• Michelle Innes

Tired but happy不

If you have seen me at the various markets or festivals I have been to, you will probably have been greeted with a smile or a cheery 'hello, how are you?' I am always happy to see visitors to my stall and don't mind spending time chatting with them, but what they don't realise is, that behind that cheery smile I am sometimes sooooo tired. Most people do a 9-5 job, but most market traders actually work 5-9 不

Some of us are up at 5am to get ready to drive to whichever event we are booked in to. I generally travel about an hour to the events I do and set up is generally around 7am, so I will have to be on the road at about 6am, which is great for missing the rush hour traffic. If I am doing a weekly market the stalls are already put up for us, however if it is a festival I have to put up my own gazebos, and as my business is growing, I am generally putting up 2 gazebos these days. These are not your lightweight garden gazebos, they are flipping heavy duty ones that have helped build my muscles over the past few years - no need for me to go to the gym!

Once the cover is built, it generally takes about 2 hours to set up the rails, gridwalls, tables and stock. If it is raining you also need to make sure that you have enough covers to prevent your stock getting wet and ruined and if it is windy you need to make sure you are sufficiently weighted down to prevent your gazebo being blown away

Then you are ready to welcome the lovely customers, some of them are a joy to talk to, others are there to try my patience, but they are all greeted in the same way. Some days you can be rushed off your feet and the day passes really quickly, you meet nice people and make loads of sales, but there are other days when you are wondering why you are there, the customers are few and far between. Sometimes I am just happy when someone walks into my stall as it just gives me someone to talk to, just to relieve the boredom.

Some events go on until the evening, so by then I am usually dead tired, but you still have to greet potential customers, even though your feet are killing you from standing on hard concrete all day, you are starving or you are desperate for a wee! I always do events on my own, so don't have anyone to watch the stall while I pop off to the loo or to find food, but usually there are other stallholders who will keep an eye on it for a minute if they are not busy themselves.

When the day is over you can finally start packing up, and invariably you get the odd customers coming late, wanting to buy something they saw earlier in the day that you have already packed. Most of the time I am happy to unpack the boxes if they know exactly what they wanted. I did however have one customer who asked for a patchwork skirt, so I got them all back out for her, and then she said that it might have been trousers she had seen and could I get those out too. 'Of course I can' I said, smiling through gritted teeth, I always like to give good customer service as hopefully people will remember that I looked after them and come back again. Occasionally I have finished packing the stock, gone to get my van and come back to find customers have actually unpacked the boxes themselves looking for something they wanted 不

It generally takes me 2 hours to pack up at the end of the day and load up the van (as long as i don't have to pack it all twice!) If I have to take the gazebos down it might take longer, by then I am feeling rather weak and it is a mammoth task sometimes to lift them into the van. I can then head home, tired, hungry and still needing a wee!

When I get home (occasionally after 9pm) I then have to think about the things I need to restock in the van for the event tomorrow, unload the gazebo and weights if they not needed, and then I can sit down and have some food, as long it is not too late. I often have to get up again at 5am the next day so also need to get a few hours sleep before I do it all again.

On the days I am not doing events I am here at home, working on social media, ordering from India, photographing new stock, sorting out the stock in the van or looking for more events to go to.

Sometimes I can be doing 5 or 6 different events a week during the summer, but even though I am so tired, I know I am doing this because I want to, I don't think I could go back to working for someone else. So if you come and see me and I look like I have been dragged through a hedge or have huge bags under my eyes, just know that I have probably got dressed in the dark at 5.30am, forgot to brush my hair or just haven't had enough coffee yet!

I am not telling you all this to get sympathy for working really hard, this is the profession I have chosen, but if I sometimes don't look 100% it could be because I have been up before the sun, done my back in again carrying heavy gazebos or just need a wee, but I am always happy to see lovely customers.

Look forward to seeing some of you again soon.


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