Friday, June 4, 2010

Market Reflections

Having survived our first day of market, of course we have some thoughts on the matter.

First off, you realize how difficult it is for many people just to get by. We worked our tails off, before, during, and after the market, and we made some money, but not a lot. I do think we made more than some of our neighbors, which got me to thinking that it's a rough world out there, and some people struggle just to make a few bucks. Then again, some of us don't have a choice. We're lucky (or not) that we have that option, though that can work against you at times, especially if you're a quitter. Nothing like desperation to motivate you.

It also makes me question whether it's all really worth it (see, I'm already looking for an "out"). There is a romantic ideal of having your own business and being your own boss, but nobody's going to hand you a paycheck out there (duh!).

I'm also struck by how little empathy some people have out there. There are those, and mind you, they are for the most part the minority, who will nickel and dime you and do everything they can to get free things off of you, and many of them make more money than anybody out there. Some of the Dartmouth students try to get anything they can for free, and it seems shameful that somebody who can afford a $35,000/year education would try to take advantage of someone struggling to make pennies. I used to see that in NYC, where people making big bucks would kick and scream over a few cents. What a joke.

Anyway, I thought the adventure, at least for the first time, went well enough. We sold out of a few things and were busy, but boy was it hard work, not to mention a little stressful handling orders. It only worked because R and I were working together, obviously I couldn't do it alone.

And, I might even say it was kind of fun being outside and interacting with all those people, many of whom we knew and were probably wondering what exactly we were doing out there. Mind you, these aren't the salt of the earth Vermonters/NHers who may be farmers or contractors or craftsmen, but highly educated professionals of the Dartmouth community. I can see people in a small town like ours who wouldn't blink an eye if you decided to work a farmer's market, but to someone with an advanced degree who is on a tenure track at a university, it might make them scratch their heads and wonder. In a previous lifetime, this may have been an issue to me, but we've got too many things going on to worry about that.

As I mentioned, the work is hard, and continues long after the fact. There is the rigorous cleaning involved (all that grease), compounded by the fact that you've just been standing for 4 hours. The fact that you sell out of something is a wonderful thing, but is also a reminder that you have to make more and more, and then some. Forget about fatigue, there is work to be done. Wow, sort of reminds me of parenthood.

One bright note is that the kids were so well behaved, and they saw some friends and people complimented A on her guitar playing. The setting is nice, and they can play on the grass and see other vendors, many of whom are really nice and allow them to visit and chat.

It will be interesting to see where this goes. I've never ventured into the area of running a small business, and we just so happened to have chosen a rigorous one, but as with everything in life, with greater challenge comes greater reward. Who the heck came up with that one?

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Dan Wenger for the pic.

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