Market Stall Trader
Market stall traders buy goods from a wholesaler or manufacturer and sell those goods from a market stall. Some traders make their own goods. Many traders buy and sell one particular type of product. Those who specialise in fresh produce have to start work very early. Most market traders are self-employed, and some employ other people to help them.
Also known as
- Stall Holder
Video: - Carol: Market Stall Trader
As a Market Stall Trader, you will sell goods to the public. You might attend different markets on different days if you trade on outdoor or covered markets, or attend the same market all week if you rent a unit at an indoor market.
You spend most of your time standing at a stall dealing directly with customers - giving advice and encouraging people to buy, as well as serving, taking money and giving change. Some goods need to be weighed or measured, and wrapped.
On a market, there might also be 'Pitchers' who shout about the good deals they are offering, often gathering crowds as they put on a show. Some markets allow 'Demmers', who demonstrate a product to encourage sales.
Most buy their goods from a wholesaler or manufacturer; some Market Stall Traders make their own goods. You rent a market stall or space and display the goods to attract customers. Sometimes, you have to provide and set up your own stalls.
Some markets provide stockrooms for stallholders to keep their surplus stock. Some indoor markets have permanent stalls with lockable shutters, so you can leave non-perishable stock on the stall.
The majority of markets have regulations that you have to follow; these include the hours that the stall should be open, conduct, disciplinary rules, standards of display and refuse disposal arrangements. You will also set out the range of goods that can be sold. In the majority of markets, you will be required to have public products and employers' liability insurance cover.
When you are starting out, you will begin trading at markets as a Casual Market Stall Trader, travelling around from market to market on different days, either locally or nationally.
Provided there are empty stalls and what you are selling does not clash with established Market Stall Traders, you will be allocated stalls on a first-come, first-served basis, so you have to arrive very early. You are advised to phone the market office before attending to see if space is available, avoiding a wasted journey if not.
You set up the stall and unpack all the goods when you arrive at the market in the morning. You must pay rent for the stall to the Market Officer. At the end of each day, you have to pack everything away and dispose of rubbish.
On outdoor markets, winters can be very cold and you will need to wear warm clothing.
Being able to read, write and speak Welsh may be an advantage when you’re looking for work in Wales.
Personal Qualities and Skills
To become a Market Stall Trader, you will need to:
- be able to encourage and persuade people to buy
- build good relationships with your suppliers and customers
- stand at a stall all day
- work outside in all types of weather
- identify gaps in the market and choose the right product to sell
- be prepared for early morning starts, particularly if you trade in fresh food or travel round to different markets
- be reliable; Traders who fail to attend a market without a good reason can lose the chance to trade there in the future
Pay and Opportunities
It is difficult to provide accurate details of Trader salaries, as you are dependent on a number of factors - for example, what you sell, where and when you sell it, and how much you can sell.
Hours of work
Traders usually work 40 hours a week, but often work longer hours with early starts, late finishes, weekend work and work on public holidays.
Where could I work?
Opportunities for Market Stall Traders occur in covered markets and in open-air locations in towns, cities and rural areas throughout the UK.
While most Market Stall Traders are self-employed, some employ staff to look after stalls in other markets.
Self-employed Traders have to pay for their annual trading licence, their stall rental and all their own stock. This will come out of any sales profit.
Where are vacancies advertised?
For opportunities to be the sole occupier of a market stall, you must register with the local council or market organiser. The National Market Traders' Federation has a list of markets and contacts on its website.
Vacancies for assistants are advertised by word of mouth, in local newspapers, on Find a Job and at Jobcentre Plus.
Entry Routes and Training
To be the sole occupier of a market stall, you must register with the local council. Many councils have a markets office with staff who can give information to people wishing to become traders.
The National Market Traders' Federation (NMTF) offers advice to those aiming to start out in market trading, as well as maintaining a list of markets. Membership of the NMTF also includes insurance cover.
Traders usually start as casuals (queuing up for available stalls early each day) while you wait for a regular stall to become available. On a first visit as a casual, Traders usually need to produce identification and proof of address, together with evidence that they have third-party public liability insurance.
Casual Traders must keep attending the market to build up the chance to apply for a regular stall. Regular stallholders might have to sign a licence agreement with the local council.
Most Market Stall Traders learn on-the-job.
The National Market Traders' Federation has a scheme called NMTF First. The scheme is a trader support programme containing a series of modules, guides and business support tools. They have been developed to help new Market Stall Traders to establish their businesses and to build a solid foundation on which to develop their careers. Further details are available from the NMTF head office.
It might be possible to attend short courses in subjects like setting up your own business and book-keeping. Telephone advice is available on the Business Link helpline. Further information might be available from your local council, college or enterprise agency, and on the gov.uk website.
Traders selling certain food items will need to have a basic food hygiene certificate and comply with food safety legislation.
Market Stall Traders can progress by employing staff, running more stalls and trading at bigger markets. Some go on to open shops or start wholesale companies.
Previous experience working in a shop, dealing with the public and handling cash would be really useful for this career.
No minimum educational qualifications are required but basic English and maths are useful. Any training or experience in retail sales would also be of use. You'll need a driving licence and vehicle if you have to transport heavy or bulky goods.
Traders selling certain food items will need to have a basic food hygiene certificate.
It is illegal for any organisation to set age limits for entry to employment, education or training, unless they can show there is a real need to have these limits.
Some entrants have developed relevant skills by working in a shop, dealing with the public and handling cash.
- 60% of market stall traders are self-employed.
- 46% work part-time.
National Skills Academy for Food & Drink
Sector Skills Council for the food and drinks industry
Food and drink careers
Address: 4th Floor, 93 Newman Street, London W1T 3EZ
Tel: 020 7462 5060
National Market Traders Federation (NMTF)
Address: Hampton House, Hawshaw Lane, Hoyland, Barnsley S74 0HA
Tel: 01226 749021