Lessons from My First Market
It was around this time last year that I was a seller/vendor for the first time at an upscale holiday flea market. It was a two day market held indoors and it was a way to get my foot in the door- and I so, so badly wanted to get my foot in the door- for the regular upscale antique, vintage, salvage and handmade market season in the Denver, Colorado area.
I submitted my application and had to leave many of the spaces blank because I had no experience with being a vendor at a market. I hesitated and waffled about sending it off because I didn’t feel good enough, I didn’t think my junk was good enough, and I thought there was a high likelihood that I was going to be laughed right out of my market space.
But, as the saying goes, everyone has to start out somewhere and all you need is the littlest toe nail in the door and then you can decide how you’ll walk on through. Are you going to creep through with a timid little walk or are you going to dance on through with the moon walk? How about a graceful waltz? Doing the jive? How about a swift kick to the door to announce (with a big Broadway style theatrical song to the world), “Hereeeee I ammmmm!”
As it turns out, the more I felt like others thought I wasn’t good enough, the more determined I became. As you can imagine, I chose the door kicking method. I gave that door a kick that kept it permanently open and then walked on in with a little hand jive/moon walk combo. I just wish I could have told myself, a year ago, that all that worry was for nothing and to stress about doing a figurative failure belly flop was not a done deal.
I came up with the five most important things I would tell my year ago self if I could have sat down with me over some coffee and a dee-vine pastry of some sort…that’s divine for all you none Southern spellers out there… ahem..and here we go:
I remember walking in the door of the big market venue to set up my space and was immediately hit with the two best set ups by two of the most wonderful and successful antique, vintage and salvage businesses in the Denver area. Imagine looking to your right and seeing Restoration Hardware and to your left? Yep, Pottery Barn. I looked down at my own stuff I’m dragging in and see the homemade grapevine stars I harvested and cut myself, along with the Band-aid that covers up an almost cut off finger. Listen up, I would tell myself, the grapevine stars were cute and the red of the blood you dripped all over them just adds to the holiday atmosphere of red, white and green. Hey! Where are you going?! Do not turn around and walk right back out. Nope…hey! Get back here, girl!
While you are setting up your market space, do not continuously compare yourself to the Restoration Hardware spaces and the Pottery Barn spaces. Do not grumble under your breath, “Grrr…Pottery Barn! Oh, that Restoration Hardware! I swear!” (If you keep up the grumbling, your neighbor vendors will start to question your sanity and won’t offer to watch your space when your bladder is about to rupture and crossing you legs no longer looks cute because of the pain filled look on your face.) Do not lose excitement and motivation in what you’re doing.
Was your market space the best it could be? Do you even know what “the best it could be” is? No and no. Was it a total disaster? No! Are you as good as the Restoration Hardware and Pottery Barn look alike people? Not yet. But you’ll get there. Yes, you will. Stop it. You will!
There will be the dreaded five long, horrible, excruciating minutes when the crowd rushes, runs and jostles right past your market space like there was an announcement of free jugs of spiked hot chocolate at the back of the market…like they were giving away free islands in Hawaii out of the goodness of their own hearts…like they had too many airline tickets to Fiji and just had to give them all away and, by the way, you can have as many as you want…and be ready for when those five crap filled minutes come to an abrupt end and you have been discovered…
Do not panic when your market space is flooded with people and they all want to buy mass quantities of treasures all at the same time. Yes, that happened and you changed your attitude, in five seconds flat, to “OMG no one likes my junk” to “O. M. G. everyone likes my junk!” You will adapt and overcome and you and Mr. Old House Chic will have your mouths permanently hanging open in complete shock because you can’t believe the success of it all. Refrain from the happy dance- you wind up knocking over a customer and a treasure that you paid way too much for.
Don’t be so set on your failure that you don’t see the success train until it’s ready to run you flat over. Instead of expecting failure, try expecting success. Your attitude from this point on will be and should be: “I will succeed and I will do whatever it takes to keep on succeeding.” Failure is easy and, most often, it looks an awful lot like giving up. Success, on the other hand, takes work and be ready to work hard. You kicked that door wide open and announced that you wanted this- well, here it is.