Trials and Tribulations

Ah the life of a market stallholder…

You have to be really careful how you set up your stall. Hey, it’s an artform in itself.
If you have a walk-in layout then you can maximise the use of your stall space but run the risk of losing customers who don’t want to commit themselves to actually walking inside (I’m like that). If you position your tables parallel to the path people walk then don’t have as much display space but you can often attract the people who see things out of the corner of their eyes while blindly walking past.
While it might seem logical to stuff as much as possible on the tables, it is actually detrimental. If the table to too cluttered and noisy then people won’t look. If there are less things then those things stand out more. If you have less then you may not have what someone walking by wants but if you have too much then people will be so overwhelmed with choice that they’ll choose to leave with nothing. We get that a lot. Someone will spend forever trying to pick out one pendant, narrow it down to three or four and then leave, saying they’ll be back later (or ask if you’ll be there next month). And then you never see them again. I do that to heaps of people. Sometimes I’ll go back and get something but more often than not, I’ll decide that it’s not worth it.
There’s also trying to predict where people look. If people are coming from this direction then they’ll first look here so we’ll put this board up, because it’s shiny and attracts attention, and they’ll look ahead to the next stall once they reach this point so there’s no point putting our best stuff there. But if people are coming from the other direction then they’ll first look at (and ignore) different spots.
Man, psychologists should hang out at markets.

The markets we go to finish around early afternoon. Crowds have normally died 30-60 minutes before the official end time. But still, it’s amazing how many sales you can make while packing up. I feel so awkward around those people. Should I stop packing up while they’re looking? There have also been the odd person complain about the markets ending so early. I can understand where they’re coming from. But there’s no need to be rude about it. We didn’t get a sleep-in, we’ve been here since before 8am. Screw you.

No matter what you do, you can’t satisfy everyone. The amount of requests people have made…do you make rings? Cufflinks? Do you have this exact same thing in a different colour?
And then there are the people who tell you what you should be making…well, why don’t you make it then?

There’s also the issue of price. Sure, you can get something else that’s cheaper. It’s probably made overseas under cheap labour but look at that price and the sign does say handmade. Everyone and their mum advertise their stuff as handmade, which makes life difficult for the genuine handmade sellers. The amount of people who are surprised that our stuff is actually made by my mum, despite all the signs saying “handmade” (although, people commonly fail to read signs and price tags at markets). We can’t exactly put on our signs “Yes we did actually make this. No, the people a few stalls down did not make their pendants. They are trying to get you to pay $10 but you can easily get them for $1. By the way, do you even know how much our raw materials cost?”
Actually, another nice little gimmick some stallholders do that draws buyers is sticking up huge red signs saying SALE. I have joked to mum that instead of having signs saying “Pendants – $20”, we should have signs saying “SALE!! Was $25, now $20!!” I bet it would work.

At least at our best market we’re next to a nice person selling sauces and stuff. It’s good to talk to her and if she breaks something without smashing it, she’ll give it to us (since she can’t sell it). This time round I got a pumpkin chutney and she also gave me a discount on a jar of lemon butter 🙂


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