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Becoming a Market Seller

Stall holder - Become a market trader

Markets have been an integral part of the English culture for almost a millennium. When the Bullring and Norwich markets opened, it was unlikely that the stall sellers envisioned that a trip to the market would become a social activity or an attraction that drew tens of millions of tourists each year.

One of the best parts of the holiday season is the number of UK Christmas markets, which offer unique foods and gifts along with holiday activities and events. The UK holiday markets draw visitors from throughout Europe and North America.

There is a certain allure that the markets have outside of just a social shopping experience. Many visitors are drawn to the entrepreneurial aspects of the markets. The entrepreneurial pull seems to have grown even more in recent years as growing numbers of workers explore starting their own small or medium sized business.

The UK markets have a long history as the launching spot of many well-known companies. Marks and Spencer started at Kirkgate Market; Tesco began at the Hackney Market. Innocent Drinks, Dunelm, Grainger Games, Sass and Bind, and Dinosaur Designs all got their starts at UK markets.

Opening a market stall is an attractive method of starting a business. The structure often allows you to continue with a regular job, there seems to be no limit to the type of merchandise that can be offered, the initial capital to start is minimal, and the lifestyle is appealing to many.

If you have ever thought you had the skills or expertise to start your own stall here are some tips to get you on your way.

  • Develop a Business Plan

The first step is to develop a business plan.  Not only will this help you with possible financing or investments, but should provide a basic road map on how to start and grow your stall. One of the items you should include in your business plan is your personal finances. Under-capitalisation is one of the reasons many new businesses fail. Look for ways of streamlining and consolidating your personal finances.  You may find that obtaining a personal loan to consolidate your debts will result in lower monthly payments as well as more favourable interest rates.

  • Decide on your product

Obviously, what you sell is at the heart of your potential for success. Are you going to sell a totally new product, or be a reseller of other products? Part of your research for selecting your type of product should consist of visits to local markets to check on the competition.

  • Decide on the scope of your stall

Most who start a market stall tend to start off small and many do so with an initial invest of less than £5,000. However, being under-capitalised is one of the main reasons for new business failure. Consider obtaining a business loan to fund your start-up, although you will still be required to invest some of your own cash. This gives you some breathing room in terms of getting the stall up and profitable, allows you to take advantage of supplier specials, and pay for licences and liability insurance.

  • Pick Quality Suppliers

If you are going to resell products makes sure you work with suppliers who offer high quality.

  • Choose your location

You might choose a single location or several. Once again, research is important to determine which are best for your product. It is best to have more than one location in mind as it is necessary to apply for a pitch with the market of the local authority

  • Make sure you are legal

Be sure to obtain either a market stall licence or a street trader licence depending on your location. If you are selling food there are a number of other licences and certifications required.

  • Market your stall

Stall marketing is two-fold. Your stall has to appeal to the market’s visitors, and you want to get the word out to potential customers.

Make sure your stall is well laid out and attractive. Invest in price tags, business cards, and signs. A card reader is almost essential.

Use social media as part of your outside marketing efforts and encourage customers to refer you to their friends, possibly by offering refer-a-friend schemes. Also consider launching your own website.


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