When it’s time to move on

Stopping doing something is as hard as starting. I’m not talking about a whole concept, I mean a particular activity – a stall at an event, a pitch in an antiques centre, or the production of a specific item.

Is it costing more than you make?

This might sound obvious but for me it needs to fail three times in a row when sales should have been good. Don’t forget to include the value of your time in your calculations (not necessarily monetary, but at least in terms of the opportunity to do other things).

For us, we did the Edinburgh Antiques and Vintage Fair three times before we took a decision. It takes three days of time (setting up on Friday and selling on Saturday and Sunday) and to be honest we needed Monday to recover. It’s a great event and I would highly recommend it but for us we just could not make it work. However, we did make some good contacts and friends and had lots of fun.

  • Saturdays sold well and we could cover the costs of the pitch.
  • Sundays were a nightmare and soul-destroying, sometimes selling nothing.
  • We just didn’t seem to have the right stock and people forced prices down hard.
  • Although there were other vintage stalls, our vintage stock didn’t seem to excite the people who were attending.

We loved doing the fair – except their horrible coffee! Well, we loved Saturday, but Sunday killed us emotionally and financially so we have now stopped doing that event. We may return one day as the people were lovely and we might be able to find the ‘right’ stock.

Has something changed?

It might be the location, the punters, the other stalls, the times, the environment, the organisers, the publicity, …

In 2017, we had a fantastic year of sales with The Glasgow Markets, when they were located at the Glasgow East End Barras Art and Design Centre (BAaD) site. We totally loved it, in a great space with great music, great atmosphere, great customers, great organisers and great (or at the very least, good) sales. Twice a month we got a real boost. Staying with the same organisers, we then moved to a new site, St Luke’s which is across the road and another great music and event venue. Knowing the new site would have to build up a reputation for Sunday markets, we agreed to do the first three markets in the hope that the formula would work again.

Sadly, it didn’t seem to work for us, although it did for others. A lot of things had changed, although not the numbers of visitors to the market – the publicity was still very good – but the venue was a lot darker and the lighting was poorer. Our stall didn’t look as colourful or as exciting as it had done before. I know this may seem strange, but I think it was the lack of light that did it. People still came although they were different people – the original site had a well-known restaurant that pulled in wealthier customers. Also, another vintage stall became much larger and was a full-time business so those with money to spend had more options on the competing stall and therefore less need to circulate (as far as we could tell). Sadly, after three goes we had lost money on each occasion and could not afford to go on – much as we loved the organisers and everything they did.

So, we’re looking for pastures new – sales through the two shops that take our stock are steady, but we need to get into a new regular market and get our online sales going. Watch this space!

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