I was having a weekend away in North Yorkshire last week with my family when I found out that there was a ‘local produce market’ on nearby. Now I love to visit a market anytime and see what is on offer especially whilst on holiday, so off I went to see how other people do things and what was on offer.
Great British markets truly are the original supermarkets
The weather was great, the market was packed and some of the products on offer were nothing short of amazing - best of all the market was on a Saturday and had integrated with the regular traders so you could literally get anything you wanted, proving that Great British markets truly are the original supermarkets!
I looked around to see who was manning the stall and I could see a tall lady sat on a stool with a ’50 Shades of Grey’ covering her face.
One of the first stalls I came to was a real ale stall and I put a great order in with a very knowledgeable local brewer. Next up was an art gallery. Now a lot of people would disagree with me when it comes to art as I truly believe that we are all experts in our right. When it comes to art I think that we all have our own tastes, make our own interpretations and of course, ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’. So, as I started to browse I did so with a very open mind and unbiased opinion, not really looking for anything in particular, then I spotted a lovely oil painting of the countryside and lifted it out for a closer look. It really was beautiful and weirdly, seemed very familiar? I looked around to see who was manning the stall and I could see a tall lady sat on a stool with a ’50 Shades of Grey’ hardback book covering her face. I presumed she must be running the stall so I said, “excuse me, are these your paintings?” She lowered her book and replied, “yes” before raising it back up in front of her face! There were no prices in sight and the lady made me literally feel like I was interrupting. So, I walked away and had a look around the other stalls, chatted to traders, soaked up the atmosphere, loving the banter and filling my boots with everything from giant loom band sets for the kids to home-made sausages, spending a good couple of hours enjoying the full shopping experience you can only get on a market.
She still hadn’t mentioned the price which was nowhere to be seen
As I was leaving, I walked back the same way I had come and noticed the lady with the art who had been reading the book was packing away early, so I asked her the question, “quiet day today?” “yes”, she replied, “waste of time really, only sold one, not even took my rent!” I asked her about the landscape picture again and pretty much had to force her into a conversation if I am totally honest. It turned out that she had painted all of the pieces herself and that the one I had liked was of Holm Firth, the home of Last of the Summer Wine and 20 minutes from my home town, although she still hadn’t mentioned the price which was nowhere to be seen! So I asked her, she told me and this master piece now hangs proudly in my kitchen and is probably the best £25 I have ever spent, with a great story behind it.
On her return I was chatting away with customers and had already sold two paintings.
I then asked the trader what her background was and she said she had always worked in admin although was trying to get her dream of being a successful painter off the ground. I asked if she wanted to be a book critic or an artist? She looked confused so I asked her WHY she had bought the book she was reading earlier? She still looked confused although she went on to explain that she saw the book in a book shop, read the summary on the back of the book at which stage the lady in the shop said it was a great read. “THERE YOU GO” I said. Finally, the penny dropped with the lady and after chatting with her I persuaded her to stay a little longer and go and get the brews in whilst I looked after the stall. She was concerned about my knowledge of art as the café was quite far away although I reassured her I would be fine. On her return I was chatting away with customers and had already sold two paintings.
There are no secrets out there, it’s just a case of talking to your customers and letting them know you care!
The lady was so grateful it was unreal and asked “what is your secret?” The truth is, there are no secrets out there, it’s just a case of talking to your customers and letting them know you care!
Of course there are a lot more tips to being good at sales, but talking to people is crucial and a great start. As I said at the beginning of this column, our markets are the original supermarkets and please, please let’s not forget what makes us better than the supermarkets: having great product knowledge and the ability to communicate with our customers!
All good relationships are built on great communication. Happy trading.
Keep in touch,