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Life & the Farmers Market

For the past 3 months, I’ve been selling my Darl Bar Mixes at the northern rivers markets. To me, markets are the perfect metaphor for life. Each market begins with fresh stalls and shiny new products, and throughout the day, each stall holder goes through ups and downs until eventually, like life, the market ends. Also like life, or unlike life, depending on your belief system, you are reborn at another market where the cycle goes on again.

Another parallel between a markets and life is the ups and downs one inevitably goes through. A market day is mostly made up of not much happening, but for a few market changing events that are perceived as either positive or negative. An example of this is the allocation your stall gets. Certain locations are often perceived to be better or worse than others and I often see stallholders arguing with organisers about not getting the location they wanted. This is similar to fighting against the current of life or getting angry when it’s raining outside. There are powerful unseen forces at work that lead to you being allocated the stall you get and it’s important not to fight it. Your allocated position is your market destiny, which must be embraced.

Once the market stall setup is complete, there will be a number of rites of passage one goes through throughout the day. One such rite is experiencing a gust of wind blowing your merchandise onto the floor or breaking something in your stall. Experiences like this are inevitable and your response to such events could have far reaching consequences. The only way to respond to these tests are to control what is within your control and get on with it. If a sign is broken, move it to the side. If some merchandise is damaged, give it to someone who could use it. The most important response to anything beyond your control is to just keep going.

Offering free samples is a polarizing topic among stall holders. What sort of samples should you offer? How big should your sample sizes be? Who should you offer samples to and not offer them to? Some stall operators don’t give samples because they think people will just take them and not buy anything. With others, the free samples are flowing to anyone who comes near, and these are always the stalls with the happiest stall holders with the most customers. The more samples you give, the more sales you will make, the more people you will make happy. It’s a no brainer.

It puzzles me when I see stall holders sitting down on their phones all day. This is like walking through an art gallery with your eyes closed. The world is happening around you, customers who would buy your product are passing you by, and your head is in your phone. It’s better to stay at home and look at your phone than be on your phone at your market stall.

The most important thing to manage at any market is your own energy. Allowing any negative feelings to take over your brain will not only put a damper on you, but everyone around you will feel it and avoid your stall. This is not what you want. When you start to notice negative thoughts creeping in like why is that stall so busy and I’m not? Or no one’s going to buy my crappy product. Or why didn't that customer buy anything? Simply observe the thoughts and let them pass through you. Trying to fight them will only make them stronger and it’s a battle you can’t win. You can also go for a little walk, have a stretch or go and visit another stall to get a mental break. Staying in the same position and doing the same thing when negativity starts creeping will never do you any good. It’s important to break the cycle and refresh yourself.

Like life, it’s best not to leave a market early. Unlike life, you know exactly what time the market ends, so don’t pack up before that time. By attending a market, you’re agreeing to turn up when the market starts and stay till it ends, no matter what kind of day you’re having.

In summary, to have a successful market, approach it like life – relax, be kind to yourself and others and have fun, because soon it’ll all be over.