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.
So, I was patronizing a particular store on level 3 at Bugis Street this evening when I chanced upon a series of button-on collars. I knew that I was definitely getting one, though was still quite undecided on the colour. So I told the salesgirl that I’d think about it first and return later.
Her response left me dumbstruck.
“If you walk out of the store and come back later, the price will not be $10 any more, it’ll be $15,” the salesgirl informed me in a snooty tone.
“Wow, really?! Then I’m NOT coming back,” said I, and strode out immediately.
(She spoke in Mandarin, and what I’ve just quoted was a rough translation to English. Apparently – according to her – $15 was the original price of the collar, while she decided to quote me $10 out of niceness … which everyone could see by now, had a huge caveat attached to it.)
I was experiencing a lot of indignation after that. Though I really wanted the collar, I hated her attitude so badly that I simply refused to give her any form of business (or commission, for that matter). She sure as heck didn’t deserve it.
Luck was on my side, though.
I chanced upon another store selling the same collars at $15. After a bit of haggling, I managed to bargain the price down to $10, while the salesgirl even offered 20% on all her apparel if I bought the collar (the last bit was on her own accord).
I ended up buying two collars. (But no apparel.)
Button-on collars in yellow and green.
The salesgirl was also full of #win. She remained friendly throughout the entire transaction, even when I was showing signs of indecisiveness. No trace of snootiness anywhere. I like.
Salespeople out there, your attitude and sincerity matters. If you don’t have it, I’m going to your competitors.