Category Archives: market

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.

sad

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.

Advertisements

Dear foreign tourists

Welcome to South Africa. Welkom. Wamkelekile. I’m getting to meet so many of you at the craft markets lately, and some of you have travelled really far to visit us – from Portugal, Spain, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, the UK, the US, Belgium, Sweden, Japan…  Thank you very much for coming, for liking what you see, and of course for spending your money here (not all of it goes towards firepools for the president’s personal estate or new Porsche Cayennes for all the top government officials)!

And, let’s be honest, you’re getting great value for your money, aren’t you? Our rand is a poor little sausage compared to your meaty euros and your hearty dollars – so then why why WHY would some of you treat some of us with disrespect?

lion

Why would a tourist from Portugal try to buy something from me at less than the marked price? He wanted a pair of rhino-printed pillow cases, which cost R195 (don’t bother trying to convert that into your currency – believe me, it’s a very reasonable price for a top-quality, handmade, original item). He said, I only have R130 on me – here you go. As it happened, I’d gone to the loo and Rob was holding the fort at the time. He said, It’s R195. If you haven’t got the money, you can’t have it. “But it’s for my wife, she really wants it.” Then your wife must come and buy it. “Okay, okay, what’s your best price?” For you – R250.  Now please leave.  [He did, but came back sheepishly 30 minutes later with the right amount].

Why would an Asian tourist at the Kirstenbosch market pick up a hat that was already on sale and scream Cheaper??? Cheaper??? in my face?  Any cheaper and I’d have to pay him to buy it.

A German couple recently wanted me to make them a huge bedspread with screenprinted designs and very specific colours, in just three days (they were going home for Christmas), and also to deliver it to them at their (second) house in the countryside. I worked out that I could manage it, at a real push, and quoted R1,700 (that’s 115 euros). Apparently it was much too much, and they huffed off. Rob suggested I should maybe have considered doing it for less – since, you know, income is useful for buying food and petrol – so he got this answer: No f**king way. If people don’t want to pay a fair price for something special, then they can’t have it. Or not from me, anyway. I would have resented every second I spent making that bedspread – so totally not worth it!

proudly-sa

Is this common behaviour? Do some people think that haggling is the way things are done at craft markets in Africa? Or that, because they’re not in a fancy shop in a fancy mall, they can get something very special very cheaply? Because it’s not, and they can’t. I know many traders (who also make their stock by hand), and they have similar stories to tell – but the bottom line is that it’s insulting.

Not one single South African customer has EVER asked me for a discount. I do give discounts to fellow crafters, and if I really like someone and they buy more than one item from me, I am happy to reduce the price, unasked. I once offered a discount to a young woman at a market in Tulbagh who bought a hat for herself and one for her friend, and she turned it down – she said she knew how long it takes to crochet, and she wanted to pay the full price. Now that’s classy.

Right. Let me get back to work. I have three markets on this weekend (tomorrow is a public holiday here), and a four-day gift fair next week to prepare for. I’m looking forward to selling to LOVELY new and returning customers, wherever in the world they are from :)

 

Day 11

Last day of Festival today.

This was my view of dawn breaking over Grahamstown this morning from the veranda with my first cup of coffee.

dawn 1

I was approached by a sweet young man called Brent earlier in the week; he’d seen my fish hats and wondered if I could make a seal beanie for a good friend of his in Cape Town. I said I’d have a bash, and we were both quite pleased with the result:

The Village Green closed at 3pm and we were packed up and home by 4.30pm, rather tired and achy but overall very chuffed with sales up by almost 50% from last year :-)

A short holiday may be on the cards….

Grahamstown 2016

Our second year at the National Arts Festival – going super well :-)

2016 4

Sales are up from last year, the sun has been shining (despite the intense cold), and Sean and Melinda are again treating us like favourite family members. We remembered to pack warm jackets, vests and long johns, and there’s underfloor heating in our bedroom. What more could we ask for?

2016 22016 1

Three days down, eight to go xx

Night Market at Rondebosch Park

Yesterday’s Rondebosch Park Market is the last market I’ll be doing this year. There’s lots of planning to do for 2016, but I’m going to take a few days to catch my breath, do some admin, sew some stuff for my very own self, and spend time with the people I love. Might even fit in a trip to Dizzy’s!

Nici and Tonya have worked their little butts off this year to reenergise and revamp this particular market, and it’s now growing and evolving and doing wonders for our community here in the southern suburbs of Cape Town.

The night market ran from 3pm to 8pm, which is perfect in Cape Town because the heat starts to lessen and usually ushers in a nice cool evening. We had rain late last night, but luckily about 3 hours after the market ended!

Some random photos:

And some more…

Wishing you all a happy holiday season, with love from Jill, Rob, Jessie, Choco, Carol and Grommit.

taking a deep breath

What the next few weeks looks like for me:

beach man

28 November:  Paternoster Seafood Festival

29 November: Kirstenbosch Craft Market

30 November: Protea Hoogte NG Kerk Christmas Market

1 December:  Pack down at Bonnievale Christmas Market

5 December: Pack down at Protea Hoogte

6 December:  The Palms Lifestyle Market in Woodstock

6 December:  Set up at Pinelands Xmas Fair

6 December: Set up at Simply South Xmas Market in Constantia

7 and 11 December: work shifts at Pinelands

12 December: Rondebosch Craft in the Park

13 December: Kirstenbosch Craft Market

19 December: I love Yzer market in Yzerfontein

20 December: Kirstenbosch Craft Market

22 December Pack: down Pinelands

22 December: Pack down Simply South

23 December: Langebaan family market

Yikes.
I’ll see you on the other side….

oops. been a while.

It’s challenging fitting everything in sometimes. A lot of times, actually. But then you all know all about that, too!  On days when I’ve really overextended myself, supper is yogurt and a banana and then I’m in bed quite early. It’s all I’m good for. Plus I think I deserve it. And on days when I’ve haven’t extended myself much at all, I tell myself I was busier in my head than usual so I still think I deserve my bed and book when I please.

Tomorrow the Festive Ideas market opens at the Simondium Country Lodge, for five days. Everyone set up today – usually a bit stressful at the best of times, but the weather wasn’t playing fair and the temperature shot up to over 40 degrees.  Simondium is an hour’s drive for me, and by the time I got home at about 5.30, I was crazed with heat-brain and heat-body. I don’t know how else to put it. I was the most finished I’ve ever been. It took an very stationary hour under a wet towel to recover.

Here is part of my stand (the focus is on pillow cases, you’ll gather, rather than hats, beanies and bags)

sim 2

and here, if you look carefully, you can see one of the many peacocks that has given its name to the Peacock Palace – the ‘hall’ where I am set up, along with 8 other traders.  If the windows aren’t closed at night, apparently they come in and crap mess all over everything.

sim 1

There are 130 traders in total, and the venue is just perfect for such a huge variety of products and styles. It was still pretty overwhelming today, though, and I was mighty glad to get home to my wet towel and some peace and quiet.

Ah well, tomorrow is another day, and the weatherman says it’ll be about 10 degrees cooler than it was today. Fingers crossed.