Sevenoaks Clock Tower market. Being an independent trader.

Now I know that as a business Muddy ground is meant to be positive all the time, that any negativity feeds into associated negative thoughts and results in poor sales. Well the theorists should attend Sevenoaks market then. I was there on the 29th and it was dire beyond belief. Normally at these things us sellers stop to the end, which would have been 4pm. However at this one 70% of us left well before 3pm. It was awful. Even the organiser said how bad the tower as a sales location had become.

It was my worst day's trading ever. It was even worse than that day in Epsom, when all I did for five hours was hold on to the gazebo during a big storm. At least there I had something to do. In Sevenoaks there was naff all to do except watch pedestrians walk by in an hurry. I set up, I stood around for a long time, I went home.

Now when things are bad you look inwards, at what you've got and start to think it's all a bit gash. This event was no different. Well it was. I realised that my product is good but the location utterly bad. Looking objectively at it all it seems to have given up, and people perhaps associate that little area with tosh. I watched where people went, and mapped their flow mentally. People either veered away from the tower, or if they were forced through it, sped up. Nobody paid any attention to the stalls, which is really odd for me and the main reason that I viewed the location as bad. I always without fail get good reactions to my tee shirts, always. I know they are good, and I know they find appreciative homes in general.

Contrast this with the Horsham market. There people linger, have a good nose around. They come up and have a chat. The traders friendly and open. I found the clocktower people a little defensive, as if right from the off things are going to be bad. Customers sense that, they see that if the traders have settled into a little huddle in the corner, that they are not welcome. Quite frankly Sevenoaks should have been good as there was substantial footfall, but I think the negative stance of the status quo put buyers off. It takes a bit of effort to approach a grump even if you know them personally, so why should people bother approaching a trader? I avoided the established people altogether as I found them offputting and overtly negative on this day.

I'm disinclined to go back, but do feel that with a bit of effort, a few changes here and there, it could be a good location. I wanted to move my stall, for instance, to the other side of the wind shields and into the flow of people but was told by the traders not to as it was against the rules. Man if the traders themselves are enforcing rules things are bad. Traders need to push boundaries otherwise things go nowhere. I see traders complying with every little, petty market rule, then I see a dying market. If things are in decline, and you are selling nothing, then why keep to the same format? Why even bother going back?

It was also interesting to watch the woman with the china cake stands. She sold oodles of the things and had a really good day of it. Normally I see the cake stand people sell nothing, so either she was good or her stall was in a top spot. It was. It was outside of the tower and in the flow of people. It made all the difference. I suspect the same is true of the fixed stands as well - indeed it must be as these are booked up for a whole year in advance. You don't do that unless you are on to a good thing.

I liked Sevenoaks a lot; it had a good feel to the town on that day. But by heck I didn't like being in the clock tower with those negative feelings bouncing around. Horrid. Indeed there was no theoretical reason why the day shouldn't have been anything less than OK. Footfall was excellent, weather good and it was pay day for many. It was 100% the fault of the location.

It's tough this selling game, and one where it would be easy to just give up. Quite frankly I could but I do enjoy the creative side of things, and when I see my tee shirts out and about it is bloody brilliant. My daughter has a new pink one that quite frankly is astoundingly good, really top stuff. A few sales wouldn't hurt now and then though ;¬) To see if my stuff was gash or good I had a wonder around the shops; White Stuff etc.. Man my tee shirts at £15 were way better quality than their at £25, so I know mine are good.

So there!

As I'm not giving up, I've taken a look at my web page. Ah. Bit boring is - a bit "Clock Tower" for me. So over the next few days I'm going to inject a bit of zest into the site. It may yet still end up boring but at least it will look nice. At the moment it looks as though I've given up on it, which may subconciously be true. Web page design falls way down on the list of interesting things to do.

13/10/2012 update: I've booked up to do Sevenoaks again. I liked the town and the people, just didn't like being in the Clock Tower with the negative feelings. My booking is for one of the little stalls. These look fun. This decision was helped in talking to the guy that does the bread and pies from a stall around the corner - Sevenoaks is his best market by far. Interesting that isn't it? Furthermore I've been speaking to a lot of the other traders as well - funny how one bumps into them day-to-day isn't it? Business is bad most places, so I shouldn't grumble or give up. Get through this recession and I should be in a good place trade wise.