Monday, 8 November 2010

I have spent the past four days

doing something that I thought I would never do. I sold things in a "shop". In this case the shop was a stall at a Quilt and Craft Fair and what I was helping to sell was yarn.
If you are a knitter or crocheter or some other sort of fibre artist this might sound a bit like a dream job. It was nothing like that but it was interesting.
The stall is owned by a friend of mine. She is a very well known fibre artist of international renown. My friend was not there. She was teaching overseas and another mutual friend had all the responsibility. I was just there to help because I know a little bit more about knitting than the mutual friend.
The first day was nerve wracking for me. I knew the yarns from the previous year when I had helped out for an hour or so each day while my friend was teaching. Her husband, a lovely man, even though he does not knit at all, was there to work magic with the credit card machine. He knew all the prices without thinking about it. "Ask Cat,"he would say if it was a technical question. This year there were some new lines but not too many. I had the hang of those by the end of the day. The price issue was a little more complex but the stall is very well organised and things are clearly labelled. My friend worked the credit card machine.
But, how many times did I explain, "Yes, you can knit that great long scarf out of one skein of that yarn. I know it looks very fine but you do it on big needles like this"? It was too many to count.
Matching yarn to people and people to yarn was a challenge. Were they buying for themselves? Was it a present? What colours do they wear? What does the person they are buying for like to wear.
There was a teenage boy who arrived, a gangly, spotty teenage boy with a hesitant look on his face. He wanted a present for his mother. "She's busy looking at some other stuff." He pointed to crochet hooks and said, "She plays with those a lot." We settled on a small, inexpensive kit that made a small brooch. He was certain that it was "her sort of thing". I hope so but I am certain she will love it anyway.
There was a profoundly deaf young woman who came alone. I asked, as always, whether she was happy to look. When she indicated she could not hear me I signed the same words and she nodded with a smile. A little later she touched me hesitantly on the arm and signed a question very slowly not sure if I would understand. In context I did understand (although I certainly would not have done so elsewhere) and showed her where to find the information on the label. Pattern? Yes. It is one I have written so indicated that and put my e-mail on the back for her so she could contact me if she had a problem. She grinned at me and chose colours "Good?"
Absolutely! We signed our mutual thanks.
And so it went on. Some people just looked, others bought. There were many small purchases - knitting needles, tricot hooks, a ball of yarn here, a skein there, a little kit. Then there were the rug kits I spoke of in yesterday's post. Yesterday there was just one left. The colourway was rather light. A woman looked at it and looked again for a long time at the sample which had been made up. "I love it - but not in those colours." I took a deep breath and suggested, "We could make up another one from the yarn. Would you like to choose the colours for yourself?" Oh, could she?" We draggedthe box out from underneath the table and spilt the packets onto the floor. "This one and this one? What about this?" Soon we had the sixteen balls she needed. I added a pattern and a crochet hook. She paid and left. I returned the remaining yarn to the box underneath the table.
A little later she came back again. Had she changed her mind? No. She just wanted to say thankyou again because we had bothered. I know it was part of the job but it was nice that she had bothered too.
I would not want to do this sort of thing as a living. I would not want to have to worry about buying things in to resell. I would not want to worry about stock control, missing items, constant concerns about theft and bad debts and complaints, people who changed their minds or tried to return things which have been partially used. There was very little of that and my other friend dealt with the small number of difficult queries. She is very good at retail work. I am not.
I enjoyed the experience for the four days. I will help out again if I am ever needed. It will be good to help people buy things which will assist in the pleasure of creation. I do not want to do it as a job. I would rather do my own job. I would rather write too.
I am not going to learn how to use the credit card machine.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am not easily distracted. Oh yarn? Yarn! Where? :-) Bob C-S