As I sit enjoying some very strong and boozy coffee on this Monday morning, I’m taking some time to reflect on life as a business owner and the upcoming holiday shopping season.
Kerf has wrapped up another great weekend of market selling, our first of three for the holiday season. I love being a part of the markets because I love talking about our great products. I love meeting new people, chatting up new and old customers, and the satisfaction I get from putting all of our hard work on display. Probably top of the list of favourites in market selling is meeting artists. We have met a lot of amazing people, and now friends and partners, through these wonderful shows. It’s great to see other people killin’ it and sharing their creativity with our city.
We have two years of business under our Kerf belts, and we’re about to ramp up for Christmas selling, which of course means more markets to participate in! I’ve composed a small list of suggestions for how to compose yourself at this years markets. This list is composed from personal and non-personal experience, not limited to any particular market, ones we have both participated in and attended. Please attend all and any market you possible can, not only to witness some of these market faux-pas for yourself, but to purchase some really cool shit!
*rules are in no particular order*
- Don’t Squish Your Face and Roll Your Eyes
You’ve come across a table that sells something that puzzles you. You don’t understand what it is or why this person standing behind a decorated table with this good for sale. Cool! Ask questions or keep moving, but please wipe that look of disgust off your face. I’ve seen an entire booth devoted to red onesies. Red Onesis, that’s all, only in red. I may not be in the market for a red onesie, someone else could be. Great! I know a really cool guy that’ll sell ya one…
2. Don’t Verbalize Your Dissatisfaction About Anything Until You Leave the Building
Now you might be thinking, “I can say what I want, when I want”, but hear me out because this is really important! Markets are usually busy places with hundreds, if not thousands of people in attendance. I’ve heard countless “I would NEVER use/get/buy that!” etc. and I feel so shitty for those hardworking artists and creators that have put so much of their time and love into their products. My husband almost got into an altercation with this punk loser who felt it was necessary to tell a woman selling lip balm that her goods were not worth their price in earshot of many visitors and potential customers. This type of behavior is unnecessary and makes everyone uncomfortable so just shut the hell up if you’re not interested and, again, move along.
3. Don’t Make It Social
Again, you’re entitled to your opinion and free to share it, just don’t do it negatively on social media. Don’t like the venue? Not enough parking? Didn’t find anything you liked? Too busy and you don’t like crowds? (see rule 4) That’s cool, but there is absolutely no need to put it on the event Facebook page etc. Find the event organizer and share your thoughts with them! There will always be something that could have made YOUR experience better, but that’s YOUR experience. No one else, especially the artists, should suffer because of the lack of lighting. If you are truly concerned and want to help make next years’ event better, share it with the organizers, not even the volunteers, just the organizers.
4. It’s Good to be Busy!
I’ve seriously read a comment about how one person was planning on attending a market but chose not to because they “don’t like crowds”. If you think that markets shouldn’t be busy you’re an idiot. It’s such a good thing when markets are busy! This means people are spending money on locally made goods and contributing to our Canadian economy in SUCH a positive way! Yea, it’ll take a bit longer to see some cool shit, it’ll be hotter and harder to get in and out, and take a bit of time to get auntie Bessie that engraved handmade glass-blown mini ship-in-a-bottle necklace that you’ve never seen before but thought she’d love, so what?! It’s worth it. Still not convinced? Go to the mall instead. On a Saturday. Nearing Christmastime. Good luck….so dumb…
5. Handmade Means Made by Hands
Like, literally, made by hands, probably the exact ones you see in front of you while you’re standing at a leather goods booth. How cool is it that you can meet the maker of your sick new belt?! Unless you’re flying to China on the reg, that experience probably doesn’t happen for you very often. Cherish and respect that!
6. Rule 5 Might Be a Fib!
Not all goods are handmade from start to finish. A lot of items are ‘designed’ in one area of the world and actually ‘made’ in another. You are entitled to ask the specifics. Be a proactive shopper and ask the questions that are important to you, you have the right to know.
7. Understand Value
This is also a very big rule! If you want a handmade Canadian item, it’s likely you won’t be getting a ‘deal’. In Canada, we have a Canadian cost of living. We also have Canadian wages. Many consumers have been duped with bargains and deals. It’s mainly a lie. Watch The True Cost for information on the lie. If you bought a shirt for $5 at H&M, (please don’t) no wonder you’re shocked when you see a shirt at a market priced at $35! Please take this into consideration the next time you try to price compare and don’t dare to balk at the price of an original handmade piece of work unless the ‘artist’ is purchasing items in bulk overseas and branding it as though it’s made by said company. It happens a lot, just be informed. And don’t even get me started on the cost of shipping!!! Or do…THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS FREE SHIPPING!
8. Handle with Care, Pt 1 & Pt2
We have witnessed children literally wipe out full product displays. Markets are typically child-friendly, but if your kid breaks anything or attempts to do so by picking up items that they shouldn’t, this makes us market-gypsies dream of shoving your child to the ground. This doesn’t make us bad people, it makes you a bad parent. If you have taught your child that you look with your eyes, not with your hands, gold star! Unless it’s a plush octopus toy they’re reaching for, they probably shouldn’t be, so STOP them! It’s not cute when your kid gets grabby. Best to ask if it’s cool. Which brings me to Part 2…
Grabby children turn into grabby grown-ups. You see me adjusting my products into a nice display, then decide that’s when you want to grab said item, try it out and then throw it in a mess on the other side of the display as though it’s your dirty underwear? Not cool! I get a little touchy-touch at times too, but my absolute favourite types of people, the epitome of sweetness (ST I’m talking about you!), are those adults who ask if it’s okay to touch the items…ahhhh I love you!
9. Don’t Take a Card Unless You Will Actually Use It!
And I don’t mean as a bookmark! (People still read books right…?) Those little things cost money, especially if you want nice ones to rep yourself, so please, only take a business card if you have the intention of following through with using it.
10. Go to Many, Go Often
Have such a good time cruising markets whenever you can! We are very fortunate that Vancouver has many many markets to look forward to and a community that supports them. Our city is filled with so many talented people doing truly talented and amazing things, it’s worth encouraging and providing them with a platform to share their goodness. It’s so cool to see people doing their own cool thing and loving it!
And there ya have it! I’m sure I’ll have many more rules to add after the Christmas market season ends but hopefully after reading this, your visit to a market won’t become a rule of how not to behave. Be happy, be encouraging and Merry Christmas!