If you're new to being an outdoor market vendor, this post will share what I found helpful. I won't tell you not to panic but, I've been there and created a list of things I did for a smooth setup/day at my first time being a vendor at the Greenpoint Terminal Market in Brooklyn, New York on their opening day.
Step 1: Research + reach out
First and foremost, research the market you're taking part in. It might be a farmers' market, an outdoor art market, etc. They've each got their own vibe, their own price points, and their own details about what you need to bring and what they provide. Normally they'll send details about the size of the spot, if they provide rentals, if tents are mandatory, etc. If they don't, reach out to the email(s) they provide. It's also helpful to find their Instagram and message vendors that have experience there. Most will be willing to share info and answer a few questions.
Step 2: Schedule it out
Depending on how much time you have before the market, you'll want to start creating a list of the things you need to do and by when. For example, if you're looking to get a banner/signage, most businesses take at least 5 business days before they get shipped to you. The same goes for business cards. If you're able to list out what you need and create a schedule, you'll be able to avoid expedite fees.
Step 3: Practice your setup at home and take a photo of it
Don't leave the table set up for the day of the market. Normally you'll only have an hour or 2 to set up and it'll be incredibly less stressful if you can look at a picture of the setup you already felt good about and precisely set the table that way.
Step 4: Plan on design time or paying someone else to do it
If you feel comfortable with Adobe Illustrator, you can create designs for your banner, business cards, newsletter sign-up sheets, etc. If you're not so comfortable with Illustrator, try canva. It's incredibly user-friendly and helpful to create what you need using templates. Some companies will help with design work (some you pay for, some you can just pick an existing template). Just keep a few extra days in your pocket for modifications, approvals, and seeing the pdf proof. I was able to create my own designs in Illustrator and then I used Staples as a back up for my business cards which was a great budget friendly option and their turnaround time was incredibly fast (same day in nyc and I didn’t pay extra for that).
Step 5: Create lists
Start with a list of your products that you're going to sell at the market. Organize them into price buckets. Adding them into your POS (point-of-sale) system might take some time...so plan accordingly. Also, if you have a range of price points, the research you did for step 1 should help you decide what products to bring and what to leave at home. Pack these in their own boxes so it's really easy to know where your products are on the day of the market. Bonus if you know which products are going to go on each table and pack them accordingly! Create a packing list so you don't forget anything at home. A Target run on the morning of the market is not as fun as when it’s raining outside and you have all the time in the world to stroll through the aisles.
Step 6: Ask for help
In the beautiful mass transportation city of NYC, I was planning to haul all my stuff in a Lyft ride (the easiest way for me to normally get to Greenpoint is to take the ferry). That would have been stressful to not just me but also the driver (loading boxes and tables in a car waiting on a one-way street that's always packed is not fun). My friend volunteering to drive all my stuff was a lifesaver. This one may come as a surprise but I have an attitude of "I can figure out a way to do this no matter how much it might suck" but an extra set of hands, a car, a person who's willing to watch your booth while you jet to the bathroom, someone to bring you a slice of pizza, etc will always come in handy.
What to know for the day of:
For the day of, you want to be as relaxed as possible. Wear sneakers, eat breakfast + coffee (or lemon water), and have FUN. You're about to meet some fun locals and maybe some tourists that will be curious about who you are and what you do!
If you're selling pottery like me, it's really helpful to bring a bottle of water in case someone asks how something pours or if a vase will actually hold water. There's no better answer than demonstrating live!
Things to bring if you're a vendor at a farmers market or an outdoor market:
Water + coffee
Hand sanitizer/cleaning wipes
External chargers/phone charger
POS credit card reader
Change if you're accepting cash (lots of $1's + $5's)
Weights to hold down your products/tablecloth/etc
Newsletter sign up
Duct tape + clear tape
Notebook + pen
Tent + weights
To getting out there and sharing what you love!