Trading at London makers markets

With over 10 years trading experience of London makers markets, I thought I would put together a blog post in the hope it might help fellow designers and small businesses make decisions about which markets work best for their brand.

 

How to choose a market location for your brand.

The designer maker market scene is really saturated, especially in London. It's hard to decide which one works best for your brand, but hopefully I've provided some guidance below. 

 

How do you select a makers market that gives you the best chance of making a profit?

Start with researching into local markets, where are the competitive brands selling their wares, are there are any special events that you could join? Visit these markets or follow them on social media to give you a better gauge of what they're like. Find out what the other traders are selling and if there is someone selling similar products to you. Sometimes market organisers won't accept similar brands, but if it's a large enough market they might well do.

 

Other things to look for when choosing a makers market to trade at.

What's the footfall like?

Are there many customers shopping?

Is the market busy with browsers or spenders?

What style of market is it? Is it a bric-a-brac market or a more high-end market?

Find out if it is expensive to take part in?

I'd say between £40-£65 a day is an average London designer-maker market (including a 4ft-6ft table with gazebo). Some market organisers ask for extra money to hire a chair, table or gazebo. Hiring costs for each of these is about £5 to £10.

Ask the traders how they're finding being at the market.

 

Applying to trade at a London makers market.

You've selected which markets best suit your brand. Now you need to apply for a stall.

Check the next available dates and make note of any application deadlines. 

Be sure to include a short statement about you, your ethos and what makes your brand unique. This is your time to shine and stand out amongst all the other applicants.

If asked to provide images, make sure that these are high quality and titled with your name and or brand name.

Make sure you know your pricing structure as you are usually asked for your price points. Market organisers usually ask this information to ensure you sit in line with the other brands taking part and the clientele that the market is aimed at.

Ensure that you are available for the dates that the market has been advertised for. It's time consuming for market organisers to sieve through the applications and doesn't bode well if you are offered a space that you cannot accept.

 

Your application has been accepted to trade at a market and you're preparing to take part. Things to think about for your market set up.

Visual appeal.

You want to make sure that people stop at your stall and don't make a beeline for a neighbouring stall. How can you stop people in their tracks and grab their attention? What is it that you offer that others don't? Is it obvious what you are selling?

Think about how you will display your products.  What type of display units will you use (boxes, shelves, easels). What colour are they? Style? Material?

Ensure key products are at eye level and place coordinating products together.

Making use of the space, do not clutter it and display products at different heights.

Place smaller items at table height which makes them easy to look through.

Ensure that you have clear pricing on display.

Seasonal decor (is it a Christmas Market? is Valentines Day coming up?)

 

Equipment you need to bring to trade at a makers market.

Your products

Packaging (bags, envelopes etc)

Card machine / payment method (eg iZettle, SumUp etc)

Display items (eg table cloth, boxes, shelving, stands, easels).

Prices

Branding (banner, signs etc)

Mailing list sign up

Stationery (pen, note book, tape, blu tac, pins, scissors)

 

I use a note book to jot down any ideas or thoughts which come to mind while I'm trading at a market. You might find customers have requested a particular item in a certain size or colour that could be worth investigating. I also make a note of the market I'm at, the date, cost of pitch and the hours worked. This way I can figure out which markets have the best ROI.

I use an iZettle and list my products individually. This way, I'm able to see what products are my bestsellers. I can delve deeper into my product sales, looking at the price points that work, the style of design, the size or colour. All of this is very valuable information.

 

Engaging with your audience at a makers market.

Being approachable and friendly is really important when you're in front of your audience. Engaging with customers plays a huge part in the day. There is so much to learn from your customers, they are the reason your business exists.  Ask your customers questions like 'which designs do you prefer?' ask for feedback on new products, find out where else they shop and if they visit any other markets. You might be interested in booking yourself into one of those. 

 

Meeting other designers.

One thing I really love about trading at markets is meeting other brands! I've been on the London market scene for about 10 years and I have a network of wonderful designer-makers who I often trade alongside at markets. It's so great to share advice and be inspired by one another. I have also collaborated with a few designers which has been great fun!

 

Be the brand that your customers remember.

Don't forget to share your social media channels and website with your customers so that they can continue to follow you and visit your future events. Ask customers if they would like to sign up to your mailing list. This is a great way to stay in touch and share new products, upcoming events or special offers. You have already found people who enjoy your work, they are important.

 

Have fun and keep learning.

I can't emphasise enough that markets are not just about sales on the day. Market days are really unpredictable and so many things can affect them. The weather, bank holidays, school holidays, other big events in the area, the economy, local roadworks, similar traders, trends...

Like many of the retail brands who have started at markets (M&S, Accessorize, Dunelm, Tesco, Oliver Bonas), putting yourself out there in front of people and learning about what products work or fail is crucial. If you drop the price a little, how does this affect sales? If you bulk items together, how does this affect sales? If you display items in a particular way, how does this affect sales?  

I hope this post has been useful and has helped to give some insight about the market trading life of a designer-maker brand. Please do feel free to reach out to me if you have any other questions or would like further information.

 

 

 

 

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