Those of you who have been to the Handmade markets will know that they aren’t ordinary. The majority of designers and producers involved reflect the Handmade brand with attention to detail, stylish design, beautifully crafted products and a great attitude.
We’re very lucky to have reached these heights when it comes to stall design and salesmanship at our markets, but since we welcome new designers to each market and know that our established stallholders are open to new ideas, here’s a list of hints and tips for elevating your stall from ordinary to extraordinary.
A trestle table on its own just won’t cut it these days. At Handmade, we insist that trestles are covered with cloth or paper so they are not prominent. We completely understand that they are portable and quick to set up, but what are you covering yours with? Is it ironed, original? Rather than providing shoppers with a flat surface, it also helps to create different levels of display, so there is lots to look at from eye level downwards. Find boxes, crates or suitcases to display from and find ways to make your product shine. Also give some thought to the positioning of your display. If it sits at the front of your space with you behind, be mindful that you might be creating a barrier between you. Perhaps inviting them into your space will work better. Products need to be accessible so that customers can look at them, but also visible – displayed individually so that they can be seen. Oh, yes, and make sure it’s always tidy, both within the displays and underneath or behind them. Bags, boxes and crates need to be hidden so that they don’t distract shoppers from your product.
If you want to be truly unique and stand out from the crowd, you need to think about your stall as a pop up shop that is inviting, beautiful and out of the ordinary. Customers are looking for the next big thing and if your stall is different, it will attract the shoppers, and perhaps even the attention of wholesalers. Even if you haven’t changed your product since the last market, it helps to change things up with your display – your regulars will still find their favourites, but might also look at things with a new eye. If you are selling fashion, add some furniture, a changing room, beautiful mirrors. If you have jewellery, find ways to display it to look its best. Children’s stalls need to draw in the little ones – have a place they can sit and play while their parents are shopping. And if you have food, make well-labelled samples work for you.
Go online to sites such as Pinterest to get new ideas if you are thinking of starting your market business or overhauling your current offering. See what other stall holders are doing well and design a space to reflect your product. Check out the companies manufacturing backdrops and banners – these can be produced cheaply these days and have a big impact. Consider the flexibility of units, depending on the size of stall you book at each market and think about having something bespoke made for major impact. Draw up a plan of your area and make sure the dimensions of your displays allow for people to move around. Set up your stall in your studio to you can check it for practicality and tweak before you arrive at the venue.
So often, we at Handmade are asked whether we can point shoppers in the direction of “that business that sold that scarf.” We want them to remember your name and your brand and the best way to do this is make your branding prominent on your stall. Make sure your logo and name are visible and eye catching so they make an impression on the people visiting your stall. Repeat it in price signage, on your bags and tags, on postcards to take away and within the fabric of the stall itself so no one can be in any doubt about who you are.
We would love to tell you exactly what will sell at each market, but there is very little predicting – what works at one event may fall by the wayside at the next. However, if you take notice of what people are picking up when they visit your stall, it will help. Where did you put it? Why did it stand out? It helps to adjust your layout at every market to take into account the best positions on your stall.
Perhaps this should have been at the top of the list, but the way you interact with shoppers is critical to your sales. At Handmade, we stroll the halls to watch how business is being done and it is very obvious that the sellers who are less interested are making fewer sales. Social media might be important to your business, but at the market, your phone needs to be put away. No one is going to approach you if you have put up the barrier of a device. Catch their eye, smile, ask and answer questions, explain your methods, chat about the weather. Even if people don’t buy there and then, you have gained a potential future customer.
Here is a collage of images from recent Handmade Markets for inspiration. We can’t wait to see what you come up with!