You: a street market trader?

Last week I wrote about street market traders and how anyone considering starting their own business might be inspired by checking out some individual niches offered by street traders.

This week I will add to the list of niche business ideas-in-action, successfully being operated by traders at local markets.

But before I do that, I thought I would outline some of the basic facts to consider should you decide to try your hand at street-market trading:

Facts to consider…

  • A ‘way of life’, despite the weather – I am indebted to Gordon, who wrote in response to last week’s article. He used to sell vinyl at his local market and loved what he did. He considered it more of a ‘way of life’, rather than a job, but had to pack it in one hard winter when continual snow stopped him trading. His bills unfortunately didn’t stop. Try to factor in and budget for periods of poor sales, which are outside of your control.
  • Costs – There are two types of stall holders: casual traders and licensed traders.

> Casual traders usually turn up on market day (7.00–7.30 a.m. approx.) and report to the market’s site manager or market office to be assigned a stand.

Roughly (it will differ from site to site) a casual trader might expect to pay around £12 midweek and £20 on a weekend for a basic-sized trestle-stand.

> Licensed traders will have a regular pitch and will benefit from lower rates. They will normally apply for one or more days of regular business.

  • Public Liability Insurance – Every outdoor trader is usually expected to have Public Liability Insurance (for around £5 million). Some Sunday fairs, craft and farmers’ markets can be exempt – check with the market organisers. Google ‘Public Liability Insurance’ for a quote or ask for advice from the organiser.
  • Try and find your own unique niche – Organisers of such events don’t like having too many competing traders offering the same niche, as it dilutes the variety of the whole market and the profits of the participating dealers. Therefore it’s worth trying to find your own unique niche. It won’t do any harm asking the organisers if there is a niche area they are keen to fill.

Further things which attract me (as both buyer and seller) to street markets:

  • The quality of the products and services at this type of venue is usually a cut above those you will encounter at a car boot fair.
  • These stalls also have a sense of semi-permanence, unlike car boots; people are more likely to be able to find you again the following week if need be. This surety of location and quality will help your goods to have a greater perceived value, allowing you to charge more at a street market than you can at a car boot.
  • You will attract more of a ‘regular following’ than you might by selling at a car boot.
  • And finally… very often, street markets are ‘under cover’ (tarpaulins)… so there is less chance of getting wet!

Other business niches worth considering

  • Clothing – Good value everyday clothing, e.g. jeans, tracksuit tops and bottoms, T-shirts and trainers. This type of clothing is always in demand by those who don’t want to pay high street prices.
  • Handbags and rucksacks – I know a local trader who does well by specialising in this niche, with prices from £8 to £25. You just need to find a wholesale supplier with prices which will allow you a reasonable profit margin. Also look for those which allow you to buy in small quantities to start off with, allowing you to test the market before you really ramp up your order.
  • Gentlemen’s flat caps and ladies’ summer hats – Did you know that flat caps are once again in vogue? That’s fashion for you! And ladies summer hats are always in demand for events ranging from Ascot to a good old family wedding.
  • Crystals, rocks and minerals – Here you can find individual chunks of crystal in different shapes and sizes, e.g. Rose Quartz. Again, look for a local stockist.
  • Cake stalls – We have discussed this type of business in recent newsletters – very popular.
  • Electronic cigarettes and flavoured ‘vapour’ smokes – These stands seem to be popping up everywhere, and the product is no doubt better for your health than smoking the real thing. You just need to find (Google) a wholesale supplier; one who will also supply the branding material you will need, such as leaflets and your initial stock.
  • Belgian chocolate – I spoke with a stall holder last week who used to live in Belgium and had teamed up with a chocolate shop in Bruges to sell their chocolate. Their prices were a bit high, but the chocolate tasted great!

That‘s my lot on street markets for the time being…

Onto something new and different next week.

Until then, have a great week.

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