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Hints & Tips for New Traders

 

  This page is for those who are wanting to start or who are totally new to selling their own products. It is not for those who are experienced traders and the information is intended to be helpful. A lot of the information below will be common sense.

I am not trying to teach my grandmother to suck eggs!!!

 

Starting Out

Display

Stall Layout

Equipment

Links for Stall & Trader Equipment

 

Please note that any companies listed on this page is for information only. 

The Arts & Crafts Market Ltd does not take any responsibility for their products or service.

 

Starting Out

We would suggest that when beginning to sell your craft work that you do not spend a lot of money on set up costs, keep it to an absolute minimum until you are earning money from your craft.

 

Costing of products: It is entirely up to the individual seller how they price their items. 

If, after checking what other traders are asking for comparable items, you don't know where to place your prices, why not start off on the modest side? That way you won't price yourself out of the market and if you can't keep up with demand that may be a hint that you can afford to be a bit more pricey in future.

When costing out your products the general rule of thumb is the cost of the materials plus 60%, however, this may make some products unaffordable for your customers, so common sense is advisable, perhaps add a little more to your lower cost items, which would allow you to reduce your higher cost items? We would advise that you do not include your time in the costs as this can be impractical and can make your goods too expensive to market. 

 

Stock levels: Do not make too much. It is better to sell out or to take orders than to store a huge amount of stock, especially if it is perishable. You can make more in between events. As you get more experienced and attend more events you will have a better idea of what sells more quickly and what you should have in terms of stock.

 

Flyers and advertising: Always have some flyers to give out to your customers and prospective customers. These can be easily formatted on your computer and printed off at home, they should show your name, business name, contact details and any events you have booked for. These sometimes can be kept by people for a long time before they make a purchase, it is not unknown to get a phone call and order a year after an event. You can purchase very inexpensive business cards, postcards and other advertising goods from Vistaprint, although there are lots of companies who also do these products.

 

Your best advert is word of mouth, so be friendly and helpful. Regular trading at one location gives your customers the feeling of security that you will be available should they have any problems or want to buy from you again. It can take a year or more to build up a customer base. 

 

Treat your stall as your shop window, a way to advertise your product and persevere. It is hard not be sensitive about products you make yourself, but just because you may not sell well at an event does not mean that there is anything wrong with your product, it may just mean that the customers are going away to think about it and then come back and purchase from you next time or ring you up to order from you and this may be months later.

 

Don't hide behind a newspaper, welcome your customers, be friendly even if you are having a bad day! It may turn out to be great day by the end of trading!

 

Website: Even if you don't want to sell online it is a good idea to have a website. Just use this to have a few photographs and description of what you sell, your contact details and a diary page, so your customers will know where you are trading and how to contact you. 

If you have a broadband you will probably be offered a free web hosting package, check out your account. There are many companies who offer free websites, do a web search to find out more. I only know that the first one on the list has been used by some of my current traders:

www.limedomains.com

www.gbbo.co.uk

www.moonfruit.com

www.joomla.org

 

Attending Events: It is best to try different types of events, you can usually find them on your local Council website, or such sites as stall finder or UK Craft Fairs, please go our links page for some ideas. Do web searches and of course, look in your local paper.

 

It is a good idea to give an annual event more than one try, you may not do well one year but brilliantly in another. Regular trading in one location is a very good advert for you and your product.

 

How to spot a counterfeit  1 coin: three in every 100 1 coins are counterfeit and they are difficult to spot. It is illegal to pass one of these coins on to another person. If you find that you have one then please hand it into the police so that they can be aware that they are being passed in the area. The banks will not replace these fake coins with real ones.

Go here to find out more information: The Royal Mint

No one has time to check the dates of the coins, etc. Basically, look for the printing on the edge of the coins, most have a small cross that is difficult to counterfeit. Also, if in doubt hold the coin between your thumb and forefinger with the Queen's head to the top and spin it around, if the front of the coin is not in line with back then it is counterfeit.

 

Advice on what to wear: in Britain the weather is a problem for outside traders. We have worn winter coats and still felt frozen in June, on the flip side we have stripped off our coats and hats in November, so you just never know.

Irrespective of what the weather forecast says it is advisable to be prepared.

