Thinking about trading on a market stall?

Small Business Advice 17 January 2012

Market stall trading is fast becoming a popular choice for those wanting to work for themselves. However, it’s not just as simple as getting a table full of stuff and hoping someone will come along and buy it.

Know what to sell

Many traders make the mistake of selling things that several others are selling. You don’t have to find something original but it does help to do a little market research before you commit to a supplier or do whatever you plan to in order to stock your stall with goods.
Your market research could be as easy as checking out where you plan to pitch your stall to see what the other regular traders are selling, or you could employ the services of an expert in market research to find out what the local people really like to shop for.

Consider the tax man

The tax man will certainly want to have his cut of what you earn so make sure that you keep accurate records of your income and expenditure, and preferably enlist the support of a solicitor who isn’t too expensive to be on hand if anything were to be disputed. When you operate as a market stall you must account for everything you sell and deposit your funds in your business bank account so that they can be accurately accounted for.

Be tactful

Market traders have a habit of being quite a close knit community of businessmen and women and they don’t always take kindly to newcomers; particularly if they are in direct competition. It’s always a good idea to be respectful to the other traders, perhaps offer discounts to them and do anything else you can to make your entrance more bearable for them.

Get your payments right

It’s predominantly still a cash industry, but you might want to consider getting yourself a mobile credit and debit card terminal from an independent payment processor. Many people see things on a market stall they’d like, but simply don’t have the cash. The mobile terminals work like a mobile phone and as long as you can get a signal on your phone you’ll be able to on your terminal.
The independent payment processor will charge you a fee for using the terminal, but depending on how much it gets used, it won’t cost that much when you compare it with the amount of extra business you’ve got because of it. Consider putting up signs to say that you accept cards.

Working times and conditions

If you didn’t already realise it, market traders get up real early in the morning. Many of them are up at 5am and sometimes even earlier in order to travel to their destination and set up stall. Setting up has to be done in all weather conditions, and then you are required to stand outside all day in the sweltering heat or the freezing cold.


Think carefully about it before you decide to take the plunge and become a market stall trader, and ask yourself could you also run the same business trading online or in a shop any easier?

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