Back in the summer, in the season of craft fairs, I received an e mail about the Carmarthen Christmas Market during the month of December.
Should I? Shouldn’t I? Would it be an appropriate venue for my art? Would I cover the costs? Could I afford it? Would it be a productive and positive use of 10 days? Well there was only one way to find out wasn’t there? Try it.
So, for the period of 8th until the 16th December, I took up residence in a little wooden hut with my dear friend Jill Davies of Dzines by Jill (https://www.facebook.com/Dzinesbyjill), and prepared to welcome the spirit of Christmas in to our temporary abode.
Well what an experience: we met so many interesting people; laughed; shivered; sang; drank chai lattes; shivered; ate bacon butties; and shivered some more, and we sold stuff too! And boy, did I learn a LOT!
The learning curve.
- Thermals are a prerequisite of the market hut-holder: preferably three layers of merino wool under all other clothing;
- Walking boots and two pairs of socks prevent frostbite;
- A carpet was a stroke of genius on the part of my compadre Jill: it cut down the drafts and cold air coming up through the floor;
- Sharing a hut with a buddy not only cuts costs but provides: company; someone to laugh with; to cuddle up to to keep warm; to sing with; a partner to develop sales banter with; someone to man the hut while you go for a pee, fetch a coffee or food!
- Being next door to a coffee shop is a real life-saver;
- Have a heater: make sure it has a huge sticker on it so when the electricity blows, people don’t think you are using too many Watts!
- Have a sign explaining that all your lamps are lit with low energy bulbs, so when the electricity blows, people don’t think you’re using too many Watts!
- Sharing a hut with someone whose product is totally different to yours creates greater interest in the customers and is less likely to overwhelm with choices;
- Customers can be fearful of coming in to the huts- friendly welcoming banter is a must; being able to say that your hut is marginally warmer than outside is useful!
- People can be so kind: bringing hot cups of coffee and mince pies to keep you going;
- Playing music makes the hut welcoming;
- Christmas trees adorned with your beautiful Powertex baubles can actually take flight on windy days, despite being tied down! Solution? Pin the baubles to the door of the hut!
- The things you think are going to sell well probably won’t, and the things you only have a few of are going to go like ‘hot cakes’ and you’re going to have a late night to make more when you get home!
- There will be days when you sell nothing;
- There will be days when you will sell loads;
- Some people are going to disregard you and your work, which can be disheartening… which is where your ‘hut-buddy’ comes in;
- Most people are positive, complimentary and supportive of your endeavours, and are genuinely interested in what you do. Even if they don’t buy anything;
- You can’t be bashful in promoting your work and what you do: it’s important to blow your trumpet;
- When you sell your work to people and see the real delight they get by having something unique and original in their possession, it is a REAL buzz;
- The fliers and business cards you give out, and the conversations you have with passers-by, do create new customers. Two of my New Year workshops are the direct result of meeting people in the hut;
- Commissions are generated by a venture as humble as a Christmas Hut: two lampshades and four journals kept me busy the week up to Christmas, and it was a delight to see how pleased people were with them;
Was it worth it?
So: was it worth it? Was it an appropriate venue for my art? Was it a productive and positive use of my time?
Would I do it again?
Absolutely- especially if my buddy Jill will share a hut with me again.