how to run a successful market stall

How to run a successful market stall

This article is dedicated to those interested in selling in person. 

This article was inspired by all the people who have begun to sell their crafts at market stalls and various shows.

Image above by Paul Wilcox. Thank you Paul for letting me use it!


Now let’s see how to run a successful market stall! You are probably familiar with many of the concepts listed below, but adding just a few to your repertoire can mean the difference between a good and a great day!

A market stall is a great way to connect with people on a personal level. It has many advantages and disadvantages. Let’s see what these are:

Advantages of the market stall

  • personal contact. Great for people who like to interact with others as well as a great practice in salesmanship.
  • low returns on goods. Because customers can try out your products, you can be sure you will get a low number of return requests.
  • great for building relations. Selling is not all about prices and quality. It is about connecting with people.
  • customers get to see the goods in person. Interaction with a product is very important for a sale to happen.
  • cost effective. Depending on the price, this type of selling can be very affordable.

And the disadvantages?

  • you have a limited amount of customers available. This number fluctuates throughout the day.
  • theft.
  • depending on the owner, this type of selling can also be expensive.
  • selling in person is not for everyone.
  • you can display only a limited number of items.

Naturally, I have not listed all the benefits, not the disadvantages. But the ones I did, I feel  influence this type of trade strongly.

What about the stall cost?

Many individuals are intimidated by the cost of setting up.

If you want to truly learn how to run a successful market stall, you need to look at the big picture. You are renting a spot, a place where visitors are already present. If you compare that to any other sales channel, you will quickly find out that no advertising is free. Setting up a website and running it costs money. Driving traffic to your shop, paying for ads, it is all an expense, no matter how you sell your products.

Paying for a spot at the market is actually paying for traffic, advertising.

How to become a success?

There are some methods and tricks that work. Let’s see a few you can use to play on the strengths of the market stall and also see how to avoid the disadvantages it comes with.

Building personal relations

You can be sure, that at some point, people will want contact information, maybe for further orders or maybe to do business with you. Have that on hand. Maybe a business card or just something printed out you can hand out in a classy way.

It is also a good idea to have a signup form somewhere, so customers can leave you a way of contacting them (e-mail is great). That way you can invite them again, the next time you are around!

Be approachable

You need to give out a feeling that you are someone who people can ask just about anything. Be energetic! Do not by any chance become passive or closed off from the world.

Keith Reinbolt even suggests having some free candy set up to lighten the mood.

Item display

You will have limited space. That is why you will decide on the products you think will sell best. But what about all of your other creations? You could make a catalog of your products to show your customers, or maybe refer them to your website or portfolio.

Deciding on the products to sell

Unless you want hire the entire building, you will not be able to sell everything you have on stock. So how to decide on the products you want to sell?

  • Sell the items you know work. Certain paracord creations sell better than others. By knowing which, you can anticipate the demand and drive more sales. This approach is a “numbers game”.
  • Sell items that express who you are. Sometimes this can be very successful, especially if you have an unique product. This will make you different and therefore more interesting. If everyone is selling paracord bracelets, why not sell paracord animals?
  • Consider selling items that are popular at that time. Maybe green is in for St. Patrick’s day. Hearts and red for Valentine’s day? It is all about context. Not just the time, but also the place is very important!

Keeping things tidy

Customers want to touch things. They want to try your items out. They want to inspect the goods. And that will mess up your display. You will need to be adjusting items on display constantly.


Sometimes you will find yourself across someone with similar products than you. Do not despair. Play on what you have that is different. If they start a price war, do not follow the competition blindly. Work out a margin you can be successful with. Never sell below cost just to battle it out. Be happy to make a slight profit and grin as you walk past the competition that has ended their day in the negative numbers!


It is not all about costs and math. To sell an item you will need to motivate your customers by giving out an image:

  • sell cheap items and play on your customers greed. Offers like 2 for the price of one or some other way of telling the customer that they are practically stealing from you are a great idea.
  • sell quality and high priced items. Give out an aura of exclusivity.
  • sell for all price ranges (from the examples above, you may conclude that this is not always the best option)


Cash works. But sometimes getting an alternative way of payment is a good idea. Not all people use cash. And while you are at it, get ready to receive orders.


The following considerations should be made:

  • do I have enough time to set up?
  • do I have the manpower to handle the customers?
  • have I brought enough change with me?
  • do I have enough stock?

After doing that, practice setting up your display. This will make sure everything fits.

Advanced tips

I had the good fortune of talking with two individuals who contributed additional tips and tricks of the trade. Keith Reinbolt and Robert Ambrose, I sincerely thank you for contributing the valuable experiences and enriching this article.

Making things while selling

Showing your craft seems to draw crowds who are interested in what you are doing! If you have the time and manpower, this is a great way to make use of your time!

Custom orders

As already stated, taking orders, especially for custom made items is a nice bonus you can take advantage of. Interact with your customers and inquire what they need or would like to own.

Occasional gift

I did mention that running a market stall is about connecting with people. Sometimes, when you feel like it, especially with children, it is a good idea to gift something if the parents can not afford it.

Sell cheap items

If you want to get rid of paracord scraps, why not make some items to sell at a low price? You may not make much, but hey, do you prefer having scraps lying around? You may get a few ideas on what to make out of scraps of paracord in my guide on what to do with paracord scraps.

Never close early

Sometimes you may be surprised by the extra revenue you can make by going all the way!

Collect the tax

Two things are certain in life and one of them is taxes. Do not ignore collecting these, or you are going to have a bad day!

Information is key

If you are not sure you will be able to make a profit, do some scouting. See that people are buying things. Especially if you have invested a lot into your craft, doing market research is a must.


At this point I will let you absorb the numerous points made. I hope this article was at least a bit insightful and worth reading. For further information, try a book on running a market stall.

There we go. An article well read. I thank you for reading through it and I hope you got a few ideas to try out! Please, be sure to post you thoughts on the matter, so we can expand this article to the depths it deserves!


Till next time, Mark

About Markwell

I am a defense science graduate. I like to create beautiful things out of paracord.


  1. This article is very informative. I was interested in selling paracord bracelets in a craft shop where some of the profit goes to helping some charities while I get some of the rest. But I need to know, what are the common knots I can use for bracelets without having to worry about intellectual property infringement? I really don’t want to end up getting in trouble.

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