We are back this week with the next instalment of The Market Manual. The lovely Nikki has compiled a list of essentials to pack for a market!
Packing for a market can be super stressful, especially if you’re fairly new to it, but even when you’re not. You not only need to decide how much stock to take, how to display it, and how to transport all that, but there’s all the other little things that sometimes we don’t even consider. Having a market ‘grab bag’ can be a great way to alleviate some of that stress and make sure you’re prepared for any eventuality.
My grab bag is a large zip pouch that I’ve filled with all the bits and bobs that I might need. I’ve picked a beautiful, embroidered wash bag for mine, because it makes me happy to look at (and otherwise it’d be packed away with the suitcases) but any biggish pouch or clutch will do.
Because I attend markets quite regularly I leave my bag packed all the time, only occasionally having a little clear out of it every few months or so. I can simply ‘grab’ it, chuck it into my crates with my stock and know I’ve got everything I need for market day.
Obviously everyone’s needs are different and you might need to add or remove bits depending on what you’re selling, but here’s a run down of some of the essential items I keep in my bag so you can build your own.
Pens and pencils - no brainer. Like in your school exams, always make sure you have a spare.
Notebook - an absolute essential (as well a pen obviously). Keep a track of your sales so you can judge what your bestsellers are, compare sales to previous markets, and take customer details for commissions or to add to your newsletter. Or, if it’s a slow day or there’ s lull you can scribble ideas and get some planning done.
Scissors - Someone always needs scissors at a market. Fact.
Tape, String and Blutac - you may not need all of these things, but it’s always handy to have some kind of fixing and sticking stuff in your bag. Blutac is an essential for me as I use it to attach price tickets and signs to my display.
Superglue - like scissors, there’s almost always someone that needs superglue on market day. Something’s fallen a part at the last minute, your display is looking a bit wobbly, or maybe the sole of your shoe has fallen off… it’s happened.
Pegs, Clips and Pins - having some kind of clip is always a good idea. One or two big bulldog style clips, or a handful of safety pins could save your bacon if you have an unruly tablecloth or even a wardrobe malfunction! I personally use pegs to attach display pricing so always have a handful in my bag.
Price tickets / tags / stickers - regardless of how you display your prices (or choose not to) have a little sheet of blank stickers, or some tiny tags in your bag for emergencies.
Nail File - this one goes high on my list of essentials as every single market, without fail, I manage to catch a nail whilst carrying my stuff from the car and then it bugs me all day if I can’t file it.
Hand Gel - you may well have a large bottle of this ready for your table thanks to today’s ‘climate’ but it’s nice to have a little bottle for yourself anyway. Maybe treat yourself to one with a nicer smell or some moisturising stuff in it.
Paracetamol - whether you’ve over indulged the night before, the stress of market day has become too much or you’ve just not been drinking enough water on the day this is an absolute essential. In fact, even if you forget everything else in your grab bag make sure you’ve got some painkillers.
Hand Cream and Lip Balm - probably more of a luxury item, and maybe not for everyone, but markets can be hard work on our hands so sometimes it’s nice to have a little treat for them. Same goes for lips; all that talking and smiling is hard work, especially if you’re outside.
Thank You Cards, Business Cards or Leaflets - Don’t forget to take some of these, or something with your details on for people to take away, even if you’ve handwritten them. There’s always someone who is in a rush, or is waiting for pay day.
Packaging - this is another one that might not go in your grab bag, you might have a whole box of packaging bits and bobs to bring with you but, if you’re like me and just need some little paper bags they might just fit in your bag.
Card Reader - if you haven’t got a card reader already I would seriously encourage you to look into getting one. Less and less people seem to be bringing cash along to markets these days so not having the option might cost you sales. Popular readers include iZettle, SumUp and Square but there are others out there. Just don’t forget to charge and update it before every market.
Float - how much cash you take along with you is an entirely personal choice, and it might be that you have a big, serious money tin that won’t fit in your grab bag anyway, or maybe you’re hoping to just take card payments. I’d argue it’s always a good idea to have a bit of change in your purse just in case.
Ok, so this sounds like a lot. But, not everything will be essential for everyone, and not all of it needs to go in your grab bag. My float is just my purse these days, and my packaging goes in a box with my stock. Do whatever works best for you.
And if all else fails then the sellers at markets are generally all really lovely (though there is sometimes that one…) and we’re always happy to help out and lend bits and bobs if you forget something.
Don’t panic, remember you’re just a human, and try to enjoy your market!
Have you got any other tips you'd recommend? Pop them in the comments below - we'd love to know!
Nikki at Lemon Drops Design ⭐