When someone asks why I attend the occasional market, I usually answer something along the lines of “It keeps me in touch with my customers” or “I like to hear the direct feedback”, or even “I need to see the looks on different peoples faces when they see our pricing”. All of this is true, but there is more too.
A good market has a buzz. It’s hard to pin point exactly what makes that buzz. When pressed I think of the sound of happy people and the energy they share. A market buzz is less muted than the buzz you get when you step out of a lift into an open plan workspace with high morale. It’s less manic than a primary school playground or a department store sale. It’s the high-energy sound of stallholders and customers talking to communicating – there is a passion to it. Customers talk about their life experiences, or who they need a gift for. Stallholders tell anyone who will listen about their products and how they are made. You know it’s a good market the minute you hear it.
This year I attended two good markets, each with a different buzz. I had the same stall setup at each, but sold a different range of products. I had different types on conversations with the other stallholders.
The first market was the Petite Gift Fair, arranged by Anna Stichbury. This was my fourth year and it’s always the same but different. Stallholders all turn up with their tables, boxes of goods and often a child or two in tow. Before customers are allowed in, we all check out each other’s stalls. Is anyone selling a similar product? What do we have of the same value to swap with one another to do our own Christmas shopping? Soon the place fills up with customers and we get busy talking. Children agonise over bath bombs (thank you Stone Rose Soaps!), mothers carefully selected a jar from the range of sugar scrubs. Dads peek around the door and leave as soon as they decently can. Everyone is on the hunt for a special Christmas gift and the Petite Gift fair is known for delivering. At the end of the evening I’m tired, happy and ready for bed.
The next morning, I need to get up early and make more sugar scrub as they almost ran out. I’m a newbie to the next market and want to make sure everything is just right.
The Sustainability Trust Christmas Market has been around for a little while now, but I haven’t attended before. Simon is used to driving me to markets by now and helps me unload all my stuff into Forresters Lane. A tiny, wonky badly sign-posted lane – always a sign of a good time in Wellington. We don’t thrive in the windswept open. This particular lane has entrances to several well-known night haunts as well as being the home of the Sustainability Trust. I walk in two hours early and the buzz is already there. It’s a different buzz from the middleclass western suburbs. This buzz is made by people who are passionate about the environment and sustainability. There is a wide range of goods, as well as all the coffee, food and chocolate you could need on a Saturday morning. Customers arrive on foot on their way somewhere else and leave bolstered, ready for the rest of their day. Bath bombs and sugar scrubs don’t sell well to this crowd – they are for people with spare time and money. This crowd want essential oils and additive-free soap. I give them what they want, having earlier swapped some product for silver jewellery and chocolate. I drink coffee from my reusable cup.
The thing both markets had in common? Not one person needed a carrier bag from me.
And now - Hopi has a new stockist! The Sustainability Trust now has our soap and essential oils. Drop in to Forresters Lane off Tory street for a look.