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    Getting Ready For Your First Market

    Hi guys! My name is Sian Francis, I am the owner / operator of an online based clothing and accessories boutique. The majority of our trade is carried out online, however for the past 4 years we have been quite involved in markets, shows and expos. I have put together this wee blog in the hope that it might help you take the plunge and book your first market. I will also include a wee list of "dont forgets" that I have had to slowly figure out myself.

    Do your homework If possible scout around and check out your options.

    There is nothing worse than turning up to a market and realising that your stock is a horrible fit for it. Attend the market as a buyer, walk around, do some shopping, speak to some of the stall holders and try to gauge whether or not you would be a good fit. All markets are different, so it pays to ring or email ahead and check with the market organiser as to whether or not you need to book or pre pay. Some of the larger shows and expos will book out months in advance whereas the weekly Sunday markets are a little more flexible. You will also be wanting to check what time you need to "pack in".

    OK. I'm booked in Now what?!

    Depending on whether the market is inside or outside you are going to need the following

    • Gazebo: There are plenty of different options available. Now, it might seem like a good idea to go cheap but I can tell you right now that cheap isn't always best. I personally prefer this pop up style from Bunnings. This gazebo is built well and comes with a 1 year warranty. They also have sides available to purchase at a reasonable price. These gazebos are extremely user friendly and easy to put up by yourself. I have also heard good things about this style from Trademe. Your gazebo is the only thing protecting you and your stock from the elements at an outdoor market, and if the wind picks up you are going to kick yourself if you have to worry about your gazebo breaking, leaking or blowing away.
    • Tables: Some markets provide tables. But if they don't I have found these fold up ones from Bunnings to be the best. They are sturdy, lightweight and they fold in half for easy storage. Shop around - There are often good condition second hand ones available on Trademe
    • Table Covers: Have fun with these. Pick something that fits in well with your range. If possible, go with something that doesn't crease easily and washes well.
    • Float: In general I have found that a float of $200 works well for me. $100 in $5 notes, $50 in $10 notes, $20 of $2 coins and $30 of $1 coins. This will be dependent on your prices of course so feel free to change this to suit you.
    • Signage: Vistaprint has a fantastic range of marketing supplies but there are many other NZ based suppliers who offer the same. Professional signage and pricing will help take your stall to the next level.
    • Pricing: Most customers prefer obvious pricing. Believe it or not, a lot of people feel uncomfortable when they have to ask the price when out shopping so make sure that everything at your stall is clearly priced. This will also help if you have to leave your stall quickly (with another stall holder watching it for you).
    • Stall Props: You are on your own with this one kiddo. Get creative! Have fun with it. One big thing to remember is that an eye catching market display will involve different heights and levels. Think outside the box when it comes to your display. Different looking stalls really stand out from the masses. Once you have everything you need practice your set up and have a trial run at home. This will help you get a feel for anything you may have missed.
    • Sales Book: Optional I have only started doing this recently but I have found it a huge help to record all of my market sales. This is very helpful when it comes to re ordering or re making stock and also helps you get a better feel for which markets work best for you.
    • Mobile Eftpos: Many markets have cash out facilities available for customers to use, but the money available is often limited. Once you are established and have decided to do markets often you might want to look into organising eftpos. There are many options available at the moment, find one that is a good fit for you. More often than not your sales will increase substantially if you have the ability to take eftpos or credit cards.
    • FANNYPACK! Oh yeah! Love that word. There are many arguments for how you should keep your money safe but like em or hate em nothing beats a good old bum-bag. Invest in something sturdy (mine is a Mack-daddy leather one with big strong clips and zips). A lockable cash box is all well and good but there is no better way to keep your money safe than to wear it. If I had $1 for every time I had been at a market where another stall holder has had their takings stolen I would have exactly $4. Now that's not bad odds considering all of the markets I have done over the last 4 years but every single one of those times it was a cash box that was taken.

    DON'T FORGET! * Water * Hammer (for pegging down if you are outside) * Comfy chair * Comfy Shoes * Pen * Business Cards * Panadol * Bulldog clips (soooo handy) * Bungee Cords * Sellotape * Calculator (for adding up the millions) * Tacks * Lollies! Just in case you cant get away to eat, the sugar will help keep you going in a pinch * Your smile! * Music (If I'm at a market that doesn't have entertainment I always have something pop-y, inoffensive and happy playing).

    Most importantly - Have fun! Make the most of your time to talk to your customers and meet other small NZ business owners - I love doing markets - there is a real sense of community between other stall holders and the punters are always in a fantastic mood. Good luck! I hope you smash it!

    Helpful links:

    Bunnings gazebo

    Trademe gazebo

    Bunnings Table

    This blog was written by Sian Roberts of Cobalt Heights.

    Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    Facebook: www.facebook.com/CobaltHeights

    Website: www.cobaltheights.co.nz