If you're wanting to get into street trading and set up a market stall, and you’re not sure where to begin, this is the guide for you! Whether you’re a casual seller or market trader, or wanting to get set up for the long term in outdoor retail, when getting started with street trading and establishing a stall there are a few things to consider. In addition to securing a licence and meeting the relevant regulations set by your local authority, as a trader you will need the right equipment and should know what to expect.
A recipe for success: What a successful market trader needs
Good planning is everything! With a detailed checklist, nothing can go wrong on market day, and you can concentrate on meeting the public and selling your products. Depending on your business, you may need to supplement the checklist: for example, if you’re selling hot food, you will need bowls, napkins and knives in addition, whereas for fashion you will need clothes hangers and mirrors. You are the experts in your trade, so we’ll leave it to you to figure that part out.
Some things are similar to everyone and come in handy for any stall: A heavy duty gazebo, lots of spare change, business cards, and much more.
Street trading rules and licensing
Getting started would be easy if it wasn’t for bureaucratic hurdles and licence requirements for market traders. Unfortunately, requirements for the necessary permits and licensing can vary from borough to borough, and we recommend that you obtain information on how to apply in good time from the licensing team at the relevant local government office. The Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982 (specifically schedule 4) sets out obligations for street traders, and describes how licences can be obtained. Other relevant legislation includes the Health and Safety at Work Act, the Food Safety Act and the Consumer Rights Act 2015.
The licence fee will depend on the market and the location of the pitch. You’ll probably need to submit an application for a pitch well in advance of your desired start date. Depending on what you will be trading, there are a range of certificates, licences and insurances that you will first need to obtain. You will most likely also need to have a form of public liability insurance.
Market rules and regulations
The following points could be relevant for you if you want to offer products in a market stall:
A street trading licence from your local council
VAT registration certificate (if you have turnover above roughly £7000 per month)
Food hygiene certificates (if offering food and drink)
PAT test certificate
Gas container safety certificate
Public Liability Insurance
The equipment you'll need for a market stall
One of the most important things to consider for a mobile stall is of course weather protection. Some market stalls use an umbrella, but this provides only limited cover from rain or sun and could become a nightmare in the event of even a few gusts of wind. If you have a range of products to display, you will need a high-quality and weatherproof canopy for your sales stand – like a pop up gazebo.
For your sales stand we recommend a reliable foldable tent — we call them pop up gazebos. This simple market tent has a waterproof tarpaulin cover, can be erected within minutes, providing instant shelter and can also be dismantled quickly. To protect against wind and weather, the gazebo can be partially or completely closed with side walls. A range of configurations are available for this purpose in our online shop, with gazebos that have no sidewalls, those with two, and others with a complete set of four side walls. A trade stall customisable to suit everyone’s needs.
Our tip: With at least 2 sidewalls, you can create an effective shield from the wind, or shelter from the sun, making your stand a welcome shelter in the event of extreme weather. Needless to say, one side of your gazebo needs to be open to the street for customers to be able to see you. A half-height sidewall is open and inviting, gives you advertising space to catch the public’s attention, and covers the space underneath your trading table allowing you to store goods and equipment out of sight on the street below.
Similarly, an awning for your gazebo is also a great customer magnet on sunny or rainy days. Customers will be attracted to your market stall and will stay longer and are more likely to trade with you. Half height sidewalls and awnings can be found on our page of pop up gazebo accessories, along with sandbags and metal weights, for keeping your gazebo grounded when anchoring clips on the pavement or street aren’t available.
Choosing the right gazebo
If you would like to buy a market tent, you have the choice between tents in different sizes, variants and prices. The most popular size for market stalls is 3x3m. For small sales stands 2x2m can also be suitable. Pop up gazebos come in different colours. However, for some street markets the colour white is mandatory. It’s a good reminder to be in touch with the market operator to understand which conditions your market tent has to fulfil and any further information that you will need as a market trader.
You can choose between a market gazebo with aluminium or steel poles. Commercial grade aluminium is lighter and therefore slightly more suitable for regular use. Steel is heavier and more robust. Besides its colour, the tarpaulin of your market gazebo plays an important role in your trading success. You want a heavy duty, professional looking tarpaulin and in any event, it should be 100% waterproof to keep your goods (and yourself) dry. At House of Tents we sell a wide range of white or full colour heavy duty gazebos with either steel or aluminium frames, as well as PVC or polyester roof tarps.
Presentation and decoration of your stand
Once the tent is up, the decoration and display of your goods begins. To make your own brand clearly visible, branded advertising banners should be attached to the market tent. For a small fee, professional signwriters can customise your tent by printing straight onto the tarpaulin material of the sidewalls, roof and valance.
The presentation of your goods should be as appealing and attention-grabbing as possible, which is why you should first think about a good concept for the decoration. For example, if you sell relishes, fresh vegetables should also be placed between the products to show the freshness of the ingredients. A clean, attractive plate with a supply of fresh chunks of bread for taste testing would also be a customer magnet.
Don’t underestimate the value of business cards, or small items with your branding and contact information for customers to take away. It is often the case that interested customers don’t make a purchase decision until later and then want to shop online or at a later market. Or it could be that they are so enthusiastic about your product that they want to order more later. It’s also a good idea to have prepared flyers announcing your next market dates.
For the setup
A pop up gazebo with side walls, a half-height side wall, awning, and anchors or weights
Banner / Branding
A table and/or counter top with a stool and table cloth
Decorations and outdoor lighting if you have access to electricity.
Products including packaging material (boxes, bubble wrap and/or bags
Flyer with market dates
These things you mustn't forget!
Last but not least, there is the category of things that are often forgotten. Even if you do not know exactly what you will need these things for, it is still worth having a supply with you. Either you will need them on market day, or you can help out another supplier at the market with them. Good relations with each other is particularly important in regular markets. Who knows when you might run out of bags or bottled water…
Drinks and snacks
Pencils and paper, duct tape, scissors, cable ties and safety pins
For odd jobs: duct tape, scissors, cable ties and safety pins
Think about essentials depending on your business, e.g. coat hangers, a mirror, a locker room, tasting bowls, tasting spoons / forks, napkins
Hey, I'm Julia and I'm very happy to be part of this colourful magazine. Whether it's tips on how to decorate your garden gazebo, informative articles on the many uses of professional tents or interviews, my aim is the same: to transport you into the world of tents and share my knowledge with you.
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