We’re so close to outdoor market season, you can almost
smell the fresh veggies. *I knew when I wrote this sentence I would be
jinxing the weather; lo and behold we woke up to snow the day this article
was scheduled to post....sorry ;)
Nothing beats standing outside in the sunshine, talking
about your passion and selling your handmade goods. But you don’t want to
suffer at the hand of weather extremes so if you’re a vendor looking to
participate in outdoor markets, you’re going to need an outdoor tent. They’ll
shelter you from the sweltering sun on the hot days and keep you and your
products dry when it’s drizzling. Here are 10 things to keep in
mind when picking one out.
The first thing you want to think about is how many outdoor
craft shows/farmers’ markets you’ll be signing up for. If you’re doing an
entire season and more to come, it’s best to invest in a good quality tent with
all the bells and whistles. If you’re only doing one or two, you can probably
get away with a tent that is of lesser quality and may even want to look into
whether it’s more cost effective to rent one.
For vendors who pick and choose several popular weekends out
of the summer, you can probably get away with spending between $100 and $500.
Of course you can always venture outside this range and may find a killer deal
on Kijiji but generally if you’re going under $100, the quality won’t be there
and if you’re going much over $500, it’s more than you need for a basic market
If you’re a vendor who gets in every outdoor market
possible, traveling to different cities and spending every weekend from Spring
to Fall outside, then you may want to invest in a more expensive tent; $1000
2) Set up
Make sure it’s something that’s not complicated to pop up or
assemble on your own or with a partner. You don’t want to be struggling to get
your tent up when you have all your products to unload and a display to create before customers start arriving.
You really don’t want the fabric ripping or the poles
bending after a few uses or a windy day. If you’re looking for a tent that will
last you for several market seasons to come, look for one that has a heavier,
waterproof material for the roof over a light nylon, and sturdy steel poles
over aluminum ones. This is going to add weight when it comes to transporting
it but will be worth it in the long run. The strength of the poles is something
else to keep in mind if you’ll be using them as part of your display and
hanging some of your items off of them.
These suckers can get heavy! Look for ones that have a handy
case to lug them around in and that the case has some sturdy handles you can
use for moving it in and out of your car. Bonus if the case has
wheels on it, then you can roll it from the parking lot to your vendor space. Most tents come with a case but if not, it may be an added accessory you can purchase for it.
You don’t want anything that’s too big and going to go over
the size of spaces markets are offering but generally you don’t want to go any
smaller than 10’ x 10’. If you’re a seasoned outdoor market vendor and
participate in bigger events that offer larger spaces, you can combine a couple
tents together or look for one larger one. It’s a good idea to figure out the
markets you’re interested in and the spaces they offer to determine which size
is best for you.
Look for tents that have straight legs, not splayed (angled
out). The base of the legs should measure 10’ x 10’ but will angle up with the
roof being slightly smaller than that. Not a huge issue but does mean less
coverage for you and you may be missing out on a bit of display space as well.
You also won’t be able to attach walls to splayed legs.
Think about which color will go best with your branding, as
you don’t want your products or signage to clash with your tent color. Colors
can also fade over time as the sun beats down on them and they can also alter
the true color of anything under it (if you’re selling all white products, a
red tent may make them appear pink). White is always a safe option and you
don’t have to worry too much about it changing color over time.
Vents can be helpful if you’re putting up side walls to get
some circulation and keep it from getting stuffy. Not to mention; if you live
in a particularly windy area, the vents will help you avoid a Mary Poppins
scenario of the wind picking you and your tent up and taking you for a ride.
Vents will help ensure air can move through and your tent doesn’t become a giant sail.
You will absolutely need weights for your tent as many
markets will inspect that each vendor has them as a safety regulation. They
don’t want tents being blown around, knocking things over or injuring someone.
Some tents will come with weights and there are some you can
buy separately which are specifically for pop up tents; here’s a good example.
But you don’t have to spend a fortune on them. Most people use sandbags or fill
objects like cans, milk jugs or PVC pipe with sand or concrete and tie them to
each corner of their tent. Make sure they’re around 15lbs - 25lbs each and not too bulky or you’ll have people tripping over them as they wander
in and out of your booth.
Here’s a video on how to make weights, you could
event paint them in your colors or add your logo/business name!
Not all tents come with walls but they’re a good accessory
to have handy. Here are some of the benefits:
- shelter from the wind and rain – especially important
if you have light products that will blow over with the lightest gust or
delicate work you don’t want a drop of water on
added privacy – a back wall will hide your empty
boxes and extra stock and help keep your cash box safe
- separating your booth from your neighbour’s –
gives a clear separation from the vendor next to you and ensures you aren’t
impeding on their space and visa versa
more display space – a side wall will allow you
to push a shelf up against it or hang items without worrying about them being
damaged by wind or rain
- reducing theft – when you have multiple exists,
it’s easier for your product to be snuck out. If you have one opening, it’s easier
to keep an eye on people coming and going (If you’re looking for some tips on
avoiding theft at markets and craft shows, check out: 10 Tips to Prevent Theft at a Craft Show)
Now that you have some points to consider and an idea of
what you’re looking for, you can start shopping!
These are the top brands many vendors swear by. Majority of
them can only be found online, so you have to factor shipping into the cost.
There are variations of what’s included from model to model so be sure to read
over the specs and choose the style and accessories that best fit your needs. (Click on the brand name or retailer for more info about the tent and to see prices and options)
You may also find Caravan Canopies at:
You may also be able to find EZ UP at:
You may also find Impact Canopies at:
These next 2 aren't your quick pop-it-up-in-a-matter-of-minutes option
but they are your top of the line, artist tents for those who want to invest more money into their tents. These are closer to the $1000 range:
Other places to check
Depending on your area, budget and shopping preferences,
there are several companies to check out on your search.
- Local Retailers - there may be some specialty shops near you that make or carry tents so Google it or check out your local directory
- Hardware stores – Canadian Tire, Home Depot or Rona
- Online - Amazon and Ebay
- Department Stores - The Bay, Sears, Home Outfitters or Bed
Bath & Beyond
- Wholesalers and Superstores – Real Canadian Superstore,
- Used Classifieds - Kijiji, Craigslist or community Buy &
Sell forums are great places to find gazebo tents that are slightly used. Always
be sure to inspect the goods before you fork over your money but this is a
great place to start if you’re testing out the outdoor market option. Search
your area and use keywords like: outdoor tent, gazebo tent, event canopy or if
you have a specific brand in mind, you can search the name of that
If you have any local retailers you'd like to give a shoutout to, please do so in the comments :)