It is my second time being a market trader at the Limehouse Social Market. The first was exciting but also daunting at the same time. What is my pricing policy? How many espresso macarons should I make? How about Caneles? What about the logistics of running a market stall? These were only the tip of the iceberg and I wasn’t sure if the uncertainty helped drive the excitement or take away from it. The answer is perhaps a bit of both depending where I was on this journey but I am glad to report that having been through it once only made the experience more enjoyable the second time round.
Going in with some of the basic knowledge and a little bit more confidence meant that I had freed up capacity and brain space to focus on the more interesting things. For instance, I don’t need to worry about pumping out huge volumes because I already have a rough idea how many I would sell. This meant more time for a wider range of flavours, which in turn, generated more interest at the market!
- It pushes you to think and learn a lot!
- Great opportunities to connect with your local community and be inspired
- It is great fun (just check out my video) and you may even make some money!
Hopefully, if you are still reading at this point, I’ve got you convinced and you are eager to get going. But how do you go about it? As I said, part of the fun is figuring it out for yourselves but to make things a little bit easier, here are a few tips which I wish I knew when I started
1. Research! Research! Research!
A good place to start is looking at what markets are available locally to see which one is best suited for you. Be realistic about your choice because as a new trader you are unlikely to get into the bigger markets which will have stricter application processes. By carefully looking at the market requirements you will soon learn about some of the things you will need. In the UK, this means having to register with your local council, adequate insurance cover, food & safety hygiene certifications and the the list goes on.
It is more pleasant to learn as much as you can online and through your contacts than learning through mistakes. Be careful though, research can easily turn into procrastination if you don’t remind yourself of the end goal
2. Don’t be shy!
I once took a personality test at work and apparently I was more introverted than 99% of the one hundred thousand plus people that took the same test. So as you can imagine, talking to people is not one of my strengths but this has to be done. Be proactive and reach out to market managers and fellow traders. Send off a few enquiries or go to the markets with some of your products and make an impression. Remember to politely follow up (and not spam!) afterwards with a phone call or email. A little bit of passion goes along way.
3. Keep it simple!
Running a market stall by yourself can be tough, especially if you are new to it. So don’t make this any harder by overcomplicating your setup. During my first time as a trader, the perfectionist in me fell into the trap of trying to offer as wide of a product range as my poor little home oven can handle. This was a logistical nightmare. In fact, at times I had to compromise on the quality simply because I did not have enough time. Trying to make 10 different flavours of macarons for a small local market was not a good idea. Do your research, know what your core products are and focus on those.
4. Don’t be proud and ask for help!
If you are lucky then it could get really busy and having an extra pair of hands could really help. On a quiet day you may want someone to keep you company, besides if you are by yourself who is going to man the stall when you go for a comfort break? Having a friend drop by even for an hour or two could help you relax and actually enjoy the experience. Remember to show your appreciation though, in my case, Ms Trainers was more than happy to help polish off the leftover cupcakes!
5. Relax, have fun and make friends!
So you’ve picked out the right market, managed to secure a spot and you are all ready to go. All that is left is to enjoy yourself on the day. Don’t get too obsessed with running your stall and make sure you check out what your fellow traders are up to. You’ll be surprised how much you will learn and the contacts you will make!