Lesson 5, Marketplace Rules, How to start a market stall, #marketnosh

Lesson 5: Marketplace Rules

Turning up to the marketplace unprepared can cause you some serious issues, not least if you are turned away from selling your products for that day because you didn’t know the marketplace rules. That equates to lost trading and ultimately lose out on getting your stall business up and running!

A little research goes a long way to getting you set up and in the right frame of mind for your selling. It will almost certainly reflect on the way you talk to potential customers if you started your day with an argument with management or have been told you cannot trade in a certain area.

In this lesson you will learn what common marketplace rules you’ll normally find, and also have some questions to ask when enquiring about selling at your local marketplace.

To find other lessons click How to Start a Market Stall.

Let’s dive right in…

Who Does this Belong To?

All marketplaces are owned by someone or something. Whether it be a company or an individual or even the council, every one will have a management department that deals specifically with enquiries from market traders. When attending a local market, find out and call, email or search the website for the list of the marketplace rules that relate to that specific marketplace.

Being on good terms with the management will certainly make your selling day easier and smoother than getting off on the wrong foot and having a poor marketplace experience. Even though you are your own boss on the market stall you are still required to follow certain rules as you are on the property of another person.

Just as you would if someone visited your own home you would have certain expectations about the way they conduct themselves, so you would be expected to conduct yourself in the same way in whatever marketplace you go to sell in.

1. Locate your marketplace owners website and contact details and enquire about rules.

Type of Marketplace

To sell to an audience you need the correct place that they will come to. Imagine I am out looking for shoes and all I find are specialist ladder sellers or fresh Koi carp sales persons? It wouldn’t suit me and I would leave.  The traders won’t find their sales are very good either if everyone is expecting shoes!

This is the basis of targeting a market, which we will develop later on in this course, but the underlying premise is you sell to the correct market – the correct audience!

Know the type of marketplace when you are researching your local marketplace. I am sure you have been to a market and noticed that it was selling fruit and veg and stuck in the corner is a person trying to selling plastic toys looking all sad and forlorn. That is because the type of audience is wrong for that stall.

Sure they may sell a few items, and there may even be the odd day they do well, but it will not be successful and the result will be poor sales and a failed business.

When investigating your marketplace find out what the common theme is. Are they artisan, fruit and veg, or bric-a-brac. Can your product appeal to the audience that is visiting? If you are unsure, call the marketplace and ask what type of marketplace they have. You will be much better off knowing before you go.

2. Know the theme of the marketplace

Start times

Treat start times as the one marketplace rule you cannot break. Marketplaces are very strict when it comes to setting up on time, and having stall traders ready for customers.

Think of it as a big department store. You check the time it opens and it says 9am. You arrive at 9am and the doors are opened, but when you get in there are boxes on the floor, people wondering about, the till doesn’t work yet and some areas are empty. You won’t be back!

Alternatively you turn up at 11am and there are still areas of the shop setting up for the day. I guarantee you will not have a good impression of the department store, so it is with the marketplace.

The marketplace is its own ecosystem and exists to serve the customer as well as the traders. All three cannot exist by itself and each is reliant on the other to succeed. Without traders, customers have nothing to purchase. Without customers, traders cannot make any money, and without a recognised location for everyone to visit, neither can benefit.

You are about to become part of a team of people who work together to ensure quality service for visitors and traders. BE ON TIME!

Normally you will need to arrive early and you will be given a spot by the organiser of the marketplace. Sometimes, there are no other rules than be there at 6am and set up wherever a table is free, but normally you will be assigned a location in the marketplace.

If the marketplace deals with freshly produced food, you will have priority if you are bringing your own homemade products over someone who has bulk purchased their items to sell. If you are late – you will be turned away!

3. Know the start time of the marketplace

Stall Necessities


Every stall has a rent attached to it and normally you will pay for the rent for that day at the point of entry or during the course of the morning. Know the fee before hand and have it ready – correct change and separate from your float and cash.

Stall Size

Find out before you go what the size of the stall is. Knowing this information will allow you to take the right amount of stock and will have you setup for the day. You can plan your display at home before going and be ready to set up straight away! Don’t encroach on your neighbors stall space!

Necessary Items

Know what the marketplace provides and what it doesn’t! Some provide electricity, some don’t. Some have tables already setup, some require you to bring your own or rent one from the organisers. Find out if you need a weatherproof stall if you are outside, or if it is an inside marketplace. Do you need any other items like a chair, bulbs, tarpaulin, plastic etc!

