Do you love the market atmosphere? The aroma of freshly ground coffee; hot from the fryer doughnuts; sizzling barbeque from open to close and hundreds upon hundreds of unique goodies you just can’t buy anywhere else? We love markets too, so we decided to round up the best of our products and take them to market, specifically, a three day market over an hour from home (not ambitious at all for a first attempt!). This was not the adventure we thought it would be, but it was certainly an adventure.
The long and the short
For us Interknit folks, it’s all about the short. Literally. We’re vertically challenged, but good things come in small packages as they say, so we invested in one of those reach-high-dinosaur-claws to help us put up the displays. We also invested in lightweight tables; easy pop-up banners and my favourite – the DIY letter boards. Kassie spent weeks in advance of our first market planning a knitted tablecloth with our brand (Branberry) knitted into it. I spent most of the preceding weeks trying to make a video using MS Power Point, an area far from my expertise. Being very organised personality types, we did a few mock set-ups, packed an emergency bag with everything except the kitchen sink and organised our snacks. For Kassie, this would be the first full three nights away from her kids and we were both a little anxious and excited for this new stage of business.
The set up
The most crucial part of our set-up technique was to never ever get into a situation where we needed to reverse the trailer – and if we had to ask for help, we were to never ever let Andrew know about it. Of course this led to a few hilarious moments, the best being when we decided it would be easier to just unhook the trailer and push it.
Being an avid people watcher, I loved this market. There’s a little thrill to be had every time someone walks past wearing an Interknit product and it’s even better when they’d stop to talk to us about where they bought it and how much they love it.
We talked and talked and talked. Our throats were dry and our voices were hoarse but we kept up answering the million questions people had and even surprised ourselves with our industry knowledge.
Besides the exceptionally long queue for a toilet, the biggest downside were the people who inspected our garments and admired every fine detail, only to tell us they were trying to remember how it was constructed so they could make it themselves later. I don’t think there’s a bigger kick in the gut for a designer than to hear your plans to reconstruct a product they’ve breathed life into through months and months of testing; sampling and perfecting. Keep this in mind next time you’re at a market, it’s probably not a sales attendant helping you – it’s likely the business owner; the designer; the person who has put blood, sweat and tears into the products you’re commenting on or at the very least, a person being paid on sales commission or a family member helping out for the love of small business.
The community of long term stall holders welcomed us warmly and were quick to point out the best ways to secure our site; avoid condensation from the marquee roof and even a trick to find a toilet with a shorter queue. We’d like to extend a huge thumbs up to the enterprising soap sellers who put free bars of soap for use in the public toilets and to the wonderful customers who already loved wearing wool and simply wanted to discuss the finer details of design; pattern; colour and price.
Absolutely we’d love to return for the same show next year – we’ve sent off our application already. It’s a change of scenery from being in the factory all week and a chance to get our products out to the world! Would we want to be full time market-goers? Um, no. It’s a lot of hard work physically, the days are long, your legs get tired and your throat gets sore.