Saturday, February 20, 2010

Hanging With The Gypys Making A Living

Do you like to shop at flea markets? How about big ones, where the same vendors are there each time its open? I want to tell you about the SS life of a "flea" or modern day Gypsy.

I want to take your focus off some of the import and junk vendors as well as away from general stuff vendors for a moment and talk about crafters.

These are different types of vendors, and there is a "fllea" underground of sorts amoungest these vendors. Like a Gypsy, some of these people do nothing but buy in the winter, travel from show to show in the summer. Some have solar showers hooked to their vans, propane stoves to cook canned goods, and spend the evenings together talking like a family. They also look out for each other and their goods. There is no judgement about how big you are or how much you sell, its a right of passage obtained by not only doing every show in say one location, but how you treat the traveling fleas.

Obtaining a good sales spot is the first sign that the traveling fleas have excepted you as a constant vendor, and selling goods that brings people in each month. Its also important to not sell the same things as seasoned fleas. There is a level of respect that seasoned fleas must be treated, as their travels can sometimes be hard, rain or shine these folks are out selling their goods.

Often, I leave each night, and return the following morning to open my booth. On Sunday mornings I am known to bring in a hot meal and coffee for the seasoned fleas that have stayed overnight and have kept an eye out for my stuff. They will come over to get their food/coffee, and we eat together and chat about recent shows or what they have seen new. For me, the ideas they offer me, product line and or shows is priceless. Often a few will help me open my booth as time was spent eating and talking and they understand I need to get my booth open. For some of them its the first hot meal they have had in days that wasn't from a can.

These fleas are the ones that stick together and help each other because they know and understand how tough it is to live the lives they have chosen.

My first show I had one table, no tent and the sun was hot. As soon as I had made enough money to buy a tent from a tent vendor, the seasoned fleas came over and help me set it up. I showed up the following month set up again, telling some of the seasoned fleas (which I had no clue of the underground relationships that seasoned fleas had) how much I enjoyed doing the shows. The third month, the directer of the flea market gave me my permant spot near the food area, the most common traveled area, not only for food but also an area located near the two front entrances.

This area is also an area where the most seasoned/respected fleas are located. The directers job is to keep bringing people back and needs to have good trusted vendors selling good items that people will come back and buy again.

At these shows, my most popular item is my one of a kind quality fire pit rings, sold at reasonable prices. When word spread amoung the campers in Cooks forest of these unique highly sought after fire pit rings, folks would go to the flea market office and ask where my booth was, of course the directer would tell them.

I missed Mays show because of my tooth problem, the directer came to me yesterday and said several people came there looking for me last month on both days. He was aware of my tooth problem, and asked me to make sure I attended as many shows as I could because it was bringing people in.

The count of folks coming in this slow holiday weekend was around 80k, 4th weekend is always slow. On an average weekend the crowds are 80k-140k and that is a lot of folks.

I know that some of you reading have done shows and understand what I am talking about. I wanted to share this with you other folks, and remind you to visit the many crafters booths first, even if you find a like item cheaper made in china, go back and buy from that crafter. Your supporting the fleas SS way of living, I know I might be preaching to the choir here, but I just wanted to say it.

Here is what my booth looks like when I do shows.

Another, see some of the crafted things at the bottom of photo by another crafter.

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