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May 06, 2015


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.

1) Investment

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 tent.

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 and up.

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.

3) Quality

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.

4) Transporting

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.

5) Size

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.

6) Legs

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.

7) Color

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.

8) Venting

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.

9) Weights

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!

10) Sides

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)

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Caravan Canopy

You may also find Caravan Canopies at:

You may also be able to find EZ UP at:

Impact Canopy

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, Costco
  • 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 :)

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Phyllis Churchill
2015-05-13 11:23
Hi - Just a couple of additional thoughts:
Weights - I use 5 gallon buckets with a cover ( like a paint bucket or something similar) and fill with Water AFTER I get to the show. I cover it, and tie to tent. MUCH easier ( & trust me I used to LUG weights with me to every show) and dump out the water AFTER the show, and pack away. Just be certain to insert paper or something between the sides of the buckets so they DONT stick together. Note: If they do stick, just google how to get them apart :) Hot water works!
Also, if you are doing more than a one day show, and there is security at the location of your tent, and you want to leave your merchandise overnight, COVER IT, and when you pull down the sides of your tent (if they zipper together) put a zip tie through the bottom of the zipper and tie around the base.. No it isn't foolproof, but thieves are looking for the easy way , and that one little extra step is WELL worth it. Covering your merchandise gives LESS of a shadow if someone is thinking about stealing, so it almost looks like there is nothing there except your tables :)
Hope this helps!
Made Urban
2015-05-13 12:17
Great suggestions! Thanks so much for sharing Phyllis! Good idea with using water to reduce the weight and space used up when travelling to and from events :)
Valerie McCracken
2016-07-11 02:35
One important issue not covered in this article is the fact that many municipalities now require vendor canopies at festivals and outdoor markets to have labels that indicate they meet specific fire resistance ratings.
Make sure you are checking the requirements for the locations where you will be using your canopy. While it are usually the higher end (and more expensive) canopies that meet these requirements buying the correct one the first time around will save you added cost of upgrading.
Take the time to confirm requirements with market organizers BEFORE you make an investment in a canopy.
Made Urban
2016-07-13 08:49
Great point Valerie! Thanks so much for sharing :)
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