Friday, December 2, 2011

thoughts after the first shop day

Yesterday was the first bazaar day which we held in our parents' garage. I had my own reservations and doubts as to the level of success we could achieve that day but I was pretty sure about what we wanted to accomplish. We wanted to see if we have something to work on in terms of a theme and an idea, and if the customers (the ones we hoped to attract) will pick up on it, and we also wanted to learn how else we can fine-tune everything. While we didn't make much in terms of actual sales, our first day taught us tons of good lessons (as well as confirmed or resolved some thoughts we were not sure about) and we were actually pleased and happy as we closed shop by the end of the day.

Tending shop is hard work - occasional refreshments are needed.
My family has been doing regular garage sales since I left my job more than a year ago to help augment the monthly income. Those garage sales were rough, functional, turn-things-into-cash kind of setups. It attracted its own kind of customers. We knew that the same customers will be the first to take a peek at the bazaar and we still had some items for them but we knew that generally they would most likely be disappointed. But we wanted to evolve beyond just a garage sale. We want a theme. We want creativity. We want to be more than just an occasional seller of cheap used goods. We want to bring life into what used to be a purely functional activity. We want a story. When that story is complete I will write about it in better detail but for now we are basically testing the waters.

Interestingly, even with the bright low prices, the garage sale customers (mostly female) were hesitant to explore. Even more interesting, we had more male customers drawn in compared to previous garage sales.
After the initial volume of garage sale customers (who mostly didn't buy anything and judged the whole bazaar with a few sweeping scans from the gate), everything slowed down to a trickle. However there were two or three customers closer to the type we wanted to attract. One bought lots of dresses without fussing and haggling. The other two browsed all the interesting items and conversed and openly admired the redesigned bags (finally someone noticed!). These two expressed intentions of dropping by again on Sunday.

Then it rained during lunch break just as we were hoping for the employees in the surrounding streets to drop by after their lunch. The rain didn't let up until 2PM. A lot of people passed by but they were huddled inside their umbrellas and walking too fast and not even looking anywhere else but ahead.
We had to move some items  out of the rain which messed up our display arrangements a bit. But people were not really looking so I guess it didn't really matter.
After raining for the whole of the lunch break period, the sun came out. The street was empty and quiet, as empty and quiet as our bazaar, which actually made us want to take a nap and eat merienda.
Rice cakes for merienda. Delicious and filling at only Php5 per piece.
And this is how I passed the time especially since we had a lot of it in our hands. The last time I did crochet was in high school. Was happy to find out it's like riding a bike, you never forget (although I have never actually ridden a bike).
My sister passed the time by sewing pretty things on my plain brown shoes. Customers who dropped in asked about the shoes if they were for sale. Even the males!
We closed shop at 6PM with barely enough to cover the transportation expenses we spent the past couple of weeks just putting the whole thing together.

Normally I would be saddened and discouraged by a day like this. but for some reason I remained optimistic and even excited by all the things that I learned and realized as I observed the customers and the shop dynamics. I scribbled ideas in a notepad, things to consider for the other days of the bazaar (December 4, 16 and 19).

I am also still inspired by the original idea from which this whole bazaar thing sprung from (something I will write about more when it is more a reality than just an idea). As thoughts popped in my head as I made my observations, it also became clearer to me what matters and what is really important. All those years of brand work and strategic sessions and consumer insight projects are probably finally becoming even more real to me. Not only that, I am also discovering interesting new twists and perspective in the usual marketing mix.

Today I am recovering from the exhaustion of the past week and recharging myself for another shop day on Sunday. I am eager to try out a few new things.

One last thing before I sign off on this post: the last couple of weeks of work I did preparing, creating, problem-solving, doing lots of legwork, physical setting up, designing, learning, and everything else has been comparable to a nationwide in-depth consumer research project topped off with a few more layers of midnight work marathons. But I felt infinitely happier and more satisfied at the end of each day, especially as my hands touch each hand-sewn flower or lace trimming, or as I wash my hands gray from sifting through thrift items. My hands, bone-tired and crusty with glue or cramped from so much writing or criss-crossed with thread cuts or mapped with needle punctures. Everything feels real. Yet everything also feels rooted in that realm of soul where I could not enter before. This is no longer just about mental prowess or intelligence or those stuff that fill up an annual evaluation form. This is about heart. This is about spirit. I will be dramatic and say I believe my life's purpose is peeking around the next corner. I hope and pray that I am able to stay on this path even as I have to fulfill financial responsibilities and obligations. Dear Universe, I request for aid and thank you for everything.


  1. "This is about heart. This is about spirit. I will be dramatic and say I believe my life's purpose is peeking around the next corner." - FANTASTIC!!!!

    A man named Richard Dumb wrote, "Don't follow your dreams; chase them." ... I love that you are doing just that! You inspire me to be brave just like you and follow my heart.

    H xo

  2. Thank you so much for the support Hana! ^__^ Let us do our best and show the world that following our hearts is one of the most worthwhile things one can do in a lifetime. :)