Yesterday morning, pre-dawn, I managed to jam my hand between two steel doors. I was in an old-fashioned goods lift that had to be closed by hand. I reached above my head, pulled down hard on a leaver, and the door flew down. What I didn't realise was that at floor level, another door flew up to meet the upper door, sandwiching my right hand between them. I saw stars, people, and it throbbed like in the cartoons. Twenty four hours later and I have a tiny fear I may have broken a couple of bones but we'll give it another twenty four hours to see what transpires.
What was I doing in a god forsaken goods lift predawn on a Saturday morning? No, no nightclub shenanigans here, unfortunately. It was phase 2 of my clean out all my crappola project of 2013, letting go of my baby belongings. Or my babies' belongings, to be more precise. For over three years now, the top of our wardrobe and a good section of our garage has been home to spacebags, nappy boxes, plastic bags holding of sorts of baby and toddler guff- clothing, toys, equipment etc etc etc. I may have mentioned I went a little nutso when I was expecting BabyG, and bought six sheet sets, and something like seven blankets, which were then put in cupboards after my cherub turned twelve weeks and moved into a sleeping bag- of which I had around eight, all different sizes and heat ratings.
While I had always given them a decent sort and donated bagfuls to charity each time I cleaned out their wardrobes, I still had bags upon bags of good quality clothing. Last year, I sold my two strollers on ebay, and not long after that, a school mum told me she had held a stall at a Baby and Kids Market to get rid of all her baby clothes. A ha... much easier than taking photos and loading them, answering inane questions, shlepping stuff to the post office. No, I thought I'd pay $50 odd and book myself a stall.
The first one was in February, and while I did pretty well out of it (just shy of $400) I still had a lot of clothes left over so thought I'd hold another one. Hence yesterday.
I spent lots of time on the internet trying to find hints and tips about holding a stall- I'd never even been to one of these markets, let alone held a stall so I was flying pretty blind. There wasn't a lot of info, some bits and pieces on some forums, so I thought I'd compile some hints and tips of my own to help out someone else who may stumble upon my little corner of the world.
Firstly, let me say this:
Perhaps five-ten years ago, when these specific style of markets began, they were a successful option for people wanting to offload their baby gear and recoup a little cashola. I'm not sure that now, when you can go to a large department store and buy good quality baby clothes for less than $5 an item, that new parents want to go foraging through other people's crap. Yesterday's market was very poorly attended, and I heard from other stallholders that fewer and fewer people are attending each one.
OK, my hints:
Allow a decent amount of time for sorting your paraphernalia before the market, especially if you have to do so with little people 'helping'. I had around 8 space bags of clothes in the upper echelons of my wardrobe. I culled that down to three bags- one each for each of my cherubs of their special clothes/wraps etc and one for my sister-in-law of things she'd either loved in my cherubs, or that she had bought for them. What remained were items that had been in a space bag, all the air sucked out of them for quite some time- the Little Miss is now three and a half, so some of the baby-baby gear had been crumpled up for years. I put everything in the wash, dried it and ironed it. I sorted items by size, and stored them in separate bags in my office ready for pricing. In terms of pricing- this was quite difficult and I suppose think about the minimum you would like to receive for something, then doubled it. For example, I had brand new, size 3 esprit jeans that I marked for $10. I had planned that if items weren't selling, I could reprice them, or offer a discount of some type (see below).
The markets are promoted as high quality preloved goods, so the people attending expect this. This is what the website said, and this is the philosophy I followed when presenting and pricing my gear. I put a decent amount of effort into presentation, expecting this, and wanting to show off my gear to their best. I also thought (and read somewhere) that pregnant women do not like squatting down to sort through tubs. I have to admit, the control freak in me did not like the thought of what all that rummaging would do to neat piles of clothing and I could picture myself endlessly folding and refolding. Instead, I used a rack. I did have a lot of comments on how lovely my girls' clothing looked, and I did sell quite a bit, but the big sellers from what I could see in terms of volume were the people selling giant tubs of wrinkled, non-descript clothes for 50cents a piece.
At each market, with an hour to go, I searched through my stuff and removed things I didn't want to give away, and put up signs saying 50% off everything, hoping to get people buying more than one or two items at a time. That caused barely a ripple. Yesterday, a table down from me marked everything down to 50cents an item and didn't sell another thing.
