I have to be honest with you. I don’t *really* enjoy being behind the table at Fleas and Markets. Because of the way things have gone for us, however, I’ve been at the Flea a lot more than originally planned – 5 of the first 6 days – so that Mark can be at the kitchen to bake. It’s been stressful trying to juggle schedules because of my own client work, so on the slower weekdays I’ve been bringing my computer in and working while manning the table. I’m getting used to the selling thing by now, but I’m a terrible sales person, I think. This is related to that whole “I feel pushy promoting cookies” sort of thing that I wrote a few posts back. I feel uncomfortable accepting money from friends who come visit and buy from us. I tend to give discounts and round down if people are buying multiple items because I feel “bad” that they’re spending so much money (I know I know, but if you bought from us while I’m at the table, lucky you; you probably got a break). Here was one particularly ridiculous transaction yesterday: a woman who I am acquainted with online, but who I have never met before bought a whole bunch of cookies. She’s bought from us in the past and is familiar with our brand so she isn’t a stranger. Her total came out to $49. She handed me $60. I handed her $20 back (Sorry Mark, I know you would never do that, which is why you’re better at this than I am). She shoved $5 back into my hand. Ridiculous!
Since I hardly ever sell at the Flea, it’s been interesting to see all the different types of customers pass throughout the day, and although selling isn’t really something I’m super comfortable doing, it’s been sort of fun (sometimes). There are a few awkward moments, however, when you can tell a customer thinks the prices are too expensive. Sometimes they’ll put the package down and leave right away, but other times they’ll linger around. I like to imagine that without saying any words, there’s this whole silent dialogue that goes on between us and it goes something like this.
Customer: “How much for these package of cookies?”
Me: “Those are $8.”
Customer (thinking to themselves): $8? For one package of cookies? That is really expensive.
Me (thinking to myself): They’re handmade. By us. With love. And hard work. And this week, with blood, sweat and tears.
Customer (thinking): I can get 2 packages of cookies for the price of 1 at the grocery store.
Me (thinking to myself): Hmm…would I spend $8 on a package of cookies? Maybe not. Maybe I should take a buck off. No no, stay firm. They’re competitively priced with other small food brands. We don’t make a huge profit from a package of cookies especially since our prices haven’t changed in 3 years. We’re not the Keebler elves you know. Ok, stay firm.
Customer (fidgets with package. Puts it down. Picks it back up, thinks to herself): Well, this could be a unique New York gift. I don’t want to show up at the in-laws with a package of cookies from Pepperidge Farms.
Me (thinking): Have you even read that NY times article about Brooklyn, the brand?? Brooklyn is hot! And it even says Brooklyn on the label. Sure it’s in really small type, but you won’t find those cookies in your bodega in Houston.
Customer (out loud): “How much are they again?”
Me: “$8. Um, but I’ll give you 2 for $15.”
I’m actually sitting here typing this at the Flea now, my last stint for the season. The weekend was crazy hectic, but the weekdays have been much more quiet. The food vendors have been stuck in the back room of the main ground floor. See that lovely, golden, majestic room in that photo? Yeah, that’s not us. We’re in a concrete, drafty room with bad overhead lighting that we’ve nicknamed “The Meat Locker” the first day because it was so ungodly cold in there due to the door being open from vendors loading in. Do you want to know how cold it was? It was so cold, the battery on my laptop wouldn’t charge. It froze my battery, people, it froze it! Later in the week, the room became known as the “Fallout Shelter”. No windows, no light, no wifi, spotty cell service. Day 6 and all the vendors are starting to look like tired zombies.
9 days of markets is really long for us. We weren’t sure how we were going to pull it off when we signed on and now we know that stocking and restocking the market everyday is challenging, while juggling wholesale orders and getting packages out the door. It’s been a long string of late nights and running back and forth around Brooklyn, from kitchen to Flea, from store to store. 3 days left. Mark is taking the last 2 shifts. Compared to everything that’s been going on the last 3 weeks, it’ll be a breeze sitting down for 8 hours the last 2 days. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel. This holiday season, my friends, is almost over.