How to Set Up Your Business at a Holiday Market: Tips and Strategies

How to Set Up Your Business at a Holiday Market

Holiday markets pop up throughout the season and happen in cities throughout the country. You’ll sometimes hear a holiday market referred to as a Christmas or Kris Kringle market. These seasonal shopping events usually include tons of gift items, food, and sometimes even holiday-themed entertainment.

Some of these markets focus on handmade items or other specific niches. But many are open to any small retail business that could appeal to holiday shoppers. So participating could help you reach more customers, make more sales, and potentially even make connections that last even after the busy shopping season has passed.

Here’s a video about ‘Holiday SEASON Marketing Strategies for Local Business, Brick and Mortar Retail’ that can supplement your learning in this article:

If your small retail business does not participate in a holiday market, you can really be missing out. Here’s why and how to join in.

Set Up Your Business at a Holiday Market

Find Holiday Markets in Your Area

Holiday market - Two teens shopping at a holiday market with shopping bags

There are tons of holiday markets around the country. Some are open throughout the holidays. Others are just set up on weekends or for a few days at a time. Start by searching online or asking around at your local Chamber of Commerce or business organizations to find where the best markets are that fit your needs. Then, you should research the requirements, fees, locations, hours, and target shopping market for each to find the options that are most relevant for your business.

Sign Up or Apply

Once you find a market that fits your needs, visit their website or contact their leadership team to sign up as a vendor. You may need to fill out an application and wait for approval. Fees vary by location and market type as well.

So, you may need to have some backups in place in case a particular market does not accept your business or the fees are out of your budget this year.

Decide What to Sell

holiday market - shoppers looking at what the vendor is selling

If you already run a retail business, you likely have a solid inventory of products to offer. But not every item is necessarily well suited for holiday markets.

Instead of bringing a cross-section of everything, focus on the items that make popular holiday gifts or impulse purchases since that’s what people tend to buy at these markets.

Think of things like scented candles, Christmas ornaments, chocolate gift boxes, knit hats, Christmas wreaths, and cute home accessories. Your inventory should also be eye-catching and well-suited for the clientele in that specific market.

For example, if you’re applying for a holiday market in a trendy part of town, you should bring items that appeal to a younger crowd rather than those that are geared toward older buyers.

Decorate Your Booth

A Christmas market also serves as a fun and festive shopping experience for people. So it’s not enough to have your products available. You should also try to contribute to the vibe of the market by decorating your booth with garland, lights, ornaments, or even a Christmas tree if there’s room.

You can integrate some of these items into your product displays. For example, set up a small tree to show off your unique ornaments for sale.

You might even have some quiet holiday music playing if the market allows it. This creates a memorable experience for people and can also help you draw more potential shoppers to your booth.

Post About It Online

If your business has an existing following online, use those platforms to bring more people to your Kris Kringle market booth in person. Post updates and photos on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or wherever you communicate with your customers online.

Be sure to include the market’s location, hours, and any other relevant details they should know before stopping by. This can be especially beneficial for businesses that mainly operate online and are using holiday markets as their main in-person shopping experience.

Some customers may prefer to shop with you at a market so they can see products in person before buying.

So this could help you finally close some sales with hesitant shoppers. And even if you have brick-and-mortar stores, holiday markets can still help you connect with existing customers in new ways.

Consider Offering Extras

holiday market - vendor giving wrapped gift back to customer

People come to holiday markets for the experience as much as they do for the actual products. So, if you can add services that enhance their experience even more, you may end up with tons of happy customers.

For example, you could offer gift wrapping for free or a small fee with each purchase. Or you could offer a special price on customization for things like ornaments or monogrammed bags, giving people the opportunity to purchase completely personalized items that will be completed by the time they’re ready to leave the market.

If allowed, you might even offer things like hot chocolate and cookies for people to eat and drink as they shop.

