So, the decision is made to trade at shows and events. Of course, there is a need to talk to organisers and find out if there is availability. This is as much about luck as anything else, and there will also be waiting lists. There could be many refusals, but take heart, be polite and keep on knocking at the door. remember, responsible organisers, keep a balance of the numbers of each trading genre standing at an event.

Terms and Conditions

Ask for terms and conditions and read them with care. Remember that the words can be your friend or foe, so you must understand the meanings. For example, cancellation of the stand will have a time-out limit. The stall fee is usually still due if you cancel within 30 days of the event. This is understandable. The organiser may not be able to fill the space at short notice. And large organisers can enter non-payment on credit registers, councils, for example. Read about the deposit system, and discover if the deposit is there to ensure a place at future events or if it is a rolling deposit deemed part of the stand fee. There is no problem with asking where the funds are held. Look for cancellation clauses; you may have booked for a specific date and agreed on a venue, which, if changed, means you cannot attend. Can your fees be refunded if changes are made if you are not happy with the changes? Ask any questions and get them clarified if the terms are financially loaded for the benefit of the organiser, you may lose money, so get the terms clear in your head.

Do not be afraid to ask questions about the trading terms, and if in doubt, have trading standards look at the clauses. Best to have an excellent understanding of your position if an issue arises. Remember, ignorance is no excuse. Terms and conditions can be a defining mark in disputes. And can lead to bad feelings. For example, we are very flexible, with no deposits and payment 30 days before the show. But we will pursue by CCJ judgment funds which are owed in default of attendance. If an agreement is made, there is a need to: one understand the commitment and: two: know the results of breaking the contract.

Extreme Caution is needed ~ Here is an example:

Be clear about the trading relationship between the organiser and stallholder. Are they inviting the stallholder to break the Law? For example, it is illegal for any party to set prices (there are NO justifiable reasons for price fixing) or operate a cartel system. If price fixing is part of terms for trading, for example, suggesting minimum prices, agreeing to the terms can have profound implications. I would guide all market traders, event traders, and stall holders to understand the Law relating to this issue. Click and read the link ( Trading standards are red hot on this aspect. And remember, the Law is retrospective. Once a fixed price cartel has operated, the Law is broken. Even the intention to price fix violates the Law. Do not be afraid to ask questions about the trading terms, and if in doubt, have trading standards look at the clauses. It is too late to claim you had not read the contracts after the curtains fell. Ignorance is not a get-out clause.

Real example: Two traders set prices of cotton handkerchiefs at an outdoor market, the cartel was proven, and the traders were fined £2500 each in the first instance! So, those who think this only counts for large businesses should think again.

Play Safe

Public Liability is an essential aspect of trading. Market Line is traders’ cheapest and most effective public liability insurance ( For around £65 a year, you’ll receive a first-rate insurance policy covering the UK, whether at a fixed or multiple venues. Insurance is not expensive and can eliminate worries if a claim is made. Therapists and readers could look at a broker such as Balens ( They are a good starting place for this type of public liability insurance. Do not trade without insurance. It may never be needed, but a blessing if an issue arises.


Electrical equipment should be PAT tested. It is not the organiser’s responsibility to enforce electrical safety certificates. Although, many venues insist on in-date test certificates. PAT testing is not expensive, and although an unavoidable small hurdle, accept the requirement.

The lighting should be LED. It is low on amperage use and will not blow fuses. The bulbs practically last a lifetime and burn relatively cool, so the danger of fire or skin burning is low. Make sure the stands will reach at least 2 meters high. And if the lamps are clamped to the tables, use heavy-duty screw clamps. If you can afford to design and pay for a fabricator to make light stands do so. And a stage equipment box will store lamps, extension leads and spares.

If buying a folding table or two, spend £100 on each. Never bother with pasting tables. They will always break under heavy weight. Buy the best quality that can be afforded. This means there is one less worry at set up. Remember, the table is the platform for your business. Never be on a rocky surface!

The difference in price between a fitted tablecloth and an old cloth remnant is just a few pounds. The range of fitted cover cloths is vast, and it is recommended to have a second cover cloth over the fitted material. Wash the covers often and keep them in a good quality slip. Customers look at presentation quality. It is something which reflects the retailer. If the stand looks tired or, even worse, dirty, customers will be lost. Food retailers are guided to PVC-covered cloth. It cleans well. Use cotton or poly-cotton if desired, but make 101% certain it is immaculately clean.

Banners and Promotion

Banners are accepted advertising media. A name and pictures are OK, do not put on contact details as emails and details do change. When they do, the banner is redundant. Contact and information details should be printed on A6 flyers. Print at least 2000 business cards and offer them to everyone spoken to at the event.

OK, that should be enough for you to consider the basic legal and material needs. Get the foundations right from the beginning. Set the intention of being the best there is in your chosen field. Never compromise. Spend time drawing out and designing your stand, the lights, and the cloths. Write out your flyer designs tens of times. Think about everything before committing. If in doubt, wait and research.

You are building the mobile shop front and identity of your business. Even in today’s challenging trading world, it is possible to go from a weekend trader to a multinational company. Build your brand from the beginning. Be the acorn that becomes the oak.

See You Next Week

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