How to host a market stall and actually make money


Presentation is everything.

For morning people, the local Sunday market is a wondrous land filled with hot jam doughnuts, secondhand treasures and more cavoodles than you could possibly pat in one morning.

But for stallholders, it’s D-Day. You’ve spent weeks cleaning out your wardrobe, prepping your wares and practising your sales pitch. Take a deep breath, get yourself a bacon and egg roll and scull a triple shot coffee. It’s time to sell the shit out of your stuff.

Here’s what you need to know to make bank… or at the very least, cover your stall fee and breakfast.

Fail to prepare, prepare to fail

There are two types of stallholders in this world: those who are organised, and those who look like they live at the market, surrounded by everything they’ve ever owned. Having experience in both areas, I can honestly say being the smug, neat and annoying person is by far the most preferable.

Start your market journey by thoroughly going through your wardrobe. Then, sort the pile of clothes you no longer want, separating it into mini piles marked ‘bin’, ‘donate’ and ‘market’. Sort the ‘market’ pile again into categories like dresses, jackets and tops – this is getting a headstart on your all-important stall merchandising. If you’ve decided to price your items, now is the time to make those notes or add swing tags.

That said, pulling a number from the sky based on someone’s body language cues on the day will give you approximately two hours of extra sleep the night before. Win-win.

Presentation is everything

If you’re selling items for an absolute steal and they’re still not going anywhere, it’s time to look to your presentation skills. Even priced at $5, someone probably isn’t going to buy your white shorts with the suspicious Doritos dust stain. Make sure everything you’re selling has been washed, mended and steamed, if possible.

At the market, take it to the next level by displaying your clothes on matching wooden hangers and choose a few key pieces to ‘feature’ at the front of the stall. Then sit back (on the chair you brought with you because you’re smart) and literally watch all of the new money roll in.

Channel your inner retail staff member

Repeat after me: “I am not just another girl trying to sell my entire Sportsgirl collection, years 2007 to present. I am a passionate, successful business owner with a point of difference. I have things to offer.”

1. I can merchandise the shit out of my stall store. You will literally feel like you’re in a High Street boutique.

2. There is no getting naked in the carpark here. I supply a full-length mirror and sometimes a changeroom to prove to you I’m not lying when I say something looks better on (even though sometimes it really doesn’t and I’m just hoping for the best).

3. My clothes and accessories are categorised for the ultimate shopping experience. Leather jackets? Over here, on this rack. Complete Falls Festival looks including accessories? Right this way.

4. I do not cram everything onto the racks like a Supré seconds outlet. I start with the best selection of goodies and restock throughout the day so nobody loses their watch in my knitwear section.

Employ clever sales tactics

Sometimes, to get by in life, you just gotta play dirty. There are hundreds of other stalls at this market, all of them selling Alice McCall party dresses and faux furs from Savers. What are you going to do to stand out, make quick sales, and turn around a lot of product?

Always have a bargain tub, where everything is marked at $5. Hold regular flash sales throughout the day, offering 50 per cent off for 30-minute blocks. Leverage your Instagram following, showing your favourite pieces the morning of, and offering discounts on your story. Get ahead of your competitors and accept payment via PayPal or other phone apps for people who don’t have any (or enough) cash. Bring a really loud, annoying speakerphone so you can spruik like at the fruit markets.

Keep a few extra jam doughnuts aside so you can offer a bribe ‘gift with purchase’ to get hesitant customers over the finish line. And at the end of the day, mark everything at $2, or just beg people to take something so you don’t have to pack it all back up. Time is money, people. Time is money.

This article was originally published in Fashion Journal 174. You can read it here.

Illustration by Twylamae.

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