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A Guide To Market Stall Ideas

Market Stall Ideas to Set Up

Market stalls were, during much of early history, the main form of shopping. In today’s world, a market stall typically offers cheaper, more tailor-made goods, as well as creating an opportunity for social experiences. This has sparked ambition in some to try their hand at being a market stall trader. But how?

Real Business has put together this article to provide insights into the art of being a market trader, with emphasis on understanding market demand, identifying business opportunities, and taking advantage of the steadily increasing interest that markets bring.

What Are Some Strong Market Stall Ideas?

The following is a selection of market stall ideas that typically see success within markets, as well as an outline for exactly how popular each of them are.

Farmers Markets

Farmers’ markets offer produce grown on a farm and are gaining fast traction in the food markets due to the rise of veganism. Furthermore, they can sell locally made wines, jams, baked goods etc, as these are considered adjacent to farming produce. Supermarkets have begun to lose the trust factor due to an increased interest in health; and the freshness that farmers’ markets bring offers more of a guarantee.

Farmer’s Markets in the UK have increased from 500 in 1994 to over 2,500 in 2023 according to Farmers Markets UK, with locally-grown fruits and vegetables making up the vast majority of purchases.

Food Markets Stall

A food stall, hot food stalls, in particular, are quite profitable if you get the prices right. People are always looking to spend money on immediate food, and if you’re able to deliver quality at a valuable price, many won’t think twice before spending. Many who set up these stalls report good profits within local markets, especially when there are places to sit and eat nearby.

UK Street Food Markets have experienced significant growth in recent years, with an estimated value of £1.2billion in 2023. Hot food stalls can be highly profitable, with potential profits ranging from 20% to 50%. Burgers, fries, and wraps have been reported to be the biggest profit makers by far, with those offering unique flavours and boasting quality ingredients seeing the most success.

Pet Supplies Stand

Pet stores are considered too expensive by many, and as such, market stall stands devoted to pets will offset this, offering lower prices. Ensure they are wholesale pet supplies, as this will guarantee a healthy profit. If you opt for pet food, you may want to add a small food market stall to display products. Keep it simple and snappy.

Pet supply stands are projected to grow from £8.5 billion in 2023 to £10 billion by 2025. Food tailored to specific diets and specific breeds is always in demand, so make sure you research what pets are common in your local area. Furthermore, stylised toys and accessories tend to be a common purchase at these stalls.

Christmas Stall

Many market stall ideas tend to be themed around Christmas for a reason. It’s one of the more popular markets out there, with many going out during this period. The things you can do are limitless, such as selling Christmas decorations like fairy lights. This is another type of food market stall that is popular, as German sausages, turkey sandwiches etc. tend to fly off the stalls, so to speak.

The number of Christmas Markets in the UK has grown by at least 15% in the last five years, according to the Local Government Association. They contributed around £1.2 billion to the UK Economy in 2022 and supported over 25,000 jobs across various sectors. On average, visitors spend around £50 per visit, with food and drink counting for nearly half of all spending.

Craft Stall

Craft stalls are visited often at craft fairs, flea markets, car boot sales etc. They are popular with tabletop gamers and fashion/history enthusiasts. Many successful craft marketers use craft stall display stands that are flexible, portable and multipurpose. Many craft market stall traders do not attract people by enticing passersby, but rather by building a following on social media.

In the UK, the Crafts Council saw that Craft Stall Display Stands brought in £3 billion in 2019, with the most popular items being ceramics, jewellery, textiles and homeware. Craft sales online have been steadily increasing yearly, with the largest being 12% in 2020.

Second-Hand Clothes Stall

Nice clothes tend to be expensive, and also a candidate for resale – albeit at a much lower price. Furthermore, there are a lot of clothes unsold that are from a vintage or chic style. Second-hand clothing stalls are best supplied through charity shops, as these tend to be the places where you can make the highest profit and experience the best convenience.

The second-hand clothing market was valued at £2.7 billion in 2023 and is expected to rise 127% by 2027. In 2021, Thredup found that 35% of UK consumers bought second-hand clothing, jumping up to 45% in 2022.

Second-Hand Mobile Phone Stand

It’s expected that most of-age UK residents have a smartphone, due to their irreplaceability in modern life. But for every highly-priced new model is an older model that has dropped in price, and a market stall is a fantastic place to sell them. You will need to understand the grading system for mobile phone qualities, as well as the different phone accessories that people may want, with protective phone cases being one of them.

One-quarter of all mobile phones sold in the UK in 2023 are second-hand or refurbished, according to GfK, and demand for the latter has increased by 36% since 2021.

