The first few times (or several times!) I had my own market stall setup at the super-popular Handmade Markets here in Canberra, I was stressed. Even though my setup was simple and easy, I was always low on time, rushing, and had forgotten a bunch of stuff. Starting the day stressed out is not a good way to welcome customers!
Fast forward 4 years and I had turned into a total market pro: my setup was fast, I was relaxed, and I always had everything I needed – because of the system I had implemented from years of trial and error.
And the benefit of this transition for you, my friend, is that I’m going to share the system with you now, so your own first, second or 27th market stall setup is super easy and stress free!
My system is based on boxes and checklists. Boxes packed logically to save time and stress, and lists to make sure everything gets done. Pretty simple, right? Here’s what you need to do:
1. Know your setup
Practice it at home in multiple configurations, so if your space isn’t exactly as you imagined, you can adapt easily on the day (be flexible!). Also time yourself to work out how long it actually takes you to set everything up. You should aim to be at the venue 1.5x to 2x the amount of time your practice takes.
2. Pack your shit properly
Have your table coverings in one box or bag that you open first, not folded at the bottom of a huge box filled with products.You don’t want to have to unpack all your products and props, cashbox and all your other shit, and have it strewn all over the place, just to be able to put your table cloths on.
The next box you open should be your “display furniture” like shelving, trays, stands, spinners etc. Then come your products and props.
By having everything packed in it’s correct box (labelled is a great idea, especially if you have helpers!) you will save loads of time not faffing about trying to find things and also save stress not making a huge mess while you’re setting up.
3. Avoid tedious assembly
Ideally, you would have as many of your products “ready to go” as possible, in terms of how they are displayed… as an example, I used to have all my hanging tags with brooches and hairpins already on my jewellery spinners (held in place whilst in the storage box with some elastic bands), which I would simply lift out of the box and place on the table, no assembly needed.
4. Have spare everythings
A few spare pieces of display furniture, a spare table covering, spare price tags etc, just in case. Be prepared!
5. Have Price tags & signage done the night before (at least!)
If you have groupings of products that are the same price, price signage is way easier and more efficient than individual price tags on everything, so use this to your advantage if you are running low on time in the lead up to the event
6. Get your “office box” in order
Your admin box includes your cash box (with a float! How much float you need depends on the market, but make sure you have at least $150 in 5/10/20 notes and all coins a few days before the market), paypal card reader/eftpos machine, business cards, flyers, newsletter signup on clipboard, and a bunch of other stuff (grab the Market Stall Setup Checklist to see everything!). Having this stuff all in one place makes is super easy to find these important things when you need them during setup, and it also means you can leave your cashbox in there until setup is complete and you’re ready to start selling.
You might also like: How I made $607 in my first online market, and how you can too!
7. Charge everything the night before
Whether you’ve got a powered stall or not, make sure you plug all your devices (phone, card reader/eftpos and whatever else you need) in and double-check they are charging, before you go to bed, and put these in a SUPER OBVIOUS place where you will remember to get them and pack them in the morning.
8. Pack the car the night before
Pack up as much as you can the night before so you are not rushing to try and fit everything in, the morning of. That’s the kind of stuff that leads to forgotten items and stressful setups!
9. Get a good sleep
Try your very best not to go to bed too much later than you normally would, the night before the market. You need to be fresh and well rested to have energy for the setup, and for the whole day! Market days can be exhausting and if you’re already running on no sleep it’s not going to be very much fun for anybody!
10. Don’t forget to eat!
Prepare a packed lunch the night before, and get your brekky ready too. It’s way too easy to skip this important meal if you’re running around and thinking too much about what you need to do in the next 2 hours, rather than what you should be doing right now. Eat breakfast, or you will get a headache / feel light headed / get hangry just as your first customer shows up.
11. Don’t look at the clock during setup
Once you’re at the venue, just get shit done. Don’t keep looking at the clock and worrying about what the time is, that doesn’t make you work any faster, it just makes you stress that you’re running out of minutes. As soon as you arrive, get ALL your furniture and boxes from the car (pro tip: Get a trolley!) to your stall space, then start the setup and just keep going until you’re done. Tables first, then coverings, then display furniture, then signage, products, props, price signage.
If you work this way, you should have time to spare once you’re all set up to go and grab a cuppa before the market starts, take some deep breaths, get your selling mojo going and start the market with a big, genuine smile!
You might also be interested in: How to build your own market stall shelving
Are you getting ready for your very first market stall, or have you already done a few? Let me know in the Makers’ Co community group!
Make your business a reality in 5 days
If you're ready to take your business idea and make it a reality, take The Makers Co START YOUR BIZ 5 Day Challenge
Learn how to structure your business, get clear on your products and services, set some goals and LAUNCH - in under a week!