Retrorocket is primarily an online business selling second-hand books and collectables.
The business plan contained the idea of a market stall to improve cash flow and in October I implemented this part of the plan. If you are setting up a market stall for the same reasons I am: to get some fresh air, network, promote business, improve cash flow and freshen the stock then I highly recommend it.
Bearing in mind every market and business is different: here is a how-to on setting up a market stall according to Retrorocket!
Pre-setup / Strategy
- Reconnoitre the market you plan to attend (look at competition, compare prices, stall displays)
- Get organizers’ contact details and book a table
- Decide whether to have market and online stock or lump it all in together (I separate them)
- Have shade (especially in Australian summer) – buy an umbrella or other portable shade
- As many tables as is logical (if not limited by cost / market rules)
- Cashbox / bum-bag / apron pocket for sales
- Start with a float and pay for table upfront where possible
- Buy labels that don’t damage the stock (I use Esselte)
- Cash up at end of day (somewhere private)
- Trial it for at least a month so you can gauge patterns of spending / what sells, best days for your stall etc.
Day / night before and on the day of market
- Clean and clearly price all items beforehand, on-the-fly or at least price the boxes they are displayed in
- If you want to move the stock asap and make money: be prepared to negotiate final selling price (be aware of cost of goods sold so you don’t make an unintentional loss)
- Choose your books and items for the market you are selling to: as on the internet specialised books are harder to sell but you get a ‘better’ price e.g. Craft books and household bric-a-brac and modern kitchenalia also sell well. Furthermore, Manchester is popular with women, gadgets popular with (most) men and most books sell surprisingly well.
- Research books and other items you are unsure of before market day – I now price / separate as I go (Online/Offline).
Ethics / Selling guidelines
- This is a mainstream market: down-to-earth people, everyday items, reasonable prices not a specialist fair
- Give people the opportunity to look without pouncing (I assume most shop owners know this – I don’t have a shop yet and consider this my mini shop)
- Offer people the chance to bring goods back the next week / fortnight depending on the goods e.g. DVDs: I see the market stall as an extension of Retrorocket and I do not want people to find a fault with something and feel they cannot return it (This is a personal opinion and there are at least two schools of thought on it)
- I see many stall holders browsing: try very hard to keep the cash for the business and not look at other stalls too often (maybe every couple of months explicitly as a buyer)
- All monies made less cost of stall go back into the business
- Drink lots of water, have access to the caffeinated beverage of your choice (if applicable) and use shade/sunscreen in summer
- Ask a friend, family or staff member to give you at least two ten minute breaks (I am there for four hours excluding setup)
- Bring business cards and be open to the real space wish list that will ensue
- Trust takes time and if people like you and / or your stock they will include you in their rounds
- Some advice from customers can be helpful: one person who is ex-book trade gave me an invaluable tip on databasing that has saved me hours of work
- Set an amount of time you will spend on the market aspect of the business or it can consume you: many traders just go to all the markets available whereas I was attending one every week which has dropped to every fortnight due to 40 degree Celsius days in Perth summer.
- As someone who operates primarily online this stall has also allowed me to provide a free local pick up service for books bought online by locals (this has increased sales)
for more information on this market:
Retrorocket books and collectables