How to Plan for a Day at a Market

It's the weekend and you've decided to visit a market.   Obviously you can jump in the car with little thought except the desire to have a good day out, but with a little planning your market experience will be far more enjoyable.

Before leaving home consider:

(1) What type of market is it?

Besides knowing where and when the market is being held, it's worth knowing what type of market you're planning to attend.  Is it actually a market that would interest you?

Is it a handmade market, boutique market, flea market, second-hand market, farmers market, fashion market, children's market, school fete, car boot sale, bazaar or an anything goes market?

(2) Will the market be held indoors or outdoors?

An indoor market has the advantage of being "safe" from whatever the weather may bring - extreme heat, cold, rain or wind.  You need to be a little more prepared for an outdoor market.  Depending upon the time of year and where you live, you will need sunscreen, a sunhat and a bottle of water for summer markets and a coat and umbrella for winter markets.  If it's really cold or wet add gloves, scarf, warm hat and perhaps even gum boots!

(3) What are the opening times of the market?

Find out what time the market opens and closes.  Is it a daytime market or a twilight market?  Is it a one or two day market?  How often is it held?  Some markets won't let you in until opening time and there's nothing worse than arriving at a market as it is packing up.

(4) Is it a popular and busy market?

If a market is popular it will be crowded throughout the day.  Some markets are busy all day while others have peaks throughout the day.   Most daytime markets are busier in the morning and quieten down during the last hour of trading.   If time is not important to you, attend during a quieter time.  You will have more space to wander through the market without being shoulder to shoulder with other market-goers and stall holders will have more time to serve you and talk to you about their products.

(5) Parking

Is there ample parking around the market venue?  Is it paid parking or free?  Take it from an experienced market-goer, plan to get to the market early to snaffle parking close to the venue if you are going to a popular market.  Alternatively, go later in the day to avoid the crowds.

(6) Will food be available at the market?

Will you be able to buy something to eat and drink at the market? Many people like to wander through a market with a coffee in their hand and what a treat to take home some delicious homemade cupcakes for afternoon tea, or to enjoy lunch at the market with friends.

(7) Preparing a Shopping List

Prepare a shopping list before you leave home if you are looking for something in particular.  Do you have birthdays coming up that you need presents for?  At Christmas time write down everyone you need to buy for and some gift ideas.  If you're attending a farmers market, take your grocery list with you.

(8) Taking a Shopping Bag

A market bag to carry all your purchases is essential as you don't want to have to carry a large number of plastic bags around all day.  Personally I do love a french market bag, but any decent sized bag that you have in the cupboard at home will do.

(9) Do you have Cash?

I can't say this loudly enough.  TAKE CASH.  Not all stall holders offer eftpos facilities.  And fancy not being able to buy that gorgeous necklace that you simply must have just because you don't have any cash with you!

(10) Be Happy and Take a Friendly Smile with you

Most importantly, remember that a market is a happy place.  Stall holders are small business people - mums, dads, grandmas and grandpas, who attend markets to showcase and sell their handiwork and to help support their families.  They love to talk about their wares, particularly if they have made their products themselves.

Do you have any other tips to help us enjoy a day at the market?