my top market stall tips

Oh surprise, surprise – I have a market on Saturday and I still have a mountain of jobs to do before then. Some things will never change. But I love markets and do my best work at the last minute. And it got me thinking that it’s been almost 2 years that I’ve been doing markets and I’ve learnt a thing or two…………so here are my top market tips for those of you starting out or new to it. It’s not the definitive list and I’d love to know your top tips to share too:

ready for market

1. Be organised.

Make a list of everything you need to take on the day and tick off as you pack it. My usual last minute supplies that I need to top up on in the last week are paper bags, price tags and updated price signs.

2. Have plenty of business cards or flyers on hand.

 I learnt early on to skip the fancy business cards for markets and save them for conferences and meetings. I go for vistaprint as I was using a box of pretty glossy moo cards in a morning so I now buy by the 500 or so and it’s much more economical. Make your own flyers on a printer and pop one in each bag too. Cheap and easy.

3. Dress for style and comfort.

Even if you’ve been up late sewing for a week or so layout some clothes that you know you look and feel good in. For me it’s my favourite white shirt, jeans and silver birkenstocks (the comfort part) or a simple dress – you’ll be on your feet all day with no time to sit down but you also are the face of your business and your stall. It’s worth looking nice. Trust me.

4. Smile and talk.

Being a total chatster myself, one of the things I love about a market is all the chatting I get to do. But it can be daunting standing at your stall with strangers walking by – will they stop, will they keep walking, what do you say? My secret is just keep smiling, adjust things, straighten those business cards. When someone comes up to the stall always say hi and I say just let me know if there is anything you’re after! Just remember this is fun. Even if you’re having a crappy day just keep smiling!

keeping things neat and tidy

5. Always bring extra stock.

Whenever I leave a particular fabric at home that will be the one that someone wants. So I always pack an extra container and I might not even get to it but still it’s good to know that extras are there and if I have a great market and am running low on anything I can bring out some extra stock.

6. Don’t forget your float.

The lovely retro daddy goes to the bank the day before my market and gets me $20’s, $10’s, $5’s, $2’s and $1’s. I don’t have a huge float but I do start the day with plenty of $20’s and $10’s as everyone comes in with their $50 notes. Trust me! Bear that in mind when you’re planning your float. While you can never judge how much cash you will need I can guarantee you that you will get plenty of big notes at the start of the day. And don’t do what I did once letting a stallholder buy something small and pay with a $50 before the market started. Just kindly tell them you will set it aside and they can come and purchase it later with something smaller. I’m pretty sure they’re after change for their float.

7. Get yourself a trolley or a big strong person.

Now I am no strong person but I have retro daddy and we have our system down pat – I stay with the kids in the car and he unloads the car doing 3 tubs at a time and emptying the car in no time. He’s such a good helper. If you don’t have your own retro daddy or strong person then get a trolley so you can load up your tubs or stock and do a few in the one trip. Oh it saves the time.

market set up

8. Find an easy to iron tablecloth.

I now use some poly/cotton gingham pieces of fabric for my tablecloths as I can fold them up lightly and they don’t come out of my tubs super creased. It’s a nice look if you’ve ironed or got tidy tablecloths on your tables. The fabric cost me something crazy like $2 a metre from Spotlight so there is no need to spend big.

9. Do a trial run of your table

Especially if you’re having your first stall but be prepared to work with your allocated space. I now have my own trestle table and 2 card tables (a bargain from the hardware store). I wait till I see where my stall allocation is and decide which to bring. I’ve done 2 tables next to each other, an L shape, a horse-shoe…whatever works in the space I have and maximises my stall space whilst still allowing for people to get in and look at my baskets.  Just be prepared to be flexible. I have had some doozies of stall allocations but you know what? I do the same sales whether I’m right at the door or on a far wall squashed in between other sellers.

10. Make sure you have a sign with your business name easily visible.

I don’t have fancy signage for my stall because I keep thinking I’ll do that before my next market and I’ve just never got around to it. And even if you make it yourself (which I’ve done) just make sure that people can see your business name easily as they walk by.

pretty dresses

11. Raid your house for bowls, baskets, cake stands, shelving or whatever you have to display your lovely wares.

You’ll be amazed what you can find in your cupboards and craft room. If all else fails I went to my $2 shop for some fabric lined baskets and bought some cute stacking suitcases on ebay. And just make sure it fits in the car with your stock too.

