Friday, May 13, 2011

Preparing to Go to Market

Top photo is box of labels and a set of baby headbands that I've just labeled. I have to be careful to label adult and home items with and child/baby items with
Second and third photos show scarves hanging on the new clothing rack. I hope this will show them off and allow shoppers to easily access them. I love people to touch my products and try them on.

Fourth photo shows the ends of the spiral scarf, loose yarn ready to be sewn into place.

I've been going to market events to sell my products for several years. Each time there's a process I go through to prepare. Because I am always knitting and crocheting I usually have a pile of new products that need to be labelled before I can pack them. I have printed tags on which I write the price, fiber content and care instructions. These are tied to each product with a length of yarn. I've learned that most people like tags. Some are too shy to ask, some check out tags to decide if they can afford to shop with you. Others, however, never glance at a tag, asking me for the price of each thing they examine. Go figure.

Next, I go through the products already in my rolling dufflebag and remove any that are out of season or that I don't want to display at the coming market. I replace these with the pile of new things. During this process I am also checking the condition of the items to see if anything needs refolding or a pass with the iron. If there are prices that need adjusting, I put on new tags. The few items that don't fit in my duffle (like felted rugs) are fetched and laid out with the bag so I don't forget them. I never feel compelled to take everything with me. I always have way more stuff than I have space to handle, and I'm constantly looking for ways to display them better. I'm toying with the idea of only taking one class of products at a time (housewares day, baby items only, etc.), but folks who are familiar with my store come up looking for their favorites when I finally show up to market. It's difficult when I don't have hats that day, or they've come for a newborn gift and I don't have them.

Getting my car ready is as important as preparing the products. My car is a large sedan with a decent-size trunk, but it wasn't made for hauling equipment. I must clear the way to put in a folding garment rack (new for this year!), two long folding tables, two portable chairs, a dolly, and totes filled with wrapping materials, a couple of knitting projects to work on during the market day, a money container, some snacks, my Turtlefat Collection sign, and extras like duct tape and a screwdriver and scissors, just for good measure. Oh yeah. I have to pack my tent-unwieldy and heavy, but with wheels on one end, thank goodness.

Many of the things that I take (and leave at home) are the result of many sessions at market, the trial and error of having too much of this or none of that, learning what makes it easier, what makes me function better during those long hours with my limited endurance and tendency toward swelling and pain.

Obviously, after I empty the car, I have to load all my gear. Sigh. On the other end I will have to unload it in the parking lot and haul it into the pavilion. Sometimes that affects the order of packing, other times I just go for random placement and hope for the best. We used to be able to drive into the pavilion and unload at our booth site, but that's no longer allowed.

There's always something waiting to be finished that I want to complete and take to the market. Today it was a spiral scarf that needed about 30 rows and then finishing work in order to be ready. It doesn't need blocking, so I knew it was a realistic goal. When I began this scarf I hated the short rows and turning it every few stitches. To avoid all the turning I taught myself to knit backwards. I hold my yarn in my left hand and knit continental (forward, that is), so I just leave the yarn in my left hand and throw it around the needle when I'm knitting backwards. Anyway, I finished the spiral scarf and showed it above, needle ready for weaving ends.

I haven't mentioned that I am excited the whole week before market. No matter how tiring, the preparation boosts my anticipation. Can't wait for Sunday's Strawberry Fest at the Chattanooga Market!



  1. If your comment waited a long time to be published, I am sorry. I didn't have internet access for many days after the big tornado storms a couple of weeks ago.

  2. Hope your sales are terrific!