.
*Track your sales and where your customers come from
Shashen Jewellery offers the perfect balance. Each piece is uniquely handcrafted in its design and aesthetic beauty, using semi-precious and natural gemstones that have been selected for their vibrational energies. The gemstones are also chosen for their colour, light and personality.
The classic contemporary jewellery is made locally and the collection includes a beautiful range of necklaces, bracelets, rings & earrings. Each is designed differently; some stones are cut for the piece whilst others are inspired by the gemstone itself.
I spoke with Eilish Bouchier owner and designer of Shashen Jewels about selling at the markets..listen up budding stallholders!
Shashen Jewels trade at three Sydney markets, each attracting different customers. At Orange Grove Leichhardt you tend to build a rapport with customers as they return week in and week out for their fresh produce. The clientele however at Mosman & Bondi are more random, visiting for an outing. Some customers will know what they are looking for resulting in an instant sale and others are a more considered purchase. You always however encounter interesting people at the markets.
Why the markets?
The markets are a great way to research and get direct feedback on your product, particularly if you are looking to grow your business beyond the markets. They help to build your brand but also to find the balance between what your product actually is (or what it is for the buyers) and what brings the money in. “Often what you think you are selling may vary from what people are buying..”
Yes your customers are buying the product because it appeals to them, it’s beautiful, affordable and perhaps unique but in Eilish’s case she also discovered how the jewellery made the buyer feel. “What amazed me was how many people return to tell me how fabulous they feel when they wear my pieces.” You can’t get this kind of feedback without being at the markets!
Yes, the position of your stall is important so that customers can find you again and also for foot traffic on the day. The weather can also be a challenge depending on the market.