On Saturday mornings from April to November, Deering Oaks Park in Portland hosts a farmers' market. The artisans and buskers use this event to sell their ware's and perform.
Today I filled up my van with a small table, some books, and a folding chair. My wheels started turning before the sun rose to get parking before the market opened. After parking, I sheepishly walked to where I had seen the artisans set up a few weeks before. This being a cold November morning, there was only one person setting up at that moment. His name is Steve Hall. He was selling a variety of hand made wooden cutting boards, and ingeniously designed wood products. Being a total noob, I asked politely if this is where I should set up, if I wanted to sell my book. Steve was very kind and invited me to set up next to him.
I trotted back to the van and brought my little set up back with me. I assembled my table near him, and waited for the lines of cash rich customers seeking a good read.
Soon more artisans began showing up with tables and bins of goods they had made themselves. A knitter named Allyson Eller set up to the right of me. She had a very inventive display using ironing boards she learned from another artisan. Being light weight and height adjustable, the ironing boards made her display of knitted products very inviting and unique.
Even though I was new, and all the other sellers knew each other, they treated me like an old friend. I listened intently to their knowledge of the city regulations and horror stories of those who tried to skirt the laws. Allyson and Steve made the day very enjoyable, even though I don't think any one of us could feel their toes it was so cold.
Throughout the day, I watched as these experienced artisans interacted with potential customers. One unspoken law I learned was, if you're talking during a lull, and there's a customer nearby, the conversation will end instantly, to be resumed in the next lull.
I was also given plenty of useful advice that I hope to implement on my next direct marketing adventure. All in all, it was a great experience.
I had a whopping sale of 1 book. Towards the end of the day, it was looking like the it was going to be the big donut hole for sales. Thankfully, a kind and talkative gentlemen struck up a conversation with me, and bought a copy. Sir, whoever you are, you really did make my day.
The market ended, and we packed up our wares. Thank you to all the kind people that treated me so warmly today. I hope I can put your advice to good use. I also wish you good luck in your endeavors. You're all good, hardworking, and talented artisans.