August 1, 2016

How to Attract More Shoppers to your Outdoor Market Booth


These are super easy ideas and can work regardless of what type of products you’re selling. Aaaand, it will only cost you a couple pennies per customer. What you’ll gain are shoppers who are more enticed to come into your booth and shop, stick around a little longer and be more likely to remember you and your brand.


Are you ready to find out what it is?



There are couple ways you can do this for very little cost. And if heat isn’t an issue, scroll down for some more out of the box ideas that will make your shoppers’ time in your booth more comfortable and memorable!


IDEA #1 – A Cold Water Station

jurisdiction is different on what you can and can’t give out.

There is actually a story about a church being fined for handing out bottles of water at a parade…..sooooo there’s that.


I was curious on the rules in my city and sent an email to the local street vending program to find out the following questions, which are ones you’ll want to ask if you’re considering a water station in your market booth:

1) Can vendors selling handmade products at a market hand out water for free or do they need a specific permit?

2) Can they serve tap water from a container or must they be bottles of water?

3) Are they allowed to add anything to the water such as mint or cucumbers?

4) Can they serve other beverages such as hot chocolate, coffee or tea?

I got partial answers and directions to get in touch with several different departments so you’re forewarned, give yourself some time and gather some patience.

You’ll also want to run it by the event organizer. If the main purpose of the event is based around food trucks, they may not want you handing out water and preventing some people from purchasing cold drinks. As well, the event may not have the proper permits for you to serve beverages.


If you have the proper permits, are allowed to serve tap water from a container (bottled water won’t give you the same return on investment) and the event organizer will allow it, then read on!


Think about it. You’re out on a hot summer day, walking around the market and you’re thirsty. What’s going to catch your eye? A cold drink. Even if someone brought a bottle of water with them, it’s probably getting warm and it’s not going to be as enticing as your cold water station.



  • Small table – something sturdy that won’t get knocked over, not too big but big enough that it get’s noticed.
  • Nice container – remember, everything in your space adds or detracts from the value of your brand. Don’t empty out a bunch of 4 litre milk jugs and fill them with water. Choose a container that goes with your brand.
  • Dixie cups – you need these to be cheap and preferably environmentally friendly so you can recycle the used ones after the event.
  • Cooler – Depending on how busy and how long the event is, you may need some backup containers to refill the jug and you’ll more than likely want a bag of ice to add throughout the day and keep it nice and cold.
  • (Optional) Water flavor – lemons, cucumber, mint, lavender? If you’re selling scented or flavored products, try to choose something that goes with your brand. Again, ensure you have the proper permits for this. Adding a food item to your water may require you to have an approved commercial kitchen for safe food handling.
  • Signage – this should also fit with your brand but you want shoppers to know to help themselves and hint that it’s for your shoppers only. “Come inside & cool down”
  • Trash can – a container for people to dispose of their cups on the way out.

IDEA #2 – Fans

Who doesn’t love a breeze on a hot day? Even if it’s not cold air, it still gives you some relief from suffocating heat. There are a couple ways you can make this work:

Hand held battery-operated fans

You can find these at the dollar store and you don’t need a ton because they’re not to give away. They’re just for shoppers to use while they’re in your booth.



  • Small table – something to sit at the entry of your booth
  • Basket – something for the fans to sit in on the table
  • Battery-operated fans – depending on the size of your booth, you probably only need around 5 fans. Consider how many people may be in your booth at the same time. You also may want some back up fans in case someone accidentally walks off with one.
  • Extra batteries – if the fans get a lot of use that day, some extra batteries to replace the dead ones and keep the air flowing.
  • Signage – you want it to be very clear that the fans are for your shoppers only and only to be used while in your tent. You may also want a sign reminding people before they leave to drop their fan back in the basket.
  • Stickers – add a tag or sticker to the fans reading: PLEASE LEAVE WITH __________________ (your business name). If anyone mindlessly walks out with the fan, they’ll know where to return it once they come back to reality 😉

Paper fans

This option would be an expense but you could get some really great advertising through people walking around the event, fanning themselves with your logo. Check out some printing websites by Google-ing “promotional fan printing”. Depending on the style of fan you want, you can have some printed for as low as $0.28/fan.



