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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Looking after yourself at markets...


Fetes and fairs, markets and shows – they all sound like lots of fun, right? Well they are but there is a lot going on behind the scenes and one of the most important things is to look after your own health so you can sell all those fabulous items you’ve put so much effort into.

I’ve been to plenty of markets and fairs in my time and the one thing that always strikes me is how exhausted everyone gets. Not that I’m saying we don’t have fun or enjoy ourselves but we often are up sewing or cooking the night before, combine that with early mornings and lots of physical labour (packing and unpacking the car and then setting up our displays) it can take its toll.

There are a few ways to make the whole experience a lot less taxing.

Be prepared –
I know this sounds silly and obvious, but leaving things until the last minute is stressful, and deprives us of energy when we need it most. Plan weeks in advance, make time to organize your stock, tag everything beforehand, make signs, label the boxes that your stock is in and write anything down that may be important on the day or in the lead up to a market.

Sleep –
This probably sounds crazy too but sleep is the most important thing you can give yourself before a market. Go to bed early the night before, get as much sleep as you can, be rested and that will reward you during the day of the market. You’ll be happy, fresh and energetic and this will translate to your customers, to make your stall more inviting and you a more appealing salesperson.

Hydration and Nutrition–
During markets we often forego food and drink even bathroom breaks. Don’t do this to your body; it is simply not worth it. Take some time out have a proper lunch, let it digest, and make sure you have access to plenty of fluids. The medical profession advises that we drink 8 glasses of water a day – and this is even more vital when consuming vast quantities of energy, you’ll be running around selling, restocking, and talking to customers all day and you’ll need that hydration.

Security –
This is important – not only for the money you make but for your own personal safety as well. Make sure your money is on your person at all times – even better if you can spread the float amongst several people. Keep an eye on what the people around you are doing – don’t be overly cautious or obvious in your caution, as this will frighten customers away. Just keep your eyes peeled, your money safe and make sure you have someone to help you if needed.

Weather –
Not every market has the fortune of being undercover. So attend each market as if you expect the worst. Rain, snow, hail, cyclonic winds, 45degree temperatures, cold can all make a market experience a negative one. If you are attending markets that are outside try the following suggestions.
·      Take a market tent or gazebo with side panels, this way you can seal yourself in and protect your goods and yourself from the rain/snow/hail.
·      Make sure that you have plenty of weights, tent pegs and ropes to secure your tent from blowing away.
·      Take extra tarps and plastic covers to throw over your tables if you don’t have a tent.
·      Wear suitable clothing for the weather predicted and take the opposite just in case. Include a pair of gumboots.

If you are lucky and indoors at a site with power take a small fan to save you from the high temperatures.

The other important rule of weather and markets is if you are outdoors please remember to wear sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses and cover up if you can. The number of times I’ve seen sunburnt stallholders is not funny and very painful.

Exercise –
Don’t stand still at your stall and look like a stunned mullet. It’s not attractive to customers to see someone frozen in position. Move around, tidy, and act busy but not unapproachable. People are more inclined to buy from an active stall than one with nothing happening. Sitting down was considered inappropriate but is becoming more and more acceptable as many stallholders do demonstrations. Also you will get tired standing all day, so get the friend or partner who’s helping you to watch the stall for a little while and go for a walk. Stretch your legs, get some fresh air and take in the sights and the other goodies on offer from your fellow stallholders. Make sure that your friend gets a go as well – can’t have you both worn out.

Setup and Packup –
For some reason at markets people think packing up and setting up is a competition. Apart from the fact you need to be in and out a certain times according to the venues rules and regulations there is no real rush. This seems to be the point where everyone exhausts themselves. Pack your goods up at the end of the day back into the correct boxes, fold up tablecloths neatly and keep signs flat. Don’t rush setting up either. You want your stand to looks its best to bring in trade, so set up things at a reasonable pace, and take your time to display things carefully, decorate and label everything. It will be well worth the effort. Take photos so you have a record of how it looks for future reference.

Enjoy Yourself –
Make sure you have fun, make friends and some money!