How To Have A Successful Market Booth

 market display, booth display, market booth, vintage market, craft market, art market, display ideas, vintage display, market booth ideas, booth ideas

I’ve been popping-up at markets for years and have had experiences ranging from terrible (zero sales, rain outs, weird customers, the works) to incandescent (high sales, incredible market vibes, free drinks, customers who fell in love with what I was selling). Just recently I had the privilege to plan and organize the Spring Gift Market for the Women’s Entrepreneur Society of Corpus Christi and had the chance to draw on those experiences. The market was a total success, in part because each vendor really stepped up to the plate and made it that way! Shoppers were so impressed: with the quality of goods, with the venue, with the market itself and the feedback from vendors was equally as positive. One of the things I did before the market was share some information with our vendors that I thought would be helpful to them as they planned their market experience, but I never found just quite what I was looking for when it came to a general list of tips they could keep in their back pocket as they planned. So I’m writing it. Maybe it can help you?

Pick an event that fits your brand.

Whatever the market is that your are considering, you need to make sure that it makes sense for your brand. You are a business and as a business you should have a brand. This doesn’t just mean you should have a logo -- this means that your style, your aesthetic should be cohesive across ALL aspects of your business. From graphics to products, everything should be making sense within the context of the story you are trying to sell. Are you stocking your booth with mid-century products and styling them in a minimalist, slightly Scandinavian, way? Then that vibe should extend to your promotional materials. And that vibe should work within the context of the market you are considering. I’m not saying you should hold out for a mid-century market, but you should consider the type of shoppers that event will be drawing. Create a list of attributes your ideal customer has. Is that customer likely to attend an event you are considering?

It’s ok to be the odd-man out at an a point. I have had huge success at events where my style was wildly different than any other vendor there. But that’s because I vibed with the event itself -- in my case, I am drawn to markets that have quality, on-trend promotional materials, that are held in trendy locations and that attract young professionals looking to purchase items to decorate their homes in styles they find by following designers and artisans on social media. When I first started out as a market vendor, I tried to fit my business into a local, monthly market in our small town. The shoppers were tourists straight off the beach or locals who didn’t understand my aesthetic. After struggling at it for a few months I had to come to the realization that my brand just didn’t fit.


 Shell and Pine booth at Flea Style Houston, Spring 2018.

Shell and Pine booth at Flea Style Houston, Spring 2018.


Keep your booth on brand.

I’m planning on doing another post very soon about booth layout and styling, but I will just say really quickly that you need to make sure your booth is bringing it’s A-game. Don’t just throw a folding table down, drape a cheap polyester table cloth over it and call it a day! Show pride in your products by displaying them thoughtfully. This looks different for everyone -- if you have large pieces like furniture, arrange them within your booth space and use them to display smaller goods. If you do use tables, create height in some way! My future post will include tools you can use to plan out a walkable, shoppable booth space that draws customers in. A good tip is that your customer shouldn’t be able to stand in one spot and see everything! Make them enter your space so you can tell them a story (not literally, let’s not talk their ears off).


Curate your collection.

Whether you sell vintage or handmade goods, you should display just enough to fill your space but not too much that it looks junky or crowded. Leave some negative space in your layout and your displays, let your products breath. Bring a variety of goods that makes sense to your brand -- or, if you only sell one type of item, create interest and variety in your display itself.


 Shell and Pine booth at the WESCC Spring Gift Market, 2018.

Shell and Pine booth at the WESCC Spring Gift Market, 2018.

Offer small and large ticket items (if applicable).

Obviously this tip isn’t for you if you sell only one type of thing, but it is for those of us who sell a variety of goods, whether vintage or handmade. Do not underestimate the buying power of your customers and bring only your lower priced items. On the other hand, don’t discount the customers who won’t pull the trigger on big ticket items. Bring smaller goods under $20 that you can group in the displays and that will introduce your brand to customers without breaking the bank.


Foster relationships within the market.

