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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The side walk shuffle » » Setting a pitch at a flea market? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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BroDavid
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We have a large flea Market here that runs year-around, with a beautiful new very large modern building, many "permanent" shops inside, and some large open common areas inside, and lots of outside spaces in the summer for the itinerant seller.

The traffic on Saturday, is in the thousands of people with pretty good flow most of the day.

I am going to be setting my pitch outside here in a few weeks. And I am just wondering if anyone else works a Flea market.

Seems to me there was a regular one in the parking lot (as I recall, but it may have been inside too - that was a lot of years ago..) at the Rose Bowl in LA back in the 70's and I saw a few performers around the perimeter there.

I certainly like the idea of foot traffic, and we don't have many (any?) "tourists" type, high traffic spots like Boston, or S.F. or even NYC, in this part of Ohio. So to work regularly, you need to follow the events; fairs, festivals, etc. And I don't like the idea of traveling 2-5 hours to work all day and drive back.

My only concern is that the crowds might have a "bargain hunters mentality" and may be hesitant to drop a tip. .. And another consideration is that crowds are a good percentage of repeat visitors, so I would probably need to change the act soemwhat over time. Like for the first 2 Saturdays, do Rings as a closer, then the next two do Cups and Balls. Thoughts on the need to change for the repeat audience would be also be appreciated.

But I am going to have a go at it, for a while and see what happens. The worst that happens, is that I get a few Saturdays worth of live practice, close to home. And who knows I may get something good going here - close to home.

Anyone work a flea market?

Thanks in advance for any info.

BroDavid
If you stand for nothing, you will fall for anything.
DonDriver
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Hey Dave,
I work flea markets,but I pitch Svengali decks.Sounds like a good market for that.
Not sure how a street act would do and just go for tips.Did you ask if they didn't mind you doing it,or are you going to rent a spot and just go for it.Let me know what you have in mind.
Don
BroDavid
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I will be renting a spot and work my pitch right there. Based on the ways things set up outside, you can set up as close or far from others as it would take optimize the situation, and not antagonize anyone else.

I will definitely pass the hat. And even if I don't pull much of a tip, like I said, the worst that will happen is that I will get a few Saturdays filled of some dedicated "practice time". I am going to practice anyway, so what better way to do that, than to real live people passing by, or stopping, if I do my job!

After reading Danny's story about giving up his old routine and going a whole diffeer direction, and thinking about my "cobbled together routine of opportunity" that I had been doing for some time. I decided that it wasnt really getting me what I want, and it was because of where I did it, (low traffic places) and what I did, (whatever I felt like doing at the time) I just decided to get serious, build a new act with some order and take it to a new level.

If I decide that it works good for me. (pays enough and/or helps me hone my act) I will try to work out a deal with the management to set up my pitch in one of the common areas of the building during cold weather. (This would assume that I can make money, and if I can, that means the people like what they see. Then I am sure the management wont have a problem with someone who entertains the patrons with wholesome family presentations and good clean magic.)

I would consider selling some things too, but there is a permanent magic shop at the Flea market (friends of mine own it) and I wouldn't want to skim the cream off his sales. But I can get a cut from him on who I send to him. So I figure that as I am drawing an edge, I can do a ball vase, stiff rope, or some of the easy working items he sells. And after I have passed the hat, I can tell them that they can buy this, or that, at the Magic shop inside. (I wouldnt tell them where to get it before I finished since I don't want them to leave without dropping a tip, just to go off and spend money with someone else on something I showed them. After they drop the tip, I will be glad to send them off to the shop. Then they can spend as much as they want elsewhere, because by then I will have gotten mine. ;-)

BroDavid
If you stand for nothing, you will fall for anything.
Turk
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BroDavid,

Perhaps you might be able to integrate some balloon magic into your act.

At a Flea Market I go to, there is a kid dressed up like a clown and all he does is make balloon animal hats for the kids. He never stops and all the kids coming into the flea market are walking around with one of his balloon hats. I'll bet he makes a ton every Saturday and Sunday.

Turk
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This must not be Kansas anymore, Toto.

Eschew obfuscation.
Harry Murphy
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There is money to be made at a Flea Market. You will probably make more selling a "something" than actual busking. I have pitched magic (magic mouse, Sphengali Decks, Grand-ma’s necklace, etc.), done balloon animals (very good money), and I have done straight busking (show for tips).

The Flea Market that I did my show at was a very up-scale thing that happened in a parking lot the Georgetown area of Washington, D.C.. It was a very upscale Flea Market to say the least. There was lots of foot traffic from the tourists just doing the Georgetown scene. Hats were good.

In the late 70’s I actually did a couple of Sundays busking at the king of all Flea Markets in London. Portobello road. There were several other street performers. There was a novelty musician (home made instrument), a one-man band, a juggler, and of course, me (that I remember). Hats were very big! But that is a unique Sunday only event.
The artist formally known as Mumblepeas!
BroDavid
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Turk,

Thanks for the thought. But I don't do baloons or clowning. It just isn't my thing. But I can see what you are saying about the potential for making money. But not for me.

