Markets...

I love going to markets... walking impossibly slowly in no particular direction, feasting your eyes on a wide weird range of items you didn't know you needed until now, eating a few more free titbits of the gourmet food stalls than is polite, and finding the perfect gift for someone who's always hard to buy for.

I did my second market of the year yesterday, and as a stallholder, it's quite a different experience. I still love looking around at what everyone else has on offer, but I find myself admiring the display block they're using, or wondering where they got their sign printed- it's a bit like watching a film and scrutinising the acting and special effects rather than just enjoying the story. It's also a big learning curve- items you were sure would sell out immediately get passed by for the item you were considering putting in a bargain bin. You learn the fine balance between a vague 'talk to me if you like' smile, and the immediate engage-in-conversation hook, so as to keep customers interested, but not engage in too much human interaction which scares people away (eye contact!? aaaargh!).

And you can guarantee, after standing looking professional for a dismal half hour, your stall being ignored, as soon as you think 'well, I may as well have my lunch', a friendly customer looking to make a purchase will arrive as soon as you have a huge gobful of sandwich and crisp dust all over your hands.

Markets are a fantastic place to find something truly unique, as most of us don't sell in stores, and usually at a great price. It's always worth trying to haggle- you never know- but mostly, just remember it's a long and sometimes fruitless day, so please smile, and tell us if you like our wares- even if you have no intention of buying.

If you'd like to come say hello to me at one of my markets, here is my schedule- I'll be the one smiling vaguely and trying to work out how to discreetly eat monster munch.

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