Market without being at market

As mentioned yesterday, today I helped my wife organise her market stall to sell dog bandanas. We got up early and drove over to the market with all the stuff we needed. It’s a bit hectic setting up there, as there is very restricted car access near the market, so you have to queue up for a bit and wait for a car/van to leave before being ushered into the tiny parking area to unload your stuff and get out again as quickly as possible.

We did this and I drove back home with Scully, leaving my wife to handle the stall by herself until the market closed at 3pm, when we did the whole thing in reverse to pack up and head home.

So I had much of the day to myself (and Scully). I spent it writing the rest of that batch of Irregular Webcomic! that I began yesterday. It’s now complete and I can do the photography probably on Tuesday morning when I don’t have any ethics classes.

Speaking of which, I had three more tonight: two of the 10-12 age group, and one class of the new 13-15 group, which had three of the most mature students from the previous class who transferred into it for this year. I think my favourite classes are actually on Sunday evenings, as these classes all have great groups of kids in them.

My wife sold some bandanas and was happy with what she achieved, so that was good. She has a different market booked in a few weeks to see how it goes in a different suburb as well.

New content today:

Market preparation

My wife has decided to hold a few market stalls to sell her dog bandanas and bangles. She’s booked a stall at Kirribilli Markets tomorrow – one of the markets where I tried to get established selling prints of my photography a while back. So we have some experience in setting up and running a stall there. We’l be up early tomorrow morning to drive down and get set up. But rather than me manning the stall all day, it’ll be my wife’s project. So today we got organised and sorted out all the things to take, making sure she can use our Square payment device on her phone, setting up a cash float, and so on.

The rain eased off today about lunchtime. We went on a long walk to the bakery for a bit of afternoon tea. Back home we gave Scully a bath. I went out for a run – this time doing 5 km, double my normal distance. I’m trying to do at least one run of this distance each month.

Not much else to report today, really. I spent some time writing new Irregular Webcomic! strips. I’m planning to photograph a new batch some time during the coming week.

New content today:

Our last market day?

My wife and I got up early today, to pack the car and head off to the market at East Lindfield. She has new products to sell – hand made decoupage bangles, to go with the dog bandanas. She’s slowly been crowding my photography stuff to smaller areas of our table, so this time I suggested we just grab a second table and have one each. I thought there’d be enough room, and as it turned out there was plenty, because one of the ladies who usually has the stall next to us wasn’t there, and the organisers had rearranged things a little, so we had a slightly wider space than usual. I was thinking we’d have one table sideways, making a corner, but we ended up just having two tables lengthwise end-to-end, and plenty of space to lay out all our products.

Unfortunately, the numbers at the markets were very low. It was incredibly quiet, with very few people coming through to browse or buy. All the stallholders were commenting on it to one another. We did actually make enough sales to cover the stall hire and make some profit, but not a large amount.

We discussed whether we should keep doing this market thing or give it up as not worth the effort. We can’t do the April market, because it’s on Easter Sunday and we’ll have a family lunch, with our nephew who will be coming back from Europe for the first time since COVID began – so it’ll be a pretty big event. Our liability insurance expires at the end of May, so we can possibly do the May market and then not bother renewing the insurance for another year. We’ll decide in a while when we’ve had some time to mull it over.

Back home in the mid-afternoon, I did my run in afternoon heat, and then had a couple of ethics classes. In between I made pizza for dinner.

And now to rest after a busy and tiring day!

New content today:

Pre-Christmas market day

Today was the first time the East Lindfield markets were held since July, the last few having been cancelled due to COVID restrictions. My wife and I figured it would be a good day, being close to Christmas, and hopefully a good number of people would be out shopping.

I got up and had a quick breakfast before packing the car and heading over to the market site. As usual, I need to make two trips because we have a small car, and after unloading the stuff I returned home to pick up my wife, Scully, and the remainder of the gear. We had our stall set up and ready to go about 20 minutes before the official starting time of 9 o’clock.

