Selling at a market

Reported by Anthony O'Brien
Monday, November 27, 2006

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From Money Magazine, November 2006

Popular brands such as Nad's Hair Removal, Strathfield Car Radio, Attitude Clothing, Fantastic Furniture and Supré Clothing were launched out of a market stall. But many stallholders are content with a market-sized business.

Most traders agree early success depends on getting the price right. Luke Mavromatis from Black Eye Hats, which trades from Melbourne's Queen Victoria Market, reckons $10 is the magic price point. "It's the one-note theory," Luke says. "If customers only have to pull out one note, a $10 note, they're more likely to buy. I have found that hats and other garments above this price struggle to sell."

Mavromatis says new traders must "suss out" the customer demographic quickly to survive. Queen Victoria Market holds an extra Wednesday night market from November to March. "We find this attracts more suits and tourists who are willing to spend a bit more," Mavromatis says.

He has been selling from Queen Victoria Market for five years and turning over roughly $120,000 a year. However, he has no plans to move Black Eye Hats into a shop. "I have been tossing up whether to move but the retail rents in Melbourne are too high," he says. "I only pay $275 a week now, which keeps overheads down."

Many traders consider presentation another critical success factor. Mavromatis says a clean and tidy floor space encourages passing traffic, although other traders argue some clutter makes a stall look busy and popular.

While the jury is out on presentation, many traders agree sitting on your hands waiting for customers won't work. Sue Ismiel, creator of multi million-dollar hair removal product Nad's, started at Sydney's Flemington Market.

She struggled to make inroads on her first morning at Flemington but she quickly realised a new product like Nad's wouldn't sell itself. Ismiel offered free demonstrations and was soon the centre of customer attention.

Selling at markets isn't a licence to print money and there are some negatives. If it's a 40-degree day, many people will head for the beach, while wet weather can be a disaster for outdoor markets and festivals. Then there are the costs, which traders pay regardless of their stall's success.

At Sydney's Paddington Market a large Art & Craft site, including a 1.2m x 2.4m table, will set a casual stallholder back between $110 and $130 a day (including GST). The dodge with casual bookings is that it's first in, first served.

Dee Chamberlain, sales and marketing manager, Queen Victoria Market, says casual stalls provide new traders with some breathing space. "They can get a feel for the market and the best site position for their business," Chamberlain explains. "Once they're established, then they could consider a permanent position."

For new traders, sharing a site with another business could save some money.

Always check that a market or festival permits stall sharing.

Mavromatis says at QVM licensing restrictions can limit his business. "I have to make an application [to Queen Victoria Market] if I want to introduce a new product line," he says. "New licensing applications don't involve extra costs, but it's a time issue."

He also sells his wares at festivals such as Big Day Out, Homebake and Summadayze, and says the politics and red tape can be difficult to negotiate.

Market Time and telephone Cost Other information
ACT: Hall Markets, Canberra First Sunday every month except January. Ph: (02) 6282 4411 $44 a day, 3m x 3m site plus insurance. Tables from $6. Stall costs jump to $70 in November and December for casual stallholders.
NSW: Paddington Markets, Sydney Every Saturday 10am to 4pm (5pm in daylight saving months). Ph: (02 ) 9331 2923 $155 a day, 3m x 3m site plus table. This charge doesn't cover public liability insurance. Traders needs to register for 12 months but only pay the site fee on use. The market's office can help with canopies.
NT: Mindil Beach Sunset Markets, Darwin Thursday nights 5pm to 10pm and Sundays from 4pm to 9pm. Ph: (08) 8981 3454 $27 a day, permanent stallholders, and $40 casual, 2m x 2m site, including public liability insurance. The Mindil markets are only open during the dry season, May to October.
Qld: Eumundi Market, 90-minutes drive north of Brisbane Every Wednesday, 8am to 1.30pm, and Saturday, 6.30am to 2pm. 07 5442 7106 $31.50 a day, 3m x 3m site, excluding public liability and product insurance. Contact the market management for marquees ($20), table ($4) and umbrellas ($8).
SA: Pooraka Flea market, Cavan, Adelaide Every Sunday, 6.30am to 2pm. Ph: (08) 8359 1833 $15 a day, 8m x 4m site, excluding insurance, tables $5. All sites are under cover and you can sell from your car.
Tas: Salamanca Market, Hobart Every Saturday, 8.30am to 3pm. Ph: (03) 6238 2843 $40.75 a day, 3.2m x 3m site plus insurance. Tables, displays stands not provided. Costs vary from day to day and also between different merchandise stalls.
Vic: Queen Victoria Market, Melbourne Every Tuesday and Thursday, 6am to 2pm; Friday, 6am to 6pm; Saturday, 6am to 3pm; and Sunday, 9am to 4pm. Ph: (03) 9320 5822 $15.40 to $50.60 a day. 3m x 4m site plus insurance. Tables, display stands not provided. Costs vary from day to day and also between different merchandise stalls.
WA: Fremantle markets, Fremantle Every Friday, 9am to 9pm; Saturday, 9am to 5pm; Sunday, 10am to 5pm; and Monday public holidays, 10am to 5pm. Ph: (08) 9335 2515 $100 to $200 for the three-day weekend, 2m x 2m site. This charge doesn't include public liability insurance. Costs vary depending on the location of the site. Table are available at no extra cost.

For the complete story see Money Magazine's November 2006 issue. Subscribe now.

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