I had my market day today. Got up at 6, went to pick up the car I’d hired to take all my gear and stock to the market, drove over there, unpacked, set up the stall. The forecast was for rain today, but it turned out sunny and warm. Unfortunately, this probably encouraged people to go to the beach rather than to the market, as attendance was very low today. I chatted with other stallholders and they agreed business was very slow. But they reckon that things will pick up in the next few months as autumn brings cooler weather, and maybe people will continue to get more adventurous after COVID.
It’s interesting the observations you make of people while you’re tending a market stall. I’m selling photographic prints. The images are beautiful, if I do say so myself. But it’s amazing how many people wander past the stalls, taking some time to look closely at the stall next to mine, but then approach mine, take a single glance that must genuinely be less than a second long, and their eyes immediately move on to the next stall and they walk right past mine without a second look.
Obviously some people are not particularly interested in buying photographic prints, but I’m amazed at just how quickly they can apparently dismiss the idea of even taking a slightly longer look. I’m a very visual person and I love looking at artwork and photography. Even if I have zero intention of buying anything, I always pause and look closely at any market stall that has visual art. It’s interesting and intriguing to me that there are so many people who apparently have no interest whatsoever in stopping to look at some beautiful pictures.
This is mostly adults I’m talking about. Children usually seem a lot more interested. I watch families walk past, and the parents do the split-second glance and their eyes move on to continue around the array of stalls, but the children tend to gaze a lot longer at my photos. It makes me ponder if children are naturally drawn to visual art and imagery, but somewhere along the path to adulthood this natural fascination with images somehow gets beaten out of people.
My best customers are often lone parents escorting one or more children. The children get excited by the photos, and the parent agrees to buy some greeting cards, or in some cases a matted print. But when both parents are present with kids, I seldom make the sale.
The exceptions are the handful of adults who are genuinely interested in photography. They come over and look through every single image in the boxes of matted prints, and praise me on the photography, and ask questions about specific photos. These people are a delight to talk to, and I’m very gratified that there are indeed other people out there who love visual art as much as I do.
By the end of the day, I was fearing I’d make a loss after the stall and car hire. But one final customer came by about 15 minutes before closing time, and bought a matted print, which pushed me over the line into profit for the day. Not a lot of profit, but definitely better than being in the red. So thank you to that woman.
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