The day was hot, really hot. I heard on the news this evening that it was the hottest day since January (last summer). It felt really humid too, although checking the humidity later when I got home it was only around 50% for most of the day. Fortunately, we had an indoor stall, and the community centre we were in had recently renovated and installed air conditioning, so it was fairly pleasant where we were. But all of the people with outdoor stalls under marquees must have been sweltering.

But there were a good number of customers coming through today, which was nice. We didn’t sell a lot of stuff, but we made a profit above the stall rental fee, and handed out a bunch of business cards. And by the time we got home again, my wife actually got an order on Etsy for 3 dog bandanas from one of the women she’d given a business card to, so that sort of counts as well. And it was nice to see some of the familiar faces of the other stallholders there, after so many months of cancellations. So overall it was a decent and positive day.

The hot weather broke into a storm as I was making my second trip home with our stuff. We got a few minutes of heavy rain, but the storm had merely skirted us, and as we discovered when watching the evening news it had caused havoc further north, tearing rooves off buildings, bringing down power lines and trees, destroying cars, and killing a person. The news footage was really quite scary. Another storm front come through later and we got very strong winds here and heavy rain, but I don’t see any damage from our windows.

This evening it’s time to relax, after a busy and exhausting day!

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Wet market day

It was wet and cold for today’s market as predicted. When we got there and set up, we realised that several of the stallholders hadn’t bothered showing up. The organisers moved some of the outdoor stalls into the indoor space where I have my stall, so that area was still full, but the usual row of stalls outside was severely depleted. Maybe a third or so of the stalls weren’t there.

Customer-wise, it wasn’t actually as bad as I feared it might be. Quite a few people came through, probably looking for something indoors to do to spend some of their Sunday. Not a lot though. I sold several greeting cards and my wife sold some dog bandanas. It wasn’t quite enough to cover our stall hire fee, again. If we keep having days where we make a loss we’re going to have rethink doing these markets at all. But hopefully things will improve later in the year when the weather warms up, and hopefully most people will have had their COVID vaccinations.

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Second market day

This morning I was very tired, and could hardly drag myself out of bed at the appropriate time to get ready for the second day of the Turramurra Market. My wife and I arrived there just before it opened, which was fine since everything was still set up from yesterday.

Today went a bit better, with more people coming through, and more stopping to chat and look through our stuff. I sold more greeting cards, and my wife sold a lot more doggie bandanas. But although we did better, overall it wasn’t quite enough to turn a profit on the stall rental for the weekend. This market is on again in September, but I don’t think we’ll go next time.

We had some more conversation with the woman who was running the biscuit stall next to us. She’s English, and she was telling us tales about her days over there. And… it turns out that her brother-in-law is the drummer and founding member of the band Racey! I was in awe, but she was actually surprised that I’d ever heard of them.

At the end of the day we packed up and I had to do two trips home in the car to take everything, but that was okay because the woman who runs the market was still packing up by the time I got back for the second load.

And this evening I’m just relaxing, watching some Doctor Who and taking it easy, after a very busy seven days.

New content today:

Last late night and market day

Last night was the last of five late nights of Zoom meetings for photography standards. The session again began at 23:00 and ended a few minutes late, after 02:30. The wrap-up session is administrative stuff, going over results from the technical discussions, action items, and setting up the next meeting, which will be in October. One important issue was deciding on a response to the Chinese notice of intention to start working on photography related standards within the International Telecommunications Union. I won’t go into details here, but we’re putting on the diplomatic cotton gloves because this is potentially a large issue.

I slept in to 08:00 this morning, but then had to get up to prepare for the day at Turramurra Market. I’d driven most of my stock out yesterday evening and set it up in the venue (which is locked up overnight). So this morning I basically only had to show up on time, and set up a small amount of additional stock that I brought on the second trip. My wife and Scully came along, so she could sell her doggie bandanas as well.

The market was… small. Very small. Smaller than I expected. There were just nine stalls, including mine. Lindfield has about 50 stalls, and Kirribilli which I did twice has close to 200, and of course correspondingly higher traffic. People did come through regularly, but there were never any significant numbers – maybe a maximum of 8 or 9 people browsing at any one time, and dropping down to virtually zero at times. I sold a few greeting cards, but not enough to make a profit on the stall rental. And we are booked to do it again tomorrow. Hopefully more people will come through on the Sunday.