And frankly I don't know if I can stand that many kids, or to see another baloon doggie, or baloon hats, in one day anyway....;-)

My goal is to make my Act work there (if it can). And even if I am doing a good act and not making money. (Because I know a good street act WILL make money somewhere.) I would rather do that, than build baloon animals and make a few bucks.

But I appreciate the thought, and there may be other guys who find the suggestion useful!

Thanks

BroDavid
If you stand for nothing, you will fall for anything.
Swami Bill
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BroDavid - Great minds think alike. And coincidentally so does mine. Our local paper in has just published a summer guide that gives times, dates and locations for the flea markets and farmers markets in the area. I had the idea to set up within close proximity to the events and give my show a go. As you point out it would be at the very least good practice in front of a live crowd. I'm convinced that there will not only be an abundance of people but I think that they will be more than happy to tip generously. Good luck with your efforts!

- Bill
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Kozmo
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it doesn't matter where you are at...if there a re people there you can work...flea markets will great...except for you unless there are a lot of tourists you will see the same folks over and over....which is not great...

koz
Turk
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Quote:
On 2003-05-12 17:34, tedb wrote:
it doesn't matter where you are at...if there a re people there you can work...flea markets will great...except for you unless there are a lot of tourists you will see the same folks over and over....which is not great...

koz

Great point, Koz!!

Turk
Magic is a vanishing Art.

This must not be Kansas anymore, Toto.

Eschew obfuscation.
Peter Marucci
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Having worked flea markets in the past, I can agree with Harry's post -- you'll do much better if you are selling something magic-related or balloons (I did both, at one location).
Or, not mentioned, is getting paid directly by the market and performing as an attraction for them (I did that, too). That way you are guaranteed a fee.
But, no matter what you do, if you are after some "flow of cash", make sure that the customers at the flea market you pick are buyers and not just lookers!
John Smetana
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I've had some experience working flea markets for a number of seasons, but just did pitching of Svengali's, Rising and Vanishing Pen and Paddles. Money was OK but not great. The problem was, and maybe still is, the repeat customers. This market at the time, was one of the largest, if not the largest on the East coast, and didn't draw a tourist trade at all. At least not enough to notice. The first few weeks of the season were generally good, but then business slacked off.The people who were going to buy already did and the others weren't interested in buying...just watching.
I started selling other merch as well in order to make the poke.
I had considered doing an "act" but decided against it. There were several performers who set pitches there,mostly musicians, but the "hat" was very small and they made their money selling tapes, etc.There was one guy who set a sideshow type attraction that did OK for a few weeks then he was gone. He had mummy or some such in a tent and charged a buck to see it.
The magic market is very small and spending $5.00, at the time, was too much for a magic trick, especially for the people who were shopping the market to save a few bucks. Basically,I don't think that impulse buying at a flea market, is as good as it is at a fair or festival, which people attend for the entertainment.
I can say however, that it was a lot of fun to do, and I really enjoyed the experience.
If you decide to go forward with your plans I wish the much good luck and as always,

Best thoughts,
John Smetana Smile
trainerjep
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ive done flea markets, lots of fun, lots of getting practice in, and lots of cute girlies LOL Smile
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BroDavid
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It was raining hard Saturday, and cold too (56). So I just went to the Flea market to hang out inside, with my friend who runs a mgic shop there.

I had carried my rings in to show him the Capehart moves. He had about 6 people there looking at magic, and he stopped, and said Look, another magician. What it with those rings, so I started into the routine with the half dozen people, and when I got done, there were about 20 watching.

A little later, things got busy for him, so I stepped out of the way as he was demoing and selling stuff. I leaned up against a wall in an open area a short distance away, and was clinking my rings around, every once in a while doing a conventionqal link, and unlink, and I noticed a crowd starting. A little old lady seemed entertained and commented that it looked like on eof those nail puzzles that you have to know how to get apart. I kidded with her, that I think it islike that. And sometimes the rings hook together and I cant get them apart. By now there were about 12 people. So I started into the routine and had a great time. After a little more than 5 minutes, I involved about 5 people direectly, and all of them inderectly, and I had about 30 people total stopped. I couldn't pass the hat because they are very strict about anything inside the building - if you don't have a permenent space there. But I told everyone to come back next week outside to see a real magic show!

I still can't belive how easy easily the rings drew a crowd. I was wearing blue jeans and a baseball hat, hardly looking like a magician, and did nothing but play with the rings and people stopped! I am really going to have some fun next week. I will start doing my 12 minute act outside (weather permitting), with the rings as my closer.

BroDavid
If you stand for nothing, you will fall for anything.
cfrye
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Bro David,

Which set of rings did you take with you? Were they the smaller 5" variety, or something closer to stage size?
BroDavid
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I took the 10" set that I just bought specifically for this routine. I wanted a 12" set, but they didn't have any, and my buddy Yendor, made me a great deal on these,

As it turns out, this size is about perfect. The bigger the rings, the harder to do the impossible link (aka Crash Link), at least for me. I don't think I could do it with 12" rings. But I saw a guy doing the move with the little Ninja rings, and we were talking afterwards. He was kind enough to let me try them, and they worked very good for the move, which I understand Shoot Ogawa teaches as part of the Ninja routine.

