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A Trip Down Memory Lane

Hello sweetes! I thought it would be nice to indulge in a bit of nostagia when I was working live stalls. I really loved it even though it was physically and mentally exhausting!

It all began in a little pop up market in London on a cold December’s day back in 2012. All I had was a little suitcase of of soaps and a piece of funky sari fabric to dress my table! The same sari fabric adorns a garage window as curtains now. When the sun hits the sequins it looks enchanting! Anyway, back to the pop up market, I couldnt believe that I sold out! My little set up was so humble and looking back now, not that appealing to the eye! It must have been the scents that lured in customers! Anyway that was the beginning of a fabulous era of travelling, creativity and learning! I could not have grown my business without this side of hard work. The internet on its own is no good when you are selling such a tactile product that involves so many senses such as vision, touch and scent. It is super important to understand your product and how it interacts with your intended customers.

Now these adventures were not without their wobbly moments! I remember stumbling through London Underground with a massive shopping trolley, a huge suitcase and a back pack. I heard someone say, “She’s brave!” while I tackled the escalators. Nothing stopped me though and sometimes I had a few kind strangers grab my haul for me too.

I had a learned skill to hip swing my massive trolley onto the regular overground trains. One day I was so tired I misjudged the whole thing and the trolley went flying into the verstibule on it’s side with me still attached! Typical me, ‘Hello, crash bang wallop!’ There were a few concerned passengers who asked if I was ok but my past life of being a ice skater toughened me up and I was laughing at what had just happened. I collected a heap of bruises and stiff limbs that’s all.

Another time, in the lovely Palm House in Sefton, I had a customer who needed to leave the area to get some cash. She asked to leave a bag of goodies she chose until she came back. When she returned I mistakingly gave her my half eaten lunch that was in a paper bag I use for the stall! I am so glad she checked the bag!

Other times were not so funny, I had products stolen during an overnight lock up at an event at the Wintergardens in Blackpool. How that happened I have no idea, there was supposed to be security there but hey ho. I also once had my little bag with all my takings from a market in Chorlton stolen in Preston train station, a hotspot for theives. Luckily I hadn’t made too much that day so the loss was minimal. I just put it down to a rubbish day. We all have them don’t we.

Weather-wise I went through the entire barometer! I prepared ice boxes for my body butters for midsummer while I got burnt to a crisp several times! I even experienced an earthquake on North Pier Blackpool with my little stall! I froze many times while standing on cardboard (an old market trick to keep the frost away from your toes). It was never easy hauling all that stock and stall through wind and rain to the train and bus stations, it was ridiculous.

So, I put every penny I had together and learned to drive and I got my first little blue car! It was such a huge leap forward for my business and I could be more creative! I could squeeze more stock in and make a lovely frame for my stall! I had fairy lights, hand painted beams, fabric and foliage! The difference all that made was phenomenal! I could see the reaction of peope gazing up at all the pomp! I come from (survived) a life of showbusiness and I know that you have to dazzle that audience!

I attended a lot of vegan fairs too, they were the up and coming thing regarding events to promote a more compassionate lifestyle. This was brilliant because I was vegan too and I got to meet some amazing people with fantastic businesses! I did everything from small town craft fairs to arena events, from Penrith to London and I briefy had an outlet in the Isles of Scilly. From what I remember I went once or many times to:

Penrith, Littleborough, Scorton, Preston, Blackpool, St. Annes, Lytham, Lancaster, Morcambe, Thornton, Fleetwood, Manchester, Stockport, Bolton, Liverpool (Sefton, Central), Stafford, Leeds, London (Queens Park, Kensington, Camden).

It was a brilliant success but I decided to finish doing live stalls in 2019. The fees for a pitch were inflating and the quality of event organising was diving. The good news was that online sales alone were keeping the business afloat and with few good stockists on my books so I could afford to make that shift. More importantly my health has made it imperitive that I learn to rest more.

I do miss the fun, buzz and bustle of the stalls, I miss the people and the adventures. I loved seeing customers trying the products out and the little kiddies with their families. The funky teens and twenty somethings with bright coloured hair enjoying a good sniff of the goodies too. The ones who float by and think out loud, “soooaaaap.” I just loved it! Thirsting for that cup of tea desperately needed after setting up the stall then end up drinking it cold because it was sales gone mad as soon as you opened!

I admire anyone who does live stalls and markets. All the early morning journeys, the set ups, the sales and then take downs and journey back home. It’s hard graft and every event is a punt. You can never gage the outcome even when you are a savvy market veteran. Everything impacts the outcome, weather, general media, festive dates, the timing of salaries dropping into bank accounts, social trends, demographics, entertainments, school holidays, marketing, local habits, the list is endless. If you are a budding live stall business creator starting out or have been slogging it out for years, I wish you every success and the very best of experiences, most of all, stay safe and have fun!

~ Michelle **✿❀~{^v^}~❀✿**


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