So I participated in what is (hopefully) my last ever flea market. Not because it was a bad experience. But it was tedious, tiresome and absolutely dusty. And on top of that, I was into my 8th consecutive day of running a fever.
The flea market venue was at Level 6 of Lucky Plaza, with ForFleaSake as the organizer. Venue wise, it was in this old, rather unkempt warehouse-like area which was extremely dusty. All of us were wearing face masks and yet we were still sneezing our noses off. It was that bad. (Warning: face masks are a must should you ever do a flea at this place.) I don’t quite see how it justifies a booth rental of $100/table.
But venue aside, let’s talk about sales.
This time round, I went with a slightly different mentality. Formerly, I’d attend each flea market with the intention to maximize the amount of moolah I could earn per item. I had this mentality for the past 5 flea markets I took part in and eventually realized the hard way that I was simply spoiling the fun of flea markets both for the shoppers and myself.
For the shoppers, the thrill is in the hunt for good, cheap buys. And as a seller, most of us go with the intention of clearing our wardrobes of clothes which would otherwise be left sitting there for months or even years. People are offering you cash to get all these junk out of your rooms. LET THEM. For you, the thrill is going home with an empty suitcase.
The clientele of this particular flea market is 90% Filipinos and the remaining 10% comprising a mix of local youths and young adults. Normally, this makes for a rather cheapskate crowd with weak buying-power – but not if you shift your perspective a little.
Indeed, it is ridiculous how they’d bargain for an item to be $2 when you’re selling it at an already low price of $5. Or how they’d be bargaining for $1 when you’ve already dropped your price to $2 before. I still faced this today (some things never change), but I was trying to look past all that.
Instead, I chatted with some of them to learn more about them and discovered that hey, these people don’t necessarily bargain because they are trying to get cheap fashion buys for themselves or to resell elsewhere.
Like this lady whom I offered a mirror to, who rejected me gently, informing me that she was “choosing clothes to put in my box to send to my family back home”.
And this other young-looking Filipino who sheepishly told me that she liked my clothing because she has a young daughter who has the same style as me. She wanted to get some for her because “she would really like it.”
As soon as I heard their stories, I began slashing my prices like crazy just for them. There’s no greater satisfaction knowing that my things are going to people who will appreciate them. And that counts a lot more than an additional dollar’s earnings or two.
The latter Filipino also brought several of her friends (who eventually became customers) to my booth because “I was nice and she really liked me”.
These people are not cheapskates. Most of these Filipinos are maids on their off-day and here they are, spending their hard-earned money on things for their families back home. And it’s not like they earn a lot to begin with. (Three digit monthly salary, anyone?) These people are amazingly generous. And they bargain because they only have this amount of money, and they want to use this amount to send as many things back as possible.
Of course, I’m not speaking for the obviously rich people who flaunt their branded handbags and refuse to spend $2 more on your brand-new dress. (I didn’t manage to speak to them to learn about their stories – not that they’d even want to talk to me anyway. :P) But for them, they’re still in the thrill of a good bargain-chase. We can’t fault them (too much) for that I guess.
As for how I performed today, I went with a huge luggage full of clothes, shoes and bags and returned home with an empty suitcase and only around 75 buckeroos for my time and effort (after deducting the booth rental price, split among 3 friends and myself). Still, I’m amazingly happy.
But I’m so physically tired I don’t think I ever want to do this again.
What is it about illness that opens a person up as a free-for-all repository of the worst, most condescending advice imaginable?
Unsolicited Medical Advice – Nothing about Everything
One word – no. I’ll stop you before you even start.
I’ve stopped talking to people about my health (apart from a trusted two or three besties) precisely because of this reason. Because everyone seems to want to have a say.
“I think you should change your doctor, I don’t think your current doctor is doing a good job.”
“Why don’t you opt for something more natural? Like Traditional Chinese Medicine.”
“You should seek a third opinion. Your current medications are too expensive.”
“You should take more vitamin A/B/C/D/E (or whatsoever).”
No. I did not ask you for your advice. And no, I don’t think you’re in the position to judge that “my doctor is not doing a good job” or “my medications are not right for me”. Neither should you be “advising” when you do not have the full picture. (Which you definitely don’t. I’ve kept 90% under the surface since 2010. The remaining 10% are the occasional symptoms you see.)
I speak for myself and most chronically ill people out there. I understand your intentions are good/you want to help. But seriously, no thank you.
