Saturday 12th July 2014 – Market
This weekend I packed up crafts I’ve been making and headed to a market in the city to sell them. I have sold jewellery and crafts at small local Christmas fairs before, something I have done once or twice a year since I was thirteen. Recently I’ve branched out slightly into local jewellery repairs and crafts. It’s not a living. I can count this year’s repair customers on just one hand, but it’s a little money for something I like doing. Since this market is in the city centre, and the stall rent is more expensive than previous craft fairs I’ve been to, it’s a big step up for me.
The traders were really kind and helped show me the ropes and set up my stall. They are all really interesting people, and when I wasn’t trying to sell stuff, I enjoyed chatting to them. The market traders have a wide variety of stalls and goods. There’s T-shirt sellers, bespoke leather bags, jewellery, anime merchandise, and a professional psychic.
A lot of people, including tourists, can come through the market on a good day. I was hoping to make some money. By the end of the day, I had covered the table price, but didn’t have much extra money to show for it. I hoped for a better day tomorrow, when the stall rent was cheaper.
Sunday 13th July 2014 – Market
Something important I learned today was that to be a successful market trader, you don’t just need to have attractive items to sell. You also require good social skills. Thanks to MLC Scotland and Johansen IAS, I now have the foundations to develop good social skills, however, I haven’t had those foundations for long and I’m still learning as I go.
The jewellery seller across from me in the Market alley was very kind to me. He moved my stall beside his, and gave me hints and tips to help me with talking to customers. There is a strong element of social skills involved in selling anything. As the seller of tartan goods told me, people are coming here to buy things from you. So it’s good to be friendly.
What I’m trying to say is that if you want to be successful selling things to people, you have to be a friend to your customers.
However, the first thing I did that morning was put my foot right in it. I’ve been really busy recently, and staying up late making crafts to sell. When I’m tired, my Auditory Processing difficulties can be a problem. I smiled back at a guy of about my age passing my table and he said something to me. The only word I heard was “Joke”. When he said joke, I worried that because I was smiling, he thought I was laughing at him in some way. I said no, to reassure him, probably sounding horrified.
He held his hands up at me in a backing-off kind of way and said “Fair enough”.
Then he moved on to my neighbour, grinned and said “Hey, you want to hear a funny joke?”
I realized I’d got things completely muddled up and out of proportion.
I walked after him and apologized. “Sorry I didn’t mean to be rude, I didn’t hear you properly”. He said that’s okay, gave me a smile and a thumbs up.
Damage repaired, but my first interaction with someone at the market could have gone better.
The jewellery seller had some great advice for selling, which I suppose could also be applied to everyday life.
- Get out from behind your table and engage people if they want to talk to you- don’t just hide back there
- Don’t get in people’s faces too much. They want to decide to buy things in their own time. If you look like a trader who hassles people, they will avoid your stall
- Presentation matters. If your stall seems interesting from a distance, potential buyers will come to look.
- Small talk- get to know your customers
- Be friendly
I sold more than before today, feeling like I could maybe just keep going with this wee business venture on Sundays when the stall rent is cheaper. Even if I don’t make much money, I like talking to the market traders.
Even more importantly, I learned a lot of new people skills today. Selling at a market, I have to spend seven or eight hours a day talking to people from all over the world. Today I even made use of some of the French and Spanish I learned at school, although my Spanish skills are very poor. So long as I make more than the table price, I’ll stick at this. Even if it’s not financially successful, I know I will learn a lot.