02 November 2010

Market Etiquette

Stall promoting New Zealand Handmade at Poukawa Market, Hawkes Bay

I thought I would jot down a few of my favourite do’s and don’ts that I stick to when attending a market – both as a stall holder and a customer. I don’t profess to be any great expert I just go by how I like to be treated and apply it in my own dealings :)

Stall Holders

  • SMILE … it goes a long way
  • Welcome people looking at your stall – say hello, engage them with a simple comment … “how are you enjoying the market” is always an easy one if nothing else seems appropriate :)
  • Introduce yourself to your stall neighbours – you meet some great and really interesting people and can learn some tips about other markets you may not know about among other things
  • Be courteous, friendly and open to discussing your products and why you do what you do (if asked!).
  • Go the extra mile … don’t have what your customer is looking for? Suggest an alternative or let them know you are happy to make custom orders.
  • Be attentive – if you see someone looking at a particular product but making a comment to their friend that they’re not sure about the colour and you have others under your table – let the customer know. This is not the same as ‘pouncing’ described under things to avoid below!!
  • Make eye contact – I know this sounds obvious, but I find this all the time – I wear sunglasses at outdoor markets but I always pop them onto my head when I have customers so we can make eye contact.

AVOID (at all costs!)…
  • Looking bored, tired, disinterested – not good looks and not going to get you sales :).
  • Ignoring customers. A relative or friend has come to visit? Probably best to leave big catchups till after the market (or when you have a break in traffic) – people looking at your stall can feel like an intruder and will move on if they feel they are interrupting your private convos. (This applies to texting and taking cellphone calls as well)
  • Getting in customers way – there’s really no need to reach across someone, rearrange something, or just generally stand in the wrong place when someone’s looking at your stall – give them room to move and look.
  • Pouncing on people and not letting them go …Leave it to the tele-sales people – they get hung up on… you’ll likely get the in-person equivalent if you try this approach!
  • Dissing the market/organizers – it really is best to tell the organizer if you have a problem, not your customers.
  • Gossip – Oh my goodness, as a customer I’ve heard this more than once – a stallholder talking to her helper “See that guy over there? He used to go out with ….”, “Check out that woman at the next stall’s hair”. Ah, no thanks!!
  • Packing up your stall while customers are still looking…. please No, no, no. Wait till they’ve gone, and if someone comes along in the middle of packing… stop. Still a potential customer, still deserving of your attention and time.


  • SMILE, be friendly … stall holders are putting themselves and their wares out there – they can be having a bad sales day and your smile could make all the difference :)
  • Ask questions, request assistance. Expect good customer service – you are entitled to it.
  • Wait to be served. Often customers come in ‘waves’ and if the stall holder doesn’t have a helper they can’t get to you as quickly as they (and you) would like. Patience grasshopper :)
  • Let the stall-holder know any issues – I really appreciate when people tell me if a sign has fallen down etc.
  • There’s really only one thing that no stall holder wants to hear (and it may be true, but perhaps don’t say it to your friend within earshot)…. “I/you/Aunty June could make that”.

Are there any tips you have or market stories you’d like to share?


  1. Going that extra mile, is what it is all about, we spend time in our homes, quietly creating, and then we show our wares to the public. A smile and a hello,to show that you are interested in the customer is so important. What a cool set up New Zealand Handmade had at this market. cheers Marie

  2. Great post Mel! Lots of good tips and ideas! I always remind myself that my customers are the ones for whom I have spent all that creative time at home and on the few occasions I get to meet them I try to make them feel as valued as possible. I always, as a rule of thumb, greet a person who wanders into my stall and I always try to stand in an inconspicuous place that does not block their view. Joy

  3. Chantel@Southern.JewelsNovember 2, 2010 at 8:35 PM

    Thank you so much for posting this! I am preparing for my first market stall in December, great to see I was on the right track on how I'll run things.

  4. Excellent list of Do's & Dont's not just for stall holders but also customers. Great Job!
    Cheers & Thanks Tanya

  5. This is great! I have just started selling at markets and I can see where I need to improve!


We love hearing what you have to say, please feel welcome to leave your comments...