Introduce yourself to the team running the market, as well as the other vendors! Step away from your booth when you can and meet those around you, give them your business card, follow them on social media. Create relationships that could lead to collaborations. Make your face and brand known within the context of the event.


 Shell and Pine booth at Fea Style Houston Spring Market, 2018.

Shell and Pine booth at Fea Style Houston Spring Market, 2018.

Promotion is key!

What’s the point of taking part in an event if no one knows about it?! I’m planning a future post on this subject about creating a promotional schedule for your event, but I will just say here that this is so important! Share your presence at the event on all of your social media channels, pass out flyers and business cards locally, tell your friends and ask them to share within their social circles. If you don’t already have business social media pages on Instagram and Facebook, GET ON THAT. And then learn how to utilize ads and sponsored posts to target shoppers within the area of the event. This can literally all be done on your phone -- which you can also use to create beautiful graphics. I have another post planned on my favorite apps that I use for my business, which will include all of my favorite graphics apps. There are a ton out there and I have tried them all.


Accept cash & cards.

Cash is no longer King -- if you are selling in a pop-up or market context, then you NEED a card reader. Invest in one. Do it. There are a couple out there, the ones I see most are Square and Paypal. Etsy has one too that will link directly to your etsy shop, if that’s something you are interested in. I use Square, both the card swiper and the chip reader. The swiper is like $5 and the chip reader is substantially more expensive at $50. But it is so useful and is wireless, so it can be placed anywhere within your display. The swiper will eventually be phased out, so I recommend investing in the chip reader right at the start. With any of these services you will be paying a fee per transaction, so keep that in mind. But it really is a lifesaver when it comes to convenience and I feel like they pay for themselves. I’ve found that more and more people are expecting to be able to pay with cards and you could quite literally miss out on sales if you don’t have a reader on hand.


Bring back-stock.

I hope that all of these tips so far mean you are having a successful market, so successful that you are starting to notice empty spots in your displays pretty early in the day. Not to worry! Hopefully this tip will be equally as helpful: bring back-stock. Bring extra items that you don’t plan on displaying right away that you can use to fill in empty space as the day goes on. Keep them in your car, under a table, inside a box behind your tent. Wherever! Just have them on hand to restock as you start selling your products.

And hopefully you will have such a successful event that even your back-stock will sell out. And then just sit back and enjoy the ride.


 Shell and Pine booth at Flea Style Houston Spring market, 2018.

Shell and Pine booth at Flea Style Houston Spring market, 2018.

A market stall isn’t just about sales. It’s also about connections.

Hand out business cards (they should be incorporated into your display so people can grab them for themselves too). Introduce yourself to shoppers, make small talk. Chat about custom orders or future purchases. Recommend things to them, point them towards other vendors, share the love! People will remember you if you are kind & helpful. And you want them to remember you and your products. Be a promoter for your brand, but don’t be overbearing. Find that sweet balance of informative and chatty without following your customers around your booth. Give them the space to fall in love with your brand and your goods.


I hope this post sparks inspiration for your future market events! If you have any tips, experiences, questions or suggestions for future posts in this series please leave a comment below!

Dallas bound.

We have a bit of an announcement to make - well, more like a very large announcement! Do y'all follow Flea Style? If you don't, then might we suggest that you rectify that post-haste? The Dallas based girl gang runs one of the best markets in the region, a girl-boss summit and is opening their first retail space & studio in the Deep Ellum neighborhood in Dallas next month. 

We have been a vendor at their Houston market twice and each time we were struck by the level of creativity, passion & kindness of the whole Flea Style crew. As veteran market vendors, it is by far the bar we set when judging our market experiences - Flea Style does it this way, at Flea Style they do this, etc etc. We love partnering with them and had looked forward to many more rewarding market experiences.

But then - BUT THEN! They announced that they were looking for vendors to have a presence in their retail space. The drive from Rockport to Dallas is 6 long hours, and it seemed improbable. Too bad, we shrugged our shoulders, that would have been fun. To be in on the ground level of what we know is going to be a successful endeavor. But we couldn't shake the idea, so we playfully posed a question on Instagram - "Do y'all think we could make this worth a monthly trip up from Rockport?" - and the answer we received was a resounding "YES!"

