Sunday, 8 July 2012

Rainy afternoon in Cambridge

Most times, I have lots of lovely people to talk to on a Saturday but you know how SOME DAYS are just bad - bad - bad and you shouldn't get out of bed? I knew light rain was forecast for most of the afternoon which usually means showers. Quite often in Cambridge when we get that kind of forecast, we are often lucky and miss them altogether so I decided to go ahead and do my day on the Craft Market. I had a ton of new items I was excited to show off and with the prospect at least of a dry morning, I set off with happy thoughts.

After assembling my stall and displaying my jewellery, my reward is my first cup of tea of the working day. I was called back to my stall from the man in the van with the tea (lovely guy called Julian if you're ever in Cambridge and want a beverage on a Saturday, go see him!) Anyway, there was a lady asking if she could buy a clasp from me (but not the jewellery). I sell JEWELLERY, not clasps, sorry and with that I try to get back to my cup of tea which I like weak; I'm eyeing it from afar as it gets stronger and stronger. She starts to explain about why she needs a clasp (I am NOT interested, I want my tea!) I say I don't bring just clasps with me to the stall, but perhaps (if she will go away SOON) I could make her one separately and bring one on another day but it will cost about £12 for the sterling silver one. She looks aghast at the price and so I have to explain why it costs this much (cost of silver plus the time it take me soldering the links together, filing away any excess solder, hammering, sanding and polishing). Julian, being an absolute sweetheart, and knowing I like weak tea, shouts over shall he take out the teabag? What a hero "Yes please" I smile at the lady and start walking back to the van. She then goes on to tell me that Sally, who sells knitted items in the market, doesn't charge that much for her time considering how long it takes her to make every item. I really want to get away before I lose the will to live, she isn't going to buy anything, and all I want is my tea. I don't want to be rude and so I continue to chat whilst making it perfectly clear that I won't make her a clasp for less than I think it is worth. My tea is cold by the time I get to it.

Two more customers arrive and are sighing over my jewellery, admiring and trying it on so I'm thinking I may get a sale here. When people are being so nice about my work, it's the real fun bit about my job, I love answering questions about how it's made etc. During the week, I only get to talk to DH and the dog so this is a part of my week I really enjoy. At the end of a really lovely twenty minutes, they both walk away saying "I could spend a fortune at your stall" ... without parting with a penny ...

Then I got someone who picks up three pendants as if she wanted them all, she proceeded to get the chains all knotted together as she examined them. Fine chains get tangled at the slightest provocation, it took a long time for me to sort them out which I attempted to do in good humour (in case she really did want them all). In the end she had the good grace to buy one but by then it was raining. She then decided to make it my problem that she didn't have an umbrella and wanted to know where she could get one. I wear hooded raincoats myself when there's rain forecast on my market days, I can't be bothered with fiddling around with brollies! Anyway, I just couldn't think of anywhere that sells them that's very close. If I had had one with me, I would've given it to her to get rid of her! My sister Sharon, whose stall is next to mine, on rainy days gives one away free with every purchase so I sent her there but then she came back to tell me she didn't like anything on Sharon's stall, Sharon wouldn't sell one to her (traitorous child!) and so she still didn't have an umbrella ... (sigh) Maybe she saw Sharon's sign and thought everyone in England gave away free umbrellas with a purchase - I . DON'T . HAVE . ONE!

A bit later, the guy who has a stall opposite, Ian, wasn't about when my VERY bestest spending regular customer was with me. Someone barged over from his stall, interrupted us without apology and in an irritated sounding voice demanded to know where he was. To be helpful to another stallholder (and fellow sufferer of bad weather) I ask my customer to hold a tick whilst I had a glance around to see if he was anywhere nearby. Not a trace of him anywhere "I'm sorry I don't know". A second customer joins her from across the way and also complains to me that there was no-one on his stall. So I politely say, "I'm with one of my customers at the moment, I don't know where he is, sorry". "Well can you take my money, I want to buy something." "NO, I can't I'm with one of my own customers, bog off!" OK, so I didn't say that exactly, I do have SOME manners, but I did have to be very assertive and make it clear that they needed to PLEASE ask someone who wasn't busy.