 

Summer months: if cloudy in the morning wear socks and shoes, cardigan, etc, but have a raincoat, sandals, etc, in your bag in case it gets hotter. If the weather looks windy throw a coat in your car, do this anyway if trading in an exposed area. I keep sun block, sunglasses, flip flops, hand warmers and wooly gloves in my bag at all times!

 

Winter months: Silk thermal underwear is the best, or cotton leggings and long sleeved t-shirts to wear under your clothes. Wear multiple thin layers to create the 'thermal' effect. Do not put so many layers on your feet that your boots or shoes are tight, you need to be able to move your feet around to get the circulation going. You can always remove layers if you get too hot but be prepared to be cold! It is a good idea to have something to stand on, a thick rubber mat or layers of cardboard, to help protect your feet.

 

Food Sellers: The basic rule is that if you wish to sell food more than once in every 5 weeks then you need to be registered with your local council and hold a food hygiene certificate. 

Runnymede Borough Council have a comprehensive page on their website here. Spelthorne Borough Council here

Wokingham Borough Council here

Reigate and Banstead Borough Council (covering Redhill) here

 

Insurance: We do not recommend any insurance companies, it is very much up to you, the trader, to investigate the companies providing insurance and to purchase what you need. 

We do not advise that you trade anywhere without having a minimum of 1 million public liability insurance to cover you for selling outside your home. It is not just about the safety of your goods but about, for instance, if a person trips over your table leg and hurts their back, and sues you for medical, care and distress costs. 

It is advisable to pay the minimum when starting out. You can always upgrade later on. If you are intending only to do one event per year it is unaffordable. If you book to do 20 events and your insurance cover costs 50 per annum then you are only adding 2.50 to each event you do.

Think, is it worth losing your house for the sake of such a small amount paid for insurance?

Most public liability insurance does cover you for product liability. Some covers you for employers liability, which is useful if you have a helper on the day, as this covers even volunteer help.

For more information please go to the booking page on this site.

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Display

Again, keep costs to a minimum. Buy a table cover wide enough to cover a box or two on your table, this will give you height at the back for display. Look around your house, you may have lots of suitable items to display your goods on or in.

Once you have done a few events you will have a better idea on what you need to buy.

Look around at other traders displays to give you ideas.

Don't buy much initially as you may find that you don't want to use it and it ends up taking up shed space!

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Stall Layout

Think about how you will set up your stall. 

It is advisable to have a few layouts in your mind.

Irrespective of whether or not you are putting your own stall up or having one provided you may find that there is a stall on either side of you and therefore you can only trade from one side of your stall, the front. If this is the case and you only have one table then put this at the front with room on one side for you to exit your stall. If you have more than one table then pull them into your stall so that your customers enter your stall to see your products. You can have one table at the back with a little room for you to stand behind it and one on each side, but do leave room for you to exit into the front of your stall.

 

Rainy conditions: if it is wet but not windy then put up all three sides of your stall for protection. You can purchase tarpaulins or light weight clear plastic dust sheets to put over your goods and tables. 

 

Windy conditions: we would advise that you have no side sheets up at all, or only one if you have to have the security for the back of your stall. You will find that the side sheets make your gazebo act like a parachute and you may lose it if the wind is high and/or gusty. 

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Equipment

Tables - measure your car or van boot, front to back, to check what length of table you can fit into the space. It is personal choice for which type you chose.

 

There are a few of types of table you can buy:

  • Trestle or pasting tables: these are fine when starting out if your product is light weight but they do not last long, nor do they take a lot of weight, so we would not suggest you purchase one of these but use if you already have one.

  • Folding tables: these are normally called trestle banqueting tables, buy a good quality one, these take a lot of weight, come in different sizes, fold flat and take the wear and tear of trading, they are also quick and easy to put up and take down. See picture below.

  • Free Standing Market Tables: You buy the frame with boards. Simple to erect and take down and will take a lot of weight.

  

 

You will need some kind of table cloth or covering, again, personal choice, but chose something that is easily washed, easy to remove stains from and dries quickly.

 

Chair - purchase a folding chair, one that either folds flat or umbrella style. Most people will already have one they can use. These are normally available in the summer season for use in the garden.

