Weekend in a Field
Posted on January 21 2023
Weekend in a field.
A customer once said to me while enjoying a live band, “You`ve got it sussed, you rock up, sell a few mats, drink a few beers, listen to the bands”
Oh man, I wish it was that simple. The first question with any show is, What stock do we take?
That depends on what type of show were trading at, no good going to an air cooled event with a van full of T6 goodies.
But you never can read it, a couple of years ago I traded at Volksworld and sold 29 out of 30 left hand drive Splitscreen Coffee sack cabmats, the following year I rocked up with 30 and sold 2.
Whatever you decide to take you never have the correct combination for every customer as we have 5 different automotive carpets, 6 sisals, coffee sack cabmats, 3 Checked out colours, embroidered logos and 14 trim colours then double it for left hand drive. It would be impossible to carry an option on each. Thank God for order forms!!!!!!!!!
So you have decided what to take and how many, you`ve worked long days to get the stock made, sweated because your stock of heel pads is dwindling! Mats are hoovered, step sets are stacked, door pockets are crated and seat belt pads are paired. Display stock is ready and order forms printed.
Vans loaded with stock, supplies and a couple of beers, your ready!!!
Why is it 2 days before a show at 2 o`clock in the morning you get woken up by an idea.
An idea for a new product, a new combination or a new display. All when there is no time to carry out your masterplan.
This happened with our Checked Out range, as usual a 2am lightbulb moment.
Bing!!! You get an idea for a finished product that looks great in my mind, now how are we going to make it?
Thats 2 hours of tossing and turning, running different procedures through my mind, will it work? Wont it work? What if? Maybe if I do this first? Will it fit straight? Does it interfere with anything else?
Maybe I should just get up and make one? No, don’t be sad. Wait till 5am, still sad I know but when you get an idea go with it.
So into the factory early, ignore emails and the call of the kettle.
Right, layout what I think I will need.
Mat blanks, random seating fabric that I bought ages ago from a coach seating company when they closed, double sided tape, knife and measuring tape. This is getting to look like a Blue Peter project!
Within 10 minutes I have the basic idea of the production basis and the finished item, not all of that broken sleep was wasted.
So, call an upholsterer friend to get the correct fabric as I had no time to order some...............
No, best wait until he opens up as its only 6am and the kettles calling.
Within a few hours I have some GTi and GTd fabric. Right lets see if the process works. Little bit of tweeking and I have a finished product.
No time to lose as we needed to load the van for Camper Mart. So I made two Golf Mk7 sets and a T5 for the show.
Lots of interest, a few orders and a new range is born. I`m sure it took Mr Dyson longer to come up with his cleaner!
So, back to the show weekend, double check you have everything on the van, marquee, beers, stock, display, counter, card machine, food and beers.
Off we go making sure we arrive in plenty of time to set up before dark, we all remember those black and white horror movies when we were kids when the hero had to climb up to Draculas castle with a hammer and stake. Why did he always wait till it was dark!!!!!!!!!!! Did no one tell him vampires are nocturnal?
Many shows give you the same pitch year on year, some move trade around. Once a pitch is allocated, park the van asap as it may not be possible when all the pitches are full, especially wit a 7m van.
First job, get to know your neighbours, when trading alone it`s always good to have a neighbour while you have a comfort break. Any neighbour with a good line in BS to hold the fort until your back. Just don’t annoy them in the early hours!
A fellow trader once questioned me about noise at 3am, I and my helper for the weekend had been out having a drop of sherry with friends. We made our way back quietly as possible.
The next morning the question was “Did you hear those noisy drunks at 3 o`clock” “Never heard anything love, spark out when my head hit the pillow”
Fellow traders soon become an extended family with a comerarderie between many of us. A good fellow trader is essential when trading alone, putting up marquees, bacon butties for breakfast, sharing a burger and a beer after closing.
So the pitch is set up, stand back and have a good look. Does it look ok? Are there any gaps? Do the colours look inviting? Clean shirt, clean shorts and barefoot if it`s hot enough, got to get the rays while you can!
Even after all these years it still takes me two or three customers to get into the flow.
A good show vibe depends on reciprocated conversation with the visitors, not always easy in a damp field. But Hey, your in a field in the summer in the UK, It might rain!
A bit of banter soon lifts the spirits and maybe a freebie. Everyone wants a freebie, once had a guy trying to knock prices, conversation went like this.
“How much are your cabmats mate?”
“Give you £20”
“Come on man you got to give me something?”
“£25 and a Rugs for Bugs sticker”
Now there`s a few little tricks to bring customers to your stand. Everyone`s seen a little bowl with sweets for the kids but a clever trader had a bit more of an inventive idea. They would liquidize dog food and spray it in front of their stand. Then anyone walking a dog would be pulled over to their pitch.
One of my favourites which we shared with Marc from Fat Bobs Emporium was painting a dead man on the grass. One of us would lie down in a dead man`s pose while the other would spray an outline with white aerosol. However we ran into an issue one weekend, Bruce Forsyth sadly passed away and we decided it would be a fitting tribute to do a Brucie dead man on the floor, this was stopped by the show management on grounds of bad taste.
Either way a dead man is a good attraction, some visitors would lie down in it for selfie`s while some would avoid it like the plague.
Anyway the weekends not all work, for anyone who appreciates live music, and any live music is good. I can honestly say I have never seen a bad act at any VW show. There may have been some that didn’t match up to others, some that may have been a little outdated, but all good in their own way.
So a couple of beers, catch up with friends, some who you only see once or twice a year, rub shoulders with the people that you were dealing with on a professional level earlier, chill to the music and maybe a dirty burger on the way back to the van.
Crash for the night, up early ready to do it all again, it looks a fairly unenergetic day dealing with customers in a 6m x 4m pitch but when your Fitbit reads 11000 steps at the end of the day and your fed up smiling with people you know you`ve had a good day.
Sunday afternoon, the crowds thin down and the camp site empties. You decide one more sales then I will slowly pack down.
Sale achieved, load the van slowly, carefully, meticulously, methodically. Nah, fire it all on as quick as possible, drop the marquee. If you`ve had a good show everything loads easier as there`s more room on the van.
Essential litter pick on the pitch, we came to a clean and empty field let`s leave a clean and empty field.
Check the neighbours are ok packing down and maybe help.
Hit the road and drop into the services on the way home.
Now the extended work starts, unload the van, check stock, and process orders.
So a weekend in a field isn’t just,
Rock up, Sell a few mats, Drink a few beers and listen to the bands.