Youth Market PDX: Vending 101

Here are some notes (from our “Business Basics” and “Vending 101” workshops) for our Youth Market vendors, and any other young entrepreneur who’s prepping for your first arts market!

Notes for the December market specifically:

  • 6-9pm! December 2nd! At the Village Ballroom in NE!

  • Arrive for set up by 5pm (and as early as 4pm)!

  • Market is all ages! Entrance is free! People should spend their money on ya!

  • Remember that the market is on the second floor, so you’ll have to bring your things up a flight of (exterior) stairs.

  • All vendors will have half a banquet table (approximately 3’x3’), with another vendor at the other half.

  • You will not be able to attach things to the walls (if you’re in a space with wall behind you).


  • Your items! (Make sure they’re priced!)

  • An inventory list.

  • Anything you need for your display.

  • Business cards! (With your name or business name, and your website / instagram / Etsy / etc) Even if you just hand-write them. If people aren’t ready or able to buy right then, it gives them a way to find and support you later.

  • If you plan to accept cash: bring change and a cash box, fanny pack, or other place to store cash.

  • If you plan to accept cards: your card reader.

  • Your phone and a charger (or external battery if you have one) if your phone dies easily.

  • A water bottle and a snack if you’ll need one!

  • Pen and paper just in case!


  • The cost to make that product (materials, tools, etc).

  • How long it takes to make the product, and how much you’d ideally be paid per hour to create it.

  • The cost of other comparable items (what are other people selling similar things for)?


  • Include vertical displays if possible (small shelves, stands, or if your work is 2D - explore ways to prop it up), it’ll be more engaging and easier for people to see before approaching your table.

  • Make sure your prices are clearly visible. Folks may be uncomfortable asking, and you’re more likely to make sales if people know (and can decide if they can afford it) without asking.

  • If possible, have items or options at varying price points (so if they can’t afford your higher priced items, they can still snag something).

  • People like to touch things! If there are ways for people to pick things up, or flip through items - it’s been proven that people are more likely to purchase something if they’ve held it.

  • Have a sign with your name or business name on it, and other places folks can find you (Etsy, Instagram, etc), as well as what forms of payment you accept.

  • The table tops aren’t cute! Consider bringing a table cloth, sheet, or piece of fabric to cover your half of the table (approximately 3x3’).

  • If you have enough inventory that you don’t need to put everything out at once, save some things under your table so that you can add new things throughout the night and keep your table looking fresh.

  • Keep your display dynamic - things should be organized but also fun to look through.


  • Can be a printed out sheet with a checklist, or a notebook - whatever works best for you.

  • Your inventory (list for tracking all your items) can be as specific and detailed as you need it to be (for example, you could just track how many of a type of item you have, or you could track items individually) but you should make sure you’ve accounted for all your items somehow.


  • Cash - Pros: no fees. You don’t need a bank account. Cons: you should bring change, which means you need to start with money. Bring change that’s appropriate for your prices (for example if you have a lot of items in the $1-10 range you’ll want plenty of ones and fives.) Keep in mind that when people carry cash they often have 20’s (because it’s what ATM’s give out).

  • Venmo - Pros: no fees, don’t need change. Cons: not everyone may have venmo. You need a bank account to register.

  • Credit Cards - Pros: customers are likely to spend more. Cons: Card processing fees. You need a bank account to register.

    If you’re going to be accepting card payments we recommend using the app Square. Most people have used it before so they’re used to it. The only fee is a 2.75% fee per transaction. You can get a reader for free in the mail! You can also track your inventory and set up a web store through Square.


  • Don’t be hard on yourself, or take sales personally!

  • Do note who your work seems to be connecting with, and what items are selling, being noticed, etc - so you can keep those things in mind next time.

  • Keep things like your cashbox and your phone behind your table and within eyesight.

  • Make sales feel special! People like receiving little extras, even if it’s just your card, or a pin.

  • Connect with your customers, compliment them, introduce yourself, or tell them a little bit about what you’re selling or what inspires you. Practicing what you might want to say ahead of time might help!


  • If you want to sell online after the market choose an option that makes the most sense for you! Want to just take custom orders off instagram? That’s okay! Some free website options are Weebly, Wix, and Wordpress. Some options with associated fees are Etsy, Squarespace, Squareup (connected to your square reader, if you use one) and Shopify.