So there it is: We will have a substantial presence in the Flea Style retail shop when it opens to the public on June 2 and moving forward into the future! 

We will be trekking up to Dallas with some of our best vintage stock to contribute to what is sure to be one of the most exciting retail space in the metroplex! Furniture, decorative items, art and even clothing! Yes, we are reviving our long dormant vintage clothing racket for this - and if you know us, you know how good that can be! 

So hold on  to your rhinestone cowboy boots, Shell & Pine is coming to Dallas!

Bright Young Things: Kick Kennedy In London

Bright Young Things is our blog series of posts about historical personages that inspire us at Shell & Pine. The eras, houses, clothing, art and music of their time help us when we are sourcing our treasures.

 Joe & Rose Kennedy with five of their nine children at their home in London, 1938. Kick is on the left.

Joe & Rose Kennedy with five of their nine children at their home in London, 1938. Kick is on the left.

In 1938 the Kennedy's arrived in London like a bolt from the blue - this crowd of wholesome Americans, pushing their way into the rarified atmosphere of the cousinhood. Patriarch Joe Kennedy was the new US Ambassador to the Court of St. James's and he arrived on the job with his wife and nine children in tow. The British aristocracy had never seen anything like the Kennedy's - loud and fond of political debate, gregarious and full of laughter, so earnest and American and Catholic. Few could have predicted that their tenure in England would be witness to the end of a way of life for the British aristocracy and would also be the catalyst for the tragic end for the "favorite Kennedy daughter."

Kathleen Kennedy, universally known as Kick, wasn't the eldest daughter - that was Rosemary, but it was generally agreed that Rosemary wasn't up to the social obligations expected of an adult daughter of the Ambassador. Kick was 18 in 1938 - funny, laughing, charming and ready to jump feet first into the whirl of parties, dances and balls that was the London Season. She immediately began to charm her way into the groups of young aristocrats that the social scene centered upon - her open nature and frank way of speaking standing in sharp contrast to the reserved and often painfully shy British girls of that social strata. Unlike her English and Scottish peers, who were usually kept home at their family country seats until being thrown headlong into the marriage market of the Season, Kick had been raised in a swirl of her father's political and film-world partners, her older brother's school friends and her own experiences of convent schooling both in America and Europe. She came from a family which encouraged lively debate, from a father who instructed his children to question him and to argue their points with passion. 

 Kick & her brother 'Jack' Kennedy in London, 1938.

Kick & her brother 'Jack' Kennedy in London, 1938.

Kick's first Season in London was also the last year before Europe devolved into massive war. The Third Reich was causing tremors throughout the region and Britain was balanced on a precipice. The atmosphere was tense and worried, with many people later describing feeling as if their entire world was about to come to a screeching halt. The usual round of parties increased to a frenetic pace as the young British aristocrats partied as if it might be their last chance. Kick stepped into this world with a sense of confidence and vitality that endeared her to all who met her. She would be described by contemporaries as so kind and funny that no one could dislike her. 

Her high spirits, funny American turn of phrase, so like her brother Jack’s, and extreme good nature made her far more attractive than most pale English beauties. She was loved by everyone who knew her.
— Deborah Cavendish née Mitford, the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire
 Kick, Rose & Rosemary during the Court Presentation, 1938.

Kick, Rose & Rosemary during the Court Presentation, 1938.

As was the custom, Kick and her sister Rosemary were 'presented' at Court with the crowd of debutantes at the pinnacle of the London Season. Photographed with their mother in their white gowns and feathered headdresses, the girls look angelic and ecstatic. It was at this presentation that Kick would meet Deborah "Debo" Mitford, who would become a good friend and her eventual sister-in-law. She also met Jean Ogilvy, the daughter of a Scottish peer. Both girls would prove to be lifelong friends for Kick and would eventually become invaluable sources for those interested in her life.

