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Market traders check list.

When I did my very first market, all those years ago, life was simple.

I still owned my little boutique, but the market in question was just 100 yards up the road. At the time, my vehicle of choice was a Mazda MX5, so clearly that wasn't up to the job, however never one to let practicalities get in my way, I loaded a 6' rail with my finest vintage and trundled it up the hill, through the busy streets of Yeovil town centre on a Saturday morning.

I only dropped a couple of pieces, and people were kind enough to run after me with them.

Yeovil Vintage Market Circa Summer 2017

In fact, just typing this now gives me health & safety shivvers!

It's been a 'journey' as they say on all the best reality TV programs. learning what works, what's a waste of time, what my insurers will cover, how fast 20mph winds are, how wet you can actually get in 40 minutes packing up.

An early high point was when my husband bought me my first bungies in Halfords. That was the transition from Jo Malone wearing Boutique Girl to leathery market trader. And I liked it!

He didn't much.

I never went back to Halfords for Bungies, by the way, another lesson learned - literally 5 times the price of somewhere like RKL Tools in Bridport.

So, drawing from what I've learned over something like 700 markets, here is my definitive market traders checklist - clothing specific!

1). Stock, rails, mirrors & display items.

Very important that they're packed in the right order - last in first out. Especially in bad weather when you can end up with all your worldly goods lined up against a shop doorway at 7am in the driving rain while you excavate your gazebo & rails.

2) Weights. Weights.Weights.

It's not possible to stress this too much, I'm not going to tell you why, it's too embarrassing, and I STILL come a cropper on days when I haven't read the weather report or I can't be bothered to lug them out.

Without weights, 30mph gusts will lift your 3m gazebo up into the air and deposit it 10 yards further along! Trust me - I know!!!

So I generally have 13kg weights on each gazebo leg, a raft of Vintage cast iron weights for my display bits, I hang 2 rails of 15 kg clothes from my gazebo, and I've got linen bags of bricks.

All I have to do is remember to use them.

The windy day I put just 2 weights on a 4 legged gazebo.

3).Card machine (fully charged) & change.

The latter is only used for car parking nowadays - cash is now less than 10% of my takings.

How that's changed. I got my first Izettle card machine when I had my little boutique 2017, and I started taking it out to markets soon after, and it caused a riot, such a novelty. Then, card payments were less than 10%. Now customers shake a phone, no question of if I actually have a gizmo!

4). Flask of tea & munchies.

I occasionally fancy a fluffy posh coffee, but it doesn't take many high street coffees to spend half the mornings profits.

I always crave bacon - no matter where you're stalling, there's always the smell of bacon early morning in a town centre. So I take a couple of rashers, weird I know, but it culls what can be an expensive and carb heavy craving.

5). Signage (card, holders, and juicy sharpies)

It's not unusual if things are going slowly, for me to suddenly pull together a sale rail, and there's no sale without bold signage!

6). Music & speaker (fully charged)

(This means either you or your venue has up to date PRS license).

I've got a trusty iPod touch with a different playlist appropriate for different markets. Be it kitsch vintage, cheesy 80's choons, retro 70's, or my own tracks for different moods.

Oh, and singing along to Kisrty MacColl Tropical Brainstorm or Best of James when I'm packing is mandatory.

7). Fingerless gloves. I'll be wearing these early mornings from September to May. Currently wearing a pair of fur lined Cashmere ones which cost more than the contents of my van!!

8). Phone, power bank & multiple leads (for when your mates phone runs out)

Good Lord, how did we manage without our miniature computers.

Essential for card payments, social media catch up, photos, texting your husband to check who's getting cat food & tea, for receiving calls from mates to say someone's on your stall while you're on walk about, for research of new stock and checking the weather every 10 mins.

There are many more gems that come with me, like a tool kit including a bag of gazebo repair parts, but the above are my essentials, and with them on board, I can wing it with the best of them.

It has to be said, though, that market traders are a miserable lot but will give you the earth if you need it. Just as I often lend weights, bungies, chargers and pens as required.

But not my bacon - there are limits.


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