Simply a table, a basket and a sign to create a station and let shoppers know what it is and who it’s for.


BONUS IDEA: You could also sell your paper fans. If it’s a really hot day, people may be willing to shell out a few bucks to get some relief from the heat.


You could even make the fans yourself. Here are a couple DIY’s: Paper fan 1, Paper fan 2, Paper fan 3.


Any of these ideas can work inside your booth as well. If it’s a busy market, you may not want to risk people who have no intention of coming in to check out your work, using up all your supplies. If you feel it would be better to keep the station inside your booth, get creative with the signage.


Use a sandwich board or large sign at the front of your booth to grab shoppers’ attention. For example:




From there you could use a couple of arrow cutouts to point shoppers towards your station inside the tent.


This way may work just as well and get people curious enough to head in and ask you about it.


You could also use a prop; an enlarged photo of a cold glass of water or an oversized fan will give them a bit of a hint.


IDEA #3 – An air conditioned tent

This one will take less work and can be used over and over at each summer market. The added perk? You get to beat the heat too. You’ll have to rely heavily on signage as you’ll need to communicate to shoppers to step inside, as there isn’t the visual element involved. There are a few different ways to cool down your entire tent:


-DIY air conditioner using some ice, a fan and a cooler. Here are a couple versions: DIY PORTABLE BUCKET AC  & SWAMP COOLER 

-If you have access to electricity, you could simply set up a couple fans in your tent. Be sure they won’t be blowing your products over. There are even some that are designed for tents that you can hang above you so they don’t take up any display space. Check out these ones:

-There are also products like this mini rechargeable air conditioner made for camping:

-Or you could look into solar powered fans.

Again, use a sandwich sign outside your booth or a large hanging sign near the entrance that grabs the attention of people passing by.




It catches shoppers eye

When people are uncomfortable, they automatically look for ways to become more comfortable and notice any items that will help them do that.


It’s like when you’re watching TV and you’re thirsty. The story line has nothing to do with what the actors are drinking but you can’t help but focus on the drink they have in their hand. Or when you’re so incredibly tired that every flat surface turns into a bed in your mind.


If it’s a hot day and people have been out walking around, they’re likely a little thirsty and a little hot. A jug full of cold water with beads of condensation dripping down because the temperature of what’s inside is so much colder than the temperature outside, is bound to grab their attention.


It helps you stand out

How many vendors have thought about their shopper’s comfort? Most are so focused on making that sale that they lose sight of the small details that can help.


In a sea of vendors, shoppers are going to notice the one doing something a little out of the box. They’ll also be more likely to remember you after the event. How many booths did they walk into and look around that day? How many did they get to feel comfortable, refreshed and feeling better walking out than they did coming in? Hopefully just one; yours!


It increases perceived value

I’ve personally never shopped in a store that hands me a glass of champagne to sip while I shop but when I’ve seen it done on TV. I immediately think luxury. No, you’re not handing out champagne but you’re adding a little extra for your shoppers, which adds to the whole experience.


Imagine trying 2 different spas for massages. They both offer an hour-long massage but one business has you change in the room and go under the covers to wait for a masseuse. When she comes in the room, she speaks as though she’s asking for your order at a noisy diner. You can also hear the other staff chatting in the hallway.


The other spa leads you to a change room and offers you a lush bathrobe and tea to sip while you wait for your masseuse. The waiting room has magazines, comfy couches and snacks in case you’re hungry. The masseuse speaks to you in a very gentle tone and soft music plays in the massage room to help you relax. The bathrobe, tea, music and masseuses mannerisms all add to your experience and lead you to believe it’s more valuable or expensive. Which leads to you willing to pay more.


It strengthens your brand

How can water or fans strengthen your brand? Because it helps create a great experience for your shopper. We remember experiences and the feelings we get from people, places and things over the facts that are repeated to us.


