In a previous post, I covered some of the best purchases I’ve made for my small business. Today, I thought I would talk about my favorite purchases I’ve made specifically for selling at markets. If you saw my post about how to get started selling at markets, then you know I’m a huge advocate for not running out and buying all the things to make the most extra display right off the bat. This post is within that same spirit – these are things I did buy from the get-go that were worth the cost and enabled me to sell.
Tent. I hesitate to put this as a “favorite” because it was a super unglamorous (and expensive) purchase. I decided to include it though because it is a critical part of being able to sell at markets. At the outdoor markets I sell at, a tent (aka a popup canopy – not to be confused with a camping tent) is a requirement for all vendors. It’s also nice to have for shade and some protection from rain. Tent prices vary quite a bit, as do the features. I chose a tent towards the cheaper side of the middle; I spent a little more on one that had a lot of good reviews about how easy it was to set up and tear down. The tent was definitely a good investment since it literally allowed me to sell at outdoor markets, and my profits from my first market season made up the cost. Tents can also, of course, be used for parties, tailgates, etc., so I know it’s something I can use other places too.
Tent weight bags. I mentioned these in particular in that post about selling at markets. In addition to a tent, tent weights are often required by market organizers so it doesn’t blow away. Tent weights come in a few formats, and one is a bag that velcroes to the leg of the tent. Some bags come with weights you put inside them, and others you can buy empty (for less). That is the method I chose, and I’m glad I did! I was able to save a few bucks by buying the empty bags and filling them with things I had at home. I filled some 2-liter bottles with water and grabbed some expired canned goods, and that does the trick. Again, not the most glamorous purchase, but a requirement and prerequisite to be a vendor.
Director’s chair. I read a tip online that sitting at eye-level with shoppers is more likely to draw people in. That made a lot of sense to me, and we don’t own folding chairs, so I picked up a director’s chair as a place to sit while I’m between customers. The particular chair that I got was categorized as a makeup chair – and it came with a bunch of pockets and slots for brushes and makeup tools, since a chair of this height is also ideal for makeup artists. I love my chair. Anecdotally, I can confirm that being at eye level has helped me be more engaging with shoppers. The chair itself is also super comfortable, and it has a little tray with a cup holder so I can set my water and iced coffee within reach. The pockets are handy as well – I keep a little stash of napkins in one. If we already owned folding chairs, like the kind you take to a sporting event or camping, I wouldn’t have purchased this, but since I needed a chair, I’m glad I bought this one!
Nail polish rack. This is a super secret trick of the sticker-selling trade. A free-standing nail polish rack makes a perfect sticker display. I initially searched specifically for “retail sticker display”, and I got like 3 results that were crazy expensive. The nail polish rack is under $20, super lightweight, and holds several stickers – for me, it’s around 20-25. The one I have has 5 rows, so it also adds some height variation to my booth.
Fun fabric. I also needed to buy a tablecloth to cover my plain white folding table, and to my surprise, tablecloths are expensive! I had also seen a few vendor displays that made lovely use of layering fabrics to create visual interest, so I used that as my inspiration. I bought cheapo fabric in a solid color to serve as my table covering, and then I bought just a yard of fun paillette sequined tulle to drape on top. And let me tell you, literally 80% of the people that stop at my booth instinctively touch the sequins. Kids immediately flock to it, and it catches so many eyes of people walking by. I didn’t need to cover the entire table – I just needed that one yard of eye-catching fabric to attract people to my booth. Affordable and effective – best of both worlds!
While vendor market supplies aren’t always the most glamorous or fun purchases, they are the heavy lifters that are absolute musts. I’m really happy with the items that I purchased, and since I am about to close out my second year of selling at markets, they have definitely been worth the investment.