How to run a successful stall

Preliminaries

A successful stall has a buzz about it; visiting the stall is an engaging experience for visitors, and an enjoyable experience for the stall team. You know what it’s like (and you know what doesn’t work, too). If you’re in doubt, talk to someone who’s organised a stall before…

Setting your objectives

Before the event, with others, agree on your objectives. Depending what sort of event it is, how do you want visitors to the stall to participate? What do you want the outcomes to be? For example:

  • lots of people signing up for the bulletin
  • everyone going away with a list of events
  • in-depth conversations about eg energy efficiency or vegetable growing techniques
  • engaging children in planting seeds
  • covering the costs/making a surplus

If you choose something measurable, you’ll know if you succeeded. You can also, of course, choose something more abstract like ‘raising people’s awareness of the impacts of climate change’.

It’s also a good idea to have a couple of lines to explain what Transition is eg ‘we know about climate change, we know about peak oil, Transition is about redesigning what we do on a community level and making this future look attractive’. At the very least, this would be an interesting discussion among your group…

Expenses

Transition can reimburse stall expenses eg stall fees, taxi’s, parking and any other relevant expenses. Make sure you have agreed with the hub in advance (talk to your hub representative) and make sure you get receipts!

Raising money

Transition policy is usually to ask for donations rather than sell things for a fixed price. That way people can pay what they can afford, and can be generous if they want to. You can put an amount for a ‘suggested donation’ eg 6 plums for £1 (because people can get a bit perplexed)… Depending on the season, you could sell ‘for donations’ seasonal fruit or baby veg plants. Bushel Box farm in Willingham is good for seasonal fruit (eg plums in August/September, apples from September onwards). You’d need to ask Transition growers (and give them enough notice) to provide baby veg plants…

Logistics

Its all in the planning!

Book your stall

Book your stall with the organisers as soon as you can; it goes without saying that you’ll need to observe deadlines and pay whatever fees are due. (You could try to negotiate a ‘community group rate’…). The organisers will let you know what space is available and the exact location.

Design the stall

Decide what to have on the stall, bearing in mind the objectives you’ve chosen. A visually attractive stall can be a great draw so think about how your beautiful stall will look. Is it for one group (eg energy, food), or several? How will the available table and display space be divided up to reflect this? Do you want to use the big boards or the pull-up stand? What will go on the table(s) as well as leaflets? If food is a focus, a basket of seasonal veg (home-grown or Cropshare) is a good draw, as are bread samples (if Cambake is part of the stall). If it’s a family event, what about children’s activities?

It is usually best to have a limited number of themes with supporting material for each such as posters, notices, aprons with slogans on them and so on.

Arrange a rota

Put together a rota for people to be on the stall and invite people to sign up. Doodle is an easy way to do this http://www.doodle.com. Include slots for setting up at the beginning and taking down at the end, and decide how many people are needed for each slot. Send an email to your group inviting people to sign up for the slots they want to do. Include the date, times, exact location of the stall, what the event is about and whatever your agreed objectives are.

It isn't necessarily an advantage to have lots of people on the stall at once. You do need to have room for people to come and talk and if there are lots of you there already it is tempting for you to chat amongst yourselves rather than invite people in. However, it is best to have more than one person at all times. This is partly so you can give each other breaks and partly because having one visitor on a stall often attracts another and it's a shame if they have no-one to talk to.

Equipment

In line with your objectives and the picture of how the stall will look, decide what equipment you need. As a minimum you’ll need the tablecloth, leaflets, signup sheets and a bowl for donations. Also maybe the current issue of Transition Free Press, relevant Transition books, the banner (if it’s an outside event), display material and boards…

It’s always useful to have scissors, string, paper, sellotape, pens and pencils. If you have display boards or the pull up stand make sure you also have velcro to attach stuff to them. Take a notebook for making notes about contacts you make that need to be followed up (other than straightforwards signups). If the stall is outdoors you may need weights (such as large pebbles) to hold leaflets down on the stall when the wind is blowing and possibly plastic to cover things in case of rain (or make sure you have plastic wallets for leaflets).

If you’re selling stuff, you’ll need plastic bags for people to take it away in. If it’s an outdoor event, you may also need the gazebo and tables. And cardboard to stand on if the weather is cold!

Have a bag for rubbish.

Lots of this stuff is available from the Transition store at Anna’s house.

Transport

Depending on what equipment you will use, is it a case of bike, car, big taxi or van? Make sure you and any drivers make a plan about times and places to pick up and drop off the equipment, as well as arrangements for unloading and reloading at the event. Having each other’s mobile numbers can be useful…

On the day

May all go well, may you enjoy yourselves and fulfill your objectives! Be sure that the stall team takes care of themselves by having breaks, too.

Its nice to take some photos. They can be useful for the website and also it is good to have a record so that next year you can remember what you did. When you are taking photos, never include strangers unless you have asked their permission first.

When you get people to sign up, make sure that you read back their email address so that it is definitely legible. It is such a shame when someone who has expressed an interest doesn't get any further contact because their writing was not quite clear.

It is tempting to use the stall as a meeting place for friends and family and to spend your time chatting with people you know. That's OK as long as the stall doesn't get so full that other people can't see what is going on or can't get attention if they want it.

Afterwards

Make sure all the equipment goes back to where it belongs in reasonably good nick. Give any sign-up sheets to Anna to put into the bulletin mailing list for the following week. This needs to be done by Sunday evening if possible as the bulletin goes out on Mondays.

Give any necessary feedback (positive, and suggestions) to the organisers of the event.

Do the finances – make a record of the takings/donations and expenses, and send the figures to Martin, the treasurer, who can reimburse you.

And finally

Most importantly, celebrate your achievement, thank everyone who was on the stall, and collect people’s feedback and thoughts, to feed into the next stall that is planned…

It can be good to share the experience more widely - please write a couple of paragraphs about what you did and what happened and give this to your hub representative so that they can report back at the next meeting. Also you could give it to the media group - they might want to turn it into a blog post or something.

This page was put together by Liz, with help from Nicola and Jacky. Contact us with any suggested improvements.

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