Table for Setting Up Your Holiday Market

Here’s a table to organize the content provided for setting up your business at a holiday market:

Find Holiday Markets in Your AreaSearch online or consult local business organizations to find markets in your region. Evaluate them based on requirements, fees, locations, hours, and target shopping markets to identify the ones best suited to your business.
Sign Up or ApplyVisit the market's website or contact their leadership team to apply as a vendor. Fees may vary, and approval may be required, so be prepared to have backup options in case a particular market is unsuitable.
Decide What to SellFocus on items popular for holiday gifts or impulse purchases, like scented candles, Christmas ornaments, or knit hats. Tailor your inventory to the specific clientele of the market, considering factors like age or trend preferences.
Decorate Your BoothEnhance the festive shopping experience by decorating your booth with holiday-themed items such as garland, lights, and ornaments. Consider integrating products into the decorations, like displaying ornaments on a small tree. If allowed, play quiet holiday music to attract more potential shoppers.
Post About It OnlineUtilize your online following on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to promote your booth. Share market location, hours, and other details to encourage visits. This can be useful for online-based businesses or those looking to connect with customers in new ways.
Consider Offering ExtrasEnhance the shopping experience by offering additional services or products. This could include free or paid gift wrapping, special prices on customization, or even offering hot chocolate and cookies. Personal touches like these can make the experience more enjoyable for shoppers, potentially leading to increased sales.

holiday marketing -networking at a holiday dinner

Benefits of Participating in a Holiday Market

Increased Customer Reach

  • Holiday markets draw in a wide array of shoppers, including those who may not typically visit your store or website. This diversification can open your business to a new customer base.
  • Use this opportunity to gather feedback and insights from a broader audience, which can be invaluable for future product development and marketing strategies.
  • Collect contact information, like email addresses, for your marketing database, ensuring future communication and potential repeat business.

Boost Sales

  • Holiday markets are synonymous with a festive and buying-ready atmosphere. Shoppers are often in the mood to find unique gifts, making them more open to impulse purchases.
  • Offer exclusive market-only promotions or limited-time offers to capitalize on the holiday spending spirit.
  • Display a range of products, from bestsellers to new arrivals, to maximize the potential for sales across different product categories.

Networking Opportunities

  • Holiday markets are excellent venues for networking with other local businesses and vendors. These connections can lead to future collaborations or partnerships.
  • Engage with customers in a more personal and direct manner than is possible online or in a regular store setting. This engagement can lead to lasting customer relationships.
  • Exchange ideas and experiences with fellow vendors, which can be enlightening and may provide new perspectives or solutions to common business challenges.

Enhanced Brand Awareness

  • A well-decorated and distinctive booth can create a lasting impression on market-goers, enhancing your brand’s visibility and recognition.
  • Utilize this platform to showcase the personality and values of your brand. A holiday market can be a perfect stage to tell your brand’s story in an engaging way.
  • Consider incorporating interactive elements or demonstrations that align with your brand identity to make your booth memorable.

Flexible Options

  • Holiday markets come in various forms, from weekend pop-ups to month-long events. This variety allows you to choose the type of market that best suits your business model and product range.
  • Explore niche markets that align closely with your product offerings, like artisanal goods, gourmet food, or handcrafted jewelry, to find the best fit for your business.
  • The flexibility in market types also allows you to experiment with different selling strategies and setups, helping to refine your approach for future events.

Considerations for Success

holiday market- festive atmosphere

  • Find the Right Fit: Research and select markets that align with your business needs, considering factors like location, fees, and targeted demographics.
  • Tailor Your Offerings: Select products that resonate with holiday shoppers and fit the specific market’s clientele.
  • Create a Festive Atmosphere: Decorate your booth to contribute to the holiday vibe and enhance customer experience.
  • Promote Your Presence: Utilize social media and online channels to let your existing customers know where they can find you.
  • Offer Something Extra: Consider providing additional services or products, like gift wrapping or hot chocolate, to make the shopping experience even more enjoyable.

By understanding the potential benefits and taking these considerations into account, small retail businesses can maximize their success at holiday markets, possibly creating a favorable impact that lasts well beyond the holiday season.


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Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends and has been a member of the team for 12 years. Annie covers feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. She has a bachelor’s degree from Columbia College Chicago in Journalism and Marketing Communications.