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Phil Ainsworth
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Profile of Phil Ainsworth
Hi all,

Just recently plucked up the courage to move up from pitching at car boot sales to more professional locations such as street markets. Worked the Friday and Saturday before Christmas at the street market in my town and sold 26 decks on the first day, 55 on the second.

Pitch fees were £50 a day (about $63) and I sell decks as part of a Mega Magic Package (Deck, 2CM, Fortune Telling Fish, Rattlesnake Eggs and a magic wand) at £10 each (about $12.50) so I was very happy with those results.

Thought I'd try again this Saturday at the same market. I knew things wouldn't be as strong because it's just after Christmas, but I didn't expect to do so badly - I only sold 6 decks! Thankfully, the pitch fees had gone back down to their normal 'non-christmas' rates of £40 and I got some not bad tips out of the 25 or 30 demos I did that day, so not a total loss.

Footfall was down on last weekend, but not drastically so.

Now, it was noticeably colder this weekend so it was much harder to get people to stop walking and see the show. I also made the terrible mistake of not eating breakfast before starting the day and as it wore on I was getting colder, hungrier... I wan't rude or irritable with any of my punters but I definitely noticed that I wasn't having fun myself and I was getting far fewer laughs than I normally do... Which of course hit my sales hard.

Several times, it got to the end of the pitch and people were saying things like: 'Yep, that was great but I don't really want to do magic tricks for my friends'... Whereas normally they are laughing and smiling too much to think rationally about when they would actually use this.

Also, I still haven't got my banners organised - which is very stupid of me and is definitely costing me money! At the moment, my joint is a plain 4ft * 2 ft Trestle table with the stock on top and literally no signs or anything (apart from the 10*10 gazebo, 3 walls).

So, quick question for other pitchmen, my town is small - population of 35,000 or so. In the Spring, Summer and early Autumn it is a popular tourist destination and we get thousands of visitors every day from all over the world (its one of those historical English towns with some beautiful old buildings). It's not far from London, so plenty of tourists do it as a day trip.

Come Easter, I'll be laughing... I'm going to get a load of deck-sized stickers printed off with the name of my town and pictures of the landmarks, stick one on each case and pitch them as 'souvenirs'.

But until then, it's going to be the same local people week in and week out at the market. I've already started looking at markets in nearby towns and cities and have found a dozen or so within an hour's drive, so I should be able to cycle around a bit (although most of them are on Saturdays so I need to find a few more Fri and Sun markets).

What sort of frequency of return to the same venue would you guys recommend in small towns like these? Do you think I'd be ok doing the same place once a month or would travelling further and only coming back once a quarter be better?
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Profile of Frosty
Hey Phil, that's great to hear of your success! Yup, you can burn a market for working the same location too long (done that a few times.. you'll see your sales drop when that happens and also your marks will often tell you they already purchased..) but if you have tourists coming often you can keep working that location for a lifetime and they are much easier to turn and maybe you can even raise your prices as they spend better..

I think Don Driver used to recommend you can work around 4 local venues and alternate them and that should help from burning a market but that may be different in different parts of the globe..

And get banners, you'll see its easier to bally a tip..

Hope this helps and Happy New Year!
Phil Ainsworth
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173 Posts

Profile of Phil Ainsworth
Thanks Frosty, that's very helpful.

I think I'm going to play it safe and find as many street markets as I can within a reasonable drive. That way I'll only end up doing the same ones 2 or 3 times before Easter which should really help 'burnout'.

Time to sort those banners!
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