Market events are a great way for makers and retailers to get out of their homes and stores and out in front of hundreds or even thousands of people. There’s an initial investment when you start participating in these types of events, so it’s important to have a plan. Here are my tips for how retailers can set sales and inventory benchmarks for market events.

What is a “Market Event”? 

It could be a craft show at your local neighborhood school, an arts festival, a local outdoor farmers market event, or a traveling fair with a national brand – like Country Living Fair.

In order to start selling at market events, there are many things you can do to get prepared. You’ll need many items like a tent, tables, merchandising displays, decorative accents, a sign, a Point of Sale system, a cash box, and more.  Just as important, you’ll want to have a plan for inventory quantities and sales.


First, you want to make sure the market event is a good fit for your business.  How do you do this? Research! Attend one of the markets before you apply and talk to the vendors there – ask them questions, see what kind of merchandise is selling and ask yourself if those attending the event are your target market.  If you can’t attend, visit their website and social media pages to do the same research. If you know of other makers or retailers who participate in the event, reach out to them and ask questions.

My sister and I participated in our first event in 2014 and quickly learned about the value of research before applying.  It wasn’t a complete flop but it also wasn’t the ideal place for us.

No matter the size of the event, you want to recoup your initial investment, or of course profit, the first time you participate in a market.

So, let’s talk numbers.  It’s good to have goals and be prepared.  My recommendations are simply a start-up guide for anyone who has yet to dive into the market circuit or someone who’s fairly new to this type of marketing and sales event. Here are some suggestions for setting sales and inventory benchmarks.


MY RECOMMENDATION:  If you’re a newbie, I recommend setting your sales goal at 10x your booth fee.  This will cover the cost of your space, some or all of your initial investment, and your time.

Small/starting market vendor:

One table set up at a $50 fee x 10 = $500

Larger scale market vendor:

3 booths with 3 tents or one large tent at $200 per booth space is a total of $600 x 10 = $6000

Why is a sales goal important?  Not only do you want to recoup your initial investment but ideally, you’ll want to profit! Setting a sales goal will also help you determine how much inventory to take with you.


I often hear makers ask, “How do I know how much inventory to take?” and although it’s a great feeling to sell out of inventory, you want to make sure you aren’t missing out on opportunity – additional sales!

MY RECOMMENDATION:  Double or triple your sales goal to calculate inventory needed.  Yes, this means you need to know the amount of inventory you are taking.  A Point of Sale system with an inventory tracking system is ideal, but I completely understand that we all have to start somewhere so even a simple spreadsheet can work for this.

Small/starting market vendor:

If your sales goal is $500, multiply that sales goal x 3 and you’ll want to take $1,500 in inventory

Larger scale market vendor:

If your sales goal is $6,000, multiply that sales goal x 3 and you’ll want to take $18k in inventory

As you continue to grow and get more experienced, my sales and inventory recommendations increase.  As my sister and I head into our fourth year at a very popular outdoor market in the Cleveland, Ohio area, we are now setting goals at 30-40x our booth fee.  It seems crazy to even say that but we’ve learned so much over the years. We OBSERVE and LISTEN.


With each market you participate in, not only will you gain more experience with set-up and take-down, but you’ll want to conduct market research.  Pay attention to what customers and attendees are telling you. Observe what they’re buying, what they’re asking for, what they’re commenting on. Then use this knowledge to increase your goals and nail that market next time around!

One consistent theme you’ll find when I talk about market events and participating in them… RESEARCH AND PLAN. Do the work and it will pay off. 

I hope you now feel more confident with how to set sales and inventory benchmarks for your market events. Good luck!

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