The first Country Market after Christmas was bound to be a slow affair, and in our efforts to discover what would appeal to the clientèle, we had over produced the Christmas card range. No problems, a great January clear-out with ‘can’t be missed’ prices was the ‘obvious’ answer. Everyone holds a January Sale don’t they?
Luck would have it that, after the initial set-up, I was manning the stall alone. Now, I am not the chatty, cheerful, approachable one. I tend to skulk behind the display trying desperately not to put off potential buyers with my scowl. I can’t help it, my default facial expression is, if not exactly grim, then … no, it is grim!
So, there I am, lurking behind the big SALE posters, when I feel a tug on my jumper. One of the most pleasant organisers is trying to attract my attention in the most low key way possible, to save my embarrassment I am sure, as she explains that Country Market rules do not allow sales. I am perplexed and say so. Then I realise that many of the products, produced by more canny marketeers carefully avoid being too seasonal and so have year round appeal. Very necessary of course when one considers that a hand stitched picture of a garden in bloom must have taken many, many hours to produce.
We agree that I will fold the signs to block out the word Sale, though the Rummage Box, containing many of the items, each marked with a green dot to denote a reduced price of 50p, is allowed to remain.
Time passes, I have my cup of (free to marketeers) tea and manage to keep up with the brisk (by January market standards) sales of cards, I even manage to sell one of the anthologies ( A Toe in the Water by Paragram) – a major coup as the reason for us being here at all is to widen the market for our writing…selling the cards made from our watercolour sketches is just a by-line.
Another tap on my elbow, and the same person, crouched a little now, as if to minimise her profile, whispers that, the consensus is that the words ‘Rummage Box’ by their very nature, speak of sale items, and, as already established, that contravenes Market rules. I take a look around to find that several other producers will not meet my eye, while a couple are peering gleefully at me over their displays. With outward equanimity, I remove the sign that invites customers to rummage. More time passes and sales continue to trickle along…
…until, half an hour before the market closes, I am visited for a third time.
‘The green dots,’ whispers a small voice from behind my left shoulder, ‘remind one of blue crosses – you know, as in ‘blue cross sale!’
I turn but am too late to manage to say a word to the poor messenger. This time, I do nothing as I reign in my frustration. Later, I painstakingly write 50p on every label, in the red ink that is specified by the market. They are now not ‘sale’ stickers, but are price labels, albeit the wrong colour.
As I am ready to leave, the co-ordinator approaches, smiling. I pre-empt her comments by explaining …
… of course the green dots are not ideal, but they were the only labels I had to hand, that in future I would stick to the required white labels, but of course, in this day of sustainability and minimising of waste, she surely wouldn’t be asking me to remove them, especially when that would also mean renewing the plastic wallets that protect each card and how I hate using the wallets because they are not easily bio-degradable yet have not found a viable alternative and so cannot see my way to such waste even though the green is not ideal…
… I could have carried on with my spiel, but by now she was backing away her smile fixed in the face of my, (painfully) pasted-on, enthusiastic grin and expression of ( I hoped) environmental conscience.
Don’t misunderstand me. I am concerned for the environment. I do hate the plastic protectors we seem to have to use, I do abhor waste. But not usually with such missionary zeal!