9 Tips to Prepare for Your First Vegan Market
We get messages all the time from people who have just started up a vegan business and are wondering if they can trade at our markets. Many have just started up a business in their kitchen and are selling with local delivery - and the answer is always, yes of course! We love helping new vegan businesses get off the ground, which is why we display all our stall prices right on our website and try to keep fees as low as we can. We believe the best way to make veganism accessible is by helping to support lots of small local businesses.
However, we know that attending your first market can be pretty daunting - there's so much to do and so much to think about. That's why we're sharing the 3 Ps of Market Trading! (Okay, we made that up, but it has a nice ring to it, right?) Here we go!
Start preparing a good while before your first market, ideally a couple of months beforehand. The more time you have to prepare, the smoother everything will go! Here are a few things we suggest you start preparing nice and early.
#1: Do some market research (literally)
If you can, attend some other markets! Even if you've been to markets before, it's a good idea to go specifically for research purposes, rather than as a customer. Find a market similar to the one you want to attend - if you can't find another vegan market in your area, just try visiting a food market. Take a look at things like the layout, how busy the stalls get, and what the traders are doing. If there are some stalls that look like they're doing really well, think about why that is, what are they doing right? Which stalls do you hope to align yourself with and be like? What can you learn from them? Make some notes and keep it all in mind when planning your stall.
#2: Think about your Unique Selling Point (USP)
Think specifically about the context you'll be trading in, and what will be unique there. At a normal food market, being a vegan trader is pretty unique in itself. But at a vegan market, everyone is doing that! So what sets you apart? Maybe you have unique flavours, or you've veganised a meal you don't often see veganised, or you have beautiful presentation that makes your food look irresistible. Maybe you want to have a specific product you're known for - a particular unique flavour combo, or maybe you just make one kind of food in a variety of different flavours. Think carefully about what will set you apart from everyone else at the market.
#3: Create a display plan
Decide how exactly you’ll set up your stand and display everything. It’s easy to think that you can just do this on the day, but creating a good display is a real art. Setting up will be much faster (and less stressful!) if you have a clear plan you can just follow and refer to. Use Pinterest and Instagram to get some inspiration and make your plan. You may also want to buy some items to help you out, like little display cases, tablecloths, or boxes to make things different heights. Having a really clear display plan will make setup go smoothly and will help to make your stall look more eye-catching!
Promoting yourself and your new business is super key to helping to establish your business and get it growing. A market is a great way to meet people who could become fans of your business and regular customers, so make the most of this exposure and promote your business so these new people can find it again in future.
Think about what kind of signs and posters you’ll want – you’ll need some time to design these and get them printed. This is where your market research will come in really handy, as you can see what kind of signs other traders have and if it’s clear who everyone is. Think about where you want your signage to go, how big it needs to be, and what information it needs to include – a phone number? A website? If you’re not much of a designer and you don’t have the budget for one, stick to a minimal design with just some text in a clear font to show all the information it needs to draw people over to your stall.
#5: Branding & promo materials
Go a step further than just signage and think about any materials you’ll want to give to your customers. Maybe you want to create business cards so people can remember you, or if you have bags or boxes as packaging, maybe you can print your business name onto them with a custom stamp. If you have a lot of markets coming up, you could create a flyer with all the dates other people will be able to come and see you. Have a think about what you’ll give people who love your brand and want to keep up with it.
#6: Social media
Many people like to keep up with vegan brands by following them online, so make sure you have these set up before your first market. Setting up social media can feel really daunting, but try to make sure you have a page you can send people to, even if there’s not much there. If you’re worried about it taking a lot of time or being difficult, remember that you don’t have to do everything all at once; you could just start out with an Instagram page, with no website or other social media. Sign up with a username as close to your business name as possible and add a profile photo so people can recognise you. Even if you haven’t posted any photos yet, doing this means that people who love your business can go somewhere online to follow you, so when you do start uploading pictures, they’ll see it.
Once you start getting closer to the date of your first vegan market, there are some practical things to consider. As well as looking at all this big-picture stuff, remember what the day actually involves: an early start, being on your feet, and chatting to people!
#7: Figure out how you’ll take payment
These days it is super easy to take card payments – there are so many card readers that are low-cost and easy to use. The PayPal Here card reader just needs to be connected to your phone with an app and you’re ready to go. These card readers do tend to take a percentage of the money, but they are a really accessible way to get started taking card payments straight away while you look into other options for the future. Plus, think about whether you’ll take cash. If you will, make sure to head to the bank first to get some change! You don’t want people not to be able to buy from you because they want to pay with a £20 note and you don’t have the change. And get a money tin with a lock so you have a safe place to keep it all.
#8: Get a good pair of shoes!
Don’t forget that you’ll be on your feet all day, which can be difficult if you’re not used to it. Get a really good, comfortable pair of shoes that’ll make it easier for you.
#9: Bring a big bottle of water
Just like the last point, it’s important to look after yourself during the day. You’ve got to be feeling your best in order to serve customers at your best! So bring a big bottle of water to keep yourself hydrated throughout the day.
Those are our top tips for preparing for your first vegan market! If you’ve got one coming up soon, we have one final tip for you: take a deep breath, and relax. It’ll be fine! Traders tell us that although it can be stressful, it’s so much fun chatting to customers all day. Good luck, and remember to enjoy it!