Our stall was next to a woman selling biscuits. She had a small baking company, making shortbread style sweet and savoury biscuits. Food stalls always do well. People walk past my photography stall and have a glance and, no, they don’t have any use for greeting cards or a wall hanging. But everyone eats. So she was selling biscuits hand over fist. In between we chatted and she was telling me stories about her life and travels around the world. It was good, because it helped to pass the time in which there were no customers!

When the market closed up for the day we came home, and then went out for dinner at a local Greek restaurant. After a long week, I really felt like relaxing and having a nice dinner that I didn’t have to cook. Just the market tomorrow to go, and then I can really relax next week.

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Relax Sunday

I had a bit of a sleep in this morning – I think I must have needed a bit of a catch up. I didn’t feel particularly active so didn’t do very much today, except for a long walk with my wife and Scully.

The quarterly Coal Loader Artisans Markets were on, and it’s a bit of a hike but within walking distance from us.

Coal Loader Market

As we arrived, there was an oil tanker being guided into port by tugboats, which was kind of interesting.

Coal Loader Market

As you can see it was a grey day, and it sprinkled lightly for a bit, but not so much that we really got wet. It was also very cold. My wife had gone out earlier with Scully and told me it was warm and sunny and I wouldn’t need a jumper. So I went to the market with just a jacket over my shirt, but the clouds rolled in and a cold wind as well, and I felt chilly the whole time.

This afternoon I relaxed and spent some time compiling historical dates for a project of a friend of mine: Bisecting History. For example, this one from earlier this month:

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Marginal Market profits

I spent most of today at East Lindfield Market, trying to sell my photography stuff. I feel a bit like a broken record saying again that it was really slow, with fewer customers than normal. Honestly, it feels like every market except the first few that I did has been “slower than normal”, ever since COVID hit. As one of the market organisers said today, this is the first time they’ve managed to have two markets in a row (consecutive months) in the last 18 months, with the various COVID and weather cancellations that we’ve had. We may need a run of consecutive markets to get the customer numbers back up again.

Furthermore, today was the first really cold weekend we’ve had as we move from summer into winter. So a lot of people might have just decided to stay home, not yet used to the cold weather. Hopefully next month (assuming it’s not cancelled…) people will be more used to the winter chill and come out to the market again.

Anyway, at least we did better than last month. My wife sold some of her dog bandanas, and I sold a bunch of greeting cards. Together we managed to just scrape over the line of making a profit over the stall hire cost. Which is significantly better than we did last month, so that’s good at least. It’s a tough time running a market stall at the moment.

New content today:

A day of prep work

Today I spent doing a lot of preparation, for two different things.

Tomorrow is market day, and I had a few things to do to get ready for travelling over there and setting up my stall. My wife and I will be trying to sell my photography and her doggie bandanas again. We have a new display rack for the bandanas, to get them up closer to people’s eye-lines, rather than just lying flat on the table. So hopefully we’ll sell more of those.

Mostly I worked on writing a new batch of Irregular Webcomic! strips though. The current buffer will run out this week, so I need to get a batch photographed and assembled in the first few days after Sunday. It’s actually going to be tricky squeezing it in, as I have other things to do this week too.

This afternoon we took a break (me from writing comics, my wife from sewing bandanas) to take Scully for a long walk. We went past the bakery a suburb over and down past the water – our usual long route. Although the weather was clear, it was very cold and windy. The first tendrils of winter have really hit in the past couple of days. Today’s maximum was only 16.9°C, which is pretty much a chilly winter day. I rugged up with a jumper (a sweater in US English) and a jacket, and still felt cold.

I know this is almost laughable for those of you who live in colder climates, but this is pretty much midwinter temperatures here, and I’m not used to it. It already feels like this is going to be a colder and longer winter than last year’s remarkably mild one.

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