A Beginner’s Guide to Fall Markets Part II: The Dos and Don’ts of Market Booth Setup
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Welcome back! This is the second installment of my Beginner’s Guide to Fall Markets!
I talked all about tips and tricks for your first market in the first part of this mini market series. (If you haven’t checked it out yet, you can do so here!).
This post is going to take a small tangent off of the first one, and talk all about your market booth setup for any and all markets you may be participating in this Fall/Winter. How you present your brand to potential customers is important. Without anyone even looking specifically at your product, as they walk by your booth, your setup should do a good job of telling them what your brand feels like – are you elegant and sophisticated using light, and bright colors with minimal decoration? Or are you more comfy cozy, using warm tones, and maybe an slightly over-stuffed feel (in a good way!) to emulate that coziness? To help you understand the best way to setup your products for markets, I wanted to let you know how I set up mine, along with some dos and don’ts I employ to keep myself focused on my brand while configuring the setup my booth.
Do: Invest in your setup (and your business!)
If markets are going to be a part of your business plan, that means you need to have a plan about the best way you can succeed and make markets a profitable area in your business. So the first major ‘Do’ I have for you is to invest in your setup. This can mean that you’re financially investing in your setup, or it can mean that you’re investing your time into building your setup. For me, it’s been a combo of both. Below I outline the key pieces to my set up – some of them I built myself, and others of them I purchased, because it seemed the smartest choice.
Key Market Booth Setup Display Pieces
A Tent: If you’re going to do any outdoor markets, I would highly suggest investing in a quality tent. I got mine my Walmart, and while it may have cost a pretty penny, this is such a quality tent – it’s worth it. You can find the exact tent I purchased here. If this is out of your budget, don’t fret! You can find other, less expensive tents out there. I can’t stress enough how a tent can be a benefit to your setup. Not only does it help in the summer (protecting you from constant direct sunlight) or in the fall (protecting you from rain and/or cooler temps), but it also works to designate a specific area for your product. If you have a tent, it keeps all of your products in 1 area and makes it so that customers a)know what product is yours, and b) aren’t distracted by other’s product while they’re browsing your booth – just a small barrier between you and the people next to you can make all the difference.
A Table or Two: While it can depend on what your product is, for the majority of makers, a table is a great way to display a large amount of product in 1 area. Some venues will allow you to rent tables, but I finally just invested in my own, as I figured I’ll be using it enough that it was more cost efficient to buy instead of rent. I purchased my table from Walmart as well, and you can find the link here. But don’t think you need to be limited to square or rectangular tables, my girl Taylor (over at Taylor-Lynn.com) uses the cutest little round table in her setup!
Hanging Racks: Obviously this can vary due to what you are bringing to market, but for me, as I make crochet pieces, including wall hangings, scarves, and tote bags, I needed a good place to display those items. So here I have two unique pieces I’ve incorporated into my setup.
A Dual Hanging Rack with Shelves – At my last market, I got a number of requests asking here I got the piece below. I found it randomly at Macy’s from an email about a sale, and have obviously repurposed it for markets, but I think that point alone can show you that you can think outside the box for how to display your items. You can find it here!
Stand-Alone Hanging Tree – This was a new piece for me at my markets that I just built (Blog Post on the DIY coming soon!) because I didn’t love how the stand above displayed some of my items. So! I went on Pinterest to try and find plans for what I had in my head and didn’t really find any, so I went to Lowe’s and built what I was envisioning. And let me just say, I am in love with this piece! Not only does it fit my decor style, but I made it! All on my own!
Mirror: Mirrors are KEY at markets if you have product that people will be wearing. Even if they’re just trying on a hat or scarf, they want to see how it looks, so I would ensure somewhere, you have an accessible mirror. Because I didn’t have a tent for my first market, I didn’t have anything to hang a mirror on, so I invested in free standing one. I got mine from Target, and I love it! The wood around the outside fits with my slightly rustic, but chic theme, and it has a ladder as the back part of the A-frame so I can use that to hang product when/if I need to. I’ll link my mirror here.
A Mannequin: If you are selling any items related to fashion. a mannequin can really help sell the fashion story you are trying to tell! Plus, it’s gets product out in front of people and allows them to feel as though they can touch it, feel it, and imagine how it would look on them. Personally I like to put my mannequin out at the entrance to my booth, as it gives anyone that is passing by quick glance into what is in my booth. I sold the triangle scarf off below of the mannequin within an hour of putting her out there.
