Art & Crafts Markets

Christmas at Clyne

Emma Cownie Art stall Swansea

Emma Cownie Art at Clyne Christmas Market

Once-upon-a-time I worked full time as a teacher in school of just under 2,000 pupils and I would teach approximately 150 pupils in a day. That’s a lot of faces to put names to every day. I was pretty good at learning all those names too. These days, however, I might only speak to a handful of people in a day; my husband, my neighbour and local shopkeepers. So, when presented with an opportunity to met with and chat with to new people I relish it. Clyne Christmas market gave me a lovely opportunity to talk to all sorts of people.

I am pretty new to running a stall, I did it once about 4 years ago. I really enjoyed it back then but teaching commitments meant that I did not have the energy to keep doing it. That has changed now. I have the energy and the time to pursue this and yesterday I had a stall at the first Clyne Farm Christmas market. I realise that I have a lot to learn.

Clyne Farm sits on top of Clyne Common, high up above Swansea. It has sweeping views towards the sea-side village of Mumbles and across the massive Swansea Bay.

View From Clyne Farm Towards Mumbles

View Towards Mumbles (from the car park)

Once upon a time it was a riding stables but in recent times it has transformed itself into an top-class accommodation and activity centre.

 

Sparkly Bow Stall

Sparkly Bow Stall

Yesterday was their first Christmas Market and we were blessed with sparkling crisp sunshine. The photos above were taken in the first half an hour before it got busy. The crowds ebb and flow. After a quite half an hour, it is quickly jammed with families carrying babies wrapped up to the eyes in jump suits and bobble hats. The little girls are drawn to the “Sparkly Bow” stall further down my aisle. The table covered in glittery objects is exactly the right height to catch a 5-year-old’s attention – at eye-level.

This first onslaught is followed by another wave of families with dogs on leads, and in carried in their arms. There are lots of woolly coated “cockerpoos”  (Cocker Spaniels Crossed with Poodles) and some sharp-eyed border collies. They take in everything. Later as people leave for lunch in the other hall, it becomes calmer. People are clutching bags with their purchases. I recognise some people who came around earlier return to buy. It’s in the post-lunch calm that I make most of my sales. I chat with many of the people in the hall. My cards of Mumbles Pier starts a number of conversations about a controversial development of the Pier Head area that the local community (Mumbles Action Group) are currently fighting.

Clyne Christmas Market (with dog)

Clyne Christmas Market

I manage a quick break and visit some of the animals on the farm. I’d met Ted the collie and Flo the goat and her surrogate daughters, the sheep Brillo and Lucy, yesterday.

 

Ollie at Clyne Farm

Ollie the colt (6 months old)

Along a muddy tack there children’s pony rides on offer. I had to make a special journey along a different muddy path to see Peggy the Pig. She is massive. I give her a pat on her broad back and was surprised that her back was covered in bristles, not wiry hair. Her floppy ears cover her eyes, like nature’s sunshades, but it can’t be easy for her to see. I was told by Sarah who works at Clyne, that Peggy is pretty laid back and is a “morning” pig. She is active in the morning and spends her afternoons sleeping. Someone speculates that she’s a Gloucester Old Spot. I assume that they have only one big spot but looking it up later it seems that they were probably right and she’s an “Old Spot”.

Peggy the Massive Pig

Peggy the Pig at Clyne Farm

The hall is filled with bright sunshine but by the late afternoon, I’m starting to feel the cold. Although there’s carpet in the hall the concrete floor underneath is cold. I run to my car to fetch my woolly hat. As the afternoon wears on I notice that the tip of my nose is numb! After 5 hours in the hall, my feet are starting to feel like blocks of ice. The girl opposite me is wearing thin daps and ends up sitting on her chair with her feet tucked under her. At four o’clock the sun is low in the sky and someone mentions that there’s Christmas Parade in town at 4pm. That seemed to be the signal for the stall-holders to pack up and within minutes the hall is bustling with activity as the stalls are rapidly dismantled. I drive home with the sun setting over Clyne Common.

Emma Cownie at Clyne Christmas Market

Me and my stall at Clyne Market (my bag handles have just snapped!)

What I learnt

  1. Get new cash bag – my beautiful leather cash bag handle snapped as soon as I put it on. Although I tried to tie a knot in it, it kept coming undone.
  2. Thermal socks are needed (possibly 2 pairs).
  3. Clear prices on each rack. We had a price list but it was difficult for people to read it. Bull-dog clips or cardboard luggage labels are good for this.
  4. Paper bags for purchases – brown or white. Environmentally friendly and they look cool
  5. Camping chair – a wooden chair was hard to sit on all day.
  6. Paypal card reader or izettle for mobile payments. Not everyone has enough cash on them and you don’t want to lose sales
  7. Presentation is vital. Rustic chic is cool – I had wooden racks and a table easel but more wooden boxes for cards would be good. I learned a lot from Ed Harrison at Minnow across the hall. His presentation was excellent.

    Minnow at Clyne Market

    Minnow at Clyne Market

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15 replies »

  1. I empathize with you on running a stall. Several years ago, I did something similar to try and sell my book, at a book fair. Everyone else was very well prepared with their displays and signs to catch people’s attention. I had no idea, was totally unprepared, and ended up selling just one copy, to a fellow exhibitor.

  2. That sounds like a nice experience. We went Christmas shopping to Canterbury on Sunday and really enjoyed the pop-up stalls. It’s so nice to buy unique gifts. Talking of which, I have just put in my Christmas request to Stevie for two of your prints…

  3. Great to see you and learn that you had a good day among real people (I’d need more of such days too). Also good to hear that you learned a lot. I agree that the stall in the last photo is perfect. The cow image on your banner is beautiful but I don’t like so much the layout with FB and Twitter so big. (Just telling you what I’d thought as a customer. It wouldn’t draw me close.)

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