Top tips for selling at markets

As the summer approaches, it is a busy time for us. Markets are a great way to meet more customers face to face. If you're considering selling at a market, we thought we'd offer our top tips for it to run as smoothly as possible!

Target audience

When you do some research into an event think about:

What kind of event it is? High-end or affordable?

Does it have a niche or is it more general? Is it just for knitters, or handmade crafts in general? Is it all about sustainable products?

Who is it marketed to and what kind of customers it will attract? Is the area affluent? Will it draw people from further afield? Some big event organisers publish data on this.

What day of the week is it on and what hours is it open? This will determine who can make it. Is it retired people or families?

What kind of stall holders have been there in previous years? Would you fit in alongside them?

Depending on these answers, you’ll know if it is a good fit for you in terms of your product fitting with the event audience and your prices. For example, if you sell luxury angora handwarmers for £300, there is little point trying to sell them at a school fete. You’d be better off aiming for a high-end craft/ design fair.

Time & cost

Think whether you would you rather do:

  1. A couple of big national events, which happen once or twice a year. These have thousands of visitors and are generally seasonal (e.g. Spring, Summer and Christmas). Or;
  2. Smaller local markets once a month, so more regular but with fewer visitors.

Maybe it is a combination of both.

Example 1: Living Crafts is a four-day event. Can you be actively engaged with customers for 7 hours a day, for 4 days? A lot of it might be spent standing up and you may not have time for a lunch break. The fees for the event will be considerable because of the organisers’ overheads plus the number of visitors increasing the potential for profit.

Where will you stay? Accommodation costs may mean you won’t be able to make a profit. Some of the big events offer free or cheap camping options. Research if there is a cheap hotel nearby or if you can stay with a friend.

Example 2: Duck Pond Market is a local market held once a month on a Saturday. You’ll be engaged with customers for about 6 hours. You won’t have any accommodation costs and it is more affordable. But the footfall is quite variable, and if it’s raining that day, then maybe you won’t cover your costs.

Event value

When researching events, it can be hard to compare like for like. Is a two-day market for £400 better value than a four-day market for £600? Are you in a marquee or bringing a gazebo?

Let’s work it out at a cost per hour:

The two-day market is made up of a total of 12 hours across the two days. So £400/12 = £33.33 per hour.

The four-day market is a total of 28 hours so £600/28 = £21.43 per hour.

This tells you that the four-day market is better value.



Some events have a competitive application process and others are more first-come-first served.

In general it is good to apply as early as possible, which might be as much as 6 months in advance for the big events.

You’ll probably be asked to supply high quality images of your work, your social media accounts or website, plus a short statement about you/ your business.

Finally you’ll need insurance. This is usually £5m public liability insurance which protects everyone in all scenarios. It varies but is generally £30-50 per year.


All your products and equipment will need to be transported. There is always more than you think! Unless you make small items of jewellery, you’re definitely going to need a vehicle.

Do you have equipment? Some events provide a marquee and for others you’ll need a gazebo. When you sign up for the event, there is usually an option for pay a small amount for a table and chair and electrical supply. But you can bring your own if you prefer.

Lighting can be very important - some marquees are darker than ideal. Battery powered or plug in lights are useful.

Your payment machine will rely on your mobile phone which in turn needs reception/wifi and data. Make sure to check all of these beforehand. Always take cash as well in case of technical failure (and some people prefer to pay in cash).

Space & displays

There are usually quite a few options when it comes to booking a stand depending on your budget. The dimension are given in meters, 2m x 3m for example, but there could also be a wall behind the space which could be utilized.

A big stand at a busy event is usually the most expensive option. If you have limited budget, you may have to think would you rather have a smaller stand at a very busy event, or a bigger stand at a slower event? There is no right answer!

Think about what kind of products do you have and how do they need to be displayed. For example, if you have a lot of cushions, how can you show as many as possible in the space? Do you hang them up? Put them in baskets? Stack them on shelves?

Do you have a feature piece that can you draw people to your stand?