We only share really great experiences with others, or really bad ones. Just like the spa mentioned above, you’re more likely to talk about the one you had the most relaxing massage at and recommend it to your friends. It helps the brand build a strong reputation and market itself through word of mouth.


If you’re selling at an outdoor market and the weather is looking cold and wet, you can always swing things in the opposite direction:



Instead of cold water, offer a hot drink from a thermos.




If you’re offering something like hot chocolate or coffee, you will most likely require an approved commercial kitchen for preparation and a food-handling permit. But since you probably won’t be dealing with as high of traffic on a cold day as on a hot one, you could splurge and purchase a hot drink from a local coffee shop.


Instead of fans at the front entry, have a basket of blankets they can throw over their shoulders and warm up under while they shop.


Instead of an air conditioner in your tent, bring a portable heater.



If heating shoppers up or cooling them down isn’t as appealing because it’s the absolute perfect temperature out, here are a few other ways to add an extra special touch to your tent:



If there tends to be a lot of people with dogs that shop at the outdoor market, consider a dog station. You could purchase a stake from a pet store that can either go into the ground if your booth is on grass, or create a free standing stake by setting it in a container filled with concrete and allowing to set. Make sure it’s heavy enough that the dog can’t pull it with them. A sign stating that owners are to use at their own risk may also be a good idea. Add a couple bowls for water and owners can now clip their dogs to your stake while they shop in your booth.


You can get more specific to your products as well and consider what a shopper might want to do before, during or after they shop or sample your products.



If you’re selling scarves or handbags that people will likely want to try on, give them a proper space to do so. Set up a little area with a full-length mirror and a chair next to it so their shopping partner can help them decide. Just like a mini dressing room. You could also have a little flipbook available showing how to wear the look or the trend being worn on celebrities.



You could play music that fits with the mood or theme of your art. If you paint pictures of nature, have nature sounds softly playing in the background. If you offer prints for kids rooms, some fun children’s music could work. Something that reminds shoppers of their childhood and that isn’t too repetitive. No one wants to hear “…the wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round, round and round” on repeat 😉



If you’re selling body products and you want shoppers to sample your creams, you may want to create a spa like atmosphere and invest in a spa cloth warmer and sterilization unit. That way you can offer a warm towel for shoppers to cleanse their hands before trying your lotions.



If it’s a kid filled event, you could place a small play station just inside your booth. Think about the little areas you see for kids at a doctors office. It doesn’t need to be a large space, just a small area blocked off with a few toys. A small chalkboard and some chalk would easily keep kids occupied while their moms shop. Be sure it’s in a place the moms can keep one eye on them.



If you’re selling food and you offer samples, some hand sanitizer at the entrance would be a good idea and a bowl of mints for on their way out.



If you’re offering items that people may want to mix and match or grab more than one, you could offer baskets so shoppers can pick out their items but keep their hands free.


Trays would allow items like jewelry to be laid out so they can see how different pieces look together. And again, a small area where people can try the items on while being out of the way of other shoppers, would make them feel comfortable. Just be sure that area is within view as small pieces of jewelry are the easiest to walk off with.


If you’re looking for more ideas on how to wow your craft fair and market shoppers, my e-book MAKE MORE MONEY AT CRAFT FAIRS is full of them. I share tons of examples of best practices as well as the steps you should be taking to have your best market day yet.


I know, I know. Why would you download an e-book when there’s a ton of information out there for free? This article is just one example of the out of the box thinking I like to give. I don’t just scratch the surface with my ideas or give you generic advice you’ve heard before.


Want more proof you’re going to gain some seriously valuable knowledge in the e-book? Check out these other articles or download the free sample chapter: MAKING PRODUCTS THAT PROFIT. I truly believe it’s a must read for all handmade business owners to not only make sure you’re on the right track and making the most profitable products you can be, but also to be sure you’re standing out from your competition.




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Made Urban will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information.

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