some thoughts on being a market trader #2

As a follow-on to an earlier post, here are some more things to think about if you’re wanting to start selling at markets.  If you google “trading at craft markets”, you’ll find a thousand more opinions and ideas. This is just my small contribution (based on personal experience, and many mistakes and oversights!), and interspersed with random pics taken at various markets over the last couple of years.

The lovely carpet lady at Rondebosch Market

The lovely carpet lady at Rondebosch Market

1.  Tell people that you’re going to be trading at a market. Yes, I know, you’re thinking doh , but you really need to do this systematically to make the most of your trading window.

  •  Send out a newsletter a week in advance, to all your subscribers. (You don’t do a newsletter yet? See #2 below, get yourself a free account with Mailchimp and get cracking).
  • Post about the upcoming market on your facebook page, also about a week in advance. Keep it short and sweet, and include an image of one of the products you’ll be selling.
  • If you tweet, do that too.  I have a twitter account but the bug hasn’t actually bitten yet, and all I’m really doing with it is following Tom Jones and Alan Rickman. 
  • Post again on your facebook page on the morning of the market : people have so much going on in their lives, this is a gentle reminder that it’s today.
  • If you blog, give the upcoming market a mention there as well.  Include a link to the market’s fb page and site.
  • Ditto for your website, if you have one.
Barry the wooden spoon man, at Rondebosch Market

Barry the wooden spoon man, at Rondebosch Market

2.  Take a pad of paper and pen with you to the market so you can write down the email addresses of people who say they would like to receive your newsletter, when you tell them you have one.  If the person has just bought something from you, then you’ve already got a connection to build on, and even if they haven’t bought from you, they’ve shown interest.  Everyone is a potential customer.

Laura from Fabulaura with her gifts and jewellery, setting up on a cold morning in Rondebosch

Laura from Fabulaura with her gifts and jewellery, setting up on a cold morning in Rondebosch

3.  Take a stack of business cards; give them to customers , window-shoppers and also other vendors.  I can’t stress that last group enough — it’s really vital to connect with the other vendors because it’s how you start networking and hearing about other markets and opportunities.  I ended up at the V&A Waterfront for a month because I’d once started chatting to a lady who knits baby caps and booties. I heard about the review date for new crafters at the Somerset West market because of a connection with Steve, the guy who makes hangy things from wood, whom I’d met at the Rondebosch market. Honestly, you never know where things can lead…

crochet and button accessories at the Nazareth House Family Fun Day

crochet/button rings at the Nazareth House Family Fun Day (and yes, of couse I bought some!)

4.  Once you’ve set up your stall and had a well-deserved cup of coffee (take your own flask, by the way, it’s cheaper and quicker), don’t think you can collapse onto your camping chair and get lost in your crochet for the duration of the market.   Some people will indeed come beetling over to you when something catches their eye, and you can take it from there. But many people won’t see you at all (because there a hundred other things to look at, or they urgently need the loo and are in search of the nearest one, or because the vendor across the way has a MORE eye-catching display than you do) and will walk past…. Try not to think What ignorant fools are here today, can’t they see how awesome my products are, how professionally made, how lovingly displayed…. Instead, show initiative and be ready to interact:

  • As someone walks nearby, say hello or good morning and smile (at least they’ll turn their head).
  • Do your crocheting where you’re visible – it’s a great way to get people to come over and connect with you; they’ll say things like Oh my god my gran used to crochet or I wish I could learn, and bam you’re chatting.
  • Get up and rearrange some of your products from time to time.  Shake out and refold a blanket, swop the red hats with the blue ones, etc. The action alone may catch someone’s eye.
market pic

someone’s mom bought her a new hat (made by Anne)

Having said all this, remember that the most important thing of all is to be natural. Don’t force yourself to be something you aren’t comfortable with. If you feel weird calling out some Good mornings, rather just smile instead. If you aren’t a naturally talkative or overly-extrovert person, don’t try to act like one, but be ready to talk about your products and how you make them in a way that feels right for you.

Gosh, how I can rabbit on! Looking at the notes I’ve jotted down, turns out I have more things to say on this topic than I’d anticipated, but don’t worry – I’ll keep them for another post.  

Wishing you all an excellent and productive day xxx


14 thoughts on “some thoughts on being a market trader #2

  1. Jane

    Thank you for your advice Jill. It all makes a lot of sense. But I can’t pretend to be nice for a WHOLE day – that is the problem.

      1. yarnchick40

        Ok, Ok…I’m working on it ;) Pricing all the stuffage tonight, and setting up my display on Friday if all goes as planned. THEN pictures. I promise.

      2. yarnchick40

        Yes my impatient friend ;) Stuff is all priced, inventory ledger is ready, special order cowl scarf has been made for the shop owner’s daughter, and all that is left is making a bunting and pretty-fying the display chalkboards. I really have no idea how to make my space cute, but we will see tomorrow!

  2. tgonzales

    Hi Jill! All your advice is great and I love your last tip the best. Greeting and recognizing the shopper is the best way to get them to come in the booth. Usually I can figure out which shoppers want to talk and which ones who don’t. Thanks for the good tips. Love and hugs, Tamara


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