Sadly, our first stall at Spitalfields was not a success – neither Tess nor I sold a single item!
You can’t say we didn’t try. Tess painted a beautiful banner backdrop and provided some lovely purple velvet covering for the table. The colours and textures of her hats and bags and my scarves and eyeglass cases made an eye-catching display, I thought. Sadly, the buying public just didn’t seem interested.
Of course, maybe our products weren’t good enough, or maybe they were overpriced. However, we concluded that there were probably two main reasons:
1. The type of market – Friday at Spitalfields is advertised as a fashion market, with stallholders varying “from designers and artists to resellers with an eye for the undiscovered and new”. There were a few other stalls besides us selling hand-made items like jewellery, hair ornaments, and brooches. But most of the other stalls were selling cheap fashion – the one next to us was hawking dresses for £10 (and attracted more interest from shoppers). We met and talked to an artist from Norfolk, Annette Rolston, who was offering beautiful linoprint silk scarves and prints – she didn’t sell anything either. She was firmly of the view that this was not a fashion and crafts market, but a general market that attracted people looking for cheap deals.
2. Not many visitors – We weren’t expecting Friday to be as busy as Sunday – after all, one of the reasons we decided to try out Friday was because the stall cost £30 rather than the £95 it costs on Sundays! But the number of visitors was extremely low. The lady who was running the stall behind us, selling sunglasses, said that footfall has really dropped off over the past couple of months, and that more people are just messing around, trying stuff on but then not buying. Another stallholder who was selling appliquéd brooches, which cost only £3, also said that people were picking up each one, examining them carefully, and then walking off, only to come back a while later to buy. Obviously the decision to spend £3 needs careful thought! Annette had also signed up for the Sunday market, so it will be interesting to hear whether business was any brisker today than on Friday.
But we’re not giving up just yet. For our next retail appearances we’re splitting up: I’m going to try the Tip Top Table Sale at the White Lion in Streatham on Sunday 1 May. And Tess will be at the Sheep and Wool Fair at Spitalfields City Farm on 15 May.
Tess also has her own Flat Sheep blog.