Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Fair success at the Market

You never can tell when you'll sell.

My village is a busy little place in the summer. It's busy in the winter, too, but it's a less-open, less public sort of busy-ness.

Spring Bank Holiday weekend marks the beginning of our outdoor, summer 'busy-ness'. We have a Village Market, at which I was persuaded, against my better judgement (or so I thought at the time) to have a stall - only £5 for village residents, so I looked upon it as my contribution to the village amenity fund. I nearly couldn't be bothered to go, but the organiser knocked on my door the night before to check up on me, and threatened to come round at 8 in the morning, too, so I had to ...

I knew I wouldn't do well, as anyone and everyone local is welcome at the market - car booters, charities, businesses, organisations - as long as they're within a certain geographical area they're welcome to sell whatever they want. The Avon Ladies of every surrounding village were present - an entire tribe of them! - and a pickle manufacturer who rents a production unit up the road was there, as was the Farmhouse Jam lady who really does work from her farmhouse. Not much call for hand-made domesticalia at premium prices, I thought.

So I'd made nothing special or new; as I've done very few fairs so far this year I merely dug out some unsold stock - half-a dozen cushions, half a dozen aprons, half a dozen strings of floral bunting, half a dozen strings of 'boy bunting' (pirates, cars and Manchester United - two of each) and two corset-clad dummies, one large and one small, whose main purpose is display and the attraction of customers from afar, not for selling. I'd not even been to the bank for a float, either, so I hurriedly altered all my prices to multiples of 5 - which made the cushions and aprons expensive and the bunting cheap. I really wasn't bothered, though. Why should I be? I just knew I wasn't going to sell anything much at all.

I trundled my trolley all of 100m down the road - and was passed by a swerving tractor, driven by a farming acquaintance whose eyes nearly popped out of his head when he saw how my dummies were clad! - to the market, and found myself placed between the pickle man and a retro jewellery maker, opposite the nursery school's nearly-new soft toy stall, Help the Heroes and the Allotment Society.
Everything literally pegged-down on a windy day
Within three hours, standing there in the cold wind, I'd sold all the cushions, five out of the six aprons, all the boys bunting and half of the floral bunting. I also took orders for two more cushions (to match a pair already bought) and two more strings of boy's bunting. The dummies had to be put away under the table, as the wind was so strong it blew them right off. It wasn't a venue for corsets anyway, but let's be honest, there aren't that many outdoor venues which are!

There were plenty of buyers, including lots of British Asians - probably from the neighbouring East Lancashire towns - and the Allotment Society was doing a roaring trade with the Asian ladies buying boxes of bedding plants.  Here in this rural neck of the woods we are a surprisingly homogeneous bunch of white Anglo-Saxons and Celts, and see very few people from ethnic minorities, except for our bus drivers and my best friend Elena who is black South African and visits at least once a week,  so the Allotment Society members - every last one of them over the age of 85 it seems - looked a bit flustered as they were surrounded by billowing saris and dupattas, vying with the flowers for colour.

It wasn't supposed to rain until 2pm or so, but the first spots started coming down an hour earlier.  Ten minutes later, it was fairly pelting down, but by then I'd packed up everything but my table and was sheltering under the pickle man's gazebo. The pickle man very cruelly (to his son) and very kindly (to me) sent his son to unscrew and fold my table, and a few minutes later, the rain having lessened a little, I trundled up the road, far less burdened than when I'd trundled down it earlier in the day.

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