Posts Tagged ‘junk’

Flea Flicking

April 21, 2014

Sunday April 20th, 2014 – Wilmot, WI/Caledonia, WI

I was up early this morning, but not to look for Easter eggs. The weather was perfect and this is the unofficial start of flea market season. The one I went through yesterday was a small one close to where I live. It was indoors and not that great. Today I ventured farther north to Wisconsin for a run through an outdoor one in Wilmot and then north to Milwaukee for an indoor/outdoor mix.

I have to say, I was sadly disappointed with both but I did learn a lot. I shut my mouth and tried to observe as much as I could on every level. I watched the sellers and the buyers to see how the interaction took place, and I also made a point to see everything that was for sale and how it was presented. Most of it was displayed poorly, and that alone was an important lesson immediately.

I showed up dressed in a pair of jeans and a short sleeve button down shirt with a pocket full of ‘I (heart) Uranus’ book marks to give to anyone who may have noticed my ‘King of Uranus’ ball cap. I’ve worn one in public before, and throughout the day a few people usually laugh and make a comment like “Hey, I love your hat!” I figured this would be a good place to practice my pitch.

Sure enough, I wasn’t in the place more than thirty seconds and one of the vendors laughed out loud and pointed it out to everyone around her. I smiled and gave her a book mark, and I saw her face light up as if she’d just won the lottery. She made a big deal of it, I could tell she meant it.

That made me feel like my day wasn’t wasted, and I kept on walking. It happened a few times more, but not more than ten. Still, I’ll count that as a big win and I’m glad I was prepared with a giveaway item. I don’t have a website up yet, but I did tell everyone about my @UranusTweets Twitter account which is also printed on the book mark. It was a great way to spread the word.

Other than that, I just wanted to see who the winners were that looked like they were actually making a buck. There was a Middle Eastern guy with a turban that had a big display of colognes and perfumes. He looked like a pro, and had a tent set up with sturdy tables holding all his wares.

There was also some family selling produce, and I’d seen them last year. They looked like they were moving some merchandise also. Unfortunately, I don’t want to push produce or perfume if I have anything to say about it. I want to develop a display of Uranus items to sell in character.

It would obviously have to be the right flea market in the right area, but I could see myself with a professional looking display of merchandise doing a well presented slick and funny pitch every half hour to an hour as a crowd gathered. Adding showmanship to the mix would blow the doors off of anyone I saw today. Most of those I saw were desperate looking sorts hawking pure junk.

A few people had some interesting setups, and there were some specialty booths that I thought were well presented as a whole. Other than that, it was a bunch of toothless mooks wasting their time with a mish mash of mostly garbage I couldn’t see anyone paying for. Maybe they do a lot better than I think, but if they do they sure don’t spend their profits on clothing, soap or a dental plan. None of them would be my competitors in the least. I don’t want to do what they’re doing.

I want to SELL, but be entertaining doing it. I didn’t see much entertainment going on at all in Wilmot, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t worth my trip. I also saw how poorly most booth people treated potential customers, and that blew my mind. Didn’t anybody want to make any money?

One guy had some old slot car racing sets from the ‘70s. I used to love those when I was a kid, and he had some still in the original box. The box was a bit tattered, but it was the original. I was patient far longer than I should have been, but I wanted to find out what he was asking for them.

I had no intention of buying, but I wanted to strike up a conversation and see how much he was able to tell me about what he had. For all he knew, I could have just won the lottery and wanted a price on everything he had. Instead, he kept on blabbing with some other goof, and he never even acknowledged my presence. I hate to say it, but no wonder he’s making a living at a flea market.

Maybe he’s not making a living at all. I should talk, as I’m looking into setting up myself. I am not going to be one of the people I saw today though. If I do it, it’s going to be a SHOW, and it’s going to turn some heads. None of what I saw go on today would happen in what I was doing.

Milwaukee was a lot different than Wilmot. Seven Mile Fair is the largest flea market in all of Wisconsin, or at least that’s what their advertising says. I have been going there most of my life, but it’s really changed over the years. It’s a lot slicker now, and there isn’t as much older stuff.

One thing that really turned me off was a $2 admission charge. Wilmot was $1, as are most of the admissions I’ve ever seen. $2 is a potential deal breaker, and it will be for me because I don’t see myself going back there any time soon. It just wasn’t the place that would fit what I’m doing.

