You’ve decided what items of clothing, shoes, accessories, and so on, to move on. Fantastic – that will feel quite cathartic. The next step is to ensure your transition to stall is smooth (aka stress-free) and doesn’t undo all the great feelings that come with having made some amazing progress.

The difference between a smooth bump in or a struggle-start can affect how you feel as the market doors open on your big day.

Over the years, I’ve observed stallholders arriving at market venues and setting up. I’ve also been that person myself on countless occasions. It’s fabulous to watch as stallholders create their space, their collections coming to life with colour, texture and frivolity. But it can also be painful to see some struggle, traipsing multiple times to and fro from their cars – weighed down with an eclectic mix of stuffed bags, random items, boxes, and bits and bobs piled high in their arms. No rhyme or reason to the whole affair. Why does it matter, one may ask? It can.

The difference between a smooth bump in or a struggle-start can affect how you feel as the market doors open on your big day. If you’re exhausted and feeling under the pump before the day kicks off, or you feel like your stall’s not quite ready as the doors open, this invariably shows on your face.  It can also have you not coping with the small hiccups (realistically, there are bound to be a couple). And, this can then go on to affect your market experience – which is a shame, as your market day ought to be great fun! There’s absolutely no need to spin out of control.

So, how do you breeze through to market day setup like a pro?
It’s tempting to start off with the usual and irritatingly obvious first tip – Be Prepared! But I won’t because this may mean very little and can be equally stress-inducing if you don’t quite know where to begin.

One:Taming your pile of clothes
Hang as many clothes as possible. Choose hangers that won’t let your clothes slide off in transit. Displaying quality items on a rack is appreciated by shoppers who want to see what you’ve got at a glance.

If you are selling items at individual prices, label everything before the day. Your customers will generally be more comfortable knowing the price without needing to ask. This also gives them a starting point to bargain with you. Choose labels that are least likely to fall off or come unstuck in transit. Safety pins and jute through hole-punched cardboard works wonders.

If you’re hanging clothes in price brackets, tie grouped hangers together or place each group in the car so they’re easily identifiable at your destination. Make your signage at home so it’s one less thing to have to prepare before the doors open.

Sort loose items into $5, $10 and $15 lots (or whatever prices work for you). Again, prepare any and all signage at home.

Place these items into individual containers – ideally whatever you’re going to display them in on the day. Or, if they’re being displayed on a table, place them in individually marked containers ready to unpack efficiently.
Look cool, calm and collected (even if you don’t feel it)!

Two: Getting clothes from A to B
a) Clothes on hangers can be placed in a suitcase or simply laid in the back of a car (wrap in cloth such as a sheet to protect if necessary)
b) Place containers of other items in next, and to one side if possible.
c) Locate your rack, table and props in the car so they’re first out.

Three: The 30-minute setup
Check in with the market organiser and find your spot. Whilst you’ll have selected your stall off the venue floor plan and may know roughly where it is, it’s advisable to check in just in case it’s been moved for any reason and you want to avoid wasting energy moving your gear from place to place! Your name will be on the chair in your space.

Unload and set up your rack, table and props first. If you need to move a car away from the venue straightaway, set up racks as you bring them in and then hang all your clothes straight onto the racks (in price groupings if that’s how they’re sorted) as part of the unloading. This avoids double handling. Finally bring in your boxes of accessories, etc.

Now have some fun shifting your props around in your spot until you feel you’ve made the best use of your space whilst being mindful of, and even complementing, your neighbours’ display.

If accessories etc are in pre-labelled containers display them ready to go. If not, place containers to one side (such as under your table) for now. Remember that preloved clothing markets are primarily about the clothing so think an 80:20 or 90:10 ration of clothing to accessories.

If you are grouping your hung clothes into price brackets, do this now if you couldn’t earlier and attach your previously made signage, accordingly.

If all your hung clothes are labelled, they’re done and ready for market opening. Now relax…you’re in control and looking ready.


Make sure your money belt is on and full of some coinage. You want to be well ready to accept those sales!

Four: The home straight
The last bit can be done at your leisure and it won’t matter too much if the market opens and shoppers are looking because they have a fab rack of labelled items to check out already, and possibly self-explained containers on tables to rummage through.Give yourself a mental high-five as you’re all set with change in your money belt and looking cool, calm and collected!

If you’re unpacking loose items do this now, and place related signage as you go.

Five: Finishing touches
Finally, have fun dressing your props (mannequin etc.) and laying out smaller items like jewellery, shoes, belts, bags and hats.

This can all take less that 30 minutes. Believe me, I’ve got it down to 20, tops!

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