But when it comes to getting people's attention and drawing a crowd, I say the bigger the better.

And in case you are wondering what kind of guy would be walking around with a set of 3 big rings.... I have no problem with it...

In this day and age, walkling along with 3 - 10 inch rings, or about anything else, on your hip hardley gets a glance - Until you take them in hand and begin to make magic. And even if did attract attention, all the better Smile That is exactly what you want.

BroDavid
If you stand for nothing, you will fall for anything.
Nick Alexander
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Smile
Ojasa
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I have thought about using Linking rings as a closer, but never used it...

( I am going to try something new, that I will talk about later if it works well, and doesn't land me in the slammer.)

At the time I had decided on using the Smaller rings for one reason only...

I used to work as a whitewater rafting guide, and on the day float trips we worked mainly for tips... One of the girls I worked with day after day pulled in the biggest hats. Other girls ran around in Bikini's some had great stories, everyone had a gimmick. Her gimick was a native american flute. But she consistantly pulled in more than the others who played...

One day I had the fortune of running with her, and I caught the key line...

After her first song, she would appologise if it sounded a little flat, her flute had gotten wet, and she was saving all her tip money for a new one... Smile

I think psycologically this planted the word tip again, and it gave the people something tangible that their money would go to. Something that would later give other people joy, and something that would fuel her passion for music. She became a charity...

Maybe I am reading too much into this, but she could have bought a new flute every day with her tips.


How many ways can you use this basic Idea?

With the smaller rings...

Sorry for those of you in back, I am saving my tips for a bigger set?

The ones in front are more likely to tip, and they could care less of the smaller rings... The ones in the back could be motivated to tip because you were thinking about them...

I have wanted to try it, and still might... Maybe in a restaraunt...

Let me know if you use it.

Ojasa
that magic is an art, and an art worth your learning. The question is rather, whether you be capable of learning it? Magic is somewhat like poetry, men are to be born so: I mean, with inclinations to it, though both may be heightened by discourse and prac
Kamal
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These are some great ideas... keep them coming....
JamesinLA
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BroDavid,
The impossible link is the crash link while a single is already linked, right? I was trying that today and it's amazing looking in the mirror! I love that link. It wasn't too hard to do. Not easy mind you. I've got to practice it more. Did give myself a blood blister from getting pinched a couple times, but that's worth it for such a link! Thanks for turning me on to Capehart's moves.
Best,
Jim
Oh, my friend we're older but no wiser, for in our hearts the dreams are still the same...
Patrick McKeever
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Bro Dave
I worked a large flea market in Wimberley, Tx. this week end. It's a once a month deal and they really draw the crowds. So, I was extremly hopeful.
I had hope to establish a pitch near the pavillion where they serve food. Unfortunately that is also where the local bands set up. I have worked too many corporate parties and had to compete with bands. It ain't no fun. So I went out in search of a pitch.
The best spot I could find where I could draw an edge of possibly 15-20 souls was an unused stall that had enough room in front of the stall to set up and still leave enough room to draw an edge without completely obstructing the lane. the edge never materialized. I once again found myself catching people on the fly as they scurried from one booth to the next. Obviously not the most efficient way to earn a buck. I was saying to myself: "could Gazzo do any better under these circumstances." Probably. But, I wonder.

Fortunately there was a lady vendor next to me who gave me an unsolicited critique. She had lived at Venice Beach in California and told me she had seen untold street perfomers. She told me that my magic was as good or better than anything she had seen (we have all heard that) and that my solicitations to passers by were both delightful and charming. I told her of my frustration in my inability to build a crowd. She said that frankly she couldn't imagine what else I could possibly do without tieing them down. By the end of the day, she had seen my complete act. Piecemeal, because I ended up doing only a couple of tricks for each group of two or three, many of them from my close up repertoire.
Now, I am new at this street thing, but I am a more than competent magician; I'm a likeable guy who is not shy; I have a fairly ready wit;I talk to everybody who passes, and folks: I AIN'T GETTING THE COON.
I have definately drawn some conclusions from my now half vast experience. You gotta find a pitch where people are not hell bent for somewhere else. A spot where they feel it is o.k. to stop and take a breather. tourist towns must be great.
Dave, If you can find a pitch where people are chilling for a spell, say near food concessions and you have room to work without blocking traffic, you have a good crack at success. I personally, have learned my lesson about trying to work in a narrow lane.
One other thing: Something I read in Whit Hydn's booklet keeps coming back to me. If you can find a spot that yoou think has potential, just stake it out. You will get to feel as though you own it but most important other people learn that it is your spot. And if you are doing something entertaining in that spot, folks will come around to see the guy who does the really cool act. You become a landmark. Like Jeff Sheridan. I,m still looking for that spot.
Good luck, Patrick
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