Instead, this is what I ask for.
Trust that my doctor and I are allies, that we are working together towards the best possible way to fight this monster that is my illness(es). My doctor is doing his best. So am I.
Just because I am not in what you think is the “optimum state of health” does not mean that my doctor is not doing a good job. We are doing the best we can. It’s challenging to restore a car that has been in a bad accident to it’s original state of glory. Likewise for humans.
I am happy with my current state of health (although you might disagree) because it’s a hundred times better than how it was before, when I was going in and out of hospital every week or even every night.
The road to recovery is not always smooth. There will be hiccups.
Trust in the fact that I am perfectly capable to manage my own health and make sound decisions.
Realize the reason why I am rejecting all forms of unsolicited medical advice is because I’ve been with this long enough to understand myself and my own body, and that I know my own medical history best, and what my current health can and cannot tolerate. (Not because I am stubborn or close-minded, as some people put it. On top of the fact that you’re sticking your nose up somewhere it doesn’t belong.)
There are many other ways to help without walking down the unsolicited medical advice route (which trust me, pisses the person off more than “helping”). Supportive messages when things aren’t going too great is good enough. And even if you’re silent when we’re seated face to face, I’ll still know you’re with me.
It makes me feel like you think this is somehow still my fault. Like, if I really wanted to get better, I would just do the random thing you were telling me about, because obviously that’s what you would do in my situation and then you would get better and then you wouldn’t have this issue. But that’s not reality.
All your unsolicited medical advice totally cured me! (J/k) – The Only Certainty Is Bad Grammar
My painful invisible disease is more real than your imaginary medical expertise.
Unsolicited Medical Advice – Unsolicited Medical Advice Warriors
This evening, I was at Takashimaya boots-hunting for my bestie’s upcoming wedding.
Chanced upon this lovely pair of boots from Hush Puppies, tried it on and fell in love with it instantly. As I paraded in front of the mirror and admiring them, I was soon painfully aware of something sharp digging into my ankles from both sides.
I remove the boots and felt around – and noticed that the knotted thread edges were sticking out of the fabric and pointing inwards. It wasn’t your usual soft thread as well. It was stiff and felt plasticky. My enthusiasm for the boots fizzled somewhat.
So I asked to try another pair, and the salesperson happily obliged. (I guess she could tell I really loved the boots.)
Unfortunately, the second pair was much worse. It felt like I was wearing a prickly hedgehog around my ankles.
The salesperson overheard my gripes and tried to help. She said she’d do something about it, took the boots aside and did something with them while I waited. Later on, she returned with the boots. To my delight, they no longer hurt.
“What did you do with them?” I asked her.
“Ooh, I cut off all the threads! So they won’t be poking you anymore!” was her reply.
All the blood drained from my face.
“WHAT?!” I exclaimed. I picked up a boot and looked closely at it. The knots were all gone. I gingerly tapped on the fabric. Just as I expected, part of the fabric fell apart. Now, I no longer had a prickly knots problem, but a loose thread problem. And not just one loose thread. Plenty of them.
“Um, I think you shouldn’t have done that. Because now the threads are loose!” I pointed out to her.
“No, the design is like that one (sic)!” The salesperson responded, as she began doing the same with the second pair of boots I tried.
“Uhh,” I tried to stop her, but it was too late.
Snip, snip, snip! went her clippers and all the knots fell off.
Now, I had two defective pair of boots on my hands. They were pretty pricey too, at $159. And surely, I wouldn’t want to spend that kind of money on a pair of boots with the fabric falling apart. (At least with the prickly knots, I could have filed them down or applied some kind of coating. :()
I sighed. The salesperson was still looking at me expectantly.
My dad who was shopping with me, caught on the situation and asked. “Do you have another pair?”
The salesperson looked slightly put off.
“No, we only have two pairs of each size. If you’re still not happy with the boots, you can go to another outlet,” she replied, frowning slightly.
I hesitated. Part of me felt rather bad because she had assisted us a lot. But well, her “help” had led to a much worse outcome – two damaged pair of boots. :(
Eventually, I decided to pass on them. I handed the boots back to her, thanking her twice.
She simply took the boots from me, shoved them back into the box and slammed the lid back on. Obviously, she was pissed.
Well, as a consumer, I do have the right to choose what I want to pay for, and to receive defect-free goods, especially when they are priced highly.
But still, I felt guilty and a little sorry for her.