 

Gazebo - when starting out buy a reasonably priced garden gazebo, size 3m x 3m as this is the standard size allowed at events, if you get a bigger size then you may have to book 2 sites. 

Pop up style are the easiest to erect and take down but pole style ones usually last longer in windy conditions! 

Try to get a waterproof one, or if only shower proof then spray with a waterproofing agent, easily available from camping suppliers.

You will need sides for your gazebo for security and to protect your products from the rain. However, if it is very windy it is advisable not to use more than one side at the back of your gazebo or they will make it act like a parachute and you can say goodbye to your gazebo!

Purchase long tent pegs, the ones that you will get with your gazebo are too short and too few. You will need a mallet too. 

If the ground is wet the tent poles may come out if it is windy. In this case you will also need weights, please see below.

You will need leg weights if you are trading on concrete or tarmac, i.e. on a high street.

If you do a lot of outdoor events and have room in your car or van then later on it would be prudent to purchase a professional market traders easy up gazebo. There are a lot of companies that supply these.

 

If you intend to buy a more expensive gazebo we would advise that you phone and/or email the company first, prior to buying, with any questions you may have. This will ensure that if there are any problems with your goods when delivered you will know that you can contact the vendor to sort out any problems. If the company does not answer the phone or your email we would advise that you do not purchase from that company as you will have no idea if you will get the customer service you may require.

 

Weights: there are a few types to chose from: 

  • Water filled leg weights: round 40 for 4. These are also the largest weights, so if you are short on space you should consider the small but more expensive metal weights. You will also need a couple or water carriers to fill these leg weights as you may not be able to access water at the event you attend.

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  • Sand filled leg weights: around 20 per pair (40 for 4)

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  • Cast iron leg weights: 13kg each, around 40 per pair (80 for 4)

 

All prices are just estimations as different suppliers charge different amounts, also the prices above do not include p&p.

 

There are many other options available, anchor kits, X weights, etc, and of course, you can make your own weights by making sandbags or filling large water containers.

               

Trolley: It is advisable to buy a trolley in case you have to transport your boxes from your car some distance. Some outdoor events do not allow you to drive onto the event field and if it is an indoor event you will obviously not be able to park by your stand.

 

There are two different folding types available, firstly a folding hand sack trucks/trolley and secondly a  platform trolley, they either have a flat base or a short base. 

            

Electric: If you do outdoor and/or winter trading you will need power cables. It is a good idea to purchase an outdoor plug, one such as you would use for a caravan, that has a round 3 pin outdoor plug one end and a square 3 pin plug the other, to allow you to plug into outdoor electricity outlets and then plug in your own extension cord.

You will also need extension cords and lights. It is advisable to use what you already have and wait to see what you will need, check what other traders use and have a chat to them for advice.

 

Camping Stove: A good option if you don't want to make up a flask and have no access to electricity. Around 10 to 15, plus gas canisters and kettle.

Tarpaulin: A good thing to have in your equipment pack as they can be used as side sheets, covering from rain, etc. If the ground is wet and your goods are not in plastic boxes then it is a good idea to lay a groundsheet or tarp on the ground to place your goods on.

Other: Some suggestions of other equipment you may want to consider are as follows:

Weights for free standing display units, to keep them from falling over in windy conditions.

Market stall large clips 

Kitchen roll

S shaped butchers clips if you want to hang things from your gazebo sides

Cable ties

A bag of bungees (multiple uses!)

Hand cleanser or antibacterial wipes

Baby wipes

First aid kit

Scissors, string, spare labels, pens/market pens

Money bag or cash box

Gel hand warmers, available from camping shops. The ones that you can reuse are the most economical.

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Links for Stall & Trader Equipment 

Anna Barry & The Arts & Crafts Market Ltd does not take any responsibility for the following companies goods or service and only has these links on the website as a guide to traders.

Anna Barry has not personally used all the companies below so it is up to the trader to assess what they need and to get the best price!

Market Holdings: www.marketholdings.co.uk

Gala Tent: www.galatent.co.uk

Tarpaflex: www.tarpaflex.co.uk

Trade Lines: www.tradelines.co.uk

Gavin Kenning Engineering: www.market-stalls.co.uk

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