• Michelle Innes

Extreme Market Traders 🤣

The high winds this weekend have inspired my next blog for you.

As a market trader outdoors, I have experienced my fair share of different weather conditions, some quite pleasant, some not so pleasant. It is only when the weather gets really dangerous that we don't go out there. You may think to yourself, why would you go out in the bad weather? Well, unlike people who are employed and get a regular wage every week, we have to go out there and sell our wares in order to pay the bills. It is a gamble every time, will customers come out, and if they do come out will they actually want to buy what you are selling.

I do a lot of markets with my friend Jackie, she sells jewelley and second hand clothing/hats, and we try and get pitches next to each other because we look out for each other, she is part of my market family. We jokingly call ourselves Extreme Market Traders because we have found ourselves in some situations which we look back at now and just laugh, but they were not funny at the time.

Most of the markets we do are run by market organisers, they put up the stalls or gazebos for you and we just turn up to start trading, much easier than putting up your own gazebo. There are usually market guys around all day then to help you out if there are any problems. Last year Jackie and I decided to do a week of Christmas markets, so as well as the hardened traders who are out there all year, you also get hobbyists and crafters who just come out at Christmas. On one of these days the weather was a bit wet, and just slightly windy. Jackie and I had turned up and they had put us in a block of stalls with some new traders. Neither of us was feeling great, I was recovering from broken ribs and Jackie had a bad back, but we soldiered on.

During the day the wind picked up more and the rain got heavier, so we did our best to protect our stalls from the elements, the worst thing is going home with soggy, spoiled or broken stock. Suddenly it started hailing and there was an almighty gust of wind which ripped the roof off my side of the pitch 😲 The tarpaulin roof was flapping about in the wind, it was like a scene from The Wizard of Oz. The rain was pouring in soaking most of my stock, Jackie had glass jewellery cases that got smashed and we both scrambled to catch the roof which was making a bid for freedom. I managed to climb up and catch one corner, she grabbed the other and we battled to get it back down. One of the Market organisers, Darren, came to help and between the three of us we managed to stop it flapping around enough so that we could re-attach it. During all this I could see the majority of the other traders watching us and thinking 'oooh.....maybe it's time to go home then!' One of them even came to ask Darren for a plastic sheet for the side of her stall to protect her from the rain, while he was trying to hold my roof on!!! You can imagine the response she got 🤣 When it was all sorted and the roof back on, I looked round and the ladies who were sharing our stall had packed up and gone home! But I still managed to sell a pair of fluffy harem pants while all this was going on, which was a bonus!

Then another stallholder further down had the corner of his roof come off too, so we ran down and help re-attach that one too. We were absolutely drenched by now, and decided that it might actually be time to pack up and go home. I did not really enjoy the drive home in wet pants, but heated seats help to dry things out a little bit.

And so the term 'Extreme Market Traders' was born.

I have done other markets with Jackie where we have got there in the morning and said to each other 'what the hell are we doing here?' because the weather has been so bad we really just wanted to stay at home. It is always a gamble doing markets in the wind and rain, as customers also want to stay at home too, so you never know how it will go. Unfortunately, as we are regular stallholders at some markets, they will still charge us even if we don't turn up, just so that we don't lose our space. So you might as well turn up and hope you sell some things to at least pay the stall fee. A few week ago we did another windy market (47mph gusts) and I actually made quite a few sales before they cancelled it because of safety, as Jackie's stall was lifting up and about to blow away in the wind.

This weekend I have done two markets in the high winds and I have to make sure that everything is strapped down well otherwise I may have rails sailing down the high street, or they might fall over on top of a granny (which has actually happened!!! She was not hurt thankfully🙄)

So you may think it is a lovely for us when you see us in the summer, out in the sunshine, enjoying the weather, having a good time, but we do actually do this all year, in all weathers. I have now got ski trousers and snow boots for the times it gets below freezing. Some people say to me, why don't you do an nice indoor job during the winter, maybe in an office or a shop, but I don't think I could go back to working for someone else. I enjoy the challenge, the really long hours, loading heavy boxes into the van and driving all over the place, because I am doing it for myself, to build my own business and to meet new and lovely people. This is not just a hobby, it is my job, I chose it and I can't see me doing anything else any time soon 💜


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