Lately, we have had seen several people asking about setting up at farmers markets, and what sorts of tents/tables/signage work the best. We are in our third year of vending at our local market, but I have been doing handmade markets for over a decade. I have seen many different setups that work, and many more that just… do not… We are going to share some of what we have for our market setup, and why we’ve chosen them. What works for us may not work for you. Consider this a jumping off point for your market booth.
The most important item, for us anyway, is a really good, sturdy tent. We used to have a cheap canopy from Kmart, but we upgraded this year to a 10 x 10 Eurmax brand tent. It’s heavier, but it’s way sturdier, and looks much more professional. It’s available in a bunch of different colors. However, the downside to this is that the sun filtering through is tinted the color of the tent, and can make some of your products look weird and unappealing. You can purchase the tents that come with the side walls, or buy them afterwards. We bought one when we realized the sun was roasting our veggies while still on the table! The only thing we don’t use from this pack are the leg weights. They are heavy! You absolutely need tent weights though. Our “cheat”? Five gallon buckets filled with water! They come to the market empty, and weight next to nothing. We fill them with water at the market, and use a bungee cord to attach them to the top of the tent.
The next most important item are tables. We buy ours on sale from Menards, Home Depot, or wherever we find them. We like to buy them in person so we can see how heavy they are. Folding tables are easiest for us, but standard tables might work for you. They get set up in a T or L shape, depending on where our booth is located, and how much stock we have. Most customers don’t want to enter your tent, so having the tables at the front of the booth is ideal. However, if it’s really hot and sunny out, they will often appreciate the extra shade. Make sure your tables are sturdy, the same height, and able to support the weight you will put on them.
The tables will look best if covered. We ordered some inexpensive grey tablecloths off Amazon that look great against our products. Again, you can get something more colorful, but keep in mind that the sunlight might make your products look a little weird. I would personally stay away from white, black, or anything patterned. You want your products to be the focus, and you don’t want them sitting on a table that will look filthy (white cloths) or absorb all the heat and cook everything (black). This seller has a ton of different table cloth options, in different colors and sizes. They are easy to wash, and we hang them to dry. They are polyester, so they dry really fast. We definitely suggest having at least one spare table cloth, or even an extra set. We seem to forget them at home a couple times a season, and having a backup set in your bin of market supplies can be a lifesaver!
Our market banner is from Staples. We used their online design option, and picked it up in store a couple days later. This is something we have been complimented on more times than I can count. We are planning on getting another one made that is a little more colorful, but this one was made in a rush, and we didn’t have time to find the photos we needed. The good thing is, it’s inexpensive enough to just have a handful of them for different markets. We have it attached to the tent frame with bungee cords. We can never have enough bungees on the farm, and both of our vehicles have a handful stored in them at all times. You never know when you need to hold something in place!
We also decided to splurge on a chalkboard sign. It isn’t super expensive, but it’s definitely a nice bonus item that has helped us out a lot. I spent an afternoon putting our social media links on one side of it, and we have the other side as our actual advertising side. At some point, we are going to have someone redo the permanent side, and seal it with clear coat. We also suggest using chalk markers instead of actual chalk. It is easier to read, easier to clean off, less likely to be smudged by people or in transit, and just generally cleaner. The pack we got has colors that are easy to read when it’s bright out, or not so bright.
The rest of our set up changes depending on what we have for sale. We have a couple coolers with ice packs for our frozen meat. We will be upgrading to actual freezers in the near future. We also have a cooler for our eggs, with ice packs. For this one, we made sure that egg cartons would fit in without too much wiggle room. This keeps the eggs secure while driving to the market. We have brought egg cartons into stores to test fit. It looks silly, but the peace of mind knowing they won’t slide around and smash everything is totally worth it.
We have picked up a few wooden crates, canning jars, as well as pots and pans to hold produce on the table. We like to have enough where it looks like a full display, but it isn’t so full it’s going to topple over. Many types of greens do best when kept in water, so we do that as needed.
For our own comfort, we usually bring a chair, and squishy stress relief mats to stand on. This, along with comfortable shoes, makes the market day much more bearable. We are also sure to stay hydrated with water, and try to eat something somewhat healthy. It’s easy to fill up on pastries from the other vendors, but we try to also have some fruit or veg, and protein.
Finally, one of the most important things: SIGNAGE! We have laminated some cards with our farm logo, and we use a dry erase marker to put the prices and item name on them. This looks neat and tidy, and makes it easier for people to see what the prices are and not have to ask us. We either weight them down with the items we are selling, or tape them to the table/cooler.
In addition to all these big things, we have a couple bins with market supplies. Some of the supplies include:
- Locking cash box filled with small bills and quarters
- Our Square readers
- A box of business cards
- Bungee cords
- Produce bags
- Shopping bags (we reuse the ones from the grocery store)
- Scissors or a knife
- Duct tape
- Roll of paper towels
- A rag
- A bottle of water
This is just a little peek into what we bring to the market every week. This changes slightly depending on weather, which market we are vending at, and if we remember to pack everything. We keep everything stored in one spot in the barn, so it’s easy to go out and grab all of it early in the morning before market days. Look at this post as more of guidelines rather than instructions to follow. What you bring to the market will be different depending on what you sell, but this seems like a good spot to start. We hope you find this helpful, and we wish you success at your markets!
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