As most of you know I attended my first flea market on Sept. 30 – Oct. 1. It was an eye opener as most “first time” events of this size are, but boy did I learn some things.
First off I’ll explain what I envisioned. I imagined a lot of foot traffic coming through the doors. I pictured young girls gravitating toward the mint/white and gold signs. I pictured older women being drawn to the scripture hanging signs. I thought with the diversity of having tiled tables/ mosaic’s and wood signs combined in our booth we’d attract more people. What I did not expect were people walking in, doing a two-minute loop of the building and heading out the door. I didn’t imagine that people would walk in with imaginary blinders on and not even turn our way. Nor any of the vendor’s way. It just wasn’t what I expected and it left me feeling discouraged, at least up until the end.
What I learned…
1. Pay attention to the area- What I mean is know who you’re selling to. There’s a vast difference in demographics according to the area you’re showcasing in. So for this particular event, it was harder to sell a “sassy, classy” sign to a guy in cowboy boots. Know your audience.
2. Ask about past events – What’s the area like? What’s the attendance like? I noticed a lot of people were blind sided and I think history of the market would have alleviated that.
3. Be inviting – For some reason unbeknownst to us, people seemed to border the edge of the booth. We had a carpet in the middle of our booth, but it was like it had a force field around it because people didn’t want to enter beyond that edge. We would have to physically invite them in. I have no idea why, but at one point we hinted to rolling up the carpet some so they’d take a closer look.
4. People are selling what you are so deal with it – I really don’t mean this in a bad way at all. I just know there were vendors selling some of the same things but they were different styles, makes, and originality to all of it. So when I saw a picture of a booth selling amazing signs and had a mini panic attack, it was good to be reminded that I shine too!
5. Be friendly and make friends – Why? Because they help a sister out! One girl said it best. We are like a sorority. We help each other out with potty breaks and we can also give each other leads. Pay attention, be polite and you’ll be rewarded and might even score some good info for future events!
Why I got defeated…
The day before the event I had all my signs lined up, priced and ready to go. I was all gung ho until I looked online and saw pictures of what I thought were booths already set up at the same event. They were beyond spectacular and here I am trying to swim with the big fish. A friend texted me and said “you have favor my friend”. That helped me see that there’s room for me too.
The day of the event, it helped that the big sign booth wasn’t there, but when people kept passing by and not even looking our way, it got a bit harder to swallow as the time ticked by. I think that’s when all the questions start resurfacing and doubt starts creeping back in. It took forever to get the first sale and all the while I’m thinking, “but I have favor!!”. It’s a bit frustrating to try to sell to a crowd that is clearly not geared to what you’re selling . But that’s what we do right? Learn where to go and who’ll like your stuff.
Fact is, I make wood signs. YES, EVERYBODY ELSE is doing it. Doesn’t mean I’m not different, I just need to find the right crowd and let them know exactly what it is I can do for them!
When I realized what I needed to…
After a long day of selling and not selling, it’s easy to see the pitfalls the day had to offer. But as we sat and chatted with our other sorority members going through the same thing, I saw the big picture.
I met a women named Ruth who was at the booth right next to ours. Of course it took me all day to finally talk to her and I mean REALLY talk. She shared her story of her shadow boxes and how they came to be. Each box has a word etched on it and adorned with hand placed jewels. Below the word or name is a scripture and each sign is simply beautiful. She told me the story of the vision she had for her business and how it started. She also told me that she prays over every piece. What inspired her was that for some who enter her booth, it very well could be the first time they ever read scripture. I never even looked at it that way. I had tons of people reading but got caught up in the fact that they didn’t buy. She reminded me that we are all here to serve the Lord and it’s in his Grace that we touch the lives we’re meant to touch. Doesn’t have to mean we’ll make millions doing it, but we survive and it’s by doing what makes us happy. I told her about my text saying I had favor and she agreed. And of course not five minutes later as I stepped into her booth do I pick up the first shadow box I see and what does it say? “ BLESSED – God’s favor to you, that it might be expressed through you. May the Lord bless you and protect you. May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord show you His favor and give you His peace.” Numbers 6:24-26
I forgot to mention that I woke up that first morning and had a back ache like nobody’s business which made it hard to sit or stand for long periods of time. When the show was over, I wanted nothing more than to come home, take a shower and crawl into a ball in bed with a heating pad but you know what I did instead? I started working on new signs.
The sun was starting to set, I was all kinds of achy, and I was tired as heck but I kept going. I did it because I love it, because someone needs to read the signs I make and because it’s my dream.
If I learned anything from my grandpa, it’s to work hard for what you believe in. He did if for his family everyday, and I’m doing it now to get to my dream.
Unfortunately only some will understand the difference of making something to make a buck, and making something because it fulfils your heart and touches someone else’s. If you take time to listen, God will drop hints of His plan for you.
I heard someone say the other day “if your not failing or succeeding…you’re standing still”. I don’t want to stand still anymore, do you?