Then a couple of Italian language students were flicking through photographs on their i-phones in front of my stall, they weren't looking at the jewellery at all. There wasn't anyone else around (by then it was really chucking it down) so I didn't really mind, they weren't blocking any genuine customers from seeing my wares otherwise I might've asked them to have their show and tell session somewhere else. Bored, I listened in to their conversation "This is my cousin, this is my sister, my other cousin, this is my .... um ... cousin's mother .. how do you say that in English?" His companion shrugged and they both looked at me expectantly "Old Bat" ... I was tempted to say but no, I smiled sweetly and said "Auntie".

After they'd moved on a large group of their compatriots pile up at my stall, they picked up a heavy plastic star which I use to weigh down my business cards "Can you write on it?" They ask. I really don't understand why they want me to write on it. I look puzzled and say "Pardon?" "Can you write on it?" they repeat, I heard them right the first time. I just don't know how to answer them when I suddenly realise they think it's for sale and are wondering what it's for. "No, it's just a paperweight to stop my cards blowing away. It's not for sale." ... they wander off to annoy someone else.

It's very odd and unusual to get such an annoying succession of people all in one day! Most days, I get really lovely people coming to my stall and it's the exception to get anyone at all who is in the slightest bit irritating. But maybe it was just the weather affecting my mood and I misinterpreted them, you can see from the state of my trousers how wet everything got! The spattering is the result of poking the puddles of water that gather on my roof tarpaulin which then (if it doesn't go down your arm) runs down the outside onto the gravelled ground and forms a series of small lakes ... the life of an outdoor craft marketeer - what fun! The spotty pattern looks quite cool now it's dried, I'm thinking of selling the design ... they'll all be wearing trousers like mine in Milan next Spring!

All that aside and behind me now, I'm looking forward to watching the tennis this afternoon - come on Andy!


  1. Wow....I don't think it was you. Well done on not clocking someone with your star paperweight! I've got a summer fair to do next Saturday - hopefully the weather will have cleared up and all the annoying people will be off looking at the Air Show while I get only sensible customers....I think the ones that bleat about prices without considering how much work/time/materials has gone into something are my personal pet hate.

  2. Gosh, Caroline, thanks for ploughing through that long complaining posting! :-) I shall think about you next Saturday and hope both of us have a successful day!

  3. super funny, love it! cheered me right up Sue! Defo one of those days. I hope you have a lovely Sunday. x

  4. Gee, Sue, you had quite a day and it was well described! There are days like that , for sure. I have some teaching days like that. I would love to see a picture of your booth and how you display your wares. But please take the tea bag out before you take the picture!


  5. Thanks everyone! Sunday would've been better if Andy Murray had won Wimbledon but he did play pretty well and he IS getting closer to that first Grand Slam win. I cried along with him and his family when he made his speech after the match. Hope he doesn't lose heart. Betsy, I will take a photograph and post it here soon for you :-)

  6. he lost :-) But then you can't win em all :-) :-) :-)

    I knew exactly how you felt and that is why NEVER AGAIN :-) xxx

  7. Oh boy Sue - you certainly deserve 100% and a gold star for your patience! Reckon I might have thrown that tea bag at your irritating clasp lady :) Your lovely post reminds me why I hate doing stalls. I thought it was just me who was pestered by annoying time wasters - my jewellery definitely sells better when buyers can see and feel the quality, but for sanity's sake give me online selling any day!

  8. Working with the general public every day of my working life for the last 36 years (which is thankfully now only part-time), I can confirm that all the nutters and numpties turn up on the same day !!

    You deserve a medal for your patience.....the rubbish we have to put up with from the punters in order to try and sell my experience not all days are like this but they're the days that stick in your memory because they're so disheartening.


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