Interview by Diana (Pygmy Cloud)
Weekly markets provide a very different experience for traders compared to special events like Crafty Fox Market.
Sabine from S_Gerth is a regular trader at the bustling Broadway Market in East London. She makes beautiful graphic leather accessories using high quality UK and Italian leather offcuts. She shares her experiences of weekly trading...
How long have you been trading at Broadway Market?
I started trading in January 2013 in the schoolyard, just next to Broadway market, which is where most traders from the main market start out at. Maybe it wasn’t the best time to start an outdoor weekly market as the weather was absolutely dreadful but I guess it showed commitment! From April 2013 I was on a rotation and had a stall on the main market once a month and then was moved permanently onto the new extension of Broadway in August 2013.
Why did you pick this particular market to do regularly?
I picked Broadway market because it is a local market and I already knew a few traders there. Also from them I knew that, despite it being mainly a food market, the chosen non-food people were doing quite well. It has a totally different atmosphere to a purely craft / design market which I really enjoy.
What do you enjoy most about being there?
Most of the time I really look forward to Saturday as quite a few other traders have become friends and it is nice to see them once a week. Now that I have been in the same spot every week for a year, I have a lot of repeat customers. Also previous customers pass by to tell me how much they like their purchase or to show me how nicely the leather ages. That sort of feedback makes it absolutely worthwhile.
What are the perks and downfalls of doing a weekly market?
Well, a big downfall is that you very rarely get a free Saturday and so it is quite difficult to do any spontaneous weekend trips. Also you have no influence on the weather and need to be prepared for all eventualities. For my product especially it is quite nerve wrecking when there is strong rain or a storm as the leather is quite delicate and can be ruined easily. But so far I have managed to keep my loss at a tolerable rate.
On the positive side, it is brilliant that customers know you are there, so if they need a present or something for themselves and they remember you they can just come any Saturday to see you. Also I get a lot of direct feedback and I can adjust my product accordingly. Quite often I get new ideas at the market as people ask for specific items.
I love you display! How did you source such an amazing display for your products?
Thank you! In the beginning of my ‘market career’ I sourced my display from flea markets, car boot sales or items we found on the street that Darren (my brilliant partner) turned into display items. These developed over time into themed displays. Now I think I've reached a more advanced stage, as I am more conscious about what is actually needed. For example it needed to be a bit more sturdy to brave the wind and I needed more space on the table so the display had to be higher but at the same time needed to still fit into my suitcase. So Darren and I discussed all of that and did a few scribbles. From that, he developed the design and the flat pack technique and went on to build it. Obviously it is a massive plus to have someone so close at hand who can build things, as I could have never been able to afford to pay someone to do it.
Do you have any advice for doing a weekly market?
It is so difficult to give advice with weekly markets, as every market is different for every product. But the main thing is that you are committed and that you can cope with being outside the whole day all year round. If you want to do it, buy yourself some good, sturdy and waterproof outdoor boots for autumn and winter, and some hand and feet warmer packs - that’s essential.