Kick was taken under the wing of her fellow American Nancy Astor, who had married into the aristocracy and presided over a cabal of wealth and influence among the British Peers. Her home at Clivedon House was a popular retreat from London for "country weekends" and Kick was invited often. It was in this crowd of Astor's guests that Kick proved herself to be unique among her peers in England. She played vigorous tennis, took part in passionate political debates and took the inevitable hazing in stride. At one such weekend, Kick awoke to find that all of her left shoes had been stolen. Instead of crying foul - "Kennedy's never cry." - Kick stuffed both feet into mismatched right shoes and hobbled down to breakfast with a smile. On another occasion, during a spirited dinner-table debate, Kick threw a bread roll down the table at a fellow guest. Her confidence and gameness for jokes impressed her tormentors and she was immediately thought of as "one of us". 

If someone else had done that, it might have been rude or shocking … But she had this way about her that made it seem an absolute liberation.
— Jean Ogilvy
 Kick Kennedy in London, 1938.

Kick Kennedy in London, 1938.

That summer of 1938, Kick met William "Billy" Cavendish, the heir to the Duke of Devonshire and the great estate of Chatsworth. They were polar opposites - where Kick was self-confident, laughing and vivacious, Billy was languid, proper and reserved. But they struck up a friendship and found themselves spending hours in each other's company, talking into the early hours of the morning. A romance blossomed and their friends began to notice. But the now inevitable war was not the only impediment to a life together - Kick was a devout Catholic, from a family so entrenched in Roman Catholicism that they had attended the coronation of the Pope as his personal guests, and Billy was from a staunchly Protestant family with deep ties to the Anglican community. At this time, before the Vatican II reforms, a mixed-faith marriage would have been almost unheard of. All of their family and religious communities counseled that it was impossible. Amidst this personal heartache, the war began.

Kick and her siblings were sent home to America as Britain entered the war, and she would spend the next four years plotting a way to return. Her eighteen months in London had transformed her - she now thought of England as her home and felt that she belonged there, helping with the war effort alongside her friends. But Joe Kennedy forbad her from returning, despite many tearful pleas. Her life in America continued - she began working as a journalist and entered the Washington D.C. social scene alongside her beloved brother Jack. But all the while she was plotting her return, and Billy Cavendish was never far from her thoughts. While Kick continued on with her life in America, Billy joined the Coldstream Guards and was part of the British forces rescued at Dunkirk. Kick kept track of his war career through letters with family and friends and treasured the cherished letters Billy himself could send. She felt heartsick over her life of work and parties and casual boyfriends while Billy and her friends experienced wartime privations.

 Kick Kennedy in London in her Red Cross uniform, 1943.

Kick Kennedy in London in her Red Cross uniform, 1943.

In 1943 she finally found a way to return to her beloved London - she joined the American Red Cross. America had entered the war and Kick travelled to England as one of the famed "Doughnut Dollies". She returned to an England much changed by years of war and bombing - but her love for the country and for the friends she had made there was undiminished. She fell back into her old social scene as if she had never left. Her duties with the Red Cross included running a canteen for American Servicemen in London, providing them with a sense of home and normalcy as they prepared to ship off to the European Theater. The canteens threw parties, where the American Dollies danced with the men, talked with them and gave a listening ear. The girls kept up grueling schedules, opening the canteen early each morning and staying until late into the night. 

Kick also took time away from her Red Cross duties to escape with her London friends for country weekends, full of parties and antics as they tried to recapture some of the life they had experienced before the war. Her romance with Billy, home on leave, picked up where it had left off. As war raged, they tried desperately to find a compromise of the religious question. Letters and telegrams flew across the Atlantic, to Rome and back. Kick was convinced that somehow they would find a way to be together. She loved Billy and would marry him. But despite her deep love for him, Kick refused to abandon her Catholic faith. Billy likewise could not compromise his own religious upbringing - as the eventual Duke, he would be responsible for choosing Anglican clergy to staff the various churches on his lands, a responsibility that would be impossible if he or his heir were Catholic. For months, it felt as if there was no hope.

 Billy and Kick on their wedding day, with Joe Jr. at the back.

