Things I’ve Learned in the Past Three Weeks…

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!

Our bookstore logo...guaranteed to make you say "Awww..."

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…



Filed under books, family, friends, rants, satire

38 responses to “Things I’ve Learned in the Past Three Weeks…

  1. I’d love to stop by Wendy. I may not be a buyer, but I’d at least give you a bathroom break.

  2. Jackie Cangro

    Sounds like you’re doing a great job, Wendy. Keep up the good work. I hope this turns into a profitable venture for you.

    It’s nice to be able to meet new people and chat with them, even if it’s only for a few minutes as they’re passing through, but come on people – buy something! 🙂

  3. I *cringed* at the thought of the price tags.

    If the market were in the neighborhood where I work, I would be just like the man in #7.

    I’m curious: was the little old lady wearing a Team Google tee shirt?

  4. Wendy, I never realized how complicated it could be to see books in a market. But what an adventure. Seems like never a dull moment!

  5. Sounds like you are learning a lot. Great to hear from you, my friend!

  6. N B

    I am so glad to hear you are enjoying yourself at the market! I hope your sales remain in the “high sales day” category. 🙂

  7. Good luck with your market! Sounds like a real learning experience, and hopefully a lucretive one as well.

  8. So good to hear from you again. Always love hearing about your adventures. I totally understand point #1 Nothing is predictable. On our car lot we can have several cars of the same kind and no one will ask about them for weeks and then in just a day or two all will sell.

    One Friday we nicknamed Four Dodge Friday because all four Dodges we had on the lot sold that one evening which is really a rarely occurrence because we rarely have one Dodge on the lot to sell. It’s just not a brand we usually carry.

    As far as shopping in snow storms, I know it would be different for books but that is the day when we get customers that want to drive everything on the lot. They want to see how cars perform in the worst conditions. Some come out of boredom just because they can’t do what they really wanted to do that day.

    Good luck with your Market experience and hope word of mouth and new displays continue to increase your sales.

  9. Jeanne Heuer

    Don’t worry about infrequent posts I couldn’t keep up when you were being your prolific self. Keep bookin’ it!

  10. Hi Wendy. I was given a 7×7 Link award and have passed it on to you. Congrats! and or Sorry…lol 🙂

  11. Glad you are enjoying the market Wendy. Sounds like fun but hard work too. Look forward to reading/hearing more from you when you find some spare time. BTW if I lived near I would come in both to buy a book and also to give you a break. 🙂

  12. Sometimes busy is good. Sometimes,you just need a vacation. Hope you find a little rest and relaxation soon!

  13. This couldn’t have come at a better time as I’m about to embark on a new journey in business. I just hope that I don’t have to put my bladder to the test becasue I doubt it would pass (I like my coffee toooooo much).

  14. lucieloves

    I’m a book-buying addict! If I ever make it our your way, I’ll be sure to stay awhile and buy some! Your shop sounds lovely!

  15. Hi Wendy — isn’t that interesting, about the U-shape? It’s true, though, and I can picture it the way you described. Much more inviting. And that’s so sweet that you find little gifts of cardboard under your bench! Sounds like quite the adventure you’re on, and I look forward to more posts whenever you have the time. Set up a mobile bookstore down here in Boston and I’ll be first in line!

  16. I’m either a buyer or a be-backer. As strong as I try to be in a bookstore, it’s very rare that I leave without one book. Well, at least a store like yours. Barnes and Noble is a different story. New, shiny bookstores are nice and all, but I could spend hours in a used book store and leave with a stack of books. Sometimes if I want a book but it’s just a little too pricey, or if I have to decide if I really want the book or not, I have to employ my “Wait and hour and see” test. If I’m still thinking about the book about an hour later and suddenly getting panicked that someone else will buy it before I can get back to the store, I know that I have to have it, and then I really will be back.

    I still can’t believe how close I got to your store a couple of summers ago on the one day I was in Saint John! Well, if we ever get back there, I’ll _definitely_ come and see you 🙂

  17. Wendy, come home. I hope everything is ok. We miss you!

    • Hey Hippie: Everything’s fine…I’m just too busy to be in Blogland! Waiting on birth of granddaughter #2 (Kaylee is in labour as we speak!)… Sorry I haven’t kept up with reading either…no privacy where I work now! Hope everything is good with you too! Wendy

  18. Sorry I haven’t been around much lately, but my book, The Bellman Chronicles, will be FREE to download on Sept. 10 – 11! Check it out on my Amazon Kindle page.. You won’t be disappointed. And if you can slip me a review, I’d be forever grateful…

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