My Thoughts On Christmas Markets
I’ve often thought to myself when browsing Christmas Markets, it must be painfully boring for the people sat behind the counters.
Why would they voluntarily spend a whole weekend shivering in the freezing cold just to sell a few products?
There must be better ways to get their items out there with all the online channels available to businesses these days.
It wasn’t until this weekend that I realised exactly why these people do what they do.
I realise now that it’s a lot more than just selling products.
It’s the people, the conversations with customers, the other traders, the organisers and everyone involved in the entire weekend.
Not only have we gained some amazing customers, lots of whom have already placed repeat orders just days after buying some from us, we’ve also got to know the community spirit amongst the traders, everyone wants everyone else to succeed and although we are all competing for sales it also feels like we are on the same team.
Something that has been missing in most people’s life this year is the ability to meet new people, we found this weekend so refreshing as we were able to have conversations with a whole host of different people.
I think we didn’t even realise how much we needed it.
We found out about the Christmas market just two weeks before and we had absolutely nothing prepared at all, we didn’t even have a gazebo!
It was a mad rush getting everything prepared, Dan and Karl were flat out getting olives ready almost every single day up until the day of set up.
Doing all of this whilst dealing with the ever-increasing orders as we drew closer to Christmas was quite the task but they smashed it.
I was up stairs trying to work out the logistics of the weekend, how would the stand operate? We wanted to offer samples and we knew that would need to be managed in a covid secure way.
Having never done a Christmas market before we really didn’t know what we would need aside from the olives themselves, a gazebo and a payment method.
I didn’t realise quite how many different elements would be involved in bringing the stall to life and making sure it all remained dry.
How Did The Christmas Market Go?
The day of setting up our Christmas market stall came and the forecast wasn’t looking good.
We managed to get the gazebo we borrowed from a family member set up as the rain held off, but we soon realised in didn’t have a front panel as it was a pop up lawn gazebo, not designed for this kind of thing really.
We needed a front because we were planning on leaving our stock in the gazebo overnight as I would have been a lot to unload and load into my car each morning and night.
We had to make a quick trip to screwfix to buy some tarpaulin that we cabled tied to the front each night and then had to literally cut our way back in each morning.
Despite us managing to put the gazebo up without any rain, the ground was still very wet and muddy.
Luckily, we had taken some left-over carpet tiles from the unit and we used these to stack all of our stock on.
We had 14 boxes full of olives stacked on top of the tiles in the gazebo, one for each flavour.
We also had around 5 boxes of popular flavours in the car in case we ran out.
We actually did run out of two of our olive flavours, Garlic & Chilli and Classic Blend, these were a massive hit.
Despite our best efforts to keep everything as dry as we could, the ground under our feet and at the entrance to the gazebo was incredibly muddy by the end of the weekend.
We had to start using our gift boxes as a floor covering so our feet didn’t get completely sodden and so the customers didn’t all slip over when entering our gazebo.
This didn’t look great and for future Christmas Markets we will definitely need to consider other flooring options.
For the most part, the gazebo held up very well, but we did have a scare on the Saturday as it started to blow away as we were talking to a customer.
Dan had to go and re-peg the whole thing whilst I held it down and tried to keep the customer talking.
That wasn’t the easiest sale we made all weekend I must admit but we made it all the same.
We also had a minor issue when we arrived on Sunday to find that our Gazebo had not been that watertight overnight, a lot of our pegs were no longer holding as the ground was so wet.
Our chairs, table and some products were a bit wet.
I had to go around with a tea towel drying everything off to make sure we weren’t handing wet packs to people.
We did end up stealing some heavy-duty pegs from the traders next to us, don’t worry we actually knew them before the market and we knew they wouldn’t mind.
They were actually Liam’s cousins, what are the chances?
The biggest hit of the whole weekend for us was the competition we were running, ‘Guess how many olives in the jar.’
This was a brilliant way for us to get talking to the customers and if we had multiple different groups, one of us could be talking them through the competition whilst the other was offering samples and talking them through our different products.
I think this is undoubtedly something we would like to replicate in the future, obviously we would need to have a different sized jar in case people start recognising us at different markets.
Another star of the show was the Wooden Christmas Tree that we used in order to showcase all of our flavours. We didn’t even know Jamie was going to make this but it’s fair to say, without it, the stall would have been missing something.
In total we sold well over 300 packs of olives over the course of the weekend which was brilliant for us.
Considering most other traders were saying how quiet the market was and how it’s never normally this empty, we are filled with confidence going into future markets.
A lot of experience traders said that we had a baptism of fire due to the poor weather and the limitations of capacity due to the coronavirus rule of 2000.
If that was a quiet market, we can’t wait for a packed one.
A Few Special Thanks
Kate (my mum) for giving up her Friday night to come and stand in the freezing cold talking to all the customers with me, who knew she would be such a good saleswoman.
Hannah, for finding out about the market in the first place and helping all day on Sunday during the worst of the weather, not to mention packing away all of the wet stuff into the van with me. The weekend wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for you.
Karl for helping Dan with all of the olives, freeing me up to work in the office planning our Christmas market stall.
Hugh & Maurine, (Hannah’s parents) for lending the gazebo, it was a challenge to keep it under control but we would have been completely lost without it!
Jamie for building that lovely Christmas tree without even being asked.
And of course, Dan for getting the olives ready and running the stall with me for a lot of the weekend. It felt as though we were some sort of double act based on how polished our sales pitch was by the end of the weekend.
All in all we loved every minute of the Christmas Market and cannot wait for the next one.
Once coronavirus is over, hopefully we will be doing lots more.
West Country Olives