Billy and Kick on their wedding day, with Joe Jr. at the back.

But finally, as Billy's position in the Coldstream Guards threatened to send him back to the front, a compromise was reached. They would wed, and any male offspring would be raised as Anglicans and any female as Catholics. The respective churches agreed and Kick and Billy were wed in a civil ceremony on May 6, 1944 in London. The only member of her family to attend was the only member who had supported her during the long fight to wed Billy, her eldest brother Joe Jr. Kick's mother Rose checked herself into hospital for a month after the marriage, for nerves. Her family was silent and it would take months for a reconciliation. 

 Billy Cavendish & Kick Kennedy.

Billy Cavendish & Kick Kennedy.

Kick and Billy had five glorious weeks together. They honeymooned at a cottage on the Chatsworth estate, visited friends and spent every moment together. Five weeks after their wedding, Billy was called up and sent to the Continent. Kick remained behind in London, continuing her Red Cross work. On August 12, 1944 her brother Joe Jr. was killed when his plane exploded on a secret bombing mission. The only member of her family who had supported her in her quest to marry the man she loved was now dead. His death was a blow, and with Billy still away in Europe Kick immediately returned to America to mourn with her family. The war was reaching a climax - France & Belgium were being liberated and the Allies had the Axis powers on the run in Europe. Billy Cavendish was on the front lines in Belgium, leading his men as they cut across the countryside, liberating villages and towns. His letters to his wife and to his family document his immense pride as they were greeted by cheering villagers and crying townspeople. He wrote of how humbling it was to see the suffering and the joy. By all accounts a brave and fair leader, Billy's men were devoted to him. He had come into his own. On September 9, 1944, less than a month after the death of Kick's brother Joe Jr., Billy was killed by sniper fire while liberating a Belgium village. He was shot through the heart. He and Kick had been married for five months.

I think about all I’ve got to look forward to if I come through this all right...If anything should happen to me I shall be wanting you to isolate our life together, to face its finish, and to start a new one as soon as you can. I hope that you will marry again, quite soon — someone good & nice.
— Letter to Kick from Billy Hartington, Belgium 1944
 Kick Kennedy in her Red Cross uniform.

Kick Kennedy in her Red Cross uniform.

Kick would return to London, as the widowed Marchioness of Hartington, and create a life for herself there after Billy's death. Her love of England was too strong to stay away and she desperately wanted to grieve Billy's death among his family and those who had known him. She left her family behind and permanently settled in London where she lived for four years, surrounding herself with a group of beloved friends. She had ambitions to create a political salon - she was a Kennedy after all - and felt it was a continuation of the life Billy had planned for her. He had been intrigued by the letters of his illustrious ancestor Georgiana Cavendish Duchess of Devonshire, the celebrated political hostess of the 18th century, and had hoped that Kick would continue the tradition as he sought his own political career. She devoted her life to her London friends for four years before being killed in a plane crash with her married lover. She had once again defied her family and sought love on her own terms. She was buried in a church yard near Chatsworth by Billy's family. Her father was the only member of her family to attend her funeral. A tragic end, to a bright young life.

Joy she gave, joy she has found.
— Kick Kennedy's tombstone epitaph

Kick was vivacious and confident, the female counterpart to her closest sibling Jack. One can only image what she would have been like if she had lived to see him become president - but in reality, one of JFKs last trips before his assassination would be to visit Kick's grave at Chatsworth. Kick had defied her family for love - love of a man and love of a country. She had rebelled against her strict upbringing to chase happiness on her own terms, without sacrificing her deep faith or her charmed spirit. In the end she got what she wanted, but like so many other young people during those cursed years, had that happiness stolen from her by world war. But her story, so often written out of the Camelot mythology, is one of spirit and intelligence and love, and should be recounted.

For more extensive reading on Kick Kennedy, there are two well-researched and respected biographies:

Kick Kennedy: The Charmed Life and Tragic Death of the Favorite Kennedy Daughter

Kick: The True Story of JFK's Sister and the Heir to Chatsworth