Satchelnomics: To the market we go!

Last weekend, on a whim, I packed my car with boxes of old books, magazines and assorted things and did the early-morning market crawl with my bleary-eyed husband in tow. “Why on earth would you want to do that? I can’t think of anything worse!” he said to me, to which I replied, “There are few things on earth I like doing more than this, you twit!”. Well, I didn’t say, “You twit!” but maybe on the inside I did.

As a child, my favourite game was “Shops”. This involved my arranging my teddy bears, dolls and dressing table ornaments on my bed and attaching paper price tags to them. My one customer, my sweet young sister, would then peruse my goods. After about five minutes, I generally got bored. I think it was the process of setting-up-shop that I enjoyed most rather than the “selling” stuff: the busy hands, the organising of things, the seeing of it all come together.

And so I did on Sunday morning. I made a total of $100, which is really quite lame. BUT, I had such a good time and learnt a lot. As a “casual staller” we sat in a queue for quite some time before we were allocated a space. We then had the task of shifting all the stuff out of the car and into the allotment in five minutes. That done, tent erected and table in place, I set about embellishing my little space, placing a blackboard bearing the name ‘The Booky Nook’ to one side.

Out on the table, which I covered with a plastic sheet of lilac colour and a bolt of lace procured from the local Presbyterian church op-shop, I displayed all the tomes I’d long since forgotten about and no longer need on my cluttered shelves – it was fun revisiting them (they must have been relevant to me at some stage?) and throwing them into bags for selling on to others. I did think, for a fleeting second the night before, of making bookmarks to sell along with them. Alas, bed called and I answered.

The lady next store to my tent had the whole thing truly sussed. The markets were were at, hosted by a local primary school, are more known for their fruit and veg and sausage sangers than nicknacks, furniture, books and fashion. But she had the genius idea of making things from felt and selling them for a steal – 75c here, $2.50 there – so the little kids could afford something out of pocket money for themselves. She made $200 from doing that. Not bad. She was very nice, bestowed on me a freebie gift bag, had a British accent and resolved to get herself a permanent spot.

Across the way, two little old ladies sold their jams with not much luck – it seemed the ominous heat had kept away the regular lot. The bloke next to my tent was selling his guttering stuff, which attracted all the fellas who had been dragged along by their wives and grandpas who like to spend time in their sheds tinkering and tweaking and hiding. One such bloke decided to strike up a conversation with me, spun a half-hour yarn, he did. Turned out he had once worked for Border Security. Told me about a guy who had stapled a sachet of heroin to his willy. Well, I’ll be!

You do meet all sorts at the markets.

More a market shopper than a market staller, I have sold my surplus (non-original) wares at the Kirribilli Markets, Sydney, and the Bondi Markets, with a friend, and have frequently shopped at those hosted in Paddington, The Village Markets at Burleigh Heads on the Gold Coast and the monthly markets on my native Mount Tamborine. I think it’s the people and their creativity and the idea of supporting small industry that gives me the most pleasure. At the latter markets mentioned, I have met many ladies who create beautiful and clever things, like doggy treats and baby wear.

But May Chi of Juky & Beatrix stationery, who you may have read about here, struck a particular chord with me. She is a child psychologist in training with apenchant for vintage books and her store is her play thing (her mother is a proponent of the “get a sensible job to support yourself” school of thinking). You know what she said to me? “I have much curiosity for how people lived a hundred years ago and I often wonder about the things that change with time and the things that stay the same. The more I read, the more I realise that though technology has made leaps and bounds, humankind and human nature hasn’t moved much at all.”

At the markets, life is not only an assortment of stuff and people and chatter: it can be quite profound!

For Melbourne market news and a directory, visit The Market Roll.

Main image: c/o Finders Keepers Markets

This post originally appeared on JUSTB.