A Checkout Area: The last key piece to my market booth setup is my checkout stand. This is another piece I built myself out of used pallets – the idea came from Taylor (she’s one of my maker besties!) and the plans from Amanda at The Little Frugal House. Let me tell you, choosing to make this out of pallets was maybe not the smartest choice (getting those pallets apart was a reeealll pain), but the end result is one that I love. Not only is it cute, but gives my customers a clear place to come when they’ve found a piece or two that they want to bring home with them. In addition, it also gives me TONS of storage for things that I may want to keep around me at markets, but not have in front of customers all the time (things like my camera, purse, food, tissue paper, etc…) Now I don’t want you to read this and think that you have to immediately go and find/build yourself a checkout stand. Underneath tables covered with table cloths can be used as storage, and you can simply have a vendor apron on – what I want you to think about, is how you are going to clearly portray to your customers where they check out. There’s nothing more awkward than finding something in a booth that you want to buy and then not knowing where to go or who to talk to about actually purchasing said item. Just my two cents.
Don’t: Settle for a basic product display in your market booth setup
Instead create a display that is visually appealing. Even if you only have a small space to work with, say a table in a school gym, or a table in a local shop, you can create visual stimulation with height variation! How? You have accessory pieces, like wooden crates, mannequins, hat stands, etc… that help display your product AND add visual interest to those looking at your booth. See some great pictures below for how I did this at my last market. In the first picture, I used wooden crates I got from Michaels, that I stained and varnished a nice dark walnut. These crates offer visual stimulation to those looking at my table because now my product is on varying levels. For the middle of the table, I used another crate paired with two metal hat stands. I got the hat stands off of amazon (see links below!), and while some of my hats may lie flat on the table, these stands allow customers to visualize what they will look like when they’re being worn. Lastly, I used some old cherry-picking crates I found at an antique store! I didn’t change them at all, I left them as they were, unfinished and raw. I love the rustic vibe they give off. They act similarly to the other wooden crates in that they get my product up and off of the table, but they offer a different feel because they’re not polished and finished.
Do: Create a cohesive feel within your market booth setup
You want your booth to feel like your brand. For me, my tagline is ‘handcrafted elegance’, and I strive to create that with my booth. Not only are my products handmade, but some of my core market setup pieces are as well. But to me, there is also a rustic feel to handcrafted pieces that I try and capture with my market booth. I mix raw wood tones, with stained wood tones, and metal. To me that creates an almost ‘shabby chic’ (I know, I know, such a cliche saying… ) look that immediately welcomes potential customers, but also portrays a touch of elegance. This also comes in the small touches I’ve made to my booth. I use a faux fur piece as a topper to my unfinished checkout stand, I have a finished, handcrafted sign that portrays the name and tagline of my business, I have professional pictures mounted on blocks and placed around my booth – all of these small touches helps customers understand my brand, and who I am as a maker and that should really be your goal overall. Your pieces and your booth should represent you! Because ultimately, even if you think you are ‘just’ selling hats, scarves or whatnot, you’re really selling you, and your brand.
Don’t: Panic if your market booth setup isn’t perfect
Each and every market is a learning experience. Not only that, each market is offered in a different place, with a slightly different setup. So if you can’t set up exactly the way you have previously, if you need to leave a piece out, or rearrange how you setup, it’s okay. We all have to be flexible to the situations we’re put into, and you’ll learn from each of those situations. If you didn’t like how you did something at your last market, figure out a way to change it at your next one. One way I did this was with the tree-like stand I made (see above). Previously I had those items hanging on my dual hanging rack, and it just didn’t do the pieces justice. They got so much more attention when they had their own space, where they could actually be seen and hang at their full length. So just take a little bit from each market, and grow. Goodness know my set up has changed from my first market to the pictures you see here. It may not always be fun or painless, but it will all work out. Just be true to you and your brand and I know you’ll rock it!
Alrighty my maker friends, that is all I have for you today! I hope you found even the tiniest little tidbit helpful. If you used a Do or Don’t from above, tag me in it! I love love love to see everyone’s setup! Also, don’t hesitate to ask me any questions or comment your thoughts below!
As always, thank you, thank you, thank you for reading this post. Especially as it was a longer one. Know it means so much to me!
If you missed Part I, you can check it out here: 5 Tips for Your First Market Season
Or if you’re curious about how I added Christmas Decor to my booth, check out Part III here!