Arranging the tables is important. Some stallholders like to set up the tables in a U-shape or C-shape and stand in front of them. But customers can be nervous about entering a space, or get intimidated by hovering stallholders! This is why we prefer to put our tables to the front of the allocated space, so the products can be picked up by the customers without the commitment of coming in!  

In the photo below, we were fortunate not to have another stand next to us, so we made use of the side of the gazebo. This increases stand visibility for people approaching from two different directions.


Some useful items on your stand:

A sign or banner telling them who you are

Clear pricing that can be seen if people are standing back

Posters about additional services/ products you offer (e.g. commissions, workshops)

Images (or even a tablet) showing the making/craft process

Leaflets or contact details to take away

Sign up sheet/ QR code for your email newsletter

Special offers just for the event

Freebies, sweets, postcards etc.


Planning and promotion

2 months to go

Check the dimensions of the space you’ve applied for. Does it have power? A table and chair provided? Does it have walls you can use? What fixings do you need?

Check the inventory and work out how much you want to take.

Order products from manufacturer or handmake if necessary.

Prepare marketing materials

1 month to go

Start marketing on social media - some organisers will provide official images

Hand out flyers (if you're the organiser)

1 week to go

Go through your checklist of things to pack

Check all your equipment is clean and working

The day before

Pack the car

Check the set up and parking arrangements

Charge phone and card machine

Pack lunch, snacks, water etc.

On the day(s)

Have fun!

Talk to your fellow stallholders

Say hello to every customer (after they've looked for a bit)



You'll need to work out if the market or event was good for your business.

How do I work out my profit?

Sales revenue (money you took on the day) – costs (the stand fee, your salary, the cost of the goods) = Profit

When you come to looking at your sales revenue from the day, you can also work it out per hour.

If you make £120 per hour at an event that costs you £33.33 per hour, then you have made £86.67 per hour. Then take away your salary and cost of goods.

Work out which items were the most and least popular and why you think that was. If certain items were not selling as hoped, was there a mismatch with the people who visited? If there was bad weather, maybe overall numbers were down. Was there another stall that was too similar to yours? Perhaps your pricing wasn't right. It can be good to have a chat with other stallholders to see how the market compares to another one they've done in the same location.

Sometime there are no clear answers but you'll need to decide if you'll book again in future.


What should I wear?

Comfy shoes as you'll probably be on your feet for hours. It depends if you are inside or outside, but you'll need lots of layers for the winter events as even some indoor venues have little or no heating! Some marquees get extremely hot in summer and you'll be best dressing in light cotton fabrics (and take a mini fan!).

Can I cover the stand by myself?

Yes it is possible to be on the stand without a helper, but obviously it depends on the size of the stand, whether you can unload nearby and whether your items are of high value. When chatting to customers, it is easy to get distracted. If you’re not sure, why not invite a friend to help?

What do I do if I need the toilet or run out of refreshments?

The best thing to do if you’re on your own is to talk to the stallholders either side of you. If you need to take a short break, ask them to watch your stand. Most are happy to oblige and you can return the favour. You can even leave a note on your stand for ‘back in 5 minutes’.

Do I need to watch out for theft?

Sadly yes it happens. It could either be theft from your stand or your personal belongings. The best thing to do is to keep all valuables on your person in a cross-body bag or bum bag.

Check if your insurance policy covers loss of your products.

Do I have to talk to the customers?

It depends on your personality, but a quick hello as they approach your stand will not be too intrusive. Give them space to have a look without staring at them too much! Some people will be interested in how you made or sourced your product. Engaging with them can help make a sale. Sometimes they say they’ll go away and think about it and then they do come back because they remember you.

What if I am not making enough sales?

It can be difficult when you see neighbouring stallholders selling loads and you feel you are not!

There can be great variation across an event so it’s best not to get hung up on how many sales or when they will occur. It could be a really busy morning, then nothing all afternoon. Or a slow start on a four-day event, and then really busy the last day. It is very unpredictable.

What’s important is the average across the event. And what is enough sales anyway? Covering your costs x3 or x 10? It is different for everyone.