As my regular readers know, I’ve been set up in the Saint John City Market for the past three weeks selling books from our bookstore…this isn’t my first time selling at the Market, but it is the first attempt at being a full-time vendor. Here’s what I’ve learned so far:
1. Nothing is predictable. You can have an amazing sales day on Monday, but your sales on Tuesday might suck! There is no rhyme or reason to it…it completely depends on who walks into the Market that day with money in their pocket and a desire to buy a book. There was a raging snowstorm outside on one of my best sales days ever…I thought people would be holed up in their houses! Hopefully, it all evens out at the end of the week (or month!).
2. Listen to other people’s suggestions, within reason. My friend, Scott, (who is also a Market vendor) suggested I change my display to a U-shape with individual books highlighted in the center instead of two straight rows. He was right…it looked much more inviting, and gave the illusion of having more books. Another Market vendor suggested I stick a price tag on the books so people wouldn’t have to look for the price (inside the front cover in pencil)…no way…stickers are death on books!
3. Change is good. I change my display daily, and bring a new box of stock from the store every morning. The theme changes weekly. I learned this from a very successful Market vendor (and good friend), Becky. There are a bunch of people who go through the Market every day (it’s part of a pedway system)…I want them looking at my stuff when they pass through.
4. Word travels fast. I mentioned to a couple of other vendors that we used tomato boxes to store our books, and pop flats to mail them in. Now cardboard and boxes magically appear under my bench!
5. The public can be a little too friendly sometimes. One day last week, I felt someone looking over my shoulder, turned away from my computer and was nose-to-nose with a little old lady who was staring intently at our bookstore logo on the screen, and giggling like a little girl. It is cute, but she was certainly old enough to have a sense of other people’s personal space!
6. Customers usually fit in one of three categories. The first, buyer, is my favourite! The second, be-backer, may or may not come back, despite what he or she says (although I have been surprised more than once!). The third, bugger, will talk your ear off for fifteen minutes and leave without buying anything…if you’re going to tell me about your Great Aunt Martha’s hip surgery, at least reward me for the torture I’ve endured by buying a book!
7. Regulars are the best. My best customer so far bought seven books the first week, two the second, and one this week (he gets 20% off since he’s bought five books from us). He walked by my bench at a fast clip on Wednesday muttering, “Stop tempting me…stop tempting me…stop tempting me!” I got a laugh out of it!
8. My bladder is stronger than I thought. I’m at the Market from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. I work alone, and the bench across from me is vacant most of the week. I depend on the kindness of my friends (and fellow vendors) to make pit stops. My record for “holding my water” so far is seven hours (I usually don’t drink anything during the day, and wait until I get home at night to have tea). I’m hoping that I get a “neighbour” soon!
9. People are procrastinators. If I had a nickel for every customer I’ve talked to who’s said, “I’ve seen your store, but I haven’t gone in yet,” I’d have a lot of nickels! It’s been twelve years, people! It’s time!
10. Boys will be boys, no matter how old they are. Last week, a fight nearly broke out in front of my bench because one guy failed to move to one side so that a man coming toward him could get past. Ridiculous! Luckily, a woman travelling with one of the men was able to talk him out of his idiocy.
I’m having fun at the Market…I’ve met some interesting people. I’m going to keep it up as long as I can make a bit of money…
I miss Blogland, but it’s really hard to read and write when one is being constantly interrupted…and I do have to eat. I’ll try to visit my blogging buddies once in a while, and post when I have a few minutes…