Security Numbers

Find out the numbers of the organisers and the security protocols. If you get into a tangle with a grumpy customer that you need resolved it is easier to have the number directly in your phone so it can be sorted out quickly.

4. Know what you have provided and what you need to bring with you to set up.


Be prepared for  a bit of standing about at freezing o’clock in the morning. Arrive early and get your name down. The organiser of the marketplace will normally assign everyone a place in due time but be prepared to wait a little.

Use this time to get to know your fellow traders. Networking! You never know who you are going to meet and how they may either be of help to you or where you can send other customers too when they ask for a particular product.

Remember, you are going to become part of this delicate ecosystem and being part of it means you will need to ensure you integrate with it too.

Use your time wisely. Don’t waste it just waiting around. Watch what others are doing, how everyone seems to ‘know’ where to stand and who to talk to. Perhaps even use this time to prepare labels or organise your tweets for the day. Be proactive with it. When you are called get ready to move and setup for the day!

5. Be early and use your time wisely

Queue Etiquette

A brief point but don’t be an idiot here. Sure you are desperate to get the best position and you want to make the most of your day, but don’t go in upsetting other traders because you want to push to the front. It is a close knit community and you will soon find you are on the outside of this community.

I am not saying be a shrinking violet, but at the same time respect others who trade on a regular basis. You may just be setting up your stall next to the person you pushed in front of!

6. Respect your fellow trader

Location Location Location

As the famous TV show tells us, it is all about location where you buy your home and it is true that a marketplace will have the same logic. If the organiser is assigning places for traders to set up, you may find you are located in an area that you are not so happy with. You are free to ask why, when you turn up the next day, but for the moment, see how the day goes.

You may not understand it but the marketplace organisers know marketplaces and are very astute in deciding where you will best sell. It is in their best interest that customers find what they are looking for.

If you are in a marketplace which doesn’t assign tables, then you will need a little more thought to where you are going to be located. If you are selling fresh fruit and veg, would it be wise to be located in the area that sells electrical equipment and toilet rolls?

Find other similar stalls and create that feel of being a specific location. Of course if the marketplace is so small that it doesn’t matter, then look for the best location-based on where people are likely to look, so you can grab their attention with your products.

Walk around yourself and you will notice areas that your eyes are naturally drawn to. Setup there! It isn’t the only place to set up and attract attention, but it certainly helps. A good display, quality products and great service obviously win the day, but it cannot help to be in the right location too!

7. If possible choose a location that highlights your stall

Stall Setup

Finally, you need to setup your stall in a way that customers are attracted to your products. A table-cloth, presentation boxes to created different heights, slopping displays. This is your own personal flare!

Ask if music is allowed before going to the marketplace. Nothing like dragging a massive boombox to find no music is allowed. Equally, don’t drown out everyone else around you with music if it is allowed!

Have your pricing sorted before you go, make sure your record keeping is easy to access and can be updated after each sale. It will help at the end of the day when you need to know what extra stock to bring tomorrow or need to advance purchase. It will also help with what is selling well and what isn’t.

Make sure your contact details are clear and easy for people to get in touch so you can start selling online to friends and family of your customers who couldn’t attend the marketplace.

8. Have your stall setup ready before leaving your home


You are now in a better position and more prepared for your first day at the marketplace than you will ever be. Get started and get out there! Remember you are part of an ecosystem which you are going to become a member of and for that you need to be of benefit to it.

Know the Marketplace rules before you leave home. It will save you time and energy, and make you a more successful trader when you arrive!

To recap, here are the eight steps to being successful on the day:

  1. Locate your marketplace owners website, contact details and enquire about rules.
  2. Know the theme of the marketplace
  3. Know the start time of the marketplace
  4. Know what you have provided and what you need to bring with you to setup.
  5. Be early and use your time wisely
  6. Respect your fellow trader
  7. If possible choose a location that highlights your stall
  8. Have your stall setup ready before leaving your home

Looking forward to seeing you on the Facebook Group, Market Nosh Costers, to discuss your thoughts and ideas on the topics mentioned above. It would be great to know what lessons you learned by attending the marketplace and if I missed anything vital to that first day at the Marketplace!


In the next lesson we will look at Marketplace etiquette! Looking forward to seeing you there.

Quick Quiz

  1. What is one rule that cannot be broken in the Marketplace?
  2. What are some reasons the delicate ecosystem of the marketplace can be upset?
  3. Give one use for accurate record keeping throughout the day.

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