On Being a Customer at the Market

delannw delannw at dlogue.net
Sun Aug 13 08:22:06 EDT 2000

Hello to Marie and all....
I also think that we are just into/over the height of our season and busy.
Over the last two weeks, however, I had a novel experience.
First, I got too sick to go to the market a couple of weeks ago.  Never
missed a market before and felt weird on Saturday.  This last week, I was
called out of town (still sick) for about five days and got back too late on
Friday (exhausted too) to put it together for Saturday.  Remember, everyone,
I am the soul and sole worker at Farmer in the Del.

Well, I couldn't let another Saturday pass without going and wanted to
assure the market manager (in person) that I hadn't baled on the market.
While I was there I thought I would do a little shopping.  I rarely get an
opportunity to walk around the market since I normally sell alone.  How
interesting to see how vendors deal with their customers, set up their
stands, etc.

A few observations:

Signs are more important than some people (apparently) imagine.  One vendor
selling free range chicken (frozen or freshly grilled) had no sign and no
prices whatsoever.  I was entirely unaware (as a vendor) that he was selling
roasted chicken.  I guess I'm not downwind from him normally.  (great
chicken...had to buy one)

I purchased $22 worth of produce from one vendor who grows a unique set of
produce.  While prices are displayed the method of tallying was entirely
unclear to me (someone who does it every week).   Customers deserve to
understand the full tally.

I am struck at the number of vendors who do not count out change.  They just
hand it to you.

Some vendors entirely ignore their customers.  I walked away from one stand
because the vendor was so busy filling bins that weren't really empty that
she never looked up at the people who were trying to figure out how to pay.
We even know eachother.  I walked back to that stand three times and it was
the same all over again.  Listening to her yell at her kids was a real
turnoff too.

Some vendors never get out of their chairs.  There are some who sit, weigh
produce and take money...and never get up.  It seems odd to me.

On the other hand, there vendors who are warm and friendly with all
customers.  Some to the extent that customers would hang around the stand
continuing to look after they had paid for their purchases...and then they
would buy some more.
The displays were clear, easily accessible and occasionally artful.  The
addition of the sale clear to the customer and they count out change.  Signs
clearly display prices and, in some cases, the variety with comments about
the merits of the variety or proper use (e.g., apple varieties).

I'm sure you can see that the criticisms and compliments reflect my own
views of how a stand should look and how a vendor should deal with
customers.  I have to say, though, that even the best looking stands at the
market don't necessarily have the greatestt repeat business...and I think I
know why.  On the other hand, some of the worst looking stands are
constantly crowded and busy every week.  I think I have some ideas about
that too.

In the end, I am thinking about my stand and my customers.  I wonder what I
would observe if I watched myself on the average Saturday.   How about you?

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