A week before Christmas my husband and I were busy preparing for our first Christmas bazaar. The idea of putting out our wares, and displaying them for all to see and buy, gave us an exhilarating feeling!
Our T-shirt printing business focuses primarily on individuals and small companies that require customized shirts in bulk. Our negotiation with clients oftentimes takes place on the phone or Skype; sometimes our favorite patrons come to visit us (thank you for always dropping by Mama and Papa!).
The day my cousin asked me if I wanted to display some nice shirts in her Christmas booth, for she won’t be able to sell her famous organic oils due to her taping schedule for a new TV show, I felt excited and nervous at the same time.
Since starting our T-shirt business two years ago, my hubby and I never thought of joining the cutthroat “tiangge” scene. We were happy and contented with our setup; besides, my husband has a regular job that taking the pressure of designing and packing shirts on a daily basis was just plain impossible.
On my first day in the bazaar, I excitedly arranged the T-shirts that my husband painstakingly designed. Prints of X-Box game characters, such as Skylanders, Minecraft, Splinter Cell, Assassin’s Creed, Gears of War 3, and Super Mario among others, were inspired by the passionate gamer in my Switee.
We had also had a few Bob Marley shirts, and some prints for the nationalistic Filipino.
As soon as the enthusiastic consumers started walking into the bazaar tent in droves, I couldn’t help being observant. I noticed that most of them went to a stall that sold signature perfume at the lowest prices; tiny bottles of Bulgari, Issey Miyake, Gucci, and Hugo Boss to name a few were offered for the price of P100, plus a bonus perfume bottle for every purchase.
I may not be an expert in perfume brands, but I know for a fact that the prices of the best in the market come in four figures. I have been using Issey Miyake for more than 10 years, but there was not a time I bought a bottle for less than P3,200.
As people of all ages crowded the perfumery booth, young adults and mothers alike came to my booth to buy shirts. I don’t mind having a selected market. Our designs after all were intended for the young and the young at heart.
My third day in the bazaar was filled with drama. One woman stormed into the perfumery booth, which I was talking about earlier, to return a bottle of Bulgari. She demanded that her money be returned or else she will make a formal complaint against the company.
I was 10 steps away from the said perfumery section, but I overheard the angry customer accusing the woman, who sold her the perfume, of deception. According to the customer, she asked if the perfume was original and the vendor answered in the positive. It was only when the customer got home that she found out the product was an imitation.
Tsk tsk tsk…
Thirty minutes later, another angry customer walked into the tent, this time heading to a booth that sells “original” designer bags. The customer claimed she was deceived into believing that the Lacoste bag that she bought in the said booth was original. She added that the vendor assured her it was authentic when in fact it was an AAA.
Authentic Lacoste bags would cost from P3,500 to P6,200, so anything below this is obviously a replica.
My bazaar experience taught me a lot of things. First, consumers should make a list of what they intend to buy. Second, do not expect that you can get the quality of an original luxury bag or signature perfume for loose change. Go shop in a mall if you want the originals. Third, and this is for the merchandisers or sellers, just be honest.
My one-week experience as a seller made me realize that more people appreciate high quality homemade products over imitations of expensive brands. One booth selling Chinese novelties and toys from the past, like those cute trolls that Gift Gate used to be famous for, never runs out of customers. Why? Everything in their inventory is just so adorable!
I wish everyone will be wiser in 2014. Happy New Year!!!