Sales. No sales.

It happens. You can be right out there with your fabulous product that usually sells pretty damn well at the same/and other markets you’ve been attending regularly, that attracts new customers via facebook and word-of-mouth, and that gets some customers coming back for more – and you can still have a trading day with NO SALES.

It happened to me on Sunday, the last of four days in a busy up-market shopping centre in Claremont, with a nice steady amount of foot traffic. My hair was straight, I had the make-up on, I did the market dance, and all the signs were good. But – whaddaya know, my palm remained uncrossed with silver.


A few years ago, this would have been disheartening enough to make me rethink my purpose in life. Or at least to crack open a bottle of cheap wine and knock myself out for the night. Okay, no, not wine – chocolate. I would have crawled into bed with a slab of chocolate and felt pathetic. And then, after the chocolate, pathetic and sick.

A friend asked me how the day had gone. I told him, No sales. His reply: I’m so sorry, that must be horribly demotivating. And that comment annoyed the hell out of me. I know he meant well, and was caring enough to ask in the first place, but you know what? Sometimes a trading day isn’t about direct sales. It’s about networking with other traders, forging working relationships, meeting potential new customers, showcasing your products and ideas, listening to the kinds of things people say they are looking for so you can think about tweaking a few things if necessary. It’s invaluable time and energy spent on improving your business.

Over the four days, I actually had very good sales, five new orders, advice about how to improve a design for something I’ve been stuck with for months, and access to amazing hand-made food stalls! I didn’t feel demotivated at all. I’m not saying cash in hand isn’t very cool (everyone dreams of going home with a bag full of bucks), but if you’re in this for the long-term, you have to accept that it isn’t always going to happen that way. And look for the silver linings. And try and turn them into gold.


18 thoughts on “Sales. No sales.

  1. katechiconi

    Anyone who’s ever had a market stall has had those days. It’s definitely not a reason to give up, feel despondent or angry, or wonder why you’re doing it. I always tried to see it as an opportunity: you got your stuff under people’s noses, you could see what everyone else was making (and charging!), you could get ideas, have time for a bit of handwork, which always interested passers-by, and as you say, you could network and make friends. It’s not always about the bottom line, sometimes it’s about marketing… Bravo for keeping your head up and the flag waving.

    1. Nice Piece of Work Post author

      I thought it might also encourage other (new) traders to persevere. You’d be amazed how often people have low/no sales but don’t like to say so because other traders are bragging about their huge turnover. People like to exaggerate…… :)

  2. nanacathy2

    The veg man on the market was having a bad day last week. I was there after my library shift say around 12.30. He was calling Yorkshire Pomegrantes at the top of his voice. I did a double take and we had a ridiculous conversation about where exactly in Yorkshire grew pomegrantes. The bread stall lady said he had been shouting it all morning and I was the first to pick up on it. Which just goes to show …
    What I don’t know, but some days just don’t produce many sales. Even in the wool shop I worked there were bad days.
    It’s all grist to the mill.

  3. The Snail of Happiness

    One thing I learned from permaculture is that life is better if you seek multiple outputs. If you only focus on one result, you are setting yourself up for disappointment, but if you seek a variety of outputs you are likely to be successful with at least one. This is exactly what you are doing and long my it continue… it makes for a much happier and more fulfilled life.


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