What a difference…

…a day makes! Well, yesterday, anyway; it quite restored my faith in what I’m doing. I took my VintageCraftStuff stall to Boscombe Vintage Market yesterday. And despite the fact that it was the first time I’d done a stall there, and really didn’t know how to “pitch” it, I did very well. I’d been worried that on a cold & blowy early February day, in a tent in an inner-city area, it’d be touch & go whether I’d clear the pitch fee plus my fuel costs getting there. I needn’t have worried; I got a lot of positive feedback! So I was quite happy to hand over the pitch fee for next month & will be putting that up on the VCS Events page ASAP. But I can’t help contrasting it with the big, centuries-old market in my little home town. I can understand the logisitics of mixing us crafters in with other stall holders in the “dead” period between Christmas & Easter and closing down the end hall that we were in. But if I’m placed in between say, a cosmetics stall with everything in shiny packages and a stall full of cheap plastic “bankrupt stock” kitchenware, my lovely old sewing machines and intriguing vintage knitting patterns are in danger of looking like a heap of old junk, no matter how pretty the stall looks, dressed in red velvet, wicker & lace. Not to mention the probability of having to lug heavy kit through crowded halls some distance from where you’re parked; in the end hall the logisitics were easy and the company good.

But the main difference was in the customers. There are some lovely appreciative people here, and some loyal supporters, but there are also a significant number of people who aren’t afraid to make comments like, “Been going through the bins, then?” or “Thank heavens we don’t have to do that sort of thing any longer!” I know from public Morsbagging sessions that many of them will have had unfortunate experiences long ago, of having been humiliated & told they were “useless” in front of their friends in Domestic Science or DT classes, but being rude about someone else’s hard work really doesn’t make life better for anyone. The fact that a proportion of my stock does actually come from the Recycling Centre doesn’t mean that it’s worthless (or that I didn’t pay anything for it, either) but that as a society, we’ve lost the plot and are quite prepared to junk items of real value & lasting beauty in favour of new plastic stuff with an expected lifespan of 5 years, if you’re lucky! Not all new stuff is “”bad” and not all old stuff is “good” but the reverse isn’t automatically true either. I think that says what I wanted to…

And the attitude seems to be reflected in our town’s general way of going about things. It’s becoming a hard slog to continue to try to keep the Transition spark alive in a town that seems to think it really doesn’t have to worry about things like that. Retail rents & rates are such that it’s virtually impossible to start up a genuine local initiative; I know there has been & probably still is a drive to attract upmarket chain stores to the town by the well-meaning, vocal, middle class, upper-income bracket people who think that easy access to a branch of Marks & Spencers will solve any problems that Peak Oil & Climate Change might bring. So rents are kept high in order to attract “the right sort of business” and fledgling local businesses have to go elsewhere or seek huge bank loans. And surprise, surprise, attracting a well-known posh supermarket to our town has NOT increased takings for our genuine local shops, who were amongst the prime movers in the campaign to bring them here, but depressed them. Our youngsters think there isn’t any point even trying; they know they’ll never be able to afford to buy homes or run businesses here and that’s the saddest thing of all. Our future’s going elsewhere…

I had a lot of young, enthusiastic customers yesterday, many of them students at the Arts Institute, and lots of thoughtful, creative, appreciative older ones too, in an area that most people here think of as a bit run-down and grim. All I can say is that Wimborne really, really needs to wake up…

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