Related to the above, at each market I packed spare labels, some cardboard for signs and a permanent marker. I also packed scissors and tape, but didn't use these.
Do as much as you can at home so when you arrive you can set up quickly. I priced everything using shipping labels from officeworks and sorted everything into bags by size. At the first market I set up my table, then frantically put coathangers on bags upon bags upon bags of clothes and didn't get through half of them before I ran out of time, was sweaty and harried, and the doors were about to open. Yesterday, I had spent an hour or so on Friday hanging everything on hangers so yesterday all I had to do was take them out of a giant Ikea bag and hang them straight away.
I found that some people were looking for labels, and some asked specifically and I could whip them out and sold all of them. Others who were looking, I asked if there was a label in particular they were looking for then I could help them out.
I found that baby gear such as jolly jumper, wraps, sheet sets sold really well, really quickly. People also pounced on my grobags. Some people wanted to haggle on these, but I refused to drop my price below $20 a bag for these, as I'd had a look on ebay the week before and knew what I could sell them for without too much effort.
At the market in February, I packed myself a little snack bag of fruit and water. Yesterday, I ran out of the house in a hurry and forgot. Thankfully, my mother came down at around 10 and brought me a coffee and a slice of banana cake which got me through. On this- it was fantastic having mum there, both for company, but also so I could duck off to the loo. I didn't have that at the first market, and you can imagine my delight when I spotted my friend in the crowd, and she happily stepped behind my stall for me while I ran off and made myself feel a lot better after downing 2 litres of water!
As I said, I put some effort in presentation. I had staggered levels on the table, and used the boxes I had packed things at the base/front of each table as mini display tables, covered with white table cloths. I had a fruitbox full of childrens books that the cherubs didn't want, and that I didn't want either, and I sold them off three for $1.50- if I liked the look of a customer and the way they interacted with the books I would give them a couple more with my well wishes for lots of fun reading with their cherubs. Insert judgement call here- a number of people attending these markets are doing so for financial necessity so I was happy to drop prices/add products.
On this- there are also a decent amount of people who attend these markets, haggle hard over 50cents, then open their own market stalls or flog off products on ebay, at a decent profit. While I don't have qualms about people doing that, they're not breaking the law, I don't accept rudeness and refused to haggle with people who didn't approach me with if not a smile at least not a snarl. I was relatively lucky and unscathed in this regard, but my stallholder neighbour yesterday had a hard time, and as she said, in an environment such as this it is very difficult not to personalise things, particularly when these items people are sneering at once were wrapped with love around dearly loved and adored offspring.
Use a bumbag or an apron with a kangaroo pocket for easy access to money- on that, I made up a float of around $200 using twenty, ten and five dollar notes, and around thirty dollars made up in $2 and $1 coins, all stored separately by denomination in bank bags. Try to keep your stash of each denomination relatively equal- I had no qualms in giving someone change for $50 in a money from each denomination when they were spending under $5
I read somewhere that for anything in less than perfect condition place it in a tub marked 'for childcare' and flog it off for $1 or $2- I didn't do this as I'd already donated anything less than perfect to my local opshop when I was packing and I tended to do it regularly anyway as part of the cherubs wardrobe sorts. I think it's a great idea.
My final tip- at the end of the market, sort what you haven't sold into two piles- the first things you are happy to donate, the second the belongs you want to hold on to, to perhaps try your luck online with, or to put into the too hard basket. The first market in February I decided I had too much left over and booked another stall to have another crack (hence yesterday), but yesterday, mum and I bagged up everything I didn't want to hang onto for another second, and on the way home I dropped it off at the op shop so it didn't even come back into the house and give me one more thing to worry about. Actually, in my feedback form, I've suggested it may be a good idea that the organisers contact local charities and organise to either have a donation bin or a truck attend at the end of the day as I'm sure there would be a lot of people in the same situation, and much better to donate then and there when you're sick to the eyeteeth of everything, than rely on people to take stuff home, sort and then donate. The less steps the better.
So that's my wrap up on Baby and Kids Markets. Overall, it was worthwhile, it feels great that in such a throw away world that things are being reused by other children, and it was great to fill a charity bin with items that I would be happy to put my children in, so hopefully they will be of use/interest to their customers. One thing off my to-do list!