For one thing, very few of either the vendors or shoppers spoke English. That’s fine, but it isn’t the audience that would buy what I would be selling. I’d sell funny Uranus t-shirts at first, along with anything else I could think of that was related. How could I make a sales pitch if they didn’t know what I was talking about? That would be a major problem, but again I just went to observe.

I did see the typical guy selling kitchen knives and wearing the headset microphone, but he was between presentations so I didn’t get to watch him work. He had a pleasing display, and was elevated to make sure he could be seen by a larger crowd. Eventually, I could see myself doing exactly that.

I’m not kidding myself though. Putting together a presentation like that would cost BIG money to get started. I’d need display tables, banners to say who I am, a supply of merchandise ready to be sold, and probably a sound system of some sort eventually. I am not looking to put on the suit and stand in the sun to sell the typical flea market fare. I would want to take it a whole lot higher.

If nothing else, I can’t believe any other comedian is thinking of this. If they are, I doubt if they could pull it off. I think I’ve got it all to myself, but in the right scenario I could see merchandise selling like crazy. Maybe it wouldn’t be a flea market but rather an art fair or something like that. I’m going to keep tweaking this idea, and come up with a line of products to test out sooner than later somewhere. It won’t be where I went today, but it wasn’t a waste. I learned by showing up.

I went to some flea markets today to look for ideas on how and what to market. www.7milefair.com.

I went to some flea markets today to look for ideas on how and what to market. http://www.7milefair.com.

Would you buy a funny bauble or trinket from this man?

Would you purchase a funny bauble, trinket or doodad from this man?

Less Is More

December 23, 2012

Thursday December 20th, 2012 – Niles, IL

   Call me a cynic, but I’m not betting on the end of the world happening tomorrow despite all the hype about the Mayan prophecies. It would be too easy if everything just screeched suddenly to a halt, and my life has been a lot of things but never easy. I’m betting on struggles o’plenty for all.

I did hedge that bet just a smidge though, and consciously chose to not do the enormous pile of laundry that’s been stacking up like firewood for a while. If the Earth does indeed decide to blow up tomorrow, I’m saving myself that chore. Why waste time sorting socks for the Apocalypse?

Instead, I started to purge myself of the majority of my worldly possessions. I’ve attempted this several times before, and the more times I do it the easier it becomes. Things accumulate in all of our lives, and before we know it we’re choking on our own possessions. They eventually own us.

If anything, I am an anti-hoarder. I come from a family of pack rats, and after they died it was a major hassle getting rid of all their useless clutter that they thought was so ‘valuable’ for so long. I saw it happen with my grandparents, father and an uncle and aunt, and I refuse to let it be me.

Part of what makes it easier for me is that I’ve moved more than the average person. I’ve lived a nomadic gypsy lifestyle most of my adult life, and the process of moving becomes more hated and unpleasant each time I do it. Still, I’ve hauled way too many boxes places they never needed to go. I have spent much of this year going through every last scrap of paper, and I’m glad I did.

I salvaged some things I’m glad I kept, like random comedy notes from my years of traveling I didn’t even remember making. Looking at them now, they’re a time capsule that I can create new material from, and the ideas are all my own. It’s like finding a hidden bank account in my name.

Most of the rest of it is piles of books I’ll never read, music and audio programs I’ll never hear and clothing I’ll never wear. Every time I move I purge myself of things like this, but it manages to pile up again and before I know it I’m backed up again. I need to stop doing this over and over and pare down to the bare minimum. It’s much easier to exist free of clutter – at least it is for me.

Step number one today was going through all my clothes and anything I haven’t worn in a year was put in bags to be donated to The Salvation Army. I dropped some significant weight with my exercise regimen after my diabetes diagnosis, and I had a lot of clothes I won’t likely wear again.

I don’t know why I was hanging on to them, but it felt great to load them into the car and drive them to the Salvation Army store in Gurnee, IL and drop them off. My closet is looking bare, but my spirits are looking up because I know it was the right thing to do. Hopefully someone will get some use out of those clothes, but I’m just happy they’re out of my life. This was a perfect start.

Even if the world does end tomorrow, this was the right thing to do. Clearing out the old makes room for the new, if even symbolically. I’m betting we’ll all be around after tomorrow, so I’ll see how much more I can purge to keep this going into 2013 and beyond. Less is more, more or less.