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Villagers can be hired to serve as a shop keeper on one of your chests.

Hiring a Villager
First you will need to find a villager that isn't already hired, you offer him an emerald block and he will agree to work for you. He will turn into a villager spawn egg in your inventory. You could also just buy/get a villager spawn egg from another player to skip this.

Setting up shop
To create a shop, first create your chest, you should fortify it carefully (double diamond protected double chests are recommended, check best practices for more info.) Put the items you want to sell into the chest. Next click on the chest with your villager egg, then when it prompts you, click on the spot where you want the villager to stand.

Next you will have to setup your prices. Open the shop keeper editor by right clicking on your villager while sneaking. It will open up this inventory view:

The three items on the right are management buttons. The chest shows you the inventory the shopkeeper is working from. The wool allows you to change your shopkeepers clothes. The egg allows you to cancel the shop and return the egg.

The other items are your prices setup, the top row is the items you have in the chest that can be sold. The second and third rows are for your prices. You can make items cost either one or two items. You might have a conversion price setup with a fee for the conversion for example, but usually you will probably want to only have 1 itemtype for the cost.

To set an item as the currency to trade for, from the shopkeeper editor, left click the currency item once from your inventory, then left click once under the item your selling. You won't see it as your mouse cursor, but it will appear once you click under the item your selling.

To change the quantities you can left click to increase the quantity, or right click to decrease. You can hold shift to change the quantity by a factor of 10.

Once your prices are setup you can just close the window. Your vendor should now be offering your deals!

Best Practices
  • Make sure to always protect your chests with citadel. You can apply 2 diamond protection if you go into fortify mode with diamonds, and place both chests while fortifying.
  • The vendor needs to be within 5 blocks of the chest, but the chest can be hidden or surrounded by protection.
  • Don't entirely block players from getting close to the area where your vendor is, sometime when closing the trade window they will drop items toward the vendor. If they can't get to them they may try to break into your booth.
  • Double check your deals in the shopping interface. You won't be able to purchase your own deals but you can make sure they are setup as intended.