Preparation is key.
A market tool kit. For those of us old enough to remember, Humphrey B. Bear’s cohorts used to call it a “busy box”.
Younger readers might know it better as a tool box, or an essentials kit, or something along those lines.
It’s that box of bits and bobs that you have to take to every design market you participate in for those “just in case” moments, or more often than not, “in every case”.
Your market tool kit is the container full of helpful goodies you pop in a box marked “open this first” when you’re unpacking at the design market. This ensures you have the tools you need while you’re setting up, running the market and managing your stall.
Many design markets nowadays will offer you assistance in that area via their stallholder manual. Back in my early days of attending markets I relied on trial and error and making sure I kept a list of everything I’d forgotten at the end of each event. Eventually I designed my own for Leeloo’s participation as a stallholder, and I quickly gained a reputation as the person to ask when missing that pen, scissors, sticky tape……you get the drift.
Ready to set up your very own market tool kit for design markets? Here is my checklist to get yours started. You won’t regret being organised and resourced!
What do I need in my market took kit and why?
Scissors / Box cutters
You’ll probably need scissors to cut tags off things, or cut open boxes, or cut tape, etc.
These are tiny scissors and they are the BEST for removing stray threads, perfect for the fashion designers who’ve left a stray bit of cotton here or there.
Bring all kinds. Sticky tape, masking tape, electrical tape, double sided tape and even washi tape. These will just be handy. Remember, some venue restrictions may apply especially for use on floors or building surfaces so be cautious and read your stallholder manuals before getting sticky with it.
Pens / Pencils / Erasers
You would be surprised how many people forget these. You’ll need them for newsletter sign-ups, old school credit card signatures, making signs, writing down possible wholesaler details, maybe updating your inventory or hey, even signing autographs (also see “notepads” as these go together.
Blu Tak / Glue
Sometimes you just need to stick something somewhere and these are both super useful for those purposes.
Bulldog clips / Pegs / Safety pins
These things can make the difference between something sitting properly in your merchandising and not sitting at all. Also helps with attaching swing tags to clothing, pictures to backing boards.
Needle and thread
For on the spot textile repairs for your stock, or perhaps even what you’re wearing in case you’ve torn your clothing in an accidental market flurry.
Wearing all black is a great statement until you’re covered in white silky cat hair. Especially if it’s all over the stock you’re trying to sell.
You may have branded stickers you use on your packaging, so pop in some spares. Maybe you use a blank roll for your price tags, make sure you keep extras in the box.
Not the postage kind, but the librarian kind. As for the stickers above, you might prefer to brand your bags and packaging, so make sure you bring your stamp with you. NB: make sure you pack an ink pad if they aren’t self-inking stamps otherwise, well, useless.
These come in handy if you run out of power for your payment device, or if you accept cash and don’t have a means to provide a receipt when someone asks you for one. You may hardly use it but it sure is good to have one if you do.
For the stallholders who don’t maintain a synchronised electronic inventory across their online stores such as Shopify and within their payment systems, writing down what you sell and how many of each is essential to monitor your performance at an event and updating stock levels on the other side of the event.
Need I say more? Market overwhelm, general fatigue and the hard work we put into the lead up to these events can mean we’re often a little run down and might need some pharmaceutical assistance to get us through the weekend.
String / Twine
If you’re hanging something from a backing board and you can’t get the height right, this can help with adjustments and attachments. Many other uses including swing tags.
Measuring Tape / Ruler
Convenient for customers preferring to measure themselves against your sizing guide before trying something on. Having a means to measure your stall out if you’ve got specifics required for your set-up.
When aren’t these practical? Hold things in place as well as secure broken things where a peg, bulldog clip or safety pin may not be the go. Good for rolling up wads of cash and keeping your pens in a group.
Stapler / Staples / Paper clips
Sometimes people request a real paper payment receipt as opposed to receiving an electronic one via email. You might need to staple a device receipt to a written receipt. Keep spare staples in your market tool kit because running out those sucks. Also sometimes when your tags aren’t staying put, staples can help.
During markets you may be inspired with a product idea or just need to make notes of what you do or don’t want to do at your next event. Making journal notes or keeping track of those things is super important so that you can improve. Also doubles as extra paper for signage in case you need to create something on the spot.
Sharpies / Textas
Signage is key to your merchandising and your market presence. Make a nice sign with your Instagram handle, update your pricing on your tags or draw in your art journal for some live making action.
Chargers (powered site dependent) and/or portable re-chargers
If you do have a powered site or at least access to power during the event, make sure you’ve packed the necessary battery chargers you’ll need for your devices such as a laptop, a phone, a tablet, maybe your payment device, or any other rechargeable electronics you need to ensure your stall runs smoothly.
Electronic Payment devices
Whether it’s Square, PayPal Here, Albert or your EFTPOS machine, bring them along (with their chargers) so that you can accept credit cards. It just makes everyone’s life easier.
These are so helpful to have for the markets where you can pop a table cloth over a trestle and allow one side to meet the ground to cover your storage underneath without worrying about it slipping off all the time.
You’re really going to want this. You’re touching a lot of people’s hands, a lot of money and often you’ll just feel a little ‘grubby’ and want to freshen up but you can’t run to the loo to wash your hands properly.
With the excessive amount of coffee and empty stomachs you may have to endure while you’re at a market, the last thing you want your customers to smell is stale market breath. Keep your preferred minty fresheners handy so you don’t offend with halitosis.
Maybe you need them to help keep you calm, or possibly they might help cover up a sweaty smell you’ve gathered as a result of being at an event standing on your tired tootsies for hours on end. Either way, popping a few drops on your pulse points of your preferred scented oil will solve the issue.
Not just for hair. These help with all kinds of situations where you need something sticky or flattening strays from the humid air.
What should I store everything in?
This is where you can get fancy or be simple and practical.
A good handle based plastic box that you maintain is perfect. Even add the list of what’s in there to the top as a checklist for each market so you can review it’s contents before you pack them into the box you mark “open this first”. If you’re the electronic checklist type, keep the details in your favourite task management system, such as Asana.
Ask your fellow stallholders what they keep in theirs. Everyone will have their very own needs for events, some specifics may even be necessary depending on whether you’ve travelled interstate or not.
What would you add to the list? What are your market tool kit essentials?
We’d love to know! Leave us a comment below.
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