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Market Stalls… What I know so far.

When I started Common Wood I had a plan to build up my stock levels, then start having a regular market stall at a bunch of local Sydney markets. It took me quite a while to have enough stock and be ready to spruik my wares in public. When I had enough stock and thought I was ready to sell directly to the public I realised that I was far from prepared. Nevertheless I booked myself into my first market. Kirribilli markets in mid-spring. There was no turning back now.

There are so many things that you need to cover when it comes to holding a market stall. One of the things that I had to firstly organise was the ability to take credit card payments directly from the public. I looked at a few options then decided on the PayPal Contactless Card Reader. It made sense, as I was already familiar with the PayPal interface. It integrates straight in with your PayPal account which makes it easy. I have been using PayPal as a purchaser for over ten years so my bank accounts were already linked and ready to roll.

After I had sorted out a portable credit card payment system, I needed to quickly design my stall. My first stall was very much going to be a market research experiment. I planned to take a lot of different types of stock, see what sells, then use that experience for stocking my next markets. I had created items from $30 and upwards to ensure there was something to buy across all price points.

I built a rear wall on the stall display my artwork. I wanted it to be a colourful backdrop in order to grab people’s attention. This wall also needed to be dismountable in order for me to be able to move it by myself if my trusty sidekick Beth was not around to help me. To keep the rustic flavour of the stall I used pallets to create the wall. Not only do they work great as a backdrop but also they’re free!!

Where it all began.. Larger items now stay at home!

For this standard 3 x 3 m market stall I used one long trestle table along the front with two of my console tables as returns to close in the stall. After my first market stall I realised that lugging furniture to a local weekend market is not ideal. Not only is it a pain in the arse, very few people are going to go to a local market and on impulse buy a $500+ piece of furniture.

I learned a lot from that first market many moons ago. Nowadays I tend to leave the bigger items at home. Instead I focus on a few items between $30-$200. Chopping boards, serving trays, coasters and tea candleholders are the main pieces I now take to markets. They are the ‘big’ sellers. It’s also a lot easier to plan and set up a market when you are not needing to transporting coffee tables to the markets as well.

Smaller compact set up

'Barrington' - Not fun lugging to a market stall

One piece of advice I have for anyone planning on holding a market stall is – “DO A MOCK SET UP”. Find out what dimensions your market stall is going to be. Measure it up and lay everything out. It will make life so much easier when you set up on the day. The sooner you are all set up at the markets, the sooner you can sell!

I have found that there has a bit of a change in the way markets are consumed in Sydney in the past 10 years. Speaking to other market stall holders, they all say that your regular local markets have very much gone the way of customers coming to have a browse and grabbing something to eat, whereas 10 years ago customers would spend up big on something like a coffee table.

I have found that most of my products are more likely to sell at the more one-off art and designs markets like Finders Keepers & Sydney Made. People are heading to those markets to buy something they won’t find in a furniture store, local hand-made items like mine, unlike people who go to the local weekly or monthly markets. They want to buy fruit and veggies, flowers, fresh bread, bacon and egg rolls, and meat straight from the farm. They just don’t realise that they also need a high-quality, handmade, chopping board made from recycled timber. They go perfectly with organic fruit and veggies and farm-fresh chops.

I’ll be holding a stall at Finders Keepers markets at Barrangaroo 29th November- 2nd December. Come down and check it out. It’s the best art and design market in the country.

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