Selling at Local Markets

Written by Mallory Coats


Posted on March 05 2020

We wrapped up our second Market Basket (and third local market experience) in November 2019 and I’m finally able to write and reflect on my experiences. 2018 was the first time MALWEST design setup shop (or popped up) at a booth and it was so great! Now I can even compare and contrast and know for sure what is working and what isn’t. 

The first market in 2018 I was in my 2nd trimester of my second pregnancy (hence why I haven’t had a chance to write my reflections until now) and I was definitely overwhelmed. I went back and forth about whether I should give it a go and after researching and listening to podcasts everyone said start yesterday! I usually am cautious and don’t want to jump the gun but I realized next year (2019) with two babies might make my attendance even more difficult (it was!) 

Before I jump into what I’ve learned I’ll tell you about what I sold. I had greeting cards, art prints, hang tags, notepads, notebooks and a few fabric pieces- a couple pouches, a couple pillows and a baby blanket.

Selling at Local MarketsFirst Market of 2018
Selling at Local Markets     Second Market of 2018

Here are the things I’ve learned:

    I scurried to get my items together to have enough product to show – I was still in the phase of doing mainly custom items and didn’t have a hefty inventory. I definitely went overboard with ordering products (thank goodness I was mainly selling paper items.) I was worried about running out as if there was going to be a purchasing frenzy and the 22nd customer would KNOW that I had sold out of those perfect pouches or Christmas tags like it was Halloween and all the children would compare candy and be miffed if they were deprived of the full size candy bar.


All I hear about is being consistent and perfecting your business but at a pop up or market where there are people just getting started no one cares if you have the best packaged items. Don’t waste money on branded packaging or even in my case, arranging every multi pack card just the same and in just the same order, because people need it very simple and upfront. KISS – Keep It Simple, Stupid (I can’t remember what ‘they’ have changed the second S to but you get the picture and we should all prepare for a buyer to be stupid, just in case 😉) 


I cleaned up my act in 2019 after having too much stuff in 2018. No one is impressed by the quantity of product if it overwhelms their eyes so that they don’t buy. This goes for props too. Since they were Christmas markets I wanted my table to be cute and festive. NOPE- not unless you can tie it in to your merch. Which is ideal… think seasonally but don’t force it. If it’s a lot of work to hang a garland that isn’t pivotal to showcasing something for sale then get rid of it. Besides my Christmasy merch I only used a tiny Christmas tree in 2019 which held my painted ornaments for sale. Customers may only glance at your booth so you want them to see what you have and your style right away.


This is big. And can be really difficult. Because I was pregnant in 2018 I had a friend sit with me at my booth so I could pop over to the restroom constantly and take some walking breaks. At the second market I was even offered a second day but she couldn’t sit with me so I said “no” and had no regrets. In 2019 I had planned to have someone with me but that person fell through, and the back up fell through too! Fortunately, I knew a lot of vendors and staff so I felt comfortable doing it myself and had my husband come down with our baby for nursing (our toddler had a babysitter for a couple hours for a break… it takes a village) and this worked out well but definitely drained me. 


Even a couple weeks in the fall makes a huge difference of whether people are shopping for Christmas yet or not. My advice after all 3 markets to myself is to have a few Christmas items (some practical and some decorative) then a body of work that reflects you as an artist/artisan. You want the conversation to center around your style and not just practicality and necessity of things like Christmas cards or tags.   

Selling at Local Markets2019 Market

What’s next?
Next I’ll be testing out local markets (still here in Pensacola) in the spring. Look out 2020!



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