Diversity in the Market Place

We all look for secrets to success. And investments that are wise. Prosperity is just around the next corner with the right combination great contacts and expert strategy. I chose a spot in the vegetable aisle. Across for my table are three Africans from a French speaking country. They’ve got four different televisions going at once. There’s a cacophony of Star Wars, Face The Nation, Sunday Morning TV Evangelists and a film with Reese Witherspoon. The Africans are quite entertaining salesmen. When I get my table set up and things calm down a little I must ask them where they are from. It’s a virtual League of Nations here at the Market. The Vietnamese vendors behind me are hawking fruits, vegetables & fresh fishes. At 8am most folks visiting the market look as if they are sleep walking. The vegetable vendors are by far the busiest. Indians, Asians & Latinos fill their boxes to overflowing with fresh whole foods. I’ve counted six different vegetables that I don’t know. You should see how excited people are to find beautiful persimmons today. So while I’m watching the mass of humanity walk by and I greet everyone with the minimum of a friendly smile, I amuse myself reading t-shirts folks are wearing. Here’s a short list.
• This Girl’s Going Places ( on a kid’s T-Shirt)
• Nativity scene w/ a comment bubble like a cartoon that says “It’s a Girl!”
• I’m Lost, Please Take Me Home With You
• On a baby’s t-shirt . . .”I Still Live in My Parent’s House”
• I Love What’s His Name
• Real Women Ride Motorcycles
• Save a Horse, Ride a Tractor

I actually have a shirt that’s similar. It says, “Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy”. It’s also worthy to note that I saw three, yes, three, John Deer tractor t-shirts! I also saw more beautiful babies and cute kids than I have in a while. Of course, the free kitten I acquired was like a virtual magnet. I solicited name ideas for the new kitty from tire-kickers at my stand. Here are some names people suggested: Brambles, (from a Scotish couple), Janet, Spot & Grey Kitty. For the record the new kitty’s name is now Lexi.

OK, looks like I flunk Geography today. The Africans are actually from Haiti. They’ve sold all but a couple items today. No one passes by their 20X20 double-wide vendor space unaddressed or unnoticed. It’s a good strategy. You’ve got to make a connection to make a sale. And if you’re going in to a particular market cold, don’t go alone. Bring your friends along too. This little sales nugget revealed itself to me not just once, but twice today! First my Eastern European-born husband says to me as I’m setting up my table of handmade soaps and bath products, “Hey, should we start this sales bonanza off ‘GypsyStyle’?” I look at him puzzled. “What’s that?”, I ask. “That’s when a bunch of your friends show up to your stand and with great animation and interest start talking real loud about what great products you have, what great prices, and argue with each other about who saw a particular item first. They literally throw money at you.” Obviously all this commotion creates great interest with passersby and other vendors. If done successfully,it starts a buying frenzy. I’ve seen it before. I never thought for one second it wasn’t organic. Well, I just saw it again today with the Haitians. Each time a couple of their friends came to visit, there was a big “to-do”, a buying spike and louder conversations complete with product demonstrations. It’s simply brilliant.

I love to watch people. You can observe sooo much about human nature. My favorite dynamic to see is “the negotiation”. One particularly good negotiation today was and older gentleman, a pensioner, and one of the Vietnamese vendors. The older gentleman came to his stand at the end of the day and wanted to get a super deal. He thought the vegetable vendor should sell him a full box of big beautiful tomatoes worth $15 for just four dollars. The vendor said it was impossible because he has to pay for the product too. Then the pensioner said “Well, I’m retired, you know. I only get $460 a month.” To which to Vietnamese vendor said, “Wow, people from my country don’t have anywhere near that much money per month. You have more than two times the amount of money they live on per month for the whole extended family! You’re rich!” It’s all a matter of perspective isn’t it?

The loudspeaker spews forth an unbroken litany of deals . . . . Heather, another vendor across from my stand sells cosmetics for $1 and sets of “Under Cover Outdoor Bed Ensembles” made in Pakistan. Translation: Camouflage bedspreads with matching pillowcases & dust ruffle. : ) Heather has sold quite a bit today too. I even watched her stand for 20 minutes or so and made $14 for her. She said an average day is in the neighborhood of $2,500 in sales. Can you believe it? One dollar at a time.The old fashioned way. Maybe I should reconsider my day job.

Another funny exchange that was an interesting cultural snapshot was the Haitian telling the Vietnamese guy to “pay up! - $5” for watching football on his TV throughout the day. It was all in good fun but I marvel at the value placed on different items for sale. So did I prosper from my day at the market? Well, my stand cost me $12.84 with tax. I sold $10 worth of my own product. I sold $14 worth of product for another vendor. I got a free kitten. I saw three generations of women shopping together after church. Grandma, not more than 3ft 6” tall, toothless and blind in one eye, her daughter and grand daughter, all with absolutely flawless skin. I was reminded of the power of family and diet and diversity in the workplace. I saw first-hand how much richer the mix becomes when Russians, Albanians, Chinese, Vietnamese, El Salvadorans, Mexicans, Scotts, Haitians, Japanese, Cubans, Romanians, Indians & Americans play together. I got a great story to tell.
You bethcha, it was a prosperous day at the market!

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