12. Choose which markets you do carefully.

 I started out with a small baby & kids market thinking I wouldn’t get accepted into Mathilda’s. After a while I got the confidence to apply to Mathilda’s and Handmade in Canberra. Now I receive lovely emails inviting me to lots of different markets and start ups but you need to choose which ones are going to be worthwhile, within a reasonable distance from home, will have the right customers for your goodies and a good flow of customers. You don’t have to say yes to every invite.

cute baskets of cute things

13. Be prepared for a bad day.

Everyone has them. It could be the weather or another big event on the same day. I’ve had them, markets where no one has walked in the door for over an hour or where other stallholders seem to be doing better than me. Sometimes it could be just the market or just the day. If it keeps happening to you then it might be time to get a bit of constructive criticism and see if you’re at the right market, is it your stock, are you pricing properly and other big questions. Whatever happens don’t forget number 4. I’ve seen so many grumpy stallholders whingeing or leaving early but you’ve just got to keep smiling as you never know who might be your next customer.

14. Always chat to your neighbours.

 I always say hi to the stallholders on either side of me. You never know when you’ll need to duck to the toilet or grab a coffee. I’m sure you’d do that anyway!

might as well mention notebook

15. Don’t forget the snackies!

Since I do my stall solo I always pack snacks for myself and it’s always the same – rice crackers, a bag of jelly snakes, a bottle of diet coke (I know, I know, not healthy) and a couple of muesli bars. I leave home at 6.30 and get home after 2 so it’s a long time away from food.

And just have fun, take photos of your stall and remember that it gets easier! It gets so much easier once you’ve got your stock organised and a few markets under your belt!


  1. Wow, thanks, some really good pointers there……….what do you do about first time market nerves, lol.

    lily x

  2. All of your photos are wonderful!!! Looks like a very fun event! :)

  3. Have a good sale!!

  4. Great tips. My big tip would be ‘don’t leave everything to the last minute’. If only I followed my own tips… it will be totally last minute for me this Saturday! See you then. Oh, and must pick your brain about picking a nanny when I catch you! Kate (Please Eloise)x

  5. Great tips Corrie :) I’ve been doing a few markets now and am gaining more confidence at each one. Good luck on the weekend!

  6. Great tips Corrie. I’ve learnt so much at every market I do. I have said I wouldn’t do many more but its kind of fun playing shops with your own things.

  7. All very good tips. I havent been lucky enough to get into Mathildas yet, but I do quite well with my local makers market. I definitely have good markets and bad markets; the weather can really be a factor in that one.

  8. Thanks so much for this list. My bad habit is the crossing of arms when standing about. Nothing lets a customer know to go away like crossing one’s arms. Also, I set up my stall the day before to see what it should look like then take a photo of it to use as a guide. I sometimes find that when I arrive to set up in the morning I am a bit tired (late nights, last minute stuff, etc) so my brain doesn’t work so well. Having a photo as a guide overcomes this hurdle (as does a cup of coffee). Enjoy Saturday.
    Magi toffeeapplemama

  9. *Sigh*
    Oh I wish I could get to one of your markets Corrie. I love the fabrics you have and I miss your retro mummy online store!
    oh well, have a great market anyway!

  10. Thanks so much for the tips…I just signed up for my first markets…scary stuff!!

  11. Excellent advice. I have done quite a few markets in my time and the biggest difference I found between our stall and similar was we were smiling and friendly.

    No one wants to buy from grumpy people!

  12. Thanks for the info, I am finally pulling my finger out and starting to do some local markets soon. All these pointers are great. I am finally going down to the markets on Saturday, hope it all goes well for you :)

  13. I love your tips. Some of them even relate to other kinds of businesses, so they are definitely good pointers.

  14. Thanx for the tips. I’m going on a market this Saturdas as well. My tip: if it’s an outside event, don’t forget to brig the umbrella.

  15. Thank you so much for these tips.

  16. what a refreshingly honest post, tahnks so much. My next market will be ever better from your tips!

  17. I am doing a market on Saturday so I happened upon your page in search of last minute tips! Great ones here!
    One thing I learned at my last market was to have a big and fun variety of items in a large price range. I used to have only my expensive work but have learned that not everybody can empty their wallet for one of my scarves or blankets. So now I provide things with a touch of Sameheart Design starting at 5 bucks….
    Thanks again!

  18. Great tips Retro Mummy!! I am always unorganised no matter how hard I try! I also do the best work at the last minute. I also have clothes set out and make up & jewellery so if i am running late i can put my jewellery on later…. Also comfy shoes are a must have! if you are on your feet all day! I am off to write a list for a market tomorrow night! Cheers

  19. I am thinking of starting a market stall for the same reasons as you. great advice here and it appears to have helped so many people. Well done! nice to see that people are still checking in to read this blog – its very useful.

  20. Hi, Where did you get the plain price cards please?

  21. how do you find place to buy yr products from we wont to keep prices as cheap as possible for people but are struggling to find afford clothes childrens to buy thanks


  1. […] Retro Mummy’s Top Market Stall Tips – Very practical and thorough. Learnt a ton from here. […]

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