Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Craft Market? My Top Ten Display Tips..

This Sunday is Porangahau’s annual fair at Chapelwick Estate (Central Hawkes Bay, New Zealand), and I’ve taken the opportunity to revamp my stall display a little for this, my 1st market of the 2010/2011 season.
I always find a pre-market stall set-up essential when I haven’t done a market for several months …. A dummy run if you like. 

photo courtesy of http://www.freecraftfair.com/
Now I’m sure there are lots of organized people out there who don’t need to do this and can set up their stall in 10 minutes in a howling gale and have a beautifully presented display which totally does justice to their work.  Me?  Not so much.  I’m a fiddler when I set up… table and gazebo is not problem – I can do these at lightning speed.  But from the table cover on, things crawl to snails pace as I fluff and fiddle, swap things around and generally take twice as long as I need to in my pursuit of harmony and balance and general colour co-ordination!  BUT, if I do a pre-market stall set-up a week before…. Well, it’s a whole different story.  Here are some of my tips:

  1. I use my garage or lounge whichever is the least cluttered.  Sometimes I will have everything up, photographed, and dismantled in a day, other times I like to have it up for a few days.

  2. Once I have the hardware assembled(and before putting products out), I have a think about ease of access for customers – will they have to stretch to reach things?  Is everything on one level – isn’t that a little ho-hum? What’s my packaging/money exchange area like – have I got room to do everything I need to?

  3. Table covers – are they clean, in need of ironing, hemming, eeeeek – the wrong colour? Display bowls, trays, cases, stands etc – all in good nick?  Relevant to my overall display vision?

  4.  Now products can go out – taking as much time as needed – thinking about height, grouping like items, colour-co-ordinating. This year I am grouping complimentary items together, eg I have pendant with certain colours displayed on a bust, beside it I will have a group of earrings with complementary tones, and a ring or two – nothing over-poweringly ‘matchy matchy’ but enough so people can get a idea of how one piece might look worn with the others and how this might fit with their wardrobe.  No. 1 tip – avoid over cluttering.

  5. Is there a special item to pull people in?  It’s a common misconception that you have to discount your items hugely for a market… I disagree, at most quality markets, customers are looking for quality goods – OOAK items, well made, with heart.  BUT, to catch people’s eye it can be a great thing to have a discounted area – I have an earring tree of smaller, simple earrings labeled “market special”.  It has the great effect of drawing people to have a look/buy, and we seem to have a herding instinct where if one or 2 people are looking at a stall…. Others will come to see what they’re looking at!  Think about where to place ‘special item/s’ – I would never put my market special earring tree directly next to my more elaborate earrings, that would be asking for trouble! Another drawcard is a competition - eg, signup to join your mailing list and be in to win something, or 'guess how many beads in the jar'.  BUT, it should be to the side of your stall.

  6. Now I take a step back and take a good hard look - good balance? can all of my wares be seen and do they look attractive?  Right - time to grab a neighbour, friend, husband and get their honest opinion - they don't have the emotional connection to your work and can therefore give an unbiased opinion.  My husband is a tradesman, virgo, and would have made a great artist - I don't know which of these particular traits comes into play but he gives me fantastic advice when he looks at my mock stall!

  7. Right, almost there... can I just say... point of sale?  Assuming everything has been priced by this stage, are the price tags easy to see?  Little cards can be invaluable as well - even if each individual thing is priced - people see the bigger picture 1st, before zeroing in on the detail.  Business cards on your stall are essential, and so is something that says who you are!  Whether it's a banner (often free + shipping at Vistaprint), or a laminated sign on your stall front or gazebo - it will stick in peoples minds.

  8. Environment - is the market inside or out?  Outside - time to think about windproofing/protection from rain.  Inside - need extra lighting?

  9. Finally - once happy with the way my stall looks - I immortalise it taking photos from left to right.  On market day these are going to be essential for quick, painless set-up!  OK, I'll admit it.. I use them as flash cards in the few days before as well ;)

  10. OK, time to pack up - I store things in the same groups I'm going to display them, again to make things quicker on the day.  It's a good idea to label boxes too.

 I hope my pre-market tips are helpful. Do you have any tips that work for you?  I'd love to hear them :)
Mel x


  1. Well, Mel, you are the organized one aren't you. I do similar things, Lay it all out on the table and check also for height layers, with a flat table, I sometimes put a shoe box under the cloth to give some height to the display. I have a tendency to put a lot out at once, I must work on that. Great tips thanks for sharing. cheers Marie

  2. WOW! Thanks so much for that Mel! I always struggle with set up at markets, never enough room, where to put what etc, how to make it look neat but interesting.. never thought to do a mock up at home, but guess what I will be doing today?!

  3. Thanks for this post Mel. It has really helped me decide how to set up my stall if I'm going to have one.

  4. Guess what! I have my table set up in my lounge right now and am trying to work out where to put everything before Sunday. Part of it looks good but the other .... hmmm .... more work to do yet. It will definitely be in there for a few days!

  5. You are so organised! My pre-setup is generally the afternoon before the market. I have two this weekend, one on Sunday and one on Monday, so might try and get everything organised on Friday so I can relax a bit on Saturday. That's my aim anyway!

  6. Oh I'm really pleased if these tips are helpful to others - thanks for all your comments :). I find it gets my head in the right space so I can focus on lovely customers on the day!

  7. Wow Mel... these tips are fantastic!... I really don't think there is anything else I can add?

    I think I am nearly all ready for the fair... will set up on Friday night and see how it all looks. I just hope the weather is ok???

  8. Fantastic tips Mel! I've only done one market stall before and it definitely helped to have a trial run beforehand for sure... will be filing these handy hints away for future reference! Have a great time and hope it's a fab day for you at Porangahau x

  9. An excellent post Mel. I had to laugh at yur introduction - I'm a great "fiddler" too!
    How was the fair? I hope you did very well and thoroughly enjoyed yourself - it looks like a lovely place.

  10. Oops - I think I may be ahead of myself regarding the fair!! I'm "all of a muddle" today...


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