Second-Hand Book Stall Stand

Do you know what a lot of book lovers miss? Books. Actual books, not the Kindle screen. A market stall is about the only place that you’ll find a book that’s made of paper these days, reviving the lost art of examining covers, and blurbs, and jumping to a random page to see if the pace and prose are up to snuff. Good quality books with that characteristic smell sell best here, and finding cheap copies is ridiculously easy, especially if they’re old. The real skill is identifying which books are worth reading, as standards shift and change with the times.

Yahoo Finance found that the second-hand book market is projected to reach £45 billion by 2031, with improving literacy rates and the novelty of having paperbacks prompting demand.

Jewellery Stall Stand

Jewellery is always a big hit, and a successful jewellery stall can be very profitable. Generally speaking, you will be hard-pushed to sell expensive jewellery on a market stall because people won’t be confident about its value or authenticity. There will also be potential security issues with selling precious metals and stones from a stall, and so it is better to sell costume jewellery or handmade pieces. To get started, all you need to do is find a supplier of costume jewellery and ask them if they will sell to you in bulk – or get some beads from your local art shop. You can also buy fake gems which are pretty cheap online and have the potential to make huge profits when used creatively.

School Supplies Stand

Going back to school can be anxiety-inducing for children, so having a school supply stand at a market can not only bring some fun to resupplying for school but make it convenient too. Stationary needs, such as notebooks, calculators, pens, notebooks etc. can be sold at a reduced price, or all together in bundles. The best way to make a profit, we’ve heard, is to ensure that you stock up for your market stall early from a wholesaler when these supplies are in less demand. This allows you to undercut other school supply stores when August/September rolls around.

Parents spend around £232 per child on average during back-to-school season (August and September), according to research done by The Money Charity.

Market Fair Tips

The Best Practices Of A Market Stall Trader

The following are some tips that have worked for successful market stall traders across the UK.

Prioritise Quality And Presentation

Excluding food and drink stalls, markets are sometimes associated with poor quality, cheap goods. James Roberts, the founder of Chester’s “The Cheese Wedge”, emphasises that it’s of tantamount importance that not only is your product high quality, but it’s also presented as such.

“The turning point for me,” he said in a recent interview, “was realising that people craved not just delicious cheese, but also the story behind it. Started by sourcing unique cheeses from small producers and sharing their stories with customers. The combination of exceptional quality and engaging storytelling resonated with people, and ‘The Cheese Wedge’ was born.”

You, yourself, have to be involved with the quality of your product. Your stall, and your persona, must live and breathe the quality and enthusiasm of your display products. The Cheese Wedge was once a single market stall but is now an entire business with a headquarters.

Engage And Interact With Customers

As we’ve pointed out a couple of times in this article, your market stall is in the middle of a highly social place. If you own a market stall, whether you like it or not, you are a key player in the social makeup of the occasion. Emma Jones, founder of Enterprise Nation – a business which provides support and guidance for many business owners across the UK, through workshops, mentoring programs etc., claims that “Entrepreneurship is about more than just having a good idea. It’s about understanding your customers, building relationships, and creating a business that thrives because it serves a real need in the community.”

Some lessons from the workshop:

  1. Approachability – Smile, greet people, and give off a sense that you’re happy to be there. Attract customers with your stall, and keep them there.
  2. Initiate Conversations – Ask open-ended questions about the preferences, interests, and needs of the customer.
  3. Share Passion – Speak of your products with enthusiasm, but also expertise.
  4. Personalise The Experience – Remember names, preferences and previous purchases. When social links are formed, they are hard to let go of for most people.
  5. Offer Exceptional Service – Offer samples, provide fun trivia or additional information – go the extra mile.

 

Price Competitively And Strategically

Pricing competitively is more than simply undercutting or matching other stall prices. The nuances of pricing in a dynamic environment like a local market rely on more. When you look at costs, ensure you round up all of your overhead expenses, such as rent, utility, marketing etc. Next is the one key strategy that no business can thrive without, competitor analysis. What are their prices, and what is working for them display-wise?

Sarah Kim, a long-time market trader and industry expert, writes in her book “The Market Stall Guide” that: “Pricing isn’t just about slapping a number on your product and hoping for the best. It’s a delicate dance, a balancing act between covering your costs, ensuring a fair profit, and attracting customers who appreciate the value you offer. Your price isn’t just a number—it’s a statement about your brand, your product’s quality, and the experience you provide. Too low, and you risk undervaluing your hard work and leaving money on the table. Too high, and you might price yourself out of the market, alienating potential customers.”

Market Social Fair

Conclusion

Megastores, supermarkets, and online stores are all huge deals in today’s shopping world. With many not even leaving their house to get groceries anymore, market stalls are beginning to have a renaissance. A successful market stall can easily kickstart a whole new career, provided you get the formula for attracting and retaining customers right. Practice, practice, practice – that’s the best advice.

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