Navigating the Craft Market Scene

The market season is drawing to a close.

Here in Melbourne it’s getting chilly and the leaves are changing colour to mark Autumn. I’ve only been doing markets for two seasons and recently I’ve been reflecting on the whole experience. I started it just as we were coming out of the pandemic lockdowns and I really needed to get out of the house and start talking to people again. I’ve also been a freelance illustrator for a long time, which is a particularly isolating profession if you let it. Although the markets are hard work, I absolutely love doing them. The early morning rise, the packing and unpacking, the set-up. But most of all, the other stallholders. They are supportive, enthusiastic and fun people to be around.

So, if you’re considering sharing your wares on the craft market scene here are a few pointers.

Be prepared and have a checklist

Like any good Girl Guide you’ve got to have your ducks in a row before you start. But, you don’t want to bust your bank account before you’ve sold anything. Here’s a handy list of the bare essentials:

  • Get a good sturdy tent. I bought a cheap one and it almost snapped in the wind. If you’re in Victoria have a look at Canopy Outdoor. I used the code from Unrivalled Events. (go to Stallholders – Stallholder tips and get a code for 20% off)
  • 20 Kilo weights for each tent pole.
  • Light trestle tables. I got cheap secondhand wooden trestles and my back suffers especially with lugging the above 20 kilo weight!.
  • Easy-to-wash tablecloths.
  • Sturdy stackable stock boxes with lids.
  • Different ways to display you stuff. Washing lines, poles, baskets and cute little boxes. Anything that allows you to display at different heights to attract attention.
  • A Square or some way of taking credit card payments. Absolutely no one carries cash.
  • A cash box. Just in case.
  • A ‘Bit’s and Bobs’ Box for all the extra handy stuff you’ll need. Listen below.
  • A chair! It’s a sad day when you leave it behind.

Here’s what I ditched

  • Email list sheets. I prepared sheets to take people’s email addresses but I’ve never used them. Sales are too speedy. There’s a function on the Square for this if you’re super savvy and remember to ask. Handing out a business card instead is good.
  • Unprotected paper goods. The sun is harsh and it can get very dusty or rainy.

Good ideas

  • Stickers. I’m not much of a hustler but I can attract the attention of little kids with stickers and start a conversation with the parents or carers.
  • Pretty business cards. See above, kids love them

Your ‘Bit’s and Bobs’ Box

Give it a go!

There’s a lot to love about putting yourself out there. I like the way markets allow you to take stock of how things are going and shift things around for the next season. The people are super friendly and, usually here at least, the weather is fine. If it starts getting tiring you can pair it back and pick it up again later.

The absolute best part about it though? When friends pop by to say ‘Hi’. Here’s just a couple, but I’ve had visitors from nearby, across the bay, interstate and overseas. It’s always a delight to